After I graduated from college, I took two months off to travel around Europe. During this time, I met a lot of interesting people who were doing fascinating things like joining the Peace Corps and teaching English classes abroad.
These conversations focusing on travel and culture really got me excited — so much so that when I returned home, I looked into becoming an English teacher in Vietnam. But after a lot of consideration, I decided to go back to school and get a nursing degree.
Today, you don’t need to be a digital nomad to become an ESL Teacher (although that would be fun)! Technology has made it possible for you to get paid to teach English online!
If this sounds like a fun opportunity, read on to see how you can make money teaching English online!
What Are ESL Jobs?
ESL stands for English as a Second Language, and these programs teach the English language to non-native speakers. Classes come in a variety of formats, including classroom, small group, in-person, and online settings.
Online English teachers help students learn the fundamentals of reading, writing, and speaking English. Most ESL classes are a combination of learning the specifics of the English language (parts of speech, tense, and other details) as well as practicing conversational English.
There are ESL programs all around the world, including the United States. ESL teachers who teach online may end up working with students from a different country or someone right down the road.
What Training Do You Need to Teach ESL Classes?
Bilingual ESL teachers are in demand, but not all ESL companies require teachers to have dual language skills. Most companies require individuals to have a Bachelor’s Degree (in any subject), some teaching experience, and an ESL teaching certification.
The two most common certifications you’ll need to teach English online are:
- TEFL – Teaching English as a Foreign Language
- TESOL – Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages
These certifications consist of 120 hours and usually take less than three months to complete. If you’re want to teach ESL classes online or abroad, Premier TEFL can help you get the training you need.
How Much Money Can You Earn Teaching English Online?
Depending on the niche, corresponding country, the population you’re working with (kids or adults), and if you want to work in-person or online teaching ESL classes, the pay will vary greatly. Companies that provide online ESL classes typically pay $10-$26 per hour, and you’ll work as an independent contractor.
Online English Teaching Jobs
Before you start applying for ESL jobs, you need to know that in August of 2021, China banned all for-profit schools for Chinese students. This new rule has affected companies like GOGOKID, Zebra English, Magic Ears, Whales English, and many others.
Under this new ruling, schools may fulfill current sessions that parents have already purchased, so some Chinese companies are still hiring teachers, while others have closed their doors for good.
Due to the uncertainty of what will happen with these Chinese companies, I suggest you proceed with caution, as they could close up shop anytime, leaving you without a job. Of course, Chinese companies that decide to offer lessons outside of China will still be able to offer paid classes.
Berlitz is a US-based company with over 550 locations in 70 countries — which means they offer a lot of opportunities to make money teaching English online and in person. They offer ESL classes for a variety of languages, including Mandarin, Spanish, Italian, Czech, German, and of course, English. Full and part-time teachers must have a Bachelor’s Degree, while freelance (online) positions just require teachers to be either native speakers or fluent in the language with some teaching experience.
Cambly is a US-based company that offers students a chance to practice their conversational English skills with native English speakers either via desktop or their mobile app. Online tutors earn $0.17 per minute ($10.20 per hour) talking to adults or $0.20 per minute ($12 per hour) talking to kids. You must be a native English speaker and have a webcam and reliable internet connection. Payments come every Monday via PayPal.
EF (Education First) is a US-based company that hires native English speakers from the US and the UK to teach English online, in high schools, locally, and abroad. They also have virtual openings for other languages like German, Hungarian, Swedish, Mandarin, and others. Teachers must hold a Bachelor’s Degree (any field) and be tech-savvy. Online teachers may earn their TEFL certificate on the job, and they make $12 per hour and have flexible scheduling options.
EnglishHunt is a Korean-based company that hires US citizens to teach English online. Teachers must have a Bachelor’s Degree (in any subject) or four years of teaching or substitute teaching experience. The pay is $14 per hour, and payments are distributed via direct deposit.
FlexJobs is a paid membership site that has a wide variety of ESL job listings. The reason FlexJobs charges a small fee is that they hand-screen every listing for legitimacy, so you never have to worry about work-from-home scams. Requirements for the different online teaching positions will vary, but in most cases, they will require certification and prior experience.
HAWO is a Chinese-based company that hires native English speakers from the US and Canada to teach online English classes to Chinese children. You must be a current university student or have a Bachelor’s Degree. Base pay is $18 per 45-minute class, plus bonuses and incentives. Must be able to work at least 10 hours per week.
italki is a Chinese-based company that hosts teachers in 150 different languages to help others learn a new language. italki has both certified professionals and community tutors who teach informally. With italki, you create a profile and determine your own rates, and they take 15% of your fee.
iTutorGroup is a Chinese-based company that hires native English speakers to teach English online to kids (ages 5-18) and adults (18+) in 135 countries. Applicants must have a Bachelor’s Degree, a TESOL, TEFL, or TESL certificate, and one year of teaching experience. Pay is determined by your base rate, completion bonuses, and contribution bonuses, and payments are distributed once a month via direct deposit.
Learnlight is a UK-based company providing students with virtual and face-to-face language training as well as cross-cultural communication and management skills. Language teachers must have a foreign language teaching qualification such as a TESOL, TEFL, or TESL, two years of teaching experience, and the ability to work at least 10 hours per week. Besides English, Learnlight offers instruction in Spanish, French, Italian, German, Portuguese, Mandarin, Japanese, and Russian.
Lingoda is a German-based company that hires qualified professionals to teach adult students in a certain language. They offer flexible working hours as well as class materials. Students work with teachers in small groups of 5-8 students. Teachers must pass an exam, and pay is based on skills and experience. Students give feedback and rate teachers, determining future opportunities.
Based in Miami, Florida, Open English works with TEFL and TESOL certified professionals within the US to serve 500,000 students worldwide. Teachers work through a virtual learning portal in small group sessions. Professionals may also work with students to offer feedback on writing samples. Teachers work as independent contractors and must go through an application and proposal process to become an instructor. Pay is based on skill, background, and availability, as well as the number of students served, and payments are distributed via PayPal or direct deposit.
Preply is a US-based company that connects students with tutors to help them prepare for language tests, college exams, and hobbies and creative pursuits. If you’re looking to build up your teaching and training experience by tutoring, Preply is a great database to pair you with potential learners. On average, tutors charge $15-$25 per hour, and Preply takes a commission fee from your lesson. According to their website, popular tutors can earn $550 per week.
QKid is a Chinese-based company that hires individuals from the US and Canada to teach English to international students ages 4-12. You must have a college degree or currently be a university student. Must be able to work at least six hours per week, and the pay is $16–$20 per hour. You do not need prior teaching experience for this role.
Rosetta Stone is a US-based company that hires US-based independent contractors to teach and practice foreign language skills in a group setting. Teachers must have a Bachelor’s Degree and be native English speakers. Tutors report earnings between $14-$16 per hour. To locate the work-from-home roles, click on the “USA Remote” checkbox on the left-hand side under location.
VIPKid is a Chinese-based company that hires qualified teachers in the US and Canada to teach young Chinese students English. Teachers must have a Bachelor’s Degree (in any subject) and one year of teaching experience. Teachers work as independent contractors, and the pay is $14-$22 per hour.
Other ESL Opportunities:
Many places allow you to teach English online, but if you want more flexibility, here are a couple of more money-making ideas for you.
If you’re comfortable opening up your home, you can host foreign exchange students. According to Keeper of the Home, you can earn an average of $25-$35 per night hosting an exchange student. Another possibility with exchange students is becoming a local coordinator where you place exchange students with families. For each placement you make, you’ll earn a set commission. Neither of these options requires a degree or formal training — just a love of people and cultures!
If you enjoy teaching, learning about other cultures, and want to help others build their English skills, ESL jobs may be a great option for you. If you don’t have your certification, test the waters with opportunities like Cambly that don’t require any experience or formal training.
Have you taught ESL classes online? Which company did you work for? I would love to hear about your experience!
Originally published November 20, 2017. Content updated September 15, 2021.