Are Online English Teaching Jobs Legitimate?

By Jennifer Collis
April 13, 2020
Woman at computer

A job teaching English online almost seems too good to be true – can you really choose your own schedule, work from your living room, and make over $20 an hour – even if you have no previous teaching experience? In other words, are online English teaching jobs legitimate? In fact, they are, and as a virtual English teacher, you’ll even have the chance to help people along the way. Here’s what you need to know about finding and landing real online teaching jobs.

Can you really make money teaching English online?

Let’s jump right into the question most people have about teaching English online – what is the earning potential for online tutors? How much can you expect to make? The average hourly rate of pay for an online English teacher working for a company is between $12 and $25, and it’s also possible to make much more. How much you can make depends on factors like the type of job you choose, the company you work with, and the qualifications you bring to the table as a competitive candidate.

Learn more about teaching English online salaries.

What kinds of legitimate jobs are there as an online English teacher?

Work for a company

 itutor online teaching company

Most new online English teachers apply to companies, and each company has its own range of hourly pay for teachers, based on their requirements and other criteria. Sometimes you can earn bonuses and incentives to raise your hourly rate, but essentially, there is an upper limit to what you can make.

Post a profile via a teacher marketplace

Another option is to offer your services within a teacher marketplace, meaning you post your profile on a portal where students browse through teachers and select the one they want. This model offers more flexibility, as each teacher sets his or her own rates. Read more about the marketplace for teaching English online.

Preply Online Teacher Marketplace

Start your own freelance ESL tutoring business

A third option is to become a “teacherpreneur” and start your own private tutoring business. Although working for yourself requires the most commitment, the sky’s the limit when it comes to earning potential! If you’re interested in learning how to start your own freelance tutoring business, check out Bridge’s newest Specialized Certification Course: Teaching English Online as a Freelancer.

Is it easy to get a job teaching English online? How can you tell if an online tutoring job is legitimate?

If you decide to teach online with a company, or even through an online teacher marketplace, you’ve got a couple of choices on how to find a legitimate job teaching English online – and it doesn’t have to be difficult!

Option 1: Find jobs through  TEFL/TESOL job boards

One way to get a position as an online English teacher is to put in the legwork and search for jobs on your own using a TEFL/TESOL job site such as the Bridge Job Board. Simply browse the latest teaching jobs, read as much as you can about each employer, and follow these tips for vetting TEFL employers when applying directly to any position.

Online Teaching Jobs on the Bridge Job Board

Option 2: Let Bridge Job Advisors match you to trusted partners

An easier way to be sure you connect with legitimate online teaching jobs is to let a Bridge Job Advisor match you to positions with Preferred Employment Partners. Preferred Partners are a network of reputable, fully-vetted companies that Bridge works closely with, such as VIPKidGoGoKidiTutorGroupOpen English and others. PEP logos

These companies are actively seeking qualified teachers, and by completing a single “Common Application” you could be matched to as many jobs with these partners as you like! Plus, if you get hired with a  Preferred Partner, you’ll receive a TEFL/TESOL course tuition reimbursement of USD $50 or more.

Option 3: Market yourself as a private tutor

If you choose to be your own boss and launch a career as a private freelance tutor, your path to finding students and growing a legitimate business will, of course, be different. You’ll need to market yourself as a teacher, advertise your services through social media and other channels, and perhaps create a website and do email marketing. To learn more about how to do this, stay tuned for Bridge’s newest Specialized Certificate course, How to Become a Freelance Online Tutor, launching later this month.

What qualifications do legitimate online English teaching jobs require?

You don’t have to have all of the following qualifications to teach English online, but like any job, the more qualified you are, the more options you’ll have!

TEFL/TESOL certification

A TEFL or TESOL certification is required to teach English online with most companies (100 hours or more is typically the standard). But if you want to stand out from other candidates with the most legitimate companies (and land on the higher end of the pay scale), add specialized training in Teaching English online, to your credentials as well.

What employer wouldn’t want to see that a job candidate had taken targeted training in the field they’re applying to? Specialized certification not only demonstrates your dedication to learning the specific skills and technology needed to teach in the virtual classroom, but shows employers you’re serious about being the best online English teacher you can be.

Find out what to expect in the Teaching English Online Certification course.

A university degree

Not all companies will require that you have a bachelor’s degree, but some will. Your degree can usually be in any field, and some companies with this requirement also accept applicants who are currently enrolled in university.

No degree? No problem. Check out online tutoring companies that don’t require a college degree.

High level of English proficiency

Teaching English online requires a high level of English proficiency. Some companies only accept applications from native English speakers, while others are open to teachers of all backgrounds. Non-native English speakers may be required to show proof of their English level, such as by providing the results from English proficiency exams.

Krzl, online English teacher, at work


Some online teaching companies require a minimum amount of experience to qualify for jobs or to fall into a higher pay bracket. However, many different types of experience can count for this, especially work with kids, including tutoring, homeschooling, babysitting, or coaching.

Your non-teaching experience can transfer to teaching online. Learn how. 

Is teaching online worth it?

At a time when so many are looking for viable jobs that can be done from the safety of their living rooms, online English teaching is an option well worth pursuing. Not only is it a job that can help you weather uncertain financial times, but it will also serve you in the future, offering a flexible side gig when you go back to your regular job or providing a way to fund adventures abroad as a digital nomad.

Ready to take the first step toward connecting with legitimate employers and becoming an online English tutor? Visit our teaching English online information page to tell us a bit about yourself and get in touch with an advisor.