Imagine that you could teach from the comfort of your own couch. No need to commute to work everyday, you could just stay at home. You could even travel the world and earn some money without having to worry about a working visa. All you need is a laptop or a smart phone and a good internet connection. Niko and I have been working as online teachers for more than a year now and it has brought so many positive changes in our lives as long-term travelers!
In this post I write an honest review about our experiences, what you need to become an online teacher and a list of companies and platforms where you can apply for jobs.
OUR EXPERIENCES SO FAR
In How to earn money while traveling you can read how we did all sorts of jobs around the world to finance our travels during the past 10 years. It was really fun to work in exotic countries, meet people in various workplaces and gain a lot of new experiences and skills. The downside was that we often had to change jobs, mostly because our visa was expiring or because it was a seasonal job. Then we had to start all over again with looking for a new place to live and work. In the beginning it was fun and a big part of the adventure but after a while, in our case after six and ten years, we became tired of this. It felt like walking in an endless circle. We wanted to find a job that was more steady, where it didn’t matter in which country we were and for which we didn’t need a working visa. That’s when we heard about online teaching and decided to give it a go.
Over the course of one year I’ve done a lot of research and tried out several platforms. There are different options to teach online. If you want to teach occasionally to earn some extra money on the side, I suggest you to use the mobile apps or the websites where you create your own teacher profile. If you want to have a more steady and reliable income, then you better work for an online school where you get a contract and a solid weekly schedule.
If you’re interested in teaching English and/or other languages online (but I guess so since you’re reading this article), have a look at the list below and see what suits you and your financial needs the best.
DO I NEED A DEGREE OR A CERTIFICATE TO BECOME AN ONLINE LANGUAGE TEACHER?
It depends on the company you apply for. Most online schools will ask for a degree or certification but when you want to teach on one of the apps or when you create your own teacher profile, your teaching experiences will be more important. If you have great communication skills and know how to teach a language, then it shouldn’t be hard to find work as an online teacher. A degree is eventually just a piece of paper and I’ve learned more about teaching by standing in front of a classroom than during my teacher training. Show your social and language skills during the application and/or interview. There are some companies in the list that put more importance on you having teaching experience and excellent language skills than you having a teaching certificate.
However, it will increase your chances to get hired if you can show a TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certificate (and you probably will have more self-confidence when you start teaching). There are many online courses to get one of these certificates:
- TEFL (Teach English as a Foreign Language) : MyTefl Online Course
- TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages): Internationally Accredited online TESOL courses
- CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults): Online CELTA Courses
See those courses as an investment in your future so you can quit that office job you hate and maybe even start traveling the world (and you’ll quickly earn that money back!). If you’re not sure which one to pick, I would suggest to go for the TEFL certificate.
DO I HAVE TO BE A NATIVE SPEAKER?
Also not necessarily.
I mainly teach English but I’m not a native English speaker. So how did I get the job? Because I have a native level of English and speak with a clear accent. When I was working as a waitress in Australia, my boss once joked that my English was way better than his. I had to learn all the grammar rules, so I know how to pass that knowledge on. By spending time in English-speaking countries I also learned how to speak with the right pronunciation and intonation.
Being a native speaker will definitely play in your advantage but it’s also possible to teach a language that isn’t your mother tongue. Show your language skills during the interview and if you’re level is as good as that of a native speaker, you’ll get accepted.
A little tip if you’re not a native speaker: I always mention that I’ve been learning and speaking English since my childhood and I emphasize my ESL teaching experiences more than the fact that I’m from a country where English isn’t the official language. During my interview I could prove that I had a native level and I got hired for the job!
And finally, the moment you’ve been waiting for:
ONLINE EDUCATION COMPANIES AND PLATFORMS
There are so many online teaching platforms. My selection is based on hourly rate (minimum $10/hour), accessibility and/ or personal experience. Be aware that the majority of these companies are located in a different time zone than yours. Double-check if you can work during their operating hours before applying! Oh, and don’t worry if you don’t speak the student’s language, it’s not a requirement.
TEACHING ON MOBILE APPS
The advantage of teaching on an app is that you’re not tied to fixed weekly schedule. If you want to take a break for a few days or even weeks, it won’t be a problem. You just teach whenever you have the time or feel like it. Just know that the more you’re online, the more regular students you’ll have. The disadvantage is that you never know how many students will call you or book a class with you so you can’t rely on a steady income. One week you might earn up to $250, the other week you’ll only see $20 in your account. Niko and I started teaching this way while we were hitchhiking through Turkey. We didn’t make loads of money but enough to cover our daily expenses.
What do I need?
- A smartphone (Android or iPhone), earphones with a built-in mic, access to the Google Play Store or Apple Store to download the required app and a steady and fast WiFi-connection.
- You don’t really need any certificates (unless stated otherwise) on the to teach on the apps but you must have a great level in the language and excellent conversational skills.
How do I apply?
First you have to download and install the app. Then you sign up by using your mobile number. Upload a profile photo (choose a photo on which you look professional, not that one of that crazy party last night), write a short bio in which you give more information about your educational background, your teaching experiences and the reason why you’re applying (don’t say because you want to earn money, that’s pretty obvious). You might also be asked to make a short voice or video recording in which you present yourself. Click the submit button and anxiously wait for a reply, which shouldn’t take longer than 48 hours. Once you’re accepted, you can immediately start teaching!
How does it work?
You simply connect to the app whenever you’re available and wait until the students call you. Some days you’ll receive a lot of calls and earn a decent amount of money, other days can be very quiet. Some students might call you for an hour, others will only call you for 5 or 10 minutes (don’t worry, you get paid by the minute). It’s important to build a relationship with the students so they will call you back or schedule classes with you. Most students want to practice their conversational skills so you don’t really have to prepare any classes but you have to be able to talk about a lot of subjects.
Tip: When you meet students for the first time, ask a lot of questions, find out what they’re interested in, let them talk a lot, correct them when needed and make them feel comfortable. When they like talking with you, they will call you back. We like this way of teaching because it’s casual and you’ll learn a lot about the students and their cultural background. You might even make a few new friends!
NiceTalk is a company based in China where Chinese students contact teachers to practice their English conversational skills through video calls. You might also get students who want to learn or practice other languages such as French, Spanish, German,… if you mention this in your profile. You might teach young children aged 4- 12, adolescents and/or adults, depending on the preferences you set in your profile. The hourly rate is $10, paid by the minute. Weekly payments happen through PayPal. You can earn from $20 – $200 per week, depending on your availability and the amount of calls you get.
We used this app for about 6 months and were pretty happy with the results. However we’ve heard that the amount of calls are slowing down lately.
Palfish works very similar to NiceTalk and is also based in China. The only difference is that with Palfish you have voice calls (no video so you can teach in your pajamas) and you choose your own wage. Palfish pays by the minute and you can set your rate from 0.5 to 5 RMB (Chinese Yuan) per minute which equals $4.80 to $45.60 per hour. The average rate is 1.5 RMB per minute, which is equal to $13.80 per hour. Just remember: the higher your rate, the less students you might have!
We applied on this app but never got verified as teachers. Not sure if it was a bug in the system or if they didn’t accept more teachers at that time. Worth trying though!
Based in China. Boxfish is looking for teachers to teach Chinese children and students conversational English. They pay $20/hour. You can apply by this job link. I haven’t tried this app yet but the teaching method looks similar to NiceTalk and Palfish.
Apparently this app is really good and I’ve heard some positive feedback.
Based in Germany. With this app you can teach any language you want to students from all around the world, providing you have the right certification. You can choose your own schedule and set your own hourly rate. Keep in mind that when you set your price, you’ll have to give a percentage to the company. Students have to pre-pay for the lessons they book with you so the advantage here is that if the student doesn’t show (which can happen sometimes), you’ll still get paid!
WORKING FOR ONLINE EDUCATION PLATFORM
Working for these platforms and companies will require a weekly commitment for a period of at least 3 to 6 months (you’ll work under contract). You have to submit a weekly schedule in advance with a minimum of available hours during the operating hours (depending on the company). The advantages are that you can count on more or less steady weekly wage, you often get a compensation when the student doesn’t show up for the booked class and you’ll get a paid training. Most companies have their own lesson plans so you don’t need to prepare your own classes. The only disadvantage is that you’re tied to a schedule (although you’re the one who creates is) but that’s a just minor problem if you’re a traveler and like to go on spontaneous trips.
What do I need?
- A laptop or computer (Windows 8 or + is often required) with a fast processor (most companies use their own online classrooms and you’ll have to install one or more software programs), a headset and a webcam.
- Fast and reliable internet connection is a must! It’s a requirement to have a wired internet connection or a high-speed WiFi-connection. 10Mbps or more for both downloading and uploading will be required. You’ll be asked to take a screenshot with the results of your internet speed test.
- A working space where it’s quiet and where no-one will or can interrupt you while teaching (lock those doors and keep the neighbors away!).
- You’ll most likely need a bachelor’s degree in any field and/or a TEFL/TOSL/CELTA certificate.
How do I apply?
You have to fill in an application form on the website or email your CV with a cover letter (I included the links/email addresses per company). Someone from the HR department will get back to you and invite you for an interview. Sometimes you’re also asked to give a demo class in which they’ll assess your teaching skills. Once you’re accepted, you’ll get a (paid) training and you’re ready to start! This whole procedure shouldn’t take longer than one or two weeks.
How does it work?
The company arranges the bookings of the students for you. So all you have to do here is check your schedule on time to see when you have to teach (and be on time for your class!). Even though most teaching materials are provided by the company, you’ll have to prepare the classes a little. The lessons are a mixture of conversations and grammar. See it is a private one-on-one or group class but this time you’ll be teaching it on Skype or in the company’s online classroom (that’s why you’ll get a training).
Hujiang is based in China and is the company for which I’m currently teaching English. They also offer French and German lessons to their students. You need to have previous teaching experience and preferable a degree or certificate to apply for this job. If you pass the interview, you’ll have to install their virtual classroom and follow a (paid) training to learn how to work with it. They require an availability for a minimum of 8 hours per week (one class lasts 25 minutes). The hourly rate depends on your experience and skills, which varies from $10 – $16 and you’ll get paid every two weeks through PayPal.
You can apply for the kids (K12) or the adult program. Hujiang has their own lesson materials so no need to make your own classes. If you’re a trained teacher with native level language skills and you can make yourself available to teach weekly minimum 8 hours for at least 3 months in a row, then I highly recommend Hujiang! I teach an average of 20 – 40 hours per week.
Update: Hujiang is currently not hiring any teachers but as soon as they have vacant positions, I’ll add the link to apply!
EigoBiz is a Japanese school that is focused on teaching Business English to Japanese students using their own in-house curriculum. This means that you don’t have to create your own lesson plans. They require the teachers to be native English speakers who have a TEFL/TESOL qualification and ideally some business world experience. The lessons are given through Skype and the teachers are paid 1600 JPY ($14.50) per 50 minute lesson. You can set your own schedule and work as much as you like within the hours of 5am – 11pm (GMT: +09:00). You can apply and find more information here.
51talk is an online English Teaching Platform based in China and offers English lessons to young Chinese learners. The lessons are provided, you set your own schedule and you’ll earn $15 – $22 per hour. You need to be a native English speaker, have experience in teaching children and have a bachelor’s degree. Having a teaching qualification and certificate is an advantage. You can apply online here.
A few readers have told me that 51talk is a great company to work for!
Learnship is based in Germany and offers Dutch, German, Spanish and English language classes to business professional students. You need to be available for minimum 15 hours per week but you can make your own schedule. You are paid per class, which can range from 45 minutes, 60 minutes and 90 minutes and the payment is between €15 and €26 per class. The requirements are that you have a native level fluency and a foreign language teaching certificate. Previous professional and/or teaching experience will play in your advantage. Send them an email to find out how to apply and what languages they are hiring for now.
I’ve read a few reviews about Learnship and it seems to be a very professional and good company to work for!
Le Wajiao is based in Beijing and is Chinese for Happy Native English Teachers. This online school provides English lessons for K-12 students in China. The requirements are that you have a bachelor’s degree in any field, at least one year of teaching experience (having an ESL or TEFL certificate is an advantage), speak with a native level of English and have access to Windows 7 (for the teaching software). The hourly rate ranges from $15 to $23, you get paid monthly and you need to make a commitment to teach at least 18 hours weekly during at least one year. You can apply by sending your CV to firstname.lastname@example.org
Funbulous (formerly known as JiuQu English) is a Chinese based E-learning company where they provide English lessons for Chinese children between 5 and 12 years old. They provide you with courses and teaching software and expect that the teachers are from the USA or Canada but don’t necessarily have any previous teaching experience. A weekly availability of minimum 8 hours is required and the hourly rate is $16 – $20, paid via PayPal. To apply, send your CV to email@example.com
This company is based in the USA and offers tutoring services to English-speaking students all over the world from primary to high school. The subjects vary from math and science to language arts. Teaching happens via Skype. Aim4a-tutor hires internationally, as long as the teachers are prepared to work hours that suit students from Europe, North America or Australia. They require teaching experience and a bachelor degree in the subject taught. You can send your resume to jobs@Aim4A.com. Rate: $10 – $15/hour.
This American language school is located in Shanghia (China) and offers English lessons to young learners from 6 to 15 years old. All the teaching and training materials are provided and you teach through a software program that you have to install on your laptop (windows only). Every class lasts about 1 hour in which you teach 1 to 4 students at a time. The rate starts from $19 per hour, it’s a plus that you have teaching experience but not a requirement. Teaching hours are from 6pm – 9pm on weekdays (China time) and from 9am to 9 pm on weekends. You must have an internet cable instead of wifi! You can apply by sending an email and your resume to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wonderkids is an online English teaching platform for Chinese students aged 5 – 15 years old. They require a weekly commitment of at least 5 hours and you can teach as many hours as you want. The minimum duration of employment is 6 months. You don’t have to be a native speaker but you must be fully-fluent with a neutral accent, at least 23 years old and have a minimum of one year teaching experience. Classes are given through a special video calling software.
Wonderkids currently provide 6 types of lessons: General English, Writing, Reading, Phonics, Science and Social Studies. The majority of the classes are one-on-one and last 45 or 60 minutes. They provide resources to make your own lesson plan for the General English, Writing and Social Studies classes while the other classes have already complete lesson plans. Hourly rate ranges from $14 to $25, paid every month through PayPal (and they cover the fees). You can apply here.
DaDaABC is based in China and is an online education platform that provides one-on-one English lessons to children aged 5 to 16. Teachers are required to have a native level of English and a bachelor’s degree and they need to be available at least 4 hours per week for a minimum of 6 to 8 months. The classes on weekdays are given between 6pm and 9pm (Beijing time) and on weekends between 10am and 9pm. The company provides the teachers with the lesson materials. Hourly salary is between $16 and $25. You can apply here.
Tutor ABC is one of the online education platforms of iTutorGroup that offers English lessons to Taiwanese students from the ages of 22 to 65. They also have a junior platform called tutorJr where you can teach children from 6 to 18 years old. Teacher requirements are that you have a TEFL or TESOL certification, a university degree or previous ESL teaching experience and the willingness to commit to a weekly working schedule. They offer various working schedules that are personalized to your availability. I couldn’t find details about the payment but a woman who read this article mentioned that their base rat is $8.50 per 45 minutes. Click on this link to start the application process.
Read the review of Magda in the comments below to get more information about teaching for Tutor ABC.
This company is based in Canada and teaches English to Chinese children through one-on-one and group video classes. All the lesson materials are provided and you’ll get a training to learn how to work with the program. You’ll receive payment on a monthly basis. You must have a minimum of three months teaching experience if you want to apply. The hourly rate varies between $10 and $16.
Allright is a US-based company that offers one-on-one online English lessons to Russian-speaking kids aged 5 – 16. You need to have native English fluency, preferably also speak Russian, a teaching certificate and a bachelor’s degree. You need a laptop and webcam and you’re expected to work at least 8 hours per week during peak hours in Moscow (4pm – 9pm on weekdays and 11am to 9pm on weekends). The hourly rate starts from $15, paid weekly via PayPal. You can apply by using the form on the bottom of this page.
Acadsoc is an international online ESL company that provides standard ESL courses to Chinese learners (children to adults) using their own online teaching system. You have to be a fluent English speaker with a neutral accent and know the basic principles of teaching English as a second language. They prefer teachers with a certificate in teaching English as a second language. Hourly rate is not known but they promise a good base rate (which should be no less than $10 – $15) and teaching during evening or weekend shifts are paid more. Submit your application here.
Based in New York, this company teaches English, Spanish, French and other languages to adults. They offer 15-30 hours/ week but I couldn’t find more info about the hourly rate. Seems to be worth checking out though! You can apply here.
Based in the US and Europe. The teachers give language classes through a virtual classroom. You can apply to teach any language, even when you don’t have previous teaching experience. Wages are around $15/hour.
Voxy is based in New York and offers English classes to students from all around the world. The classes are given one-on-one or in a group via video chat. The teachers are required to be native English speakers and certified teachers. They need to have at least 3 years of teaching experience and a degree in education. The teachers are expected to be available at least 15 hours per week between 1am -11am (EST) and 5pm – 12pm (EST). Hourly rate is based on your experience but it shouldn’t be less than $16/hour. On this page you can find all the info on how to apply.
Pagoda is a language institute based in South Korea that is now hiring teachers to give online English classes to Korean adults by phone and video. You need to be a native English speaker (they will ask your passport as prove), have a bachelor’s degree in any discipline and be available to work from Monday to Friday (6am – 10am and 6pm – 12pm Korean time). The hourly rate is $14 – $16. If you want to apply, send an email to email@example.com with your CV and following information in the cover letter: contact info including phone number and Skype ID, current location, availability, experience and education and a screenshot of your internet speed.
Hugo English is an online learning service provider based in Beijing and offers one-on-one English classes to Chinese children aged 5 – 16 through an online classroom. The job requirements are that you have to be a native English speaker, have experience with teaching children and have a TESOL or TEFL certificate (or any equivalent). Your laptop needs to have video and audio capabilities. The hourly salary is between $14 and $22. Apply here for an interview.
Barons English is looking for online English teachers who live in the UK and can teach adults, college students and children who live in South Korea, Japan and China. The lessons are one-on-one on Skype and last 25 or 50 minutes long. They require that you’re a UK resident and have a degree in education. Wage unknown.
First Future is based in the Philippines and offers online English lessons to young students in China. To become a teacher, you must be a native English speaker and have a college degree. You can work with a fixed schedule in which you need to work minimum 10 hours per week or you can have a flexible schedule in which you set your own hours on a monthly basis. You must be committed to work a minimum of 6 months. The hourly rate is $10 – $16. Apply here.
TwoSigmas offers one-on-one classes to primary school children from China. The classes are given through an online video chatting system. They require an availability of minimum 7.5 hours per week. The hourly rate can be $20/hour, based on experience. You have to have a native English speaking ability, ESL teaching experience or certificate.
A Russian online school who offers English courses to Russian students. The hourly wage is $10 and the lessons are given on Skype. Experience and/or qualifications are required.
Skylearn offers group and individual English courses to students from Brazil. You have to be a native English speaker and they require that you’re a university or college degree holder. They offer a training on how to use their system and teach online. You can choose full-time, part-time or flexible hours, each lesson is about 30 minutes long and you’ll get paid by the hour (pay unknown).
Lingua Airlines is an online English school based in Moscow who offers one-on-one Skype lessons to Russian students from all ages. The hourly wage is $10 – $20/hour, based on experience, and you have to teach a minimum of 15 hours a week. The applicant must be a native English speaker and certified to teach English as a second language.
Blazaar is a company from Spain with an own teaching platform. They are looking for English, German, French, Italian, Russian, Arabic and Spanish teachers. You can choose your own hours and set your own hourly rate. The pay starts at $12 per 45 minute class.
A language learning platform based in Spain. They hire teachers who can speak English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Mandarin and Japanese. As teacher you must have a minimum of two years language teaching experience and be in the possession of a foreign language teaching certification. Know that you have to commit yourself to a fixed scheduled with a minimum of 10 hours per week for a minimum of 1 year. The salary varies from €10/hour for individual classes and €12/hour for group classes.
If you have experience in teaching Cambridge and/ or Trinity ISE exams (you don’t have to be a native English speaker) and you can communicate in Spanish, then this might be a teaching job for you. OS Connect is based in Spain. When you apply, you have to state your availability and how much you want to get paid per hour.
Based in France, this company is looking for Business language teachers (English, French, Italian, Spanish, German, Portuguese and Dutch). You have to be a native speaker, have a teaching certification and at least one year of experience in teaching adults. Salary unknown.
A Polish online language school who offers one-on-one or group classes using webcams and applications similar to Skype. They are currently recruiting new teachers to teach English to Polish adult students. They require that you have at least one year experience of teaching adults. You can choose your own working hours and the salary is around $10/hour.
Pudtree is recruiting teachers to teach one-on-one English to Chinese children from 5 to 12 years old. The duration of each lesson is 30 minutes and the pay is $17 – $22 per hour. They require that you have a minimum of one year kid English teaching experience, a bachelor degree or above and that you’re a native English speaker.
Enlai has a platform that connects native English speakers to young Chinese learners. You must have teaching experience and a certificate. You have to provide your own monthly schedule to the students and their parents to book classes and the hourly rate is a minimum of $16, paid monthly.
VIPKid, based in China, looks very similar to Hujiang, the company that I’m currently working for. They offer a 6 month contract in which you teach English to Chinese children for a minimum of 7.5 hours per week at a rate of $14 – $22 per hour. They also provide prepared lesson plans and they require that you have K12 classroom experience in the US or Canada and a bachelor’s degree in any field.
This Japanese company offers private English classes to Japanese students. The lessons are given on Skype and are about 25 or 50 minutes long. They offer a salary of $9/25 minutes or $18/50 minutes paid monthly on PayPal. They require you to be an American English native speaker with a bachelor’s or master degree, and teaching experience in English.
Samespeak is a company based in New Zealand who offers English classes on Skype . They pay $10 per half hour and payments happen weekly through PayPal. You don’t have to be a language teacher. They only require that English is your first language.
-> You can also search for more online teaching jobs on onlineeslreviews.com
CREATE YOUR OWN TEACHER PROFILE
How does it work?
You register for free on the website to create a teacher profile. You can set your own hourly rate and availability. Students can contact you to book classes. The competition is sometimes high but it is definitely worth a try. The more languages and/or subjects you can teach, the more likely you’ll find students. There are even websites on which you can offer your services as an art or music teacher.
We made profiles on some of these websites and got a few bookings. It’s a good option to earn some extra cash on the side and who knows, you might be lucky and receive many bookings from new and returning students! Make sure you have an appealing profile and an affordable hourly rate. Be aware that some websites might charge a commission fee!
- Langu: this is a brand new company which looks very promising. You can sign up to teach any language you’re good at and the lessons are taught through a virtual classroom.
- Pratify : a set rate of $10.20/hour for a video lesson and $8.40/hour for a voice lesson
- First Tutors
- Wyzant: various subjects but only for American Citizens
- Fluentify : requires an availability for at least 15 hours per week
- Cafetalk: here you can also register as a music or art teacher
- Lingoda : sets an hourly rate of €8.50
- Tutoragent: teach any type of subject
- Find A Tutor : teach any type of subject
Do you work as an online teacher and/or have experiences with any of these companies? Do you know other interesting companies that I can add to this list? Please leave a comment below!
I also would love to hear it if you found a job through this list!