When Micaela Hegarty lived in Sumter, South Carolina, she needed a way to pay the rent while she attended college online, but the local economy couldn’t provide.
Hegarty, 25, needed a flexible schedule to work around her classes, and the ability to take her work on the road. When she searched Indeed for jobs in her area, there weren’t many results. One listing did catch her eye, though: online English as a Second Language teacher. That gig would allow her to work from anywhere.
Hegarty doesn’t have a bachelor’s degree or any previous teaching experience. But she found a job anyway — and it paid more than $20 an hour.
“It was the highest-paid part-time job I’ve ever come across,” Hegarty said, “especially as a college student.”
ESL teachers are in high demand. To keep up, many online English education companies offer their teachers bonuses if they refer other teachers to their platform. And, overall, requirements to become an ESL teacher are low, especially if you want to teach English abroad.
Hegarty made the switch to in-person teaching in August 2018. She said her online experience helped her land a teaching job in South Korea through its government-run Teach and Learn in Korea program.
If you’re not feeling quite that adventurous yet, you can start to teach English online from the comfort of your home, just like Hegarty did.
Want to Teach English Online? Try These 7 Companies
Most of the companies below focus on primarily Chinese grade schoolers, meaning teaching hours tend to be in the early mornings or late evenings for U.S. time zones. That’s perfect to supplement a 9-to-5 job.
Some companies prepare lessons and schedule the classes for you. Others use less structured methods — log on whenever you have the free time and get matched with a student on a chat-pairing system.
All of the companies below are listed with their Glassdoor ratings easily accessible. Because demand for English teachers is so high, there are a lot of less-than-reputable companies out there. As with any new gig, it’s important to vet each company to see which one will fit your schedule and income needs.
While required education and experience may vary by company, here are some things you will need for all online classes:
- Erasable whiteboard and markers.
- Props like charts, pictures, posters or stuffed animals.
- A web camera.
- A high-speed internet connection.
- A computer, tablet or smartphone.
Once you’ve get those materials, you’re ready to start signing up and taking students.
(Note: Companies are listed in alphabetical order.)
Turn your spare time into a nice, crisp Andrew Jackson.
Since 2012, Boxfish has incorporated its English-language curriculum into middle and high schools across Beijing and now offers online English classes that are available all across China. According to its website, more than 5 million Chinese students use the online platform to learn English.
Boxfish provides all the course materials that teachers need to get started, so there’s minimal lesson prep.
There are three ways to rack up teaching time:
- A prescheduled 25-minute class, ranging from one to four students.
- An on-demand 25-minute class, where the teacher and student are automatically paired at random.
- A one-minute feedback video response to a prerecorded student oral dictation.
Boxfish pays teachers $10 per 25 minutes. If your student is a no-show, you’ll still get $6 per class. (But if you fail to show up to a scheduled class twice, you’ll get the ax.)
All lessons can be conducted on a tablet or smartphone. So no computer is required, but a high-speed, stable internet connection is.
To qualify, you must have grown up in an English-speaking country and have a bachelor’s degree. Current accents that are in-demand are American, Australian, British and Canadian. An English teaching certification (aka TEFL or TESOL) is preferred, but not required.
Hourly Pay: $20.
Glassdoor Rating: 3.5 (out of five) stars.
Requirements: Native English fluency; a tablet, smartphone or computer with a web camera; high-speed internet and a bachelor’s degree.
Don’t sweat it if you didn’t go to college. You can still teach English online without a degree (and in several countries, if you’re interested).
Cambly is unique in that it offers English tutoring sessions to students around the world, children and adults alike. For teachers, there’s no minimum amount of teaching time because the payment system works by the minute at a rate of 17 cents. In theory, it’s possible to earn up to $10.20 an hour.
While pay is notably less than other companies, Cambly is welcoming to new teachers of English as a Second Language without industry experience or a college education. Plus, the paychecks come weekly.
Creating a tutor profile is straightforward. To qualify, you’ll simply need a native level of English fluency, a computer with a webcam and a high-speed internet connection.
Once your profile is complete, students will be able to search you in an index of tutors. The competition may make it hard to land lessons at first, but tutors can make themselves stand out by scheduling priority hours, which let students know who’s online and available to chat.
Hourly Pay: up to $10.20.
Glassdoor Rating: 4.2 (out of five) stars.
Requirements: Native English fluency, a computer with a web camera and a high-speed internet connection.
Depending on your qualifications, Gogokid is among the top-paying English teaching platforms on the web. While the job can be performed from anywhere, the positions are open only to Canadian and American citizens.
Teachers are given a base pay between $7 and $10 a class, depending on experience and their performance during mock lessons that are part of the prehiring interview process.
Classes are 25 minutes long, so it’s possible to knock out two within an hour. Teachers accrue ratings based on class quality and attendance that can bump their base pay 25% higher; pay can range from $14 to $25 an hour for teaching two classes.
Gogokid lays out the teacher-rating criteria, so there’s no guesswork involved. It also supplies the lessons and curriculum to cut down on prep time. But, as always, props are appreciated.
As with many teaching platforms, hours are based on China Standard Time. Students typically study English after their school day, so peak hours are on weekdays between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. China Standard Time and between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. on weekends, according to the Gogokid website.
Teaching with Gogokid requires a bachelor’s degree in any field. A certificate to teach English as a foreign language isn’t required, but it wouldn’t hurt (especially if you’re hoping for the maximum hourly rate of $25).
Hourly Pay: $14 to $25.
Glassdoor Rating: 3.9 (out of five) stars.
Requirements: A bachelor’s degree, a computer with a web camera, a headset and a 20 MBps high-speed internet connection.
Are you as interested in learning a new language as you are in teaching one?
Italki has more than 5,000 teachers who specialize in almost any language, the most popular being English.
Using an on-site search function, students can sift through an array of teachers, sorting by hourly rates, credentials and several other criteria.
Language teachers can create one of two profiles: professional teacher or community tutor. As the name implies, the professional teachers have a more formal background in language teaching, but native speakers who want to earn extra cash are welcome to host lessons as community tutors.
What distinguishes Italki from numerous other language-learning websites is that teachers can set their own hourly rates (between $4 and $80 an hour). There are no minimum or maximum hour limits, either.
Another unique feature to Italki is the ability for users to have language exchanges for free. (So if you want to practice your Korean, you can search for a Korean-language speaker who wants to learn English, and start talking.)
Similar to most freelance websites, Italki makes its money through service fees, which are currently 15% of the lesson cost, according to Italki’s terms of service. After each lesson, your pay accumulates on your profile until you request a withdrawal, which takes up to 10 days.
Since more than 5 million international students use Italki, schedules are a little more flexible because they aren’t based on one particular time zone.
Hourly Pay: $4 to $80.
Glassdoor Rating: 4.1 (out of five) stars.
Requirements: Native fluency in any language, a computer with a web camera and high-speed internet.
A big perk for most online English as a Second Language teachers is the ability to work from just about anyplace with a high-speed internet connection. However, with Qkids, ESL teachers are required to reside in the U.S. or Canada.
Regardless, there are several other unique aspects that make teaching English with Qkids worth your time if you plan on staying put in North America.
For example, Qkids does a lot of the scheduling work for you, and there’s no need to market yourself on the site like some other platforms require.
Teacher requirements are pretty flexible, too.
While the company prefers that teachers have previous teaching experience and certification, Hegarty didn’t have her bachelor’s degree (but was enrolled in college) when she taught with Qkids. She had no previous experience, nor a certification, and still earned $20 an hour. That’s because she received bonuses for performance and attendance on top of her base pay of $8 per lesson.
Like most similar sites, it’s possible to teach two lessons per hour, and those hours are likely to be in the early morning or late evenings, as the students — ages 4 to 12 — are based in China.
A minimum commitment to six hours (12 lessons) a week for six months is required to start teaching.
Hourly Pay: $16 to $22.
Glassdoor Rating: 4.3 (out of five) stars.
Requirements: Native English fluency, a residence in the U.S. or Canada, high-speed internet connection, a computer with a web camera and a minimum of six dedicated teaching hours per week.
Rosetta Stone has been a mainstay in the language-learning world since 1992. While it’s best known for its educational software, it also dabbles in online tutoring.
At Rosetta Stone, the online English tutoring positions are considered part-time jobs. They provide more stability in terms of income because you’re guaranteed a certain amount of hours per week — usually between eight and 15, depending on the position. The company also offers its tutors bonus holiday pay and access to its 401(k) plan.
Regardless of location, all tutoring appointments are based on Eastern Standard Time (to avoid confusion, a spokeswoman said).
The trade-off, in comparison with some other platforms, is that you can’t teach on-demand hours at Rosetta Stone.
Another caveat is that the online tutoring positions are available only to U.S. residents with a bachelor’s degree or higher, but they are open to applicants nationwide. American and U.K. accents are welcome.
Hourly Pay: $15 to $22, according to Glassdoor.
Glassdoor Rating: 3.3 (out of five) stars.
Requirements: A U.S. residence, a bachelor’s degree, high-speed internet connection, a computer with a web camera and teaching availability on Eastern Standard Time.
In terms of Glassdoor rating, VIPKid is tied with other sites to make the list. But none comes close to the sheer number of reviews.
Since its founding in 2013, VIPKid has already amassed more than 1,200 anonymous Glassdoor reviews; most are overwhelmingly positive. Glassdoor recently rated it one of the “coolest companies for freelancers,” too.
The way VIPKid works is similar to all the other sites on the list: base pay for each lesson, two lessons per hour. The hours are also based on China Standard Time, as the students are Chinese grade schoolers. Minimal lesson prep is required. Its platform isn’t novel, but according to user reviews, it’s efficient and effective.
“I began working for VIPKid over a year ago because of its reputation of being one of the largest ESL companies in the market,” said Tim Gascoigne, a Canadian teacher who currently lives in Malaysia. “I found them to be the most reliable and consistent and knew people who worked for them already.”
To qualify, applicants must have a bachelor’s degree in hand (sorry, college students), one or more years of relevant experience and must be able to commit to a six-month contract.
No TEFL certification is required, and teachers can reside anywhere in the world as long as there’s a stable internet connection.
Hourly Pay: $14 to $22.
Glassdoor Rating: 4.3 (out of five) stars.
Requirements: English fluency (non-native speakers allowed), a bachelor’s degree, a high-speed internet connection, a computer with a web camera and eligibility to work in the U.S. or Canada.
Adam Hardy is a staff writer on the Make Money team at The Penny Hoarder. He’s a Cambridge certified English language teacher, but he hasn’t yet tested his teaching chops online. Read his full bio here, or say hi on Twitter @hardyjournalism.
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