I Have No Experience Teaching English Online! Do My Non-Teaching Skills Apply?

March 24, 2020
Krzl, teaching English online from Chile

The coronavirus has altered lives around the world and left many people with limited work hours in their current career, or no work at all. In such uncertain times, the need for legitimate, alternative online jobs is at an all-time high. You may have searched for “online jobs during coronavirus” and wondered where to start! Consider becoming an online English teacher – it’s easier than you think, even if you have no experience teaching English online. In fact, many of the skills you’ve honed in previous jobs, such as time management, organization, and creativity will help you land online teaching jobs and be an effective teacher.

What skills do I need to teach online that I might already have?

Without realizing it, you have probably acquired many useful skills in past employment roles that will be very beneficial to you when switching to teaching English online. Some of these include:

Being good with people/communication

Roles in customer service, retail, management, or any job where you deal with people in a face-to-face role, will prepare you for teaching English online to many different personalities. The central part of teaching English online is communicating information to people of all ages.

Effective time management

Do you have experience managing a busy calendar, scheduling/attending frequent meetings, or multitasking? These time management skills are essential to teaching English online. Classes usually have a strict start and end time in which a certain number of learning objectives must be completed, and often you’ll teach students back-to-back.

Comfortable with technology

If you have experience doing things like sending and receiving emails, communicating via a messenger app, downloading and troubleshooting software, and using a camera on a computer, you will be more than prepared for teaching English online.


Have past jobs required you to think outside the box, use design skills, or craft a compelling story? You’ll use these skills when teaching English online, especially if you teach children, who enjoy being taught with colorful visual aids, props, stories, and other creative approaches to lessons.


This is a skill people use at work across various fields, such as the hospitality industry, customer service, or any job working with kids. When teaching English, students learn at all different rates, and you may have to explain the same concepts many times before it’s understood. Some students will also be challenging, and you’ll have to stay calm and patient. 

Public speaking

Have you had jobs that involved getting up and presenting in front of your colleagues, training new hires, or pitching products to potential clients? This skill will serve you well as an online English teacher, since you’ll need the ability to be “on,” whether you’re teaching one-on-one classes or groups.

Sales and marketing

You may not think of teaching English online as a job that would put your sales and marketing skills to use, but this kind of experience is extremely useful. You’ll not only pitch yourself to online teaching companies when you apply, but oftentimes the way you present and market yourself to students  – such as by being cheerful and professional, or even by having a teaching backdrop – can lead to better reviews, more students, and potentially higher pay or bonuses when teaching online.

Teacher working online

Rachel is an online English teacher with VIPKid.  

What are online teaching jobs all about?

So, now you know you’ve got the transferrable skills, but what exactly does it mean to teach English online? You probably have questions about the students you’ll teach, the hours you’ll work, and how much you can get paid. Let’s take a look.

What will you do?

Most online English teachers work for companies, often as independent contractors. Depending on which company you choose to work for, such as VIPKid, Open English, iTutorGroup, or GoGoKid, you will typically follow a prepared curriculum on an interactive platform. This means you will not have to create any lessons yourself, and aside from taking some time reviewing the lesson content you will be teaching that day and gathering any props you think may be helpful in the lesson, your preparation time will be minimal. You will be responsible for delivering the content to your students in a clear, enthusiastic, and engaging manner.

Who will you be teaching?

You will be teaching students who are learning English as their second language. Some will have a good foundation of the language, while others are just getting started. The typical age of students on the most popular platforms are between 4 and 15 years old, but positions also exist to teach English online to adults. You could be teaching students of all ages, depending on the company you choose to work for. Many online tutoring companies cater to students in Asia, but it’s possible to teach students in just about any part of the world, which is one of the most exciting parts of the job!

When will you teach?

When you teach depends largely on where in the world your students are located. With many online English teaching platforms based in China, a typical schedule, for example, would be to teach during the peak times for Chinese students (GMT+8): Monday through Friday from 6 pm-11 pm and weekends from 9 am-11 am. If you live in Denver, Colorado and your students are in Beijing, those times would be weekdays from 4 am to 9 am and weekends from 7 pm to 9 pm.

While these times may not be ideal for people in some timezones, keep in mind that some students will require instruction at varying times of day, so don’t be discouraged! You will be able to set your schedule by making yourself available only at times that fit in your day. Also bear in mind that not all jobs cater to online students in Asia, so you can choose a company based in a time zone that works for you, such as South America.

What is the typical pay for an online English teacher?

The pay range for online English teaching varies based on a few factors. You could find yourself earning anywhere from $14 – $23 an hour, depending on the company you teach with. How much you’re paid also depends on your qualifications, such as if you have previous teaching experience, TEFL/TESOL certification, or a university degree. It’s important to note that some companies also offer performance incentives for top teachers, higher pay during peak teaching hours, or increase the rates when you stay with the company for a longer time.

Krzl, online English teacher in Chile

Krzl is an online English teacher in Chile

What is generally required to teach online?

Every company will have its own hiring requirements for teachers, and the more qualified you are, the more jobs will be available to you.

TEFL/TESOL certification

Accredited and TEFL or TESOL certification of at least 100 hours is required by most online teaching companies. Earning certification specific to teaching English online, such as the Bridge Specialized TEFL Certificate in Teaching English Online is an even better option, as it will fully prepare you for the virtual classroom and show employers you are serious about entering this competitive field– even if you lack experience.

Other qualifications sometimes needed

The other qualifications vary from company to company and can include a university degree, a high level of English proficiency, and prior experience either teaching, tutoring, or working with kids. You’ll also need the right equipment, such as a laptop or desktop computer, a headset, and a webcam, as well as a quiet space to teach to give your students the best experience possible.

Learn more about requirements to teach online.

How do I get started teaching English online? 

Step 1: Assess your skills and qualifications.

Do you have a TEFL/TESOL certificate, a degree, experience with kids, or any of the above skills mentioned? You probably do, but don’t worry if you don’t meet all the qualifications. For example, it’s not required to have a college degree or experience to teach online with all companies, however, it may make you more marketable and allow you to charge higher rates. Many of the skills you already have can make you a strong candidate for online teaching jobs.

Step 2: Contact a Bridge Advisor.

A Bridge advisor will ask you some questions to assess your current qualifications and guide you toward getting any you may be missing, like TEFL/TESOL certification in teaching English online. Even before you finish your TEFL/TESOL course, our Bridge Advisor can also help connect you with Preferred Employment Partners in the Bridge network who are looking for online English teachers who match your qualifications.

Step 3: Search jobs and apply

Whether or not an Advisor is assisting you with your online teaching job search, you can also check out the BridgeTEFL Job Board for the latest opportunities from companies hiring online teachers. On the Job Board, you can create a teacher portfolio to highlight your skills and certification. This portfolio can act as a “common application” which, once completed, can be shared with as many online employers as you like, simplifying the job application process!

Step 4: Set up your teaching space.

Before interviewing or beginning your teaching job, you need to make sure your teaching space is looking organized, fun, and engaging. The background, props, and tools used during teaching sessions elevate your effectiveness in teaching anyone online, and these features will also make you impress and stand out to employers. Other necessary equipment and features include a reliable and fast Internet connection, as well as a good webcam, mic, and headset.

Step 5: Prepare to interview.

Beyond setting up your teaching space, there are many things you can do to prepare for your job interview. Do your research to make sure the company you are in communication with is credible. You should also check out their reviews from current and previous employees and see what their experience was like. (Or, let us connect you with our Preferred Employment Partners and take care of the vetting for you!)

You will likely have to prepare a demo class for your interview, either pre-recorded or demonstrated during the interview. One component of the Bridge Specialized Certificate in Teaching English Online is the Virtual Practicum, which allows you to practice teach on a real learning platform, record your sessions, and share a portfolio of demos with employers.

Teaching English Online Course With Practicum

The Bridge Teaching English Online Virtual Practicum

Read more about Bridge job assistance.

Times are tough for many people during the coronavirus crisis, but making a living shouldn’t be part of the uncertainty. Get in touch today so that you can get started teaching English online and keep working during the crisis and well after.