The Ultimate Guide to Online English Teaching Jobs
The online English teaching job market has matured significantly over the last few years and continues to grow in demand for teachers. Students from China compose the majority of the student body. Teaching English online offers flexibility for those who are looking for part-time teaching jobs and can turn into a full-time job for those who are willing to put in the time and effort.
How to Apply for Online Teaching Jobs?
We have helped thousands upon thousands of online English teachers landing great online English teaching jobs. This ultimate guide is a pearl of collective wisdom and direct experience contributed to our teaching community and the feedback of the recruiters of the online ESL companies and schools directly.
Read the following tips to thrive and score high paying online English teaching jobs! We hope the guide will help you get started or provide a further leap in your online teaching jobs! Please do leave comments under if you have any questions!
Online Teaching Job Checklist
Prepare Resume for Online Teaching
Highlight your teaching-related experience and relevant information in your resume to engage the recruiters. Take the time to read each school’s requirements and simply list them out. Ex. the method you used during teaching ESL students, how you helped students improve their test scores, pronunciation, and grammar issues effectively. There is a complete guide to creating a resume for online schools.
Get a TEFL Certification
TEFL is a common and the most cost-effective type of certificate to start your teaching journey, whether it’s online ESL teaching or teach English abroad. If you can get a TESOL or CELTA that is even better. This gives a head start for new teachers and boost the salary greatly. Here is the ultimate guide to TEFL.
Create a Self-Intro Video
Create a well thought out self-introduction video that you can link to in your resume, which greatly boosts your visibility and chance of being viewed during the screening process.
Setup the Technical and Teaching Environment
Make sure that you have a quiet place to teach from, with a plain backdrop, a good headset with a microphone, and as fast of an internet connection as possible. Many schools prefer a wired connection. Include this information in your resume. You can find a review of the top headsets for teaching online.
Practice Your Interview
You can learn it by making a good intro video and make an adjustment by watching your own presentation. Here are some working and interview guides for companies including Palfish, Magic Ears, DaDa, etc. If you’re teaching younger children, be sure you also know the TPR well!
Find ESL Teaching Jobs
If that is enough for you and are ready to go then you can have us find you a job by submitting your application to us or check out the comprehensive online ESL school list, online English teaching jobs.
You can find a similar step by step guide for both online ESL teaching and teach English Abroad here.
The Comprehensive Guide to Teaching Online
What Are the Job Requirements Teaching English Online?
It should be noted that the highest demand for teachers is from countries such as the US, Canada, UK, Australia, and New Zealand. However, do not be discouraged if you’re coming from other countries. Yes, you can still get a job if you are a native English speaking teacher from another country or a non-native who has put in the time and reached a good enough level for online teaching.
- Native English speaking teacher or Jobs for non-natives.
- Have a PC or MAC with high speed and reliable internet connection. Some take the tablet and smartphone.
- A Bachelor’s degree is often required, but there are also some opportunities for college students and no degree.
- Having the ability to accept payment through Payoneer, bank wiring/transfer, or Paypal.
- Having to deal with unhinged parents from time to time if you are teaching children
- Great passionate and patient with students. A positive attitude and smiling face with each lesson you teach
- Experience as a teacher in a classroom environment or online teaching experience
- Earned a teaching certificate or a university degree. TEFL, TESOL, or CELTA certification.
- Bilingual in another popular language, such as Spanish, French, Japanese, Korean or Chinese
- Able and willing to work odd hours or on the weekends. Of course, this depends on where you live and where your students are from. Students from China compose the majority of the student body and peak hours from 6 pm to 9 pm Beijing time.
- Clean cut and have a professional look, which applies to the first impression in a resume profile, intro video, interview, and beyond!
If you possess the above qualities, you could have great success in teaching English online. About one-third to half of the teaching platforms are looking for teachers with some experience so do not shy away if you are trying this for the first time. There are places that do not require you to have a degree in order to teach online, but having a TEFL Certificate is an almost must-have if you want to earn more than the average. This is only required if you teach locally in a classroom setting or at a university.
The Technological Requirements to Teach Online
All you need is a fast Internet, a good computer, a headset, and some decor. If you work for a company that provides you with students, then you don’t even need to plan your classes! One caveat is you need to make sure you are in a place with a stable internet connection. Sitting in a small hut on a vacant beach in SE Asia might be nice, but I doubt the coconut palms will be pumping out an LTE signal!
Depending on the specific job technical requirements, you will most likely need a computer equipped with an HD webcam and a quality headset with a microphone. Some but few teach over tablets or smartphones. Most importantly, you must have an excellent Internet connection with a large bandwidth of at least 5MB per second for uploading and downloading. You may need a white background and sometimes teaching props, though they are usually optional.
Skype and Zoom are the popular virtual conference app to use for teaching English online with stable audio quality and rich features like screen sharing. However, most online teaching companies have their own platform to host the classrooms for you, whether one-on-one sessions or larger group lessons.
Online English Teaching Job Options
There are a few types of online teaching jobs you can choose from based on the nature of the employment status, target students.
- Individual and independent teacher – this means you’ll be building your network of paying students, whether via a website you developed or advertise your service via other methods. This probably brings you the most lucrative pay per teaching hour, especially you are focusing on the niche market like teaching SAT, GMAT, TEFOL, where the quality is over quantity. However, running your own business also demand the greatest effort on your part. If you’re interested in building your teaching business, then skip to the later section, Create Your Own Lessons.
- Independent part-time contractor working for an online ESL teaching platform – the benefit of working for an online ESL teaching platform is that you skip all the hassle like collecting payment, finding students, and taking care of the random miscellaneous chore. However, there is also some catch when you work for others, this guide is meant to navigate you through this online teaching job jungle. See a list of online companies.
In this guide, we’ll mainly focus on online teaching jobs as an independent part-time contractor working for online ESL companies.
Type of ESL Teaching Certificates
TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language)
Probably the most common ESL teaching certificate. In theory, a TEFL certificate can boost your teaching job opportunities and salary. However, there’s no unified and universal standard for the quality of the TEFL course and the certificate fee may range from US$40 to 1,400. See this TEFL guide to help to choose which TEFL to pick from.
TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages)
Another very common ESL teaching certificate. Similar to TEFL, there’s no universal standard curriculum for it. TESOL tends to be offered by more accredited university-level organizations. See the TESOL guide.
CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults)
This is an accredited certificate offered by Cambridge University. This is probably the most intensive English teaching curriculum you can obtain and universally recognized. However, it comes with a high price tag and might overkill for online ESL teaching.
What Online English Teaching Companies to Work For?
You might soon notice that the majority of the online ESL companies are based in China, including the popular ones like Hujiang, Whale English, iTutorGroup, DaDaABC, Landi, PalFish, ALO7, VIPKID, SayABC, Magic Ears, Micro Language, etc are some of the most popular Chinese companies to work for online English teaching from what we’ve heard from our FAQ section and Facebook communities, Online ESL Reviews and Online English Teaching Jobs, to read others’ reviews and learn about their experiences to find the right opportunity for yourself.
What are the Most Popular Online English Teaching Jobs?
Where can I Find Matching Online English Teaching Jobs?
We can assist you in finding a or multiple matching jobs free of charge! Submit your application
You can also use the powerful ESL Teaching Job searching feature to filter and find jobs that fit your criteria.
Online English Teaching Job Lists
- Top 5 companies to work for Non-Native English speaking teachers or see the searchable non-native English teacher list.
- Top 5 Online English Teaching Jobs for South African Teachers
- Top 10 Best Companies To Work For Online English Teaching
Common Questions about Online English Teaching Jobs
Why Should I Teach English Online?
- Engage students from all of the country or world instead of merely students around your neighborhood.
- An additional sustainable source of income as a part-time job without wasting time commuting and great flexibility of scheduling for stay-home parents or simply ones looking for side gigs.
- Online teaching is a great fit for digital nomads if you want to work remotely from anywhere while traveling and not be confined by an institute or location.
- It’s always interesting meeting people from all over the world, or being able to live anywhere in the world as a digital nomad with the flexibility to sustain yourself.
- Save time and fuel not wasted by sitting in the traffic but in your comfortable home.
- See additional 10 Benefits of Teaching English Online
What is the Schedule like for Online Teaching?
One of the biggest perks of teaching online is a flexible schedule, control of your own time (kind of), and the ability to work from home or anywhere with good Internet access.
However, note that students learning online are coming from all over the world. As a result, the time zone differences are a significant factor you would need to consider. You are might end up teaching for the Chinese young students due to the booming online English teaching platforms in China.
How Much Do Online English Teachers Make? Is Pay is Good?
You probably won’t able to live a king or queen teaching English online, except if you move to countries with lower living costs, and in fact, many did in Southeast Asia. That said, teaching English Online is probably one of the top-ranking paying online part-time jobs that provides a substantial subsidiary income. The downside is that you are either hired as an independent contractor by the company, so you won’t receive full-time employee benefits and need to take care of your own health insurance bill.
Another thing to watch out for is the hourly pay rate and total compensation, see the compensation in the later section to learn about the salary breakdown, and things to be mindful of when judging the pay by a company. Be sure to learn and consult with the recruiter about the compensation and bonus structure as well as the class cancelation policy to avoid the pitfalls
You are very likely to get paid in US dollars, therefore the international money transfer and currency fluctuation are also the factors that have a significant impact on how much money you end up receiving.
Is it possible to begin teaching ESL online without prior teaching experience?
Yes, many online platforms do not require their teacher to have teaching experience, but we recommend you to get an English teaching certificate TEFL, TESOL, or CELTA to widen your job opportunities and boost your salary. You can also look into the free courses by Coursera Learning to Teach Online and Teaching EFL/ESL Reading.
Would I Need to be Able to Speak the Foreign Language of the ESL Students?
Most online platforms do not require their teachers to be bilingual, teachers with this skill use it to their benefit. Knowing a second or even a third language allows you to further connect with your students and help them learn the course material easier.
How to adjust from classroom teacher to teaching Online?
Online teaching is a bit different from in-classroom teaching, where you have a physical presence and easier interaction with students. However, it’s not difficult transitioning from in-classroom teachers to online teaching once you understand some fundamental differences between these environments and able to adapt to different techniques.
- You will need to make gesture adjustments and teaching styles due to a finite and relatively small screen and video framing.
- Slightly more difficult to promote group discussion in an online session.
- The class material presentation is shifted from blackboard to interactive software and apps.
- Low Internet speed, software glitch, and technical issues can be an extremely annoying thing to handle.
Here are some tips for you to boost income as an English teacher beyond online teaching.
Do I Need to Prepare the Teaching Materials?
Online ESL companies usually already have the course materials prepared, some require the teacher to prepare more than others depending on the type of class to be taught. Teaching young children is certainly less prep work compare to teaching teens to read a classic English novel. The main thing is ensuring that you understand the grammar rules and how to teach pronunciation. Many of your students are going to ask you how to pronounce words and phrases. Understanding the various vowel and consonant sounds, the ever famous schwa sound, and common pronunciation mistakes is vital if you want to become a top-level teacher. Grammar can be tricky to teach given all of the exceptions afforded in the English language. If you are new to teaching English you might become overwhelmed with some of the finer details when it comes to the various grammar rules. Therefore you might want to take a TEFL or TESOL course to help you understand varieties of teaching methodologies and techniques.
What Are The Drawbacks Of Online Teaching Jobs?
Although there are plenty of benefits of teaching online, there are a few downsides as well. First and foremost, the online teaching marketplace continues to grow and so do the competitions. This not only applies to companies but also to teachers. Online teaching companies are in fierce competition, many barely survive, and some went bankrupt in just a few seasons.
While the internet’s popularity serves many purposes and is the leading way that many freelance workers make their living, you must take into consideration that people all around the world are doing the same thing. This can lead to lower salaries and competition with people who are living in lower-cost environments. To avoid the race to the bottom, make sure you have all the qualifications satisfied, the more the better to stay top-notch in the game.
What to Expect for Online English Teaching Jobs?
Type of Students
- Very likely you’ll be teaching students online from all over the world and the majority are Chinese students, as students from China consist of the highest number of online ESL students. As a result, you’ll need to put in the effort to learn your students’ background in order to understand their learning motivation and hurdle and leverage the effective teaching methods to bridge the gap of language differences in order to become an effective teacher.
- Online English learning students range from 4 years old to sophisticated business professionals.
- The majority of the online ESL class will be focusing on teaching young children age 5-12.
Learning Focuses – ESL companies have varieties of teaching expectation due to their targeting students
- General or conversational – learning simple pronunciation, young children, etc. Teaching children require greater patient and attention in detail because you know, you’re dealing with children.
- College entrance exam prep – SAT, GMAT, GRE, TEFOL, etc
- Business English – teaching adults is usually simpler than children, adult lessons tend to be focusing on conversational skills and one dedicates the effort to learning English often has a clear goal of achievement.
Online English Class Arrangement
- Range from one-on-one, 2, 4, 10, or even 40 if you land a job teaching public school, where you’ll be projected on a large screen!
- Range from 25 min or 90 min in back to back sessions.
Time Zone Differences
- Depending on where you and your students located, you’re very likely to encounter time differences if teach online. Depending on the company you work for, but the majority of online students are based outside of English speaking countries, especially in China and various countries in Asia.
Class Schedule Flexibility
- A fixed class schedule with recurring students – which means you’ll need to dedicate some hours to the same recurring classes each week.
- A flexible class schedule with non-recurring students – you might get new students or the same students who book your class again.
- Flexible hours without weekly hour commitment – his is more spontaneous, you can open up your class whenever you’re available.
Peak vs. Non-Peak Teaching Hours
- Due to the sheer and dominating number of online ESL students are from China, so the peak time period 6 pm – 9 pm Beijing time offers the most English teaching job opportunities. The majority of the Chinese companies also offer, if not only, the teaching hours during that time period.
Companies have their own compensation structure, including an hourly pay rate, bonus, or penalties. The hourly rate for teaching online typically ranges from US$15 – 25 per hour depending on your qualifications and companies’ focusing audience, some can get as high as $40 – $60+ per hour.
Real Hourly Rate = Base Hourly Rate + Bonus – Penalties
Real hourly rate
- This is usually not a flat rate, but the dynamic rate as shown in the formula above.
Base Hourly Rate
- Depending on your qualifications – the company’s accent preference, educational background (Bachelor’s degree or above and field in Education and English are highly preferred), prior teaching experience, etc.
- The company’s salary structure – ones focusing on high-level English curricula like writing and grammar or business professional is typically paying significantly higher than teaching young children.
- Your interview performance – there are some key qualities that recruiters emphasizing, including passion, friendly attitude, engagement, positive manner, professionalism, etc. Just recall the teachers you enjoy the most then you’ll understand recruiters’ reasoning and logic.
- Good student review, contract bonus, periodic rate raise, great performance, high booking rate, etc.
Cancellation and Penalties
- Late to class, absent, leave early, short notice, etc
Pick a company that pays well and punctuate! 5 Top Paying Online ESL Companies That Let You Teach English From Home
How Do You Get Paid? The Payment Methods
Companies often pay you via Payoneer, bank wiring/transfer, or Paypal. Note that those financial services take a fair amount of fees out of your salary, some more than others, $15 per bank wiring, 4% of transaction fee on PayPal, or fixed $2 per transaction on Payoneer. Some companies withhold the income tax. Another loss from the conversion of local currency to USD or other currencies. This something else for you to look out for and understand when you venture into the world of online teaching.
Legal and Accounting
Individual Income Tax as an Independent Contractor
Online English teacher is typically independent contractors hired by the company instead of a full-time employee. Therefore, you will be responsible for your own income taxes. Many do not deduct and withhold taxes from the teachers’ monthly payment, but some do.
- For US citizens and tax-payers, all income of more than USD $600 per year is reported directly to the IRS via the 1099s form.
Legal & Employment Contract
- The employment contract duration usually lasts from 6 months to one year.
- Teaching position usually hired as an independent and individual part-time contractor
How to Maximize Your Earning in Online Teaching Jobs?
The following list is an extract short version of the full guide making the most money from online English teaching
1. Polish Your Resume
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.
Prepare yourself with a good knowledge of online English teaching jobs.
3. Focus on the ESL Companies with the Greater Pay Rate
- 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? (PayPal, Payoneer, bank wiring, or direct bank deposit.)
- What currency do you pay in?
- What’s the payment schedule? (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 in – a company like iTutorGroup pays differently based on the country you currently living in. The pay rate for Americans living in the US is different from Americans who 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 to fix a 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.
4. Obtain an ESL Teaching Certificate
A certificate is not always required by online ESL companies. 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.
5. Prepare for Your Job 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. Here’re some teaching tips that may help you.
Understand the different factors greatly shape the drastic different teaching styles,
- For younger children, TPR and more dramatic actions are required for constant engagement, but the teaching material is simpler and less preparation is required.
- 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.
- Adults – 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.
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 Micro Language and 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 times as possible. Check out this guide, 6 Tips to Stand Out With Self-Introduction Video for Online English Teaching job
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 hundreds 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 an additional student sign-up bonus to the demo teachers who are acting as the company’s greatest salesforce.
What you also need to know is 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 students 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 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 their exceptions depending on the country of the company is established 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.
Furthermore, look for the companies that have a great reputation in punctuating and fair payment, because there are many out there who 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 Hujiang, iTutorGroup, Micro Language, Landi, and Palfish where they have well-organized finance and HR teams to ensure paying you on time.
Create Your Own Online ESL Lessons
You may create your own teaching materials or employ existing ones. Most online teaching companies provide plans for you already. You can also employ engaging and fun activities such as games, discussions, debates, storytelling, and role-playing, beyond the traditional lessons. You most likely won’t need to speak another language besides English. The point is that you’ll talk in English 100% of the time, so foreign students can copy your accent and pick up how you speak like a native.
Create your own English lesson is another viable option, but require significantly more effort and setup time before you can run it. Here’s a create your own online English teaching business guide if you’re interested in finding your own students, accounting and legal work, and don’t mind building a simple website.
Some downside if you decide to build your own website, teaching business, and find your own students, you might run into a feast or famine environment when you first start your adventure. Being your own boss is great, but with anything that is worth having, it can be hard going in the beginning. If you take this route, you really should have some money stored away or be teaching on another platform while you build your student base.
The secret to turning a big profit online is to differentiate yourself from your competitors online. If you offer something different from everyone else, the students will come to you. You need to find your niche basically. Many people find this through test preparation, specific types of training, and pronunciation, just to name a few.
Here is a list of excellent ESL teaching books and references for you to spare or enhance your teaching skills.
Are You Ready to Teach English Online?
Learn more about Tips To Effectively Teach English Online
Learn and Get Support From Other Online ESL Teachers
You can join our Online English Teaching Jobs Facebook group to learn about others’ experiences in teaching English online. You’ll learn where to find online teaching job opportunities, the application and interview process for each company, the pay, and benefits, how to make the most money teaching English online, as well as the tips for teaching ESL successfully.
All in all, online English teaching is an ideal remote job for travelers or those looking for flexibility while gaining experience in the field. It is also a rewarding experience as you impact others’ lives while learning about other cultures.
Where can I find a supportive English Teaching community?
If you do choose to become an online teacher, you can join our Facebook groups, Online ESL Reviews, Online English Teaching Jobs, and Online English Teaching Jobs Facebook group where you can find supportive and experienced teachers.
You can also ask questions or support your fellow teachers’ in this FAQ section.
Let Us Help You Find Matching English Teaching Jobs
We can assist you in finding a or multiple matching jobs by Submitting your application.
You can also leverage sorting and filtering features to find the online ESL teaching jobs from this searchable online teaching job list.
Here are some of the top-paying companies to look into.