Teaching English online is a rapidly growing field, as 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? Teaching English online salaries depend on your qualifications and the specific job, so you can expect to make anywhere from $12-$40 USD/hour. Quite the range, right? Don’t worry, we’ll break down the factors involved in pay and help you make the move to teaching English online a smooth and exciting transition.
How much money can I make teaching English online?
You may be wondering why the range in teaching English online salaries 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 with, 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. Your rate of pay will also depend on the qualifications you have. Here’s a closer look at some of those factors, and what you can do to maximize your earning potential.
How an online English teacher salary is determined
Online English tutoring companies decide how much they pay teachers. With online tutoring companies, such as those in Bridge’s trusted Preferred Employment Partner network (including iTutorGroup and MHC Business Language Training), the salary of an online English teacher ranges from $18-$22 USD/hour. Ultimately, the salary for an online English teacher depends on experience level, qualifications, and what type of classes are being taught.
If you’re just starting out or are working part-time, expect the average teach English online salary to be between $12 and $15 USD/hour. With additional credentials, that can jump to an average of $20-$25 USD/hour. Expanding your client base and finding a niche are additional ways to boost your hourly rate as well. Requirements to teach English online vary by employer, but you’ll find that many of them have a similar list of preferred experience or skills, such as the following:
A 120-hour TEFL certificate 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 over other job candidates since this targeted training demonstrates your dedication to learning the specific skills and technology needed to teach in the virtual classroom.
Plus, with the recent changes in Chinese law shutting down many popular online companies, the competition to get a job with non-Chineses online ESL companies is higher than ever. This means that it’s essential to set yourself apart as an English teacher with the best certifications you can get.
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 (e.g., you’re a native speaker or 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 so the student can imitate them.
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 gigs, substitute teaching jobs, or daycare jobs that you have had. All of these jobs translate into teaching experience and can boost your potential hourly pay.
How much can you make teaching English online a month?
There is no simple answer for how much you can make teaching English online a month. Teaching online can be a great side gig to supplement other income. Conversely, there are many teachers who make teaching English online their full-time job and main source of income. Your monthly earnings are entirely reliant upon how much time you have available to teach. A decent baseline, however, is this report published by ZipRecruiter. Their data indicated that online English teachers in the United States earned an average of $3,343 USD/month, or about $40,000 USD per year. This took into account both part-time and full-time teachers across all 50 states.
Determining your teaching English online salary requirements means taking a good look at your finances, expenses, and spending habits. 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. Below is 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
Remember that you can use creative tactics like choosing a niche to target specific types of students or working with multiple online companies to ensure that you meet your monthly income goals for teaching English online salary.
What types of online teaching jobs are there?
We’ve so far focused on teaching with 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 with a company, you can also freelance teach through a marketplace or work for yourself by starting your own online tutoring business.
Work with a company
Working with 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. The salary for online teachers is a major selling point that these companies leverage, so you’ll find plenty of information about what to expect financially as you review assignments and opportunities.
Teach through an ELT marketplace
Teachers may offer classes through online marketplaces such as Preply. A marketplace is a company that works as a sort of “middleman” or agent to connect ESL students and teachers. As a teacher using a marketplace, you post your teacher profile to the website, set your rate and availability, and then students can browse and select the teacher they want.
This model offers teachers more flexibility as far as setting their own rates and hours, and they also get 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.
Start your own ESL tutoring company
Teachers can be entrepreneurs too! For those teachers who prefer to take the solo route, you also have the option to work for yourself by starting your own online tutoring business. 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 some of the biggest rewards.
Not sure what type of job you want? Read this next: How to Teach Online – Should I Work With a Company or for Myself?
What are the highest-paying online English teaching jobs?
In the wide world of teaching English online, there are a few categories that stand out from the rest in regard to salary potential. Teaching Business English, teaching test prep, or offering other specialized courses like custom one-on-one tutoring sessions are great ways to bump up your hourly rate and build a strong reputation in your chosen niche.
The Bridge Job Board is updated regularly to highlight opportunities from major companies and trusted partners in the TEFL community.
Working with adult learners teaching Business English is one of the highest-paying niches in online teaching. Business English courses for students require very specific knowledge and training – and those courses can greatly increase how much a non-native speaker can make in their professional field. As an online teacher, offering Business English classes can earn you $12/hour at a part-time, entry-level job and increase from there as you gain experience and proficiency.
An experienced, full-time online Business English teacher can earn up to $40/hour with the right qualifications. Nothing to scoff at, right? You can earn Specialized Certification in Teaching Business English to set yourself up for success in this in-demand TEFL niche!
There are several standardized tests that students can take to prove their English-language proficiency. Some of the most recognized are the IELTS exam and the TOEFL test. Students of all ages can prepare for and take these exams, increasing their chances of getting into English-speaking universities or being hired by an international company. There are a variety of online resources you can incorporate into your classroom when teaching test prep. Expect a salary range of $18- $20/hour for these kinds of classes. You can take a Micro-credential course in Teaching IELTS Exam Prep or one in Teaching TOEFL Test Prep to stand out and earn more.
Other types of specialized offerings
As in any professional field, specializing your skill set makes you more valuable. There are many ways to specialize your online teaching offerings that cater to your strengths and interests. Working with a narrow age group, tutoring one-on-one, or teaching students whose native language you speak fluently are all great ways to stand out from the crowd and land a high-salary online English teaching job.
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 the following:
- Flexible schedule: Many jobs with online tutoring companies allow you to work as much or as little as you like. This makes online teaching a great option for both people looking to supplement their income as they work another job and those looking for a full-time job.
- Location-independence: Work from the comfort of your own home or from any location in the world. All you need is a stable internet connection and a quiet space to teach in. Teaching online is a great way to become a digital nomad!
- Minimal lesson planning: The majority of online ESL companies have well-written lesson plans prepared for the teacher, saving you lots of time. Teachers have access to review the lessons before the class starts and determine how they would like to implement the material and keep the student(s) engaged.
Is teaching English online in demand?
The short answer? YES. There is an increasing demand for online English teachers all over the world, and as an online teacher, you can have students from any number of different countries. South America and Korea, for example, have booming markets for English teachers with growing opportunities in various specialties. From teaching young learners the basics of conversation and vocabulary to adult professionals looking to increase their career potential by learning Business English, the opportunities are endless.
How do I start teaching ESL online? How do I get TEFL/TESOL certified?
If you are ready to teach virtually, 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. Advisors can help you choose a TEFL course and also offer job advice after you complete your certification!