Education has always seemed like a location-dependent vocation. But technology has made it possible for teachers to spread their wings and gain the freedom to pursue things like online English teaching jobs.
Demands for online ESL teachers have skyrocketed in the past few decades and it’s now entirely possible to teach English online as a lucrative side gig or a well-paying, full-time job.
In this article, you’ll learn what you’ll need to start teaching ESL online, as well as some of the best companies to apply for.
Starting an Online ESL Teaching Job
What you’ll need to get started as an online English teacher will depend on each individual company you apply to.
Some don’t have many requirements while others have a whole laundry list of requirements that need to be met before you can teach ESL online.
Here are some of the requirements you might need to fulfill:
- Be a native English speaker
- Your own desktop or laptop computer
- A strong, stable internet connection, a high-quality webcam, and a clear, low-noise headset and microphone
- A Bachelors degree (usually doesn’t need to be in education)
- A Masters or Doctorate (if you’re planning on teaching at a college level)
- Teaching experience (can be some tutoring hours or a set amount of hours in a classroom)
- A TOEFL, TESL, TEFL, CELTA, or other teaching English abroad certification
- Some companies have specific requirements for your work environment too, like whiteboards etc.
I’ve rounded up 17 different companies that are currently hiring ESL tutors and separated them into two categories.
On the first list are your regular ESL jobs where you need to work from a computer while the second list contains companies that allow you to work entirely from an app on your smartphone.
16 Websites Offering Online English Teaching Jobs
If you’re an ESL tutor trying to find work, these top 17 highest-paying websites could help you turn this online gig into a full-time career:
The fastest and easiest way to land a full-time job as an ESL teacher is through Flexjobs.
While I update this post as often as I can, FlexJobs adds hundreds of new legitimate job postings daily. They scour the web for you and research the companies and post only legitimate job ads to their board.
At the time of this posting, FlexJobs has over 4,000 active listings in their education category alone.
italki was founded in 2007 and is more of a teacher marketplace.
You can teach any language you want, as long as you’re a native speaker of that language.
The best thing about italki is that you can decide your own rate (other online English teaching jobs have a tier system based on experience or rating).
Teacher rates range between $5 and $40. As Chris Rush revealed in his guest blog post, he earned over $2,200 teaching 71 lessons within 90 days.
DaDaABC offers a real career opportunity for teachers with rates starting at a whopping $25 per hour and chances to increase that initial rate based on performance.
Three types of one-on-one classes exist – trial (14 minutes), elective, and major classes (which last from 30 minutes to 1 hour).
DaDaABC provides teachers with a curriculum and platform, where they teach the same kids months at a time. This is a huge advantage to both the students and the teacher in terms of consistency in the lessons and the continuity of not having to meet new people every class..
What sets VIPKID apart from other ESL websites is that they have their own curriculum that teachers follow and children are also taught American culture on top of speaking proper English.
As of May 2019, there are 65,000 teachers teaching 500,000 students on their platform.
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Rates run between $14-$18 per hour, which can go up to $22 an hour with incentives.
Class times are usually around 25 minutes each.
This top-rated education app occasionally opens up to fill online English teaching jobs for certified teachers of any subject.
However, the job is only open for U.S. citizens.
The hourly rate starts at $18/hour with complete benefits, despite being a remote position. Teachers who speak Portuguese or Spanish earn higher rates.
Verbal Planet is one of the oldest ESL learning websites on this list.
It allows tutors to create their profile and dictate their own rates, but Verbal Planet must first approve your profile based on your teaching qualifications and experience.
Students choose their tutors. Classes last up to 45 minutes.
Rates can run as high as $40 per hour.
The downside of Verbal Planet is that they’re not constantly receiving applications, so bookmark the site and check back from time to time.
Englishunt was founded in Korea in 2000; since then, they have expanded their English language video instruction services to Japan and China. They only accept tutors who are U.S. citizens and have U.S. bank accounts.
Tutors here work part-time with an average workload of 8 to 12 hours weekly. Rates start at $14 per hour. The best thing about Englishunt is that classes only last a maximum of 20 minutes.
The downside though is that the shifts are typically in the afternoon Korean time, which means the busy times are between 1 AM to 3 AM EST.
8. TutorABC (iTutorGroup)
TutorABC is a well-known ESL company that offers schedule flexibility since classes are available 24/7.
Most students are Asian, grouped into professionals aged 19-65 and JR students aged 6-18. Most of them have academic knowledge of English but lack conversational skills.
Their base pay varies depending on where you’re based; U.S.-based tutors typically get a minimum of $14 per hour.
However, TutorABC does give performance bonuses based on student ratings.
As a Qkids tutor, you will be teaching Chinese children aged 4 to 12 through their patented and interactive gaming-based learning platform.
Qkids hire tutors to teach a maximum of 4 kids per lesson, with each lesson lasting a maximum of 30 minutes and at a rate between $16 to $20 per hour.
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They hire native English speakers from the US and Canada and assign them to 6-month contracts, with the chance to continue your contract at the end.
Qkids sets your schedule for you each week and they also pay out attendance and performance bonuses.
TeachAway accepts licensed teachers, university graduates, and ESL instructors to fill online English teaching jobs from a number of different companies.
They offer a wide variety of online ESL teaching opportunities, including online English teachers for students ranging from kindergarten to high school, for adult education, college-level online teaching, course developers, and more.
They offer both full-time and part-time online ESL jobs, as well as work for teachers who want to make an extra income over school breaks.
Landi is another popular option for teaching ESL to students in China.
According to current Landi teachers, the company’s support team is great and the hiring process is fast and frustration-free.
There are usually around 2 students per classroom ranging from ages 5 to 15, and the company requires a minimum of twelve class hours per week. That could be a big-time commitment for someone who wants to do this part-time – at least, more so than some of the other options on this list.
Landi reportedly pays around $18 – $25 USD per hour depending on the teacher’s skills and qualifications. They do require a bachelor’s degree.
If your salary expectations play a big role in your decision-making process, then SayABC is a solid candidate to consider. They pay some of the highest rates in the industry, paying as high as $21 for a 40-minute class session.
Class sizes range from 1 to 4 students between the ages of 5 and 12. Teachers can set their own hours.
SayABC has an exclusive partnership with National Geographic Learning’s ‘Our World’ and offers prepared lessons to teachers.
13. Magic Ears
This company prides itself on being one of the more open and friendly job sites for teaching ESL online. Teachers don’t have to compete for jobs as the site books classes for you.
With Magic Ears, you’ll be teaching to students in China ranging in ages between 4 to 12 years old.
They pay between $18 – $26 per hour on average.
14. English First
English First offers flexible online English teaching jobs for U.S. or U.K. citizens or residents who have a bachelor’s degree and a 40-hour minimum TEFL certificate.
You can choose between teaching children or teaching adults. The pay ranges from $12-$19 per hour.
15. Open English
Open English hires practicing ESL or TESOL professionals to teach their 500,000 students who are mostly based in Latin America.
The site offers classes 24/7, and you can schedule your own classes, so you can work when you want and take on as few or as many students as you want.
EnglishKey is yet another company that offers English classes through live video streaming.
You must be able to work at least 10 hours per week, with the busiest time being 1pm to 8pm EST.
Experience and certifications aren’t required but certainly preferable.
In addition, knowing either Spanish or Portuguese is an advantage that you can get extra pay on top of the $10 to $15 per hour base rate.
4 Ways to Teach ESL From Your Phone
In the past, ESL students needed to sign up for classes and work with instructors through video conferencing on computers. Nowadays, with the advancement of mobile technology, online English teaching jobs can occur via smartphone using different mobile apps.
What that means for you is that you can now earn money as an ESL instructor directly from your smartphone. That’s right: you no longer need a computer to start making money as an ESL instructor.
You can download specific ESL mobile apps to your smartphone and use them to tutor students via video and/or audio chat.
Your tutoring time is compensated by the minute and could grow to as much as $45/hour, depending on your skill level and past experience.
Below are the apps that pay you for English lessons.
This learning platform was created in China and is supported by both Android and iOS systems.
Once you download the app, you’ll be asked to record a short interview video so they can assess your English-speaking capabilities. Following approval, you can start accepting student requests.
Most of the students who use this app are native Chinese speakers who will request to chat with you via the app’s video chat function. You need to make sure your phone can accept video chat requests and stream them at a normal conversational pace.
NiceTalk pays you $10/hour for your talking/teaching time.
Keep in mind that most of your conversations will not last an entire hour. Luckily, NiceTalk also pays by the minute. The app will also tack on bonuses to your account if you work with students during peak hours, which in the case of Chinese students is 11 pm – 6 am.
As a new user, you’ll receive a $10 bonus just for signing up with NiceTalk.
You are able to cash out of your account once you reach $20.
PalFish enables you to set your hourly rate from as low as $4.80 to over $45 per hour.
Incidentally, your pay is denoted in yuan, not dollars. However, the app will convert your wages to your local currency upon cashing out.
There is a short verification process that you’ll need to undergo before you can start working with students.
That process involves writing a 200-word description of you and your teaching style and posting a photo of your face.
You also need to post a voice recording so that students can determine if you speak clearly enough for them to understand your words.
Unlike NiceTalk, you aren’t stuck earning a specified rate per hour or minute; with PalFish, you can set your own rates and earn as high as $45/hour.
Also, there is no set payout minimum.
This app pays 17 cents/minute or $10.20/hour ($12/hour) to talk to people all over the world and help build their English skills.
You can work as little or as much as you want, and any money you earn is automatically sent to your Paypal account twice a month.
You can also sign up for two-hour shifts, which guarantees a certain amount of money for your time. Payments are made once a $20 threshold is reached.
Students can peruse tutor profiles and ‘ping’ those tutors that they want to interact with.
If the tutors are otherwise occupied and/or miss those ping(s), they are redirected to other tutors. You can opt to pick up the pings that are missed by other tutors for extra money.
Once you register with Cambly, you will be prompted to fill out your profile and record a video.
The more teaching experience/certifications you can list on your profile, the greater the likelihood of you being pinged by students for tutoring.
Students can also leave reviews on how well they thought you tutored them.
If you accumulate a lot of positive reviews, you’ll increase your chances of being pinged.
This app will pay you $15 for each completed hour (as opposed to per minute) and the chat sessions are conducted over Skype (which is available as an app for your smartphone).
SkimaTalk even offers you a range of lesson plans so that you have a template to follow during your sessions.
Just like with Cambly, your students can leave reviews about you and your teaching style. More good reviews will lead to more students.
To get started, use your Facebook account or email to register with SkimaTalk. Fill out your profile information, including both your photo and a description of your teaching style, any applicable experience, etc.
SkimaTalk will then assess your English reading abilities with a 19-question test.
Once you pass this exam, you’ll be able to start accepting and talking with students almost immediately.
Is Teaching ESL Online For You?
Becoming an online ESL teacher has many benefits attached, and could be one of the best ways to balance work and life while helping young minds all over the world.
Other ways to earn side income for teachers
Being an online English teacher can be extremely rewarding, but there are other online jobs for teachers out there for those who want more.
If you’re a teacher and you love teaching, but the idea of teaching English online doesn’t appeal to you, here are a few other ways to earn some side cash:
Does any of these companies sound appealing to you? Or do you know of a company that we haven’t included in the list? Tell us all about it in the comments!