Getting paid to teach English online? Yes, this is a thing. A real thing that exists.
Over the last few decades, there’s never been a shortage of jobs teaching ESL students in person. In fact, that number just keeps on growing and growing. In our increasingly globalized world, the high value placed on learning English has always and will continue to result in a wealth of job opportunities for TEFL-qualified candidates, both now and well into the future.
Traditionally, if you wanted to land a job teaching English, you either had to work abroad or find some English language learners to teach in your home country. However, thanks to major strides being made in online learning technology in recent years, those very same English language learners are now moving online - in their droves.
So, if you’re stumbling across the idea of teaching English online for the very first time, know that you’re onto a good thing. Whether you’re a recent graduate exploring your options or already working full-time and looking for a way to supplement your income, teaching English online is where it’s at.
But let’s quickly cover the requirements of the job first:
1. You'll need a TEFL certification
If you’re looking to land a job teaching English online, it’s usually not enough to be a native English speaker. You’ll also need to get an ESL certification. So don’t say we didn’t warn you - make sure you read the job requirements carefully before rushing to send your application in.
And it’s worth bearing in mind that even in cases where employers don’t specifically call it out as a requirement, know that a TEFL certificate is always worth the cost it will help you really stand out from other applicants as a top candidate for the job.
2. You’ll need some teaching experience
This one’s fairly explanatory - any reputable online English teaching company will want you to have some classroom management and teaching skills - usually a year at minimum.
3. You’ll need to be flexible
Whether you choose to teach English online from your home country or while you’re busy ticking some countries of your travel bucket list, you’ll need keep in mind the different time zones that your students (many of which are located in China, where demand for online English learning is skyrocketing) are going to be on.
This might mean an early start in the morning for you, so don’t forget your coffee. Or, it can mean teaching a few lessons later in the evening. While to some readers, this might seem like a bummer, it can actually work out well for the night owls or early birds among us. Either way, it’ll free up your day to spend on things you actually want to do - whether that’s binge-watching Netflix, sunning yourself on the beach or trekking Machu Picchu. Sure beats the 9-to-5 grind!
Got your TEFL course in the bag and some classroom experience to boot? You have one of two options when it comes to making teaching English online your next gig:
Option 1: Teach English online with an online teaching company
Many online companies, especially those catering to Chinese students, offer online teaching positions for ESL teachers. The application process is pretty stress-free. Interviews are all conducted online and you’ll have to teach a mini-lesson to show off your rad teaching skills. And because you can set your own hours and availability, you still get all the benefits of being a freelancer, without worrying about sourcing your own students to teach.
If you do a quick Google search for online English teaching jobs, the flood of results can feel a little intimidating. We advise you to hop on over to the Teach Away job board, as they choose to partner only with online English learning companies that offer the best benefits and support for online ESL teachers.
Option 2: Start your own online English teaching business
Many ESL teachers of the entrepreneurial persuasion might want to opt for kickstarting their own private online English teaching business. Keep in mind, though, building a successful online English teaching business will involve some extra start-up costs and plenty of hustling to build up a pool of students.
While being your own boss is an exciting prospect, we recommend you test the waters first by finding a part-time teaching gig at an online English teaching company like VIPKID. This can be a risk-free way to find out if teaching English online is something you’re interested in for the longer-term.
For tech-savvy ESL teachers, the benefits of teaching English online are pretty sweet: You can make the big bucks With VIPKID, you can earn up to $2,000 USD in under a month teaching as little as three hours a day. Looking for the ballpark hourly rate? Our friends over at Teach Away recently chatted with a part-time online English teacher who was paid anything from $14 - 22 an hour while teaching with VIPKID. That can really add up to a lucrative take-home salary over the course of a working week as you fill up your online teaching schedule!
You can teach from anywhere, any time you want
If you want to stay put in your home country and make some extra money on the side while working part- or full-time, you can do that pretty effortlessly by teaching English online. Of course, if you want to trek the globe and make money on the side to fund your travels, that’s totally doable too.
The startup costs are minimal
If you choose to teach online with one of the online English teaching companies out there, all you’ll need is a laptop that’s in good working order, along with a decent internet connection.
Companies hiring qualified candidates to teach English online, like VIPKID, also provide all the materials and training you need to make your lessons a fairly straightforward affair.