8 Tips to Make the Most Money Teaching English Online
OETJobs has helped many teachers land excellent online English teaching jobs. We’ve heard all the best tips and tricks from teachers and HR departments. Plus, our recruiting experience assisting candidates during the hiring process has helped us really know the ropes.
These are our top tips to maximize your earning potential and enhance your chance to get the best pay by teaching English online.
1. Polish your Resume
Nothing beats a great resume. You’re a representative of the company to their student customers as an English teacher, so having a clear profile photo to show off your professionalism will really help. A photo with an online teaching style background is even better.
Check out this free resume template here.
2. Online Teaching Setups
A proper and professional online teaching setup is not only necessary but also critically affects how you convince the recruiters to give you a better pay rate.
A good technical setup includes a reasonably performing computer or smartphone, a camera with HD resolution (at least 720 or 1080), a quality headset with a microphone or separated microphone, and an Internet speed of 10MB/s for both uploading and downloading. You might sometimes get by with 5MB/s, but you’re missing a lot of opportunities to work for better-paying companies.
A good teaching environment must have good lighting. Some companies require you to have a white background or a whiteboard for your background.
Puppets and posters are not always required but can definitely help you to land a higher pay grade and come in handy when you need to engage the attention spans of young children.
Prepare yourself with a good knowledge of online English teaching jobs.
3. Focus on the Companies with the Greater Pay Rate
You may find that companies with a higher base rate have higher standards and are more selective during the hiring process. Additionally, figuring out your pay can be difficult, as some companies offer base rates, plus bonuses or standby pay. Make sure you clarify the overall compensation with the recruiter during the interview process to make sure you’re making the highest rate you can.
- What’s the base pay?
- What different types of bonuses are available?
- What are the rules for earning the bonus?
- What’s the payment method? (Common ones are PayPal, Payoneer, bank wiring, or direct bank deposit.)
- What currency do you pay in?
- What’s the payment schedule? (Common ones are weekly, bi-weekly, and monthly)
Be cautious about the pay rate for some companies, because the pay rate may differ according to various conditions
- The country that you’re currently living – a company like iTutorGroup pays differently based on the country you currently living. The pay rate to Americans living in the US is different from Americans live in Southeast Asia, even you’re having similar qualifications.
- Compensation structure – the advertised pay rate has many conditions. Pay rate is typically the combination of hourly base rate + performance bonus.
- Native vs. Non-Native English Speaker – The pay differences could be drastic between native and non-native English speakers. Some companies hire non-native English speakers, but the pay rate differences could be very disappointing, a good example (a bad example?) is iTutorGroup.
- Class booking – some companies have a relatively good pay rate and conditions, but not enough students to provide you with a full booking, then you end up sitting idle. ex. VIPKID. This tends to be the companies that do not have a fixed schedule and teach different students in different classes. For ones you’re dedicating for fix schedule with the recurring same students and have good teaching experience, you can look into Whales English.
Company loyalty sometimes has an impact on your earning potential, especially for companies with a bonus structure tied to the length and hours you have taught and the rating you’ve accumulated over time.
Palfish is a good example, as it not only indicates your total hours taught and hard-earned rating on your profile page but also includes social elements such as sharing posts and photos in the community with students and fellow teachers. If you’re able to establish yourself as an excellent teacher, there’s really not an incentive to go elsewhere, as the pay grows over time.
The downside to this type of reward system is that if you’re a new teacher, you might have trouble finding students. Note that for some companies, students must select you, but for others, the company itself assigns the students to you.
4. Obtain an ESL Teaching Certificate
Online ESL companies do not always require a certificate. Many teachers get by without having a TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certificate. If you have experience teaching English online or in the classroom, you may not need a TEFL to teach English online.
Note that some schools like iTutorGroup don’t require a certificate first during the hiring process but will ask you to obtain one within a certain period after hiring.
Enhance your teaching skill with self-learning materials, including popular ESL teaching books.
5. Prepare for Your Interviews
Understanding each companies’ interview process and expectations will help you to prepare for your interview. Companies are not created equally. Different schools have different expectations due to the varying teaching curriculum and their target student audience.
Understand differences in class type:
For younger children, TPR and more dramatic actions are required for constant engagement, but the teaching material is simpler and less preparation is required.
The English learning process for older children or teens is a more systematic approach. This requires some preparation on your side. The majority of online English teaching companies focus on this age group, including VIPKID, Landi, Class100.
Teens and college preparation
This segment is probably the most difficult one, since it focuses on the technical parts of English like grammar, college entrance exams, and cater to students looking to study in a university abroad. Hujiang is one company that focuses on this student audience.
The adult lessons tend to be conversational, or slightly technical because adult learners usually have some basic English language foundation. The focus tends to be speaking and improving language ability for the working environment. Companies include Cambly, Hujiang, and iTutorGroup.
The class size ranges from One-on-one, one-to-two, small group up to 4, or large classroom setting 15-40 students. The large group class is generally delivered to kindergarten or local school, there is usually an assisting teacher in the local school to maintain the classroom order.
6. Optimize Your Schedule with Off-Peak Hours
Another trick to maximize your online teaching hours is to know the zone you’re in. We all know Chinese online ESL companies compose the majority of the job openings and especially the peak hours of 6 pm to 9 pm Beijing time. For some, that’s the only time slot those companies offer English lessons.
So what about the rest of your time? Now you can look into the companies that teach off-peak hours or companies in different time zones.
That means you’ll be holding multiple part-time contract work for two or more companies simultaneously. Chinese companies with solid off-peak hours (7 am to 4 pm Beijing time) include Class100, where they offer English classes to local schools and kindergartens during normal school hours.
7. Create an Outstanding Self-Intro Video
Many companies screen candidates via pre-recorded intro videos, as the first interview, or before proceeding to a formal interview. This can be a great thing for you because you can prepare and refine your interview as many time as possible. Check out this guide, 6 Tips to Stand Out With Self-Introduction Video for Online English Teaching job
Here are some self-intro videos we found that might be useful for you.
8. Salary Negotiation
Last but not least, negotiating for a greater pay rate. Here are some negotiation skills worth giving a shot and things to watch out for.
When a company posts a salary range, that is likely what the range is. However, you may always push the boundary a bit if you have an exceptional track record. The factors like ESL teaching experience, teaching credential, and educational background greatly influence the potential rate. However, you also need to benchmark with other candidates’ qualifications and the expectation and responsibilities of a particular job in the market.
Recruiters have a pretty good sense of where the rates at for certain qualifications as they interviewed thousands of candidates per month. However, the best thing you should do is to polish your resume, crush interviews, show your enthusiasm and prove to them you will be their greatest asset. That will certainly give you better leverage and place you in the greatest position in the negotiation.
Many highly qualified teachers are often promoted to demo and trial teachers, meaning you’ll be the representative and lead the demo classes to the new potential customers (students). The company often offers additional student sign-up bonuses to the demo teachers acting as the company’s greatest salesforce.
Nonetheless, remember that it’s ok to reject offers. If you decide to forgo the opportunity, you can let HR know your honest thoughts, but be respectful in conveying the message. We have seemed many disrespectful candidates have a harder time finding new opportunities because the ESL teaching circle is a lot smaller than it seems. Being polite and respectful is always a good thing. Here’s an example polite offer declination,
“Dear [recruiter’s name], Thank you for your effort and opportunity. I’d love to work for you, but that salary is below my other offers”.
The company may not offer what you’re looking for and possibly come back and make better offers.
You also need to know how the rate is calculated and the requirements to achieve the upper end of the hourly rate.
- The minimal hourly rate if you delivered a class without being late and leave early.
- The majority of the class won’t be a whole 60 min class, but 25 min, 45 min, or 90 min, and anything in between. So companies might have slightly different definitions of an “hourly” rate.
- Demo class
The factors of Bonus Structure
- Good student reviews
- If student show up in class and how many of them?
- Contract renewal bonus
- Student sign up or course renewal bonus
- Good student reviews, but what’s the criteria?
- Emergency cancelation within a short notice, ex. within 24 hours.
- Long break and not teaching for over 2 weeks.
- Being late to the class or leave early.
- The employment contract term is typically 6 to 12 months, check the early termination policies.
- Normally no income tax withholding, but they’re exceptions depending the country of the company is establish and your local tax laws. Some companies like iTutorGroup avoid hiring teachers living in China, even you’re a US citizen, to avoid tax complications.
Also, recruiters probably give you a time limit or pressure you to commit asap, since their job is not done unless you’re committed. Don’t be afraid of taking a reasonable time (up to three weeks) to consider several offers. However, you could potentially lose the offer if you let HR waiting for too long.
Furthermore, look for the companies that have a great reputation in punctuating and fair pay rate because there are many out there slip through on payment deadlines or even not paying due to their financial downturn. From our experience, we recommend you look into reputable companies like Preply, iTutorGroup, and Palfish, where they have well-organized finance and HR teams to ensure paying you on time.
Are you ready for your job interview?
We wish the best for you in navigating the online English teaching journey!