With the rise of online ESL platforms, many teachers have made the move from brick and mortar classrooms to a virtual space. As the English language learning world continues to expand and change, there is an ever-growing number of companies offering online work to ESL teachers. This means that there is an almost inexhaustible list of opportunities to make money teaching English online.
That poses the question: just how much money can you make teaching English online?
However, the answer isn’t cut and dry. In some cases, you can make a lot. In other cases, it’s a little.
I have been teaching English online for almost two years. The most money I’ve made in one month was £2,400 (€2,638). During that month, I hustled and worked more than I would normally, teaching classes in both the mornings and evenings during the weekend when most of my students were available.
My schedule is restricted to weekday evenings and weekends because my students are all school age. This limits my available hours which in turn, limits my pay. Luckily for me, I live and work in Southeast Asia and teach Chinese students so my time zone is only an hour behind theirs. The number of classes I taught each week might not be possible if you were living somewhere else in the world.
All of this is to say that there isn’t a fixed equation for how much money you can make teaching English online. It depends on the company you work for, the students you teach, and your qualifications.
I’m a native English speaker from Canada with a Bachelor’s Degree in English, a TEFL qualification, and two years of classroom experience. I make £17 (€19)/hour and the company I work for is one of the leading companies in China for school-age students.
That being said, you can make a lot less money than that or you can make a lot more. It depends on you.
There are a lot of online ESL companies that require native English speakers with degrees and for some, there will be passport restrictions. With these companies, like VIPKID, GogoKid, and SayABC, you will see wages at approximately £16 (€17.60)/hour and above. Some of these companies offer incentives to boost your pay and you can often get closer to £24 (€26)/hour.
On the other end of that are platforms like Cambly that do not require degrees that pay approximately £8(€8.80) a class. You will find plenty of companies in the £8-16 (€8.80-17.60) range with more flexible requirements. But with these companies, your schedule will likely be more flexible. Your students will be of all different ages and come from all over the world, allowing you to work any hour of the day, no matter where you are located. If you crush a lot of classes each week, you’ll also crush a hefty paycheque.
However, if you have specialized qualifications, there are online ESL opportunities where you can make a lot of money. For example, if you are qualified and experienced in teaching IELTS, you can find a niche for that. If you have experience teaching business ESL, you can find a niche for that. I’ve heard of people teaching specialized ESL to pilots and making outrageous amounts of money doing so.
If you have the experience and knowledge of specialized business ESL, research is your friend. Market your skills and experience and you should have no problem finding a high-paying gig.
Get a TEFL qualification
The answer to the question of how much money you can make teaching English online isn’t as straight-forward as giving you an exact number. Take note of your experience and qualifications. Do you have any special skills that you can offer to an ESL student? Do you have a degree and in what field? Are you a native speaker and from which country? All of these things will factor into how much money you can make teaching ESL online.
But there is one thing you can do to help you make more money teaching English online: get a TEFL qualification.
If you work for a Chinese ESL company, having a TEFL qualification has recently been made a mandatory requirement by the Chinese government. A lot of ESL platforms will require TEFL certification and if they don’t, they’ll certainly appreciate you having one.
Before you start applying for ESL companies, complete a TEFL course, and become certified to teach English as a second language. Not only will it beef up your resume, but a TEFL course will prepare you for the classroom, both physical and virtual.
The needs of second-language learners are complex. As English speakers, we don’t always understand what our students need. Getting TEFL certified will teach you what those needs are and how to meet them. It will give you a better understanding of the technical side of a language a lot of us grew up speaking.
We recommend getting your qualification through The TEFL Org, a fantastic resource for aspiring ESL teachers. The TEFL Org is the most experienced TEFL course provider, operating in the UK, US, and Ireland. It is run by actual TEFL teachers and their knowledge and experience will be invaluable to you as you learn.
Teach English Online
Without a doubt, there is money to be made teaching English online. After living and teaching ESL in Asia for several years, my pay online is higher than my pay in a classroom ever was.
And while the pay is a huge benefit, the flexibility in hours and having control of my schedule and in turn, my life is the biggest benefit. I would never trade the freedom of online work for a classroom.
One of my biggest concerns about leaving the classroom was that I would be forfeiting the connection I had with some of my students. I didn’t think it would be possible to have the same rapport and relationships that I had in a brick and mortar school in a virtual classroom, but I was quickly proven wrong.
I have made lasting and impactful connections with my students online. Getting to spend one-on-one time with students is an opportunity you don’t often get when teaching in person. I genuinely look forward to the twenty-five minutes I get to spend with some of my students each day and I feel rewarded when I witness them learning and speaking.
And well, that £2,400 (€2,640) paycheque I get sometimes doesn’t hurt either.