If you’re interested in teaching English online, you’re in good company – more and more companies are opening up and countless educators around the world are making the move from the classroom to online.

Even though the technology had been there for a while, it wasn’t until the past few years that companies like VIPKid were founded and paved the way for what is now a seemingly endless list of companies that offer online English classes.

Today, VIPKID has over 60,000 teachers working for them and their business model proved to be so successful that many other companies followed in its footsteps and found their place in the market.

The success of these companies lies in the fact that online teaching offers benefits for everyone involved:

Types of online teaching jobs

If you’ve looked into online teaching, you may have noticed most positions can be broken down into three types: companies, create-a-profile, or do-it-yourself.

Let’s take a better look at each job type as well as the advantages and disadvantages of each option.

Company (like Dada or VIPKID)

These types of companies only started showing up around 2010 or later and are now one of the most popular choices among online ESL teachers.  However, while it may seem like they represent the best option out there, there are several downsides that are hard to overlook.



Profile (like Preply or iTalki)

Companies like Preply or iTalki are becoming more popular with students looking to learn a language.  On these platforms, teachers are asked to create a profile, add a bio, attach an introductory video, set their own schedule and prices and then wait for the students to book a class. As great and easy as it sounds, this choice also comes with a few important drawbacks.



Freelance (do it yourself)

This may be the most sought-after type of job for an ESL teacher because, at the end of the day, this is really the only way you get to be your own boss, and who wouldn’t want that? However, as idyllic as it may sound, you should also remember that, as someone once said, with great power comes great responsibility.



Online teaching requirements

If you want to become an online English teacher, the requirements you have to meet will largely depend on the type of job you decide to apply for.


Online teaching companies tend to have the strictest requirements in the online teaching world and they will often require you to:

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Companies like iTalki and Preply are much more relaxed than the companies mentioned above when it comes to teaching requirements. Some platforms, such as Italki for instance, let you choose to either register as a Professional Teacher or as a Community Tutor.

In the first case, you’ll have to prove you are a certified teacher by submitting a copy of your TEFL certificate, in the second case simply stating you have a native-level of English will be enough to be showcased on their website.

Related: Read Our TEFLPros Review HERE


If you want to freelance and make it on your own, you’re the one who’s going to have to set your own requirements. Obviously, your main selling points, besides your personality, will probably be your experience and qualifications, so the more you have the more likely you are to impress your potential clients.

Online teaching salaries – What to expect

Teaching online is a great job for numerous reasons, but making a lot of money is not one of them. Because you won’t have a set of contract hours you need to teach each month, online ESL teachers are paid on an hourly basis. The pay can differ depending on the type of job or the specific company you work for, but you can probably expect to make between $15 and $25 USD an hour, before tax.


Expected salary: $15- $25

Most online teaching companies will offer to pay a base rate (usually between $15 and $19) and then reward you with a series of incentives, such as class completion or student sign-up, that can help you increase your hourly rate.


Companies like VIPKID put a lot of emphasis on their referral and affiliate programs, which allow existing teachers to recruit new candidates, coach them and get a bonus each time their candidates are hired.

Here’s a nice video that explains how this all works for VIPKID.


Expected salary: $10- $35

Determining how much you can expect to make on platforms like Preply is a bit trickier because, as we mentioned earlier, here you are able to set your own prices, create different tiers, sell class packages and even offer discounts. However, before starting selling your classes for $50 an hour, there’s something you need to take into consideration: your competition.

On iTalki alone there are over 4,000 teachers offering online ESL tutoring, and prices range for $8 an hour all the way up to $30+ dollars an hour, so it’s up to you to decide where you want to fall on the scale.

Another factor to take into consideration when setting your class prices is that these platforms charge their teachers a fee for each lesson taught, which can range from 15% all the way to a whopping 30% depending on the company and that, once again, is all before tax talk.


Expected salary: $10- $35+

Calculating your expected salary when working for yourself is trickier – you get to set your own prices and you get to keep everything you make (besides taxes, obviously) but if you want to attract students, your best bet is to keep your fees competitive enough or you’ll run the risk to scare away potential clients!

How to land your first online teaching job

Believe it or not, the best way to start teaching ESL online is to look for a job… online! So let’s take a better look at each fundamental step to landing your first online teaching job:

Determine which job you want and what you qualify for

For obvious reasons, the preparation you need to start teaching online will differ considerably depending on the type of job you’re seeking, so it’s important you have that clear from the get-go.

Thoroughly consider the pros and cons for each type of job and don’t forget to make sure you fit the requirements. Once you’ve got a better idea of what you can and would like to do, it’s time to start preparing for it.

Prepare, prepare, prepare (watch Youtube)

This goes for any online job – thankfully, regardless of the type of online teaching job you’re after, YouTube is filled with extremely useful videos that can guide you through the whole process (from starting your application process all the way to increasing your bookings).

Here are a few examples of some channels you might find useful:

If you wish to work for a company like VIPKID.

If you’re interested in applying for a profile company such as iTalki.

If you’re looking to get started on your own.

Get your docs in order (resume, pics, etc)

Once you’ve found out what the requirements are, take some time to put together all the documents you’ll need for your application and update your TEFL resume.

If you’re applying to work for a profile company, chances are you’ll also be asked to record an intro video, so make sure you take the time to plan that out and create something that you think will make you stand out from the crowd.

You can find a few useful tips here.

Consider getting a coach

Earlier we touched on the referral and affiliate programs for companies like VIPKID, which help teachers make a bit of extra money for each successful candidate they refer.

And guess what? You could very well be that candidate!

Go find a teacher whose style you like and use their affiliate or referral link to get extra support when preparing for the interview. This will come at no extra cost for you and will increase your chances of passing your interview on your first try.


Regardless of whether you’re applying to work for a company or to have your profile included on the website of a language learning platform, the application process tends to be fairly quick and straightforward.

Most of the time, you’ll simply have to answer a few questions on their platform, attach a few files (a copy of your resume, any degrees they may require and so on) and you’re good to go.

Rock the interview

This really only applies in case you’ve applied for a teaching position at an online teaching company. If this is the case, make sure you familiarize yourself with the company, their business model and what they look for in a teacher.

Rock the demo

Most companies, such as VIPKID, will require you to either teach a live demo lesson or record it for a recruiter to watch later. Whichever option you choose, make sure you get in tons of practice and rehearse the demo class several times, both off and on camera, until you feel like you’ve gotten the hang of it.

How to succeed in teaching online classes once you get a job

Passing your interview is an amazing accomplishment and you should take the time to celebrate, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that the hardest part is now behind you. When teaching English online, every day is a challenge where you’ll have to prove to yourself to the company and your students that you are up to the job.

Here are a few things you can do to make sure everything goes smoothly and that you provide good quality lessons to your students.

The right equipment

Get your hands on some good equipment – you don’t need to go all out and spend thousands of dollars on the latest technology but there are a few staple pieces that can really make a difference in the quality of your online classes.

Make sure to use the school’s curriculum and platform to the max

If you’re lucky enough to have your company provide you with the material you need to teach your classes, make sure you make the most of it – not only will it help you cut down your lesson planning time but you can also learn a lot from the teaching tips and instructions often included in the slides.

Planning and scheduling

Planning and scheduling are crucial when teaching online and as teachers, we may sometimes overestimate how much we can do.

Make sure you plan to take breaks in between classes so you don’t teach too many classes back-to-back. Overscheduling can also occur especially when you know that each extra hour you teach means a bit of extra money but make sure you are honest with yourself when it comes to setting a maximum number of daily or weekly hours.

If you’re planning your own lessons, make sure you have a few spare lesson plans you can always refer to if you need something at the last minute.

Keeping the students happy

You can have the best curriculum, props and technology anybody’s ever heard of, but nothing will matter if you’re students aren’t happy. More often than not, when teaching online, you’ll end up teaching 1:1 classes, so make sure you listen to your students, always keep their goals in mind and work in each class to build a rapport with them.

Scenarios – where to apply?

I don’t have a degree but am a native speaker

Not having a degree may make finding a job a bit harder than you would otherwise, but, no worries, there are still plenty of options. Here are a few companies that might be worth looking into:

I don’t have a degree and am not a native speaker

While there are companies willing to hire even non-natives (such as iTutor Group) the vast majority only accept native speakers, so the easiest thing, in this case, will be to find students through a create-a-profile platform.

I have a degree and am a native speaker

If you have a degree and are a native speaker, you’ll definitely have your pick when it comes to job opportunities so it’s up to you to decide where you would like to work.

I’m qualified but can’t find a job

If for whatever reason, you can’t find a job at any company, you may want to consider giving a language learning platform a shot. Qualified teachers are always welcome there and you’ll be completely in control of how you sell your services.

To sum it up, if teaching English online is your goal, you’re in luck because finding a job in this field has never been easier and new companies offering ESL classes online keep springing up. Whether you would like to work for an established company or start your own business, now’s definitely the time to do it.

4 Responses

  1. Hello! This was a very interesting and all-inclusive article. I can tell it is for a person new to teaching English online but I found it helpful for even an experienced online teacher like myself.

    I’ve taught for some time with VIPKid as well as one other company but this article opened my eyes to how many companies there truly are out there to look into.

    It was also interesting to learn more about recruiting and if it is worth looking into for some online teachers looking to boost their income in addition to teaching.

    Thank you for the wonderful tips!


  2. Thank you so much for the absolute most guiding, informing, helpful and inspiring article, I never thought I would find on line just by searching simple words on google.

    This Article gave me lots of hope now to start my journey on line.

    I’ve had a in-person teaching experience when I was too young back in Iran; and I stopped teaching when I immigrated to Canada in 1999. I know I’m too old:)

    with the World switiching to on-line style of life for every need nowadays, I think it’s time for me to refresh the classroom memories of old years. Thanks to this article that gave me enough knowledge of what’s going out there to compete with.
    I have my TEFL, TESOL dated back in 2008 in Toronto and BA in English Literature but not native. again thanks to this informative article that really filled me with hope and enthusiasm.

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