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Do you want to make money from home? If you like the idea of teaching, consider becoming an online tutor.
The average online tutor earns between $10-$40 per hour, although it varies greatly. You can work from anywhere in the world with a good internet connection, and it’s probably one of the easiest ways to get started working remotely.
This job is best suited for teachers who want to make a difference in the lives of students all over the globe. The only qualification you need at this point is the ability to speak English fluently.
👉 Skip to: Best Online Teaching Companies
How to Teach English Online– My Story
Not to bore you with my life story, but I have been teaching ESL online on and off for six years. I only needed to stop when I studied abroad in California, and the timezone difference became too extreme for me to handle.
Teaching English online partially funded my university life, and I stuck with it after graduating as I tried to make it my full-time income. I loved teaching online and always looked for the next big online teaching opportunity.
I earned $10 per hour with the first company I had ever worked with teaching online. Considering I didn’t have a degree and was nineteen years old at the time, it didn’t seem like such a bad number. I was also paid in full even if I had no students for the hour.
After that, I tried different companies before settling into my role at a Chinese company called Dada. When I first joined there, I earned $21 per hour, which became my main income after graduating.
I eventually took the plunge and decided to try teaching privately, and that really transformed how I taught English! I started to earn up to $60 per hour teaching online while I created my own lessons for students.
As covid loomed upon us, I decided to travel to other European countries, and it’s been quite an introspective period of my life, all while teaching online. I hope to continue my nomadic journey in the form of teaching and writing for many years to come.
Teaching Online is Not Like Teaching in The Classroom
Teaching online and teaching in the classroom are two very different things. I’ve tried both, and here are the main differences I encountered.
With teaching online:
- You have a flexible schedule. Set your own hours.
- You can work as little or as much as you want
- You can have more time with your family
- You can travel the world with your laptop
- You are in charge
Even if you enjoy teaching in a brick-and-mortar school, it is nice to have a little extra side income teaching English online.
If you are interested in teaching online, here is how to start your teaching journey.
Set a Date
Have you decided when you are going to start teaching English online? You know what they say, there’s no time like the present.
Take small, actionable steps each day to attain your goal. If you really don’t have time right now, mark it on the calendar for later. Remind yourself the reasons WHY you want to do this.
Write down the reasons. It will help you stay motivated and on track with your goals.
After deciding a date to get started, you will want to move on to your budget. Do you have the equipment needed to get started?
Make a list of what is required and your expected expenditure.
How much do you need to invest in equipment?
- Fast laptop (preferably an i5 core processor with at least 8GB of RAM)
- Stable and secure internet connection or backup internet connection
- An ESL certificate
- A headset with a microphone (required by some companies)
If you don’t have a webcam, you can buy an external one to fit onto your laptop.
#1 Best Seller
- Plug-and-play camera with a built-in microphone
- Full HD 1080p video calling and recording at 30 fps
- Auto brightens or darkens to match the light level
- Easy installation as it just plugs in via USB
- Sits on top of your PC or MAC
The students should be able to hear you clearly and vice versa.
Therefore, always wear a good headset that you can ideally plug into your device. A noise-canceling headset with a microphone will help prevent interruptions affecting you and the student.
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After deciding a date to start, you will want to move on to your budget. Do you have the equipment needed to get started? Make a list of what is required and your expected expenditure.
You may be asking at this point: how much will you need to invest to successfully begin your online teaching career?
You don’t have to invest much. Ensure you have a working laptop, a stable internet connection, and a teaching certificate.
If you want to earn more money teaching ESL online, you could also specialize in an area of online teaching, such as teaching young learners, exam prep, creative writing, or teaching business English. You could also work as an accent coach or become a niche teacher.
You may want to consider using props or reward systems if you plan to teach kids.
You’ll also want to consider your teaching background and what you want to add to make it suitable for clients, or you could use a green screen.
You can make your teaching background for free, or you can buy some inexpensive things to add your own personal touch. Here are some teaching backgrounds for $5 or less.
How are you going to receive foreign currency?
For years, I received my income directly from my bank account, which was a big mistake. I was losing money.
If you are receiving money from a foreign company and exchange rates are an issue, I strongly recommend Wise (formerly known as Transferwise). Transferwise gives you the best mid-market rates and is transparent with their fees. Read my Wise review for more information.
I accept all my online payments via Wise to avoid any poor currency conversion fees. It’s free to sign up! Learn more in my Wise review.
If your online teaching company does not accept the bank details from Wise (rare but can happen), see our other options for receiving payments from online ESL companies here.
Write a list of the things you need to add to your shopping cart. Here are some of the things that I consider as other teaching essentials.
You may also be interested in: Best Equipment for Online Teaching.
Overall, you don’t have to spend a lot to teach English. You may find that you have a lot of items at home.
Get Your Teaching Certificate
While a teaching certificate is unnecessary for some jobs, such as Cambly, most companies require a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certificate.
If you just want to teach English online as a part-time career, the International Open Academy Certificate will cover your teaching needs. This will help you get a job with most online teaching companies.
I completed the TEFL Academy course, which is a much more in-depth course suitable if you want to teach in a school abroad or get the highest-paid teaching job. You can read my TEFL Academy review here.
Updating your resume is not a fun task. However, it may be required by some online teaching companies. Take the job seriously and upload your resume or fill in the online application on the company website.
Important Information to Include:
- Your teaching certificate and educational background.
- Show that you have an interest in learning
- Include teaching experience or relevant work experience.
- Write about times you worked with people in the past (volunteering, mentoring, coaching, babysitting, homeschooling, customer service, etc.)
Show your interest in learning by talking about your qualifications and experience, even if it doesn’t relate to teaching.
If you have online teaching experience or experience teaching in a classroom, you should write it down! Otherwise, include other teaching-related experiences, such as volunteering and mentoring.
Start Teaching English Online
When it comes to teaching English online, there are a ton of companies out there. You need to be on the lookout for these highly coveted positions by browsing and setting alerts on sites such as Indeed, TEFL.com, and any other job sites.
I recommend building up your teaching experience first. There are a number of ways to build up experience, such as:
- Teach in a local language school
- Build up your experience teaching abroad
- Teach for an online company that requires no experience, such as Cambly
- Provide a homestay for students
How Can I Teach English Online?
There are several ways to teach English online. Let’s look at the following options and list the pros and cons for each:
- Work for an online ESL company
- Become a freelancer on a teaching marketplace
- Find your own paying clients
1. Work for an ESL Company
Many online teachers start out by working at an online ESL company and spend many years working for them.
Online ESL companies find students and usually plan the lessons for you, paying you weekly or monthly.
You can set your schedule as you please; some online ESL companies offer more flexibility than others.
- Typically between $10-$30 per hour
- Less work upfront
- The online companies find you students and fill your schedule
- You can enjoy the flexibility of working at home
- You don’t have to plan lessons
- Some companies have limited working hours available
- You may have to stick to a weekly or monthly schedule
- No guarantee you will have a full schedule, so it’s best not to rely on just one company for your full-time income
Many teachers like to start teaching English at online teaching companies. Teachers can teach adults and kids from all over the world. It can be a great side income or even a full-time income when you get things going.
As this is a new space and many companies are relatively new (5-10 years old), you should consider signing up for multiple companies if you make this your full-time income. This will help you fill up your schedule.
Many digital nomads or those who want to travel sign up with online teaching companies and move to a country with a lower cost of living.
Teaching online companies are also a popular option for stay-at-home parents. The flexibility helps them work around their kids’ needs.
Popular Teaching Companies Right Now
- Carrot Global
- Savvy Reading
- Purple Academy
- Nao Now
- Littera Education
See more on our jobs page.
You may also be interested in: The Best English Teaching Companies.
2. Freelance in a Teaching Marketplace
You can post your profile on a website and advertise your own rates. The freelancing website may take a cut of your earnings in return for you using their platform.
You are in more control of the rates you charge, but you will most likely have to find your own lesson plans.
Some online freelance platforms provide lesson plans for you; however, clients may ask you to cater to them with a special learning plan.
Pros of Freelance Platforms
- Usually has a higher earning potential
- Complete control over your schedule
- Working from home flexibility
- You don’t have to find clients as they are already using these websites to learn English
- You don’t have to worry about marketing.
The main benefit of these websites is that they give the teachers total freedom to decide their schedule and set any hours they like, and if they are good teachers, they will quickly gain some regular students.
Cons of Freelance Platforms
- You may need to build up your profile credibility before charging higher rates
- You have to lesson plan
- You depend on students to choose you as their teacher
Adding your profile to a freelance website is an excellent way to find new students to schedule classes and become regular students.
Teachers can use material from a range of websites to help them teach. We cover some websites in-depth in my teachers’ resources section:
- Best ESL Worksheets for Beginners (+45 Free Resources)
- 7 Best ESL Grammar Websites for Students
- Best Free Business English Lesson Plans [6 Websites]
- 12 Best ESL Advanced Lesson Plans and Simple Games
- 15 ESL Websites for Teachers (Free and Paid)
Luckily, many teaching materials are readily available online, making it easy for experienced teachers to plan lessons and advertise themselves on a new platform.
3. Find Your Own Paying Clients
You could also set up your own website, brand yourself, and reach out to clients on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.
By doing this, you will receive requests from students interested in signing up for your teaching course or lessons.
No commission cuts, very few startup costs, and an even higher income are possible. I know teachers charging $100 or more per hour (I am not even kidding, but they have a business trainer to help them with their mindset and the challenges of scaling such a business).
The mid-range rate is $30 per hour, but this can also change if you decide to teach group lessons. It varies according to your expertise, the location you are targeting, and your ability to market your services effectively.
You can determine a niche or a group of people you would be interested in teaching and develop lessons around this area.
- Fewer fees and the highest return on your teaching efforts
- Complete control over your schedule
- You can charge higher rates as you brand yourself
- Work-from-home flexibility
- You have to find your own paying clients
- You have to market yourself
If you learn keyword research, you can rank yourself organically on Google, which can take months to implement. You would more likely receive success by reaching out to professionals on Linkedin, Facebook, Instagram, Tiktok, or YouTube. See our teaching business ideas for more information.
While finding your own paying clients can be the hardest task, it can be the most rewarding part of your teaching career. And you will find students that refer to others by word-of-mouth, so you may not have to rely on your own marketing techniques to get students.
Other Ways Teachers Earn
Some online teachers take up other roles in companies, such as teacher trainers or recruiters, and they can earn in ways other than teaching English.
Some teachers make props and sell them on Etsy or create and sell courses for teachers and learners. Here are other ways teachers can make money when teaching English online.
Independent Contractor Status
When you decide to teach English online, you are often employed as an independent contractor.
This means that while you work for these foreign companies online, you are responsible for your own taxes.
Independent contractor laws and taxes vary depending on state law and jurisdiction. I am not a financial advisor, so I cannot give you advice on this one, but you may want to consider talking to your accountant about it.
Deciding to teach English online is a fun venture for anyone who wants to stay at home, travel, or needs more flexibility in their life. It is also a way of making a great income with ample opportunities for you to make your mark. Make sure to have the appropriate teaching setup before you get started, such as a working laptop, webcam, headset with microphone, and TEFL certificate. Tutors can choose to teach at online ESL companies, freelance platforms, or find their own paying clients.
Did your current job ever cause you to stop and think about things you’re missing out on?
Teaching English online is not for everyone, but it can be a great part-time income and a wonderful opportunity to meet people from all over the world.
What are your reasons for wanting to teach English online? Comment below!
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Highest-Paying Online Teaching Jobs
In my post, I cover a list of some of the highest-paying online teaching jobs. Alternatively, use the curriculum online and find your own students. It’s easier than you think!
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I'm an Irish tutor and founder of TPR Teaching. I started teaching in 2016 and have since taught in the UK, Spain, and online.
I love learning new things about the English language and how to teach it better. I'm always trying to improve my knowledge, so I can better meet the needs of others!
I enjoy traveling, nature walks, and soaking up a new culture. Please share the posts if you find them helpful!
3 thoughts on “How to Teach English Online – Ultimate Guide (2023)”
I would like to teach online. How do I start and where do I apply?
Start by getting your TEFL certification online! Then apply for TEFL jobs and gain some experience!
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