Career in CAT Coaching – is it a good idea?

Hi,I am Ravi Handa and I run an online cat coaching course via my website www.handakafunda.com Although I started the course in early 2013, I have been involved in the CAT coaching space since I got out of college in 2006. I have seen my fair share of candidates trying their hand at CAT coaching and that prompted me to pick this up as the topic for the blogpost when Rohan invited me to write on the IIM Raipur blog.

A lot of CAT aspirants enjoy solving problems that they encounter while they are preparing for CAT. This is especially true for the ones who are good at it and eventually make it to an IIM. This gives them the impression that they would enjoy being on the other side as well i.e. teaching those concepts in a class or for a coaching institute / website of their own. There is no doubt it is a great field to get into if that is what you really want to do. Having an IIM tag (or for that matter any good B-school) will make it easier for you to break in as well. But the bigger question is – should you do it? I will try to put forward some realities of the CAT coaching sector which as an aspirant you may or may not have understood while you were attending the classes.

Broadly speaking, there are two ways that you can be involved in the CAT Coaching industry:

a) Content

b) Business

In the content mode of working, you can join one of the established coaching institutes. You will get paid either a per-hour rate or an annual salary. With no prior experience and an IIM tag (or a top B-school) you will start with around 1000 Rs. per hour / 10 LPA sort of package. Sounds good, right? Well, it is good in the beginning. The problem happens once you have spent couple of years doing this. The problem becomes a lot bigger if you have been doing it for 5 years. While in any other sector, your remuneration grows significantly year on year; it would be extremely difficult for the same to happen here. Also, there is a problem with the number of hours you will actually get to teach. It is unlikely to go beyond 1200 hours per year even in the best of scenarios.

The business mode, gives you better returns but it comes with its own set of risks. You can get into the game by either starting up your own coaching company or take a franchise of one of the established brands. If you end up starting your own coaching company (online or offline), the amount of time you will spend teaching (which is probably the reason you got into it in the first place) would be minimal. It will be like starting any other company – most of your time would go into fire fighting and dealing with the struggles of entrepreneurship. Even if it is a franchise, it will be still like an entrepreneurship but you will have an investor / boss on your head who would ask you about the number of enrolments / sales revenue and not the number of classes that you took. The financial returns here can be enormous but they will more be governed by your ability to run a business and less by your ability / interest in teaching.

If you have reached till here, then you might be wondering – why does anyone do it? A lot of them start doing it under the false illusion that it will be lucrative and / or it will be easy. That is the reason a lot of them quit after the first two three years. The ones who stick around are the ones who really enjoy teaching. It is not a good financial decision but if you can look beyond the monetary aspect – there can be few careers for an MBA grad that can be more rewarding. The immense joy that you get in helping someone out is hard to be replicated by money. CAT coaching gives you the opportunity to feel that high on a daily basis. So, if you want to do this – do not do it for the money but do it for the love of teaching.

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