If you are a native English speaker, you can teach English online to people in other parts of the world. In many cases, all you need to secure these jobs is a good Internet connection and the language skills you grew up with.
And because there are so many sites seeking English teachers for students in every corner of the world, your hours can be as flexible as you want them to be.
However, if you aim to make this a regular gig, you’d be wise to obtain an English as a Second (or Foreign) Language certificate. These certificate programs, which typically require just 120 hours of instruction, qualify you for the best paying positions in this field.
You can get a job without it, of course. But, unless you have a Bachelor’s degree or another form of teaching credential, you’re likely to earn half as much as those who can work with the platforms that require credentials. Pay for online English teachers ranges from $5 to $26 per hour.
Teach English without credentials
Where can you find a job? There are a myriad of online platforms that enlist native English speakers to teach English to foreign students. We’ve started with those that require the fewest credentials, even though these sites also pay less generously. If you have a college degree or a teaching credential, skip to the section titled “credentials required” for jobs that pay better.
Cambly is an online tutoring platform that teaches both children and adults to speak English through one-on-one conversations with English-speaking tutors. All you need to get a job here is be a native English speaker and have a stable Internet connection. But you are paid by the minute — 17 to 20 cents per minute — and are only paid for minutes that you’re engaged in conversation. That makes the low ($10-$12) hourly wage even lower when you account for down time between chats. Tutors are paid once a week.
NiceTalk operates almost identically to Cambly, paying tutors by the minute at a rate that works out to $10 an hour — if you’re engaged in a video chat for the entire hour. Also like Cambly, tutors only need to be native English speakers and own the necessary technology to be hired.
iTalki is a language tutoring site that provides jobs for both professional teachers and for so-called “community tutors,” who qualify with nothing more than proficiency in a language. The site teaches all major languages and posts weekly updates of the languages that require tutors. Tutor’s set their own rate of pay and determine their schedule. The platform takes a 15% commission for providing marketing and payment processing. Teachers are paid twice a month.
Open English focuses on teaching English to students in Latin America. Unlike some of the other English-tutoring platforms, Open English has its part-time teachers assist a classroom full of students. Teachers say that the students can be at all different levels, which can make instruction more difficult. In addition, the site uses five different communication platforms, which leads to technological glitches — like believing teachers are offline, when they’re in the middle of teaching a class. And pay of about $9 an hour is nothing to brag about. On the bright side, you don’t need a laundry-list of qualifications to get a job here and the hours are flexible.
Preply‘s main requirement is that you’re over the age of 18. Other than that, you simply need to verify your ID and provide any credentials that you claim to have. Theoretically, you set your own rate on this platform. But Preply’s commission schedule is horrendous. To be specific, the site takes a commission amounting to 100% of the first lesson with each new student and 33% of the teacher’s pay for subsequent lessons with that same student. Because the site expects teachers to provide a significant amount of work for free, this is one of the few online tutoring sites that SideHusl.com does not recommend.
The better-paying English tutoring jobs require additional credentials, such as teaching experience, a Bachelor’s degree or a certificate in teaching English as a second or foreign language. Promised pay with these sites typically ranges from $14 to $26 per hour.
Be aware, however, that if you live in California and a few other states that have passed restrictive freelancer laws, you may have trouble getting work with some of these companies. Some of the bigger sites, such as VIPKID, stopped taking applications from California freelancers shortly after the state passed AB5, which reclassified online teachers as employees, rather than freelance workers.
Some freelancers have gotten around this restriction by setting up businesses or legal residences in other states. And it’s possible that updates to the law will eventually exempt these companies from the law’s requirements, making them open to Golden State freelancers again. However, for the moment, you should know that your home address could be the toughest hurdle to getting a job.
VIPKID enlists freelancers to teach English to Chinese kids, paying $7 – $9 per half-hour (depending on your credentials). Pay also can be increased through a series of bonuses, allowing teachers to earn as much as $22 per hour. The catch? Classes are taught after dinner in Beijing, China, which puts them in the middle of the night for many people in the U.S.. If you live in Los Angeles, for instance, the peak weekday hours are between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. The hours aren’t quite as tough if you’re on the East Coast, however. And this job may be just the ticket for parents who want to spend days with their own kids and don’t mind working at odd hours during the night.
Q Kids also enlists freelancers to teach English language skills to Chinese kids. Each lesson requires 30 minutes and earns you between $8 and $10. The $10 rate includes bonuses for performance and attendance. Teachers are preferred, but anyone with a good personality and strong English language skills can apply. Lessons are prepared for you and taught online.
Magic Ears works much the same way, but requires additional credentials. You must have teaching experience and complete training to teach English as a second/foreign language. On the bright side, the site also pays a bit more. You earn $9 to $11 per half hour in base pay and $1 hourly bonuses for showing up a few minutes early and for teaching at peak times. There is also a less well-defined “performance bonus.”
Teachers also say that MagicEars’ is more hands-on, providing more advice about your teaching style. (The curriculum is set. What you add is personality and props.) That’s something teachers either love or hate. The site also will pay you to refer additional qualified teachers to Magic Ears at a rate of $10 per resume.
TeachAway serves a matchmaker between prospective teachers and the schools and online platforms that are willing to hire them. The site represents both international schools, such as Abu Dhabi Education and Training Institute, and online platforms that recruit teachers who want to teach online from home. Most jobs require a college degree; some also require teaching experience or the ability to communicate effectively in another language.