Teaching English Online Salaries – How Much Can I Make?

By Jalena Johnson
March 25, 2020
Woman teaching English Online

Teaching English online is a rapidly growing field, especially during the global coronavirus crisis, as classroom-based teachers shift to online platforms and people in all fields seek flexible, well-paid work they can do from home. Fortunately, teaching online presents a solution! But can you support yourself working as an online teacher? While pay depends on your qualifications and the specific job, you can expect to make anywhere from $12-$25 USD/hour (and sometimes more) as an online English teacher. We’ll break down the factors involved in pay and help you make the move to teaching English online.

How much do online teachers make working for companies?  

Working for a company is the most popular choice for new online English teachers. This option is appealing because these established companies assign the students and lessons to the teacher (no lesson planning!), while also having methods in place for scheduling students and receiving payments, alleviating much of the hassle for teachers.

Online English tutoring companies, like other businesses, decide how much they pay teachers.  The rate of pay with online tutoring companies, such as those in Bridge’s trusted Preferred Employment Partner network (including VIPKid, Open English, iTutorGroup, and GoGoKid), ranges from $14-$25 USD/hour.

Melissa Teaching English Online

Melissa is a tutor with the company, PalFish. Read her story.


You may be wondering why the range exists and how you can land on the high end of it. Your hourly rate will vary depending on the company you choose to work for, the base rate they offer, the incentives or bonuses you can earn on top of your base pay, and the hours you’re available to work (such as peak hours for students). Your rate of pay will also depend on the qualifications you have. Requirements to teach English online vary by employer, you’ll find that many of them have a similar list of preferred experiences or skills, such as these.

TEFL/TESOL certification


A 100-hour TEFL certification recognized by an accredited institution is required to teach English online with most companies. Specialized Certification in Teaching English Online will give you an advantage amongst other job candidates and can lead to a higher hourly rate of pay since this targeted training demonstrates your dedication to learning the specific skills and technology needed to teach in the virtual classroom.

A university degree


Not all companies will require that you have a degree, but for those that do, usually a bachelor’s degree in any field is sufficient. There are also online teaching companies that will allow proof of university enrollment or other experience in lieu of a diploma.

High level of English proficiency


Teaching English online requires a high level of English proficiency (such as that you’re a native speaker or if not, that you have a C1 or C2 English level, according to the CEFR). It is also important that teachers speak in a manner that is easy to understand and accurate for the student to imitate.

Experience


Another qualification to teach English online that can lead to higher pay is having previous teaching experience; some online teaching companies may require a minimum amount of experience to qualify for jobs or to fall into a higher pay bracket. Don’t panic. When it comes to teaching English online, often all experience counts, including tutoring, homeschooling, babysitting, coaching, training, or working with kids in any capacity). Consider any tutoring, substitute teaching jobs, daycare worker jobs, etc. that you may have had. All of these jobs translate into teaching experience and can boost your potential hourly pay.

Can teaching English online be my main job or is it just a side gig?

Yes, teaching online can be your only job and, in fact, for many teachers around the world, it is. In order to make online tutoring your sole source of income, you’ll first need to determine what your financial goal is for the month and then create a teaching schedule that will provide enough hours to reach it. Here’s an example of what one teacher works per month to reach her goal.

Example of a teacher’s monthly pay


Teacher Kim works for Company B and her financial goal is about $2,000 USD per month. Kim sets her schedule to meet this goal, based on the following breakdown.

Kim is paid a base rate of $15/hour and also receives an “attendance incentive” of $2/hour if she teaches all of her scheduled classes for the week. The company also adds a “feedback bonus” of $2/hour if Kim receives positive reviews from parents each week. At $19/hour, Kim knows she must schedule about 25 hours per week to meet her monthly income goal:

  • Base rate: $15 USD x 25 hours = $375 USD
  • Attendance: $2 USD x 25 hours = $50 USD
  • Feedback: $2 USD x 25 hours = $50 USD
  • TOTAL: $19 USD x 25 hours = $475 USD/week or $1,900 USD/month

A student during an online class 1

An English student during an online class


Which online teaching company pays the most? 

In this example, Teacher Kim was able to earn $1,900 USD for the month with the flexibility of working or earning more money as needed. As you can see, there is good money to be made teaching English online. However, your pay can depend on the company you choose to teach with. We’ve compiled a list of a few top-paying teaching jobs from our Job Board and Bridge Preferred Employment Partners:


Other types of online teaching jobs

We’ve so far focused on teaching for a company, but how much you can make as an online teacher also depends on the kind of online English teaching job you get. In addition to working for a company, you can also freelance teach through a marketplace or work for yourself by starting your own online tutoring business.

Freelance teach through a marketplace


Teachers may also offer classes through online marketplaces such as italki or Verbling. A marketplace is a company that works as a sort of “middle man” or agent to connect ESL students and teachers. As a teacher on the marketplace, you post your teacher profile on the marketplace website, setting your rate and availability, then students can browse through and select the teacher they want. This model offers teachers more flexibility as far as setting their own rates and hours, while also getting some assistance with class communication and payment processing. Also, depending on the platform/company, the teacher may contribute more input on lesson content as needed.

Read more about the marketplace for teaching English online.

Work for yourself


Even teachers can be entrepreneurs too! For those teachers who prefer to take the solo route, you also have the option to work for yourself. You can create your own classroom atmosphere, guidelines, and student base. You design your own courses and market them as well. Although working for yourself requires more commitment, it also yields one of the highest rewards.

Nastassia, teaching English online for her company, Xpertly

Nastassia started her own online tutoring business. Read her story


What are the benefits of teaching English online?

Now that you’ve learned more about salary potential to teach English online, you may be wondering if it’s a good job choice for you, especially if you’re making the shift to teaching online form another field.  A few benefits of teaching online (aside from pay) include a flexible schedule, working from anywhere, and not having to create lesson plans.

Flexible schedule


One of the primary benefits of teaching English online is a flexible schedule. Many jobs with online tutoring companies allow you to work as much or as little as you like. This makes it a great option for people looking to supplement their income as they work another job, or those looking for a full-time job.

Location


Teaching online is extremely convenient because it allows you to work in the comfort of your own home, or from any location in the world. Whether you’re in your home country or making the switch to teaching online from abroad, if you have a reliable Internet connection, you can work. Many teachers apply with the simple plan to teach English online from home, later realizing that there are endless possibilities of where they can work from. Teachers should just be mindful of having a quiet/clean space, where the class can be successfully completed.

Young girl teaching English online.

Rachel, an online TEFL teacher, working from home


Completed lesson plans


Another benefit of teaching English online is the completed lesson plans (if working for a company). The majority of these companies have well written and executed lesson plans previously prepared for the teacher. The teacher has access to review these lessons before the class starts and determine how they would like to implement the material and keep the student(s) engaged.

Having the lesson plans completed ahead of class saves the teacher time and also ensures that the student is gaining the knowledge needed for his or her learning level. You’ll appreciate this preparatory measure on those late mornings where you just can’t seem to get it together.

How do I start teaching ESL online? How do I get TEFL certified?

If you read this article and are interested in making the shift to teaching English online, we’re happy to help you get started

  1. A good first step is to visit our page on getting started with teaching English online, which has information for new teachers, free resources, alumni stories and a contact form where you can tell a Bridge Advisor more about yourself to get the process started.
  2. Once you’ve contacted a Bridge advisor, he or she can help you choose the right TEFL/TESOL course you’ll need based on your background, experience, and teaching plans. Advisors can also pre-qualify you for online teaching jobs with Bridge Preferred Employment Partners so that you could have a job lined up right after your course!
  3. Complete your certification. The recommended choice for most teachers is Specialized Certification in Teaching Eglish Online which will qualify you for the most job opportunities and offers comprehensive, targeted training in the specific skills you’ll need for the virtual classroom.

Student in an online TEFL course

Is it easy to get a job teaching English online?

It definitely can be! Before you finish your course, our Bridge team can start matching you with teaching jobs with our network of Preferred Employment Partners – reputable, fully vetted online tutoring companies. These Bridge partners are well established, professional, and offer competitive wages, taking the guesswork out of lining up your first online job! It doesn’t get simpler than that! You can also search for online teaching jobs on your own on the Bridge Job Board. 

Read how teaching English online is helping a teacher weather loss of her job during the coronavirus crisis in Santiago, Chile, where she was teaching English at companies city-wide.