Curious about how you can get paid to teach English online?

Picture yourself in your favorite room, laptop open, and eager students from around the globe waiting to learn English from you. Sounds simple, right?

Due to globalization, the demand for English fluency is skyrocketing. Teaching English online is the perfect way to merge your love for language and education while earning a lucrative income.

This article caters to those looking to score extra income, establish a work-from-home gig, or even forge a full-fledged career as an online English instructor. We'll share the best ways to get started and maximize your earning potential.

4 Ways To Make Money Teaching English Online

Online English teaching offers the ultimate flexibility, letting you choose your hours, schedule, and how much you want to work. There are four main ways to make money teaching English online:

  1. Teach with an online English learning company.
  2. Teach or chat on an open marketplace (freelance).
  3. Start your own online teaching business.
  4. Teach at the Really Great Teacher Company.

While you can freelance, securing an online teaching job with a company is the easiest way to begin. Some teachers combine different streams to maximize earnings and ensure a steady income. Remember that you'll need to be available during peak hours to get the most bookings.

How Much Can You Make As An Online English Teacher?

Online English teachers can earn between $5 - $30USD per hour, depending on your:

  • Experience
  • Qualifications
  • Interview quality
  • Performance

As a first-time English teacher with a TEFL certification, you can expect to start at around $5 - $15USD per hour. North American or UK teachers can earn higher starting salaries.

Beyond the hourly rate, consider which platforms can offer you the most bookings. Consider how much you can earn monthly rather than focus on the set amount per hour.

For example, by working 25 hours per week at $6 per hour, you'll reach $600 per month. If you can get guaranteed monthly hours or teach in blocks - it's generally better than a higher hourly salary with limited teaching times. You can also freelance to add extra income.

Online teaching is a way to start from zero and grow your skills over time. If you put in the effort, teaching English online could allow you to ditch the nine-to-five grind and live life on your terms.

1. Teach With An Online English Learning Company

One of the easiest ways to start is by securing an online teaching job with an “English as a Second Language” (ESL) company. Online schools hire you directly, set your timetable, provide a specific curriculum, and pay you a set amount per class (generally monthly).

They offer a convenient and flexible way to make money while teaching from the comfort of your home. With lesson plans and teaching materials provided for all your classes, it's an excellent option for beginners. But don't expect much creativity or control in your teaching journey.

You won't have to worry about recruiting students or too much prep time, but what's the catch? The golden era of teaching Chinese students online has passed. In 2021, China banned for-profit tutoring companies, leading to a tighter market with lower pay. The focus has shifted away from these once-thriving platforms to international operators.

Qualifications And Technical Requirements:

Each company has its own criteria for hiring teachers, but generally, you'll need:

  1. Bachelor's degree: Most companies want you to have a bachelor's degree in any field. If you don't, your options might be limited.
  2. Certification:120-hour TEFL, TESOL, TEYL, or CELTA Certificate. Regulations regarding teacher qualifications vary by country, but TEFL is the gold standard.
  3. Nationality: Your nationality can affect your job prospects, as many companies prefer to hire from North America. But don't worry if you are not North American, there are still opportunities with companies that value your skills and qualifications.
  4. Teaching experience: Like any position, employers value experience. You'll have an edge if you've taught English online or face-to-face.
  5. Technical requirements: A computer with a webcam, LAN cable, reliable internet access (20 Mbps), and a quiet workspace are non-negotiable for online teaching.
  6. No Criminal Record: Since you'll often be tutoring kids, a spotless police check is a must-have in most countries.
  7. Native or near-native English proficiency: Most companies prefer teachers from English-speaking countries or with native-level English fluency.

Before hitting that apply button, do your homework, and find companies that value your unique skills and qualifications.

Salary Range:

The salary range for online ESL teachers varies depending on your hire company, nationality, qualifications, and the number of hours worked. Generally, you can earn between $5 and $20USD per hour depending on:

  1. Experience and qualifications: Teachers with higher qualifications or experience may be able to negotiate a higher pay rate.
  2. Nationality: North American teachers often receive a higher rate.
  3. Teaching hours: The more you work, the more money you can make. Some offer performance bonuses for teaching a certain number of monthly lessons or hours.
  4. Referral bonuses: Many offer bonuses for recruiting new teachers to their platform.
  5. Student ratings: Positive feedback from students can result in bonuses or increased pay.

Pros Of An Online English Learning Company:

  1. Flexibility: Most don't have a strict minimum or maximum working hours policy - so you can work around your other commitments or side hustles.
  2. Work from home: Work from the comfort of your home without facing the daily grind of commuting. Bonus: you'll save on transportation costs!
  3. Create your schedule: You can choose exactly when you work.
  4. Cultural exchange: Teaching ESL online allows you to interact with students from different cultures and backgrounds.
  5. Skills development: Hone your teaching skills and boost your resume by gaining experience.

Cons Of An Online English Learning Company:

  1. Unpredictable income: Your income can fluctuate depending on the hours worked. Look for guaranteed hours.
  2. Isolation: Lonely work vibes. Teaching online can seem isolated, as there is limited interaction with colleagues and supervisors.
  3. Time zone challenges: Living outside of Asia? Syncing your schedule with your students' hours can be tricky.
  4. Technical issues: Teachers may occasionally face technical challenges, such as internet connectivity problems, which can disrupt lessons.
  5. Lack of benefits: As an independent contractor, don't expect pension plans or paid sick leave as you'd get with full-time positions.

How To Get Started:

Follow these steps to get started teaching with an online English learning company:

  1. Research online ESL companies: There are numerous companies to choose from, each with requirements, pay structures, and student demographics. Research each platform to find the best fit for your qualifications and preferences.
  2. Prepare your application materials: Update your resume to highlight your relevant teaching experience and qualifications. Gather any necessary documents, such as diplomas, certifications, and identification.
  3. Apply to your chosen company: Submit your application, ensuring you meet the company's qualifications and technical requirements. Some companies may require a demo lesson or interview as part of the application process.
  4. Complete the onboarding process: Once accepted, you may need to complete an orientation or training program to familiarize yourself with the company's teaching platform and curriculum.
  5. Set up your online teaching space: Create a quiet, well-lit workspace with a computer, webcam, and reliable internet connection.
  6. Start teaching: You can begin teaching ESL online and making money.

2. Teach Or Chat On An Open Marketplace

Open marketplace platforms connect students to teachers and vice versa. Platforms charge the students and usually take a 20-30% commission from your hourly rate for each lesson.

Sure, you set your hours, rates, and lesson plans, but the reality is you're a freelancer with no guaranteed income. So, you must create your own teaching brand and hustle to find students worldwide.

Sign up and advertise your services on a third-party branded platform such as these:

  • Preply
  • Cambly
  • AmazingTalker
  • iTalki

Before you dive in, always check language availability on these platforms. For instance, iTalki isn't currently seeking English language teachers.

Qualifications And Requirements:

Qualifications are more lenient, but standing out from the crowd can be challenging. Here's what you need to shine:

  1. Native or near-native English proficiency.
  2. TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certification (preferred but not mandatory).
  3. A knack for building rapport with students of diverse backgrounds and age groups.
  4. Strong conversation skills.
  5. Decent desktop or laptop with a high-quality webcam and headset. Reliable internet speeds.
  6. Location with reliable electricity supply or a backup generator.
  7. Comfortable, super-quiet workspace.
  8. Tech-savvy enough to navigate online teaching platforms and troubleshoot issues.
  9. Teaching experience (either online or in-person).

Salary Range:

As a freelance educator, your income hinges on the rates you set, your work hours, and the demand for your services.

Marketplaces work better for experienced and qualified teachers, as you can earn higher rates than working for a company that sets the pay rate. The average hourly rate ranges from $5 to $30, but don’t forget the commission fees. If you charge $10 an hour with a 30% commission, you’ll only pocket $7.

Also, some platforms expect you to do unpaid work after each lesson, like creating:

  • Lesson plans
  • Progress reports
  • Grading

Factor this into your lesson pricing and time. Also, if you price yourself too high, you risk having zero students.

Platforms like Cambly offer on-demand classes where you log in when you want and get paid for the minutes you teach. It’s like being an Uber driver waiting for the next ride.

Preply keeps 100% of the payment for each new student’s first class, effectively making it a free trial. You’ve lost time and money if a student doesn’t continue with you after the trial class.

Pros Of Teaching English On An Open Marketplace:

  1. Be your own boss: Enjoy the freedom to set your schedule, pricing, and teaching style while letting the platform handle marketing and payments.
  2. Personal brand: Build your unique teaching brand and showcase your expertise to attract students.
  3. Networking: Connect with students worldwide and expand your professional network.
  4. Set your pay rate: Your earnings depend on your effort and ability to attract students. You can raise your hourly rates as you gain popularity and receive higher ratings.
  5. Choose your working hours: Work when it suits you, making it easier to juggle your other commitments.

Cons Of Teaching English On An Open Marketplace:

  1. Hustle mode: Expect considerable effort and time to build a steady clientele without a guaranteed wage.
  2. Unpredictable income: Your earnings can vary depending on the hours worked. A second teaching income stream with us can help smooth it out.
  3. Commission: Remember, platforms take a cut of your earnings as their fee, cutting into your profits.
  4. Self-promotion savvy: You must be skilled at self-advertising to stand out among your competitors.
  5. The art of selling: For each new student or trial class, you’ll have to present your lesson in a way that entices them to sign up for more lessons with you. It’s not just about teaching; you must also master marketing yourself and your class.
  6. Competition: It’s a fierce market, and you’ll have to shine brighter than other educators on the platform.
  7. Limited benefits: As a freelance educator, you’ll typically miss out on perks like healthcare or pension plans.

How To Teach On An Open Marketplace:

  1. Do your research: Compare open marketplace platforms to find the one that best aligns with your income goals.
  2. Create a standout profile: Showcase your experience, qualifications, and unique teaching approach. A fabulous profile picture and engaging intro video can work wonders!
  3. Set your rates: Determine your hourly rate based on your experience, qualifications, and the platform’s commission fees.
  4. Be available: Set your availability and be prepared to work during peak hours when students are most active.
  5. Market yourself: Use social media and word of mouth to promote your services and attract students.
  6. Gather rave reviews: Provide exceptional teaching experiences to garner positive reviews, boosting your visibility on the platform.

English teaching marketplaces are a double-edged sword. They offer a storefront to showcase your talent but require you to compete against others. You must keep your profile updated and aim for great student reviews to make it work. While requiring hustle, persistence, and luck, you can create a profitable side gig or even a full-time career.

3. Start Your Own Online English Teaching Business

If you dream of taking control of your teaching schedule, lesson plans, and hourly class rates – starting your own small business is the ticket. As an independent teacher, you'll:

  • Create your teaching materials.
  • Set your teaching rates.
  • Market your brand on social media.
  • Sell your services to students directly.

If you do the work yourself, the costs are minimal, and you'll end up with all your student fees. One of the downsides is that you will need to market yourself and educate yourself on how to run a business.

With minimal start-up costs, you'll get all your student fees if you handle the work yourself. But remember, this entrepreneurial journey requires mastering the art of marketing and honing your business skills.

Qualifications And Requirements:

To lead the charge in the online English teaching landscape, you'll need the following qualifications:

  1. Teaching Experience: It shouldn't be your first class. You'll need a few years of teaching English to understand the education market and what students seek.
  2. Teaching certification: Bolster your credibility with relevant certifications, such as TEFL, TESOL, or CELTA.
  3. Entrepreneurial acumen: Embrace your inner entrepreneur – you'll need to manage all aspects of your business.
  4. English proficiency: Be fluent in English, as your students expect the best.
  5. Marketing skills: Can you make YouTube videos? Know SEO?

Salary Range:

As your own boss, you'll be setting your hourly rates. While you could potentially earn more than working for an online ESL company, remember that you'll also be responsible for covering all your expenses. You're only paid for your teaching hours - not those spent working on your business.

You're not compensated for non-teaching work, such as advertising, lesson planning, or accounting. So, a higher charge-out rate per teaching hour does not necessarily equate to more money in the bank at the end of the month.

Pros Of Starting Your Online Teaching Business:

  1. Flexibility: Work when you want, with whom you want – you're in control.
  2. Pricing power: Set your hourly rates and cash in on your worth.
  3. Creative license: Design lesson plans that showcase your unique teaching style. You're not locked into one teaching style or student base.
  4. Direct income: Keep 100% of your students' payments.

Cons Of Starting Your Online Teaching Business:

  1. You're the CEO: Managing your business means handling everything, from marketing to finance. You'll spend a lot more time on other tasks rather than teaching.
  2. Income rollercoaster: Your earnings might fluctuate based on the number of students you can attract and retain. You need to hustle to constantly find new students.
  3. Added costs: Advertising, software, lesson plans, and buying props are all on you.
  4. No benefits: Health insurance and paid time off? It's all on you. If you take extended leave, you risk losing your students to a competitor.

How To Start Your Online English Teaching Business:

  1. Choose your teaching niche: Define your ideal students by targeting a specific age group, skill level, or area of expertise, such as business English or test preparation.
  2. Set up your teaching equipment: Invest in a reliable computer, webcam, microphone, and high-speed internet connection. Create a comfortable and well-lit teaching space free from distractions.
  3. Choose a teaching platform: Zoom, Skype, or a specialized online teaching platform.
  4. Set your hourly rate: Know your worth and price your lessons accordingly. Don't be shy – do competitor research and charge what you deserve.
  5. Network with past students: Contact former students interested in joining your online lessons.
  6. Leverage social media: Flaunt your teaching style and connect with potential students on platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
  7. Build a website: Create a professional site showcasing your skills, qualifications, rates, and contact info. Use SEO and paid ads to drive traffic and attract students.
  8. Educate yourself on running a business: Learn the ins and outs of managing finances, marketing, and customer relations to ensure your start-up is successful and sustainable.

4. Teach With The Really Great Teacher Company

A newer option is where you sign up with us - a teacher management company. We collaborate with online language schools worldwide to provide them with top-notch teachers – and that could be you! No prior teaching experience? No worries!

With us, you only teach. You don't need to:

  • Prepare lessons or content.
  • Do non-teaching admin.
  • Market yourself.

With guaranteed hours, your schedule stays full, and there's never a shortage of students. Plus, we welcome teachers from all corners of the globe.

Qualifications And Requirements:

To join our tribe, you'll need:

  1. Bachelor's degree: Completed or in progress. No teaching or English degree is required. Your degree can be in any subject.
  2. ESL Teaching Certification: Accredited 120-hour TEFL, TESOL, TEYL, or CELTA qualification.
  3. Tech-savvy: A reliable computer, webcam, microphone, and high-speed internet connection.
  4. Clean record: No criminal history, as you may tutor kids.
  5. Passion: Bring your love for teaching and connect with diverse students.
  6. Stable Power Source: Ensure a steady electricity supply in areas with frequent blackouts or outages. Use a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) with a minimum 2000VA capacity for 4-5 hours of backup power.

Salary Range:

We offer competitive rates based on your experience, qualifications, locations, and the clients you work with. Enjoy stable, accurate, and on-time monthly income – no more paycheck stress drama.

You'll effortlessly balance work and life with guaranteed hours and block scheduling. Plus, if a student misses your class, we've got you covered – you'll still get paid!

Pros Of Working With The Really Great Teacher Company:

  1. No lesson planning: We provide all the lesson plans and content, so you can focus on teaching.
  2. No admin work: We handle the tedious stuff - student acquisition, scheduling, and admin - freeing you up to teach like a star.
  3. No marketing: There's no need to market yourself – we connect you with eager students.
  4. Guaranteed hours: Choose from multiple scheduling options and enjoy a consistent workload.
  5. Comprehensive support: Get 24/7 technical and operational support from our team.
  6. Personal development: Engage in our online community of peers and experts, enjoy wellness programs, special interest communities, and diverse learning opportunities.
  7. Career progression: We promote from within and invest in your personal development.

Cons Of Working With The Really Great Teacher Company:

  1. Limited control: You may have less say in teaching materials and methods.
  2. Base pay: Our rate is not always the highest, but it's consistent, and your admin is taken care of.
  3. Performance requirements: As with all schools and platforms, our teachers must follow specific procedures.

What Sets Us Apart:

At The Really Great Teacher Company, we believe in nurturing your professional and personal growth. That's why we offer:

  1. Career advancement opportunities: Climb the professional ladder with us.
  2. Peer mentorship programs: Connect with fellow teachers and learn from their experiences.
  3. Free membership to our Learning Academy: Develop your professional skills with our dedicated resources.
  4. Personal development initiatives: We support a healthier and happier you.
  5. Volunteering opportunities: Make a difference outside the classroom through charity work.

How To Start:

Join The Really Great Teacher Company and elevate your online teaching career to new heights! Apply today and experience the difference!

Get paid for speaking English—and teaching others!

Teaching ESL online can be a fun and rewarding way to make extra cash while connecting with students worldwide. With the right qualifications, mindset, and strategy, you can build a thriving online teaching career that allows you to work on your terms and help students achieve their language goals.

When starting from zero, focus on building your teaching experience and improving your skills to help you secure better-paying jobs in the future. Ignite your passion for teaching, make money, and change lives one lesson at a time!