The 4 Types of Online Teachers

Setting Yourself Up to Teach Online

There are a variety of ways in which you can set yourself up as a professional work from home online teacher. Here’s a guide to the pros and cons of each of them.

What is Online Teaching?

Online teaching is the process of educating others via the internet. Various methods for teaching online are used – generally consisting of one-on-one video calls, group video calls or webinars and pre-recorded lectures.

As an online teacher you can teach from any location (provided adequate internet capabilities exist) and teach students from various backgrounds and geographical areas.

Here is a guide to setting up your work from home classroom.

Virtually any topic or skill can be taught online, but popular subjects include languages, mathematics, sciences, and business.

All online teachers are expected to have their own computer equipment, high-speed internet access and camera set up to hit the ground running. This includes being able to facilitate a “Plan B” should your standard equipment give you problems – such as multiple internet connections and the ability to work around any potential electricity disruptions.

Basic equipment expectations can be found in our FAQs.

How Online Teaching Works

To teach online, you need to be comfortable with computers and the internet. Your technical set up and know-how is important as lessons and potential work administration takes place here. This could include specific pre-set platforms that you’d need to familiarize yourself with, teaching aids, emails and possess well developed presentation skills.

Depending on the role, some Online Teachers may also need to create digital resources for their lessons with their students. This could vary from Powerpoint presentation decks to videos, audio lectures, PDF guides and interactive digital assets like jam boards and other collaborative teaching tools.

The more interesting and interactive your classes are the more likely you are to succeed - not only in connecting with your students but in being a great teacher. Forming an online connection with a student is very different to the traditional school and classroom scenario and you need to work harder and smarter to form relationships with the people you teach.

The pool of potential online teachers for students to choose is completely global – there are now teachers based in all corners of the world. This large pool means that students and language schools can be as selective as they like regarding the teachers that they use – it is very competitive.

The 4 Types of Online Teachers

Online Teacher job options fall primarily into 4 categories:

1. Independents

2. Marketplace (3rd Party Platform) Teachers

3. Direct Contractors to Schools

4. Teacher Management Companies’ Teachers

Here is a brief summary of each type and the Pros and Cons associated with them.

1. Independents

Independents are teachers who work for themselves and set up their own small business. They create their own brands, advertise and sell their services to students directly and create their own teaching material. Independents manage their own schedules, rates and do their own administration and financial management.


  1. Set and charge your own hourly rate – often higher than the other Direct Contractors or those working for Teacher Management Companies.

  2. Teach according to your own schedule.

  3. Variety – you are not locked into one teaching style or student-base.

  4. You can choose the class structures, students (adults/ children) and specific topics you’d like to specialize in.

  5. Can be creative and set up your own brand and business, which suits those who are entrepreneurially minded.


  1. You are only paid for teaching hours - not for hours working on the business. All time spent advertising, selling, preparing lessons, invoicing, tax management etc are non-billable hours. This means that a higher charge-out rate per teaching hour does not necessarily equate to more money in the bank at the end of the month.

  2. Added costs – advertising, lessons plan & content purchases, finance software etc are for your own account.

  3. Hours are not guaranteed – you need to actively keep finding students and online classes to teach and these can vary from month to month.

  4. If you take leave, you run the risk of losing your students to a competitor.

  5. You will spend a lot more time doing other tasks and not teaching.

  6. It's difficult to grow into a more senior role, unless you scale your business and start employing teachers yourself.

2. Marketplace (3rd Party Platform) Teachers

Teachers that sign up on a third party branded platform that allows them to advertise their services and set their own rates. These platforms act as a marketplace for teachers and students to connect, under certain rules and under the platform's own brand.


  1. The freedom to set your own rates and schedule availability.

  2. Platform companies spend money on marketing and advertising their brand to prospective students, so you don’t have to.

  3. Student admin, billing and payments to you are often taken care of by the platform.

  4. Some platforms have lesson materials that you can use and offer teacher training resources for teachers to develop themselves.


  1. Students can easily choose who they want to teach them and can move between teachers at a whim on the platform so there is lots of competition.

  2. Whilst you can theoretically set your own rates, many teachers must charge lower than they would like to, in order to initially attract new students.

  3. The platforms charge commission on each lesson that you teach. This commission should be factored into your rate to understand your real charge out (e.g. $10 charge out – 30% commission = $7.00 real rate).

  4. Popular lesson times are still driven by market demands and how well the platform does at attracting students so it’s not always easy to get lessons at convenient times for you.

  5. There is no room for growth and advancement into other roles/management.

  6. Platform companies have restrictive policies and procedures and expect you to abide by them. These can make you feel like you are working directly for another company.

  7. Some platforms also require you to do additional work after each lesson - progress reports, gradings and/or written feedback, which is not paid for and should be factored into the time that you spend on each lesson.

3. Direct Contractors to Schools

These are teachers who sign up directly with a specific online school and do contract work for that school.


  1.  You are trained in a particular style for that school, using their platform.

  2. Student acquisition, scheduling, admin, and financial aspects are all taken care of by the school.

  3. You are paid directly by the school (generally once a month) without a need to invoice students directly.

  4. Consistent schedules and regular classes.


  1. You run the risk of losing your entire income if your specific school closes.

  2. Teaching the same type of students and using the same material can become monotonous.

  3. You are often given a set schedule, with very little room for flexibility.

  4. Rates are generally lower than independent teachers and often come with performance-based requirements.

  5. There is no room for growth and advancement into other roles/management if you are a remote teacher. Very little training and development outside of that offered to teach you about their specific platform or style.

  6. There are often limited or no community initiatives outside of class or to meet and learn from other teachers. You teach your classes and your involvement ends there.

  7. Many schools expect teachers to allocate additional time at the end of each lesson for progress reports and/or written feedback that can be very time consuming and is not paid for.

4. Teacher Management Companies’ Teachers

This is a newer option where teachers choose to sign up and deliver services through a specialized Teacher Management Company (like The Really Great Teacher Company). These companies offer Teacher Management as a Service to their clients (online language schools).

Some Teacher Management Companies have many schools that they provide services for with students and clients located across the globe.


  1. Consistent and regular income – you are paid on time and there is no shortage of hours and students to teach so it’s easier to plan your lifestyle accordingly.

  2. Student aquisition, scheduling, admin, and financial aspects are all taken care of by the company. You just teach.

  3. Career progression - some companies actively look to promote from within and invest heavily in professional development.

  4. The right companies offer access to personal development initiatives – you can be part of an online community of peers and experts with exposure to wellness, special interest communities and diverse learning opportunities.

  5. Trouble-shooting and assistance is on-hand 24/7 from dedicated tech and operational management experts.

  6. If the company that you work for has multiple clients located across the globe, then you could be scheduled across various schools and time zones and be able to fill up your schedule with various types of students and lessons.


  1. Base Pay is not always as high as Independents, but it’s consistent and your admin is taken care of.

  2. Specific procedures and performance requirements are in place for teachers to abide by. This is due to performance contracts in place which the relevant companies have with their client schools.

Weighing it all up

In addition to the 4 types of online teaching listed above, some teachers use a combination of the above types of teaching structures and operate as hybrid teachers.

Doing your research and deciding on the right type of teaching structure that would work best for you is very important to ensure that you get what you want out of your Online Teaching career.

If you would like to know more about The Really Great Teacher Company, then click here.

And if you’re keen to join our winning team, check out our current opportunities too.