Teaching English

Teaching English Online: Earn Cash Online The Easy Way

As travel restrictions from COVID shut down borders, international hiring of TEFL teachers slowed to almost zero. If you weren’t already in a country teaching English, your job opportunities dried up. But, teaching English online rose up to take its place.

And as travel restrictions have eased, online English learning has remained a popular option — for teachers and students.

Suppose you’re looking to switch careers, become a newly-certified TEFL teacher, or seek a side income. In that case, there’s never been a better time to start teaching English online.

But, the process can be confusing.

As an online English teacher for the last five years, I’ve written this guide to help anyone interested get started as an online English teacher.

How to Get Certified to Teach English

There are over one billion English learners worldwide. And many companies provide certification options to meet the demand.

Two options for getting certified to teach English are in-person or online.

Buț, first, I’ll detail what a TEFL certification is.

What is a TEFL Certification?

A TEFL certification (or TESOL) is an internationally recognized credential that certifies a teacher has completed a course to teach English as a foreign language (TEFL).

Most schools require, and learners prefer, a teacher that has been TEFL certified. It certifies a teacher has received training to meet the needs of English language learners (ELL).

There are a variety of options, but the best certifications will include:

  • At least 100 hours of completed coursework (120 hours is the standard)
  • 10 or more hours of live teaching practice with ELLs
  • An accredited curriculum
  • A qualified professional TEFL instructor (usually a degree in TEFL/TESOL or a similar field)

You should remember this when deciding which institution you choose to receive your TEFL certificate.

With the requirements cleared up, let’s dive into the options for getting certified: in-person or online.

In-Person TEFL Certification

Before the COVID pandemic, in-person TEFL certifications were the more popular option.

In every country that had English learners (which is most countries), you’d find a TEFL certification company offering you a chance.

This is still a popular option, especially if you have no teaching experience.

Getting certified for teaching English online is easier than ever.

The live practicum is excellent for giving you real experience in a classroom and helps ease some of the fears you might have.

Some of the top options include:

International TEFL Academy

At International TEFL Academy, most instructors hold master’s or doctorate degrees. So, you’re getting proper training from experienced instructors.

As well they offer many overseas locations. So, the options for getting certified to teach English online while living in a foreign country are plentiful.

Lastly, International TEFL Academy has a fantastic reputation worldwide.

The only con is it’s a bit expensive compared to other options but falls into the category of “you get what you pay for.”

International TEFL and TESOL Training (ITTT)

ITTT offers many in-person classes in the US. If you’re an American looking to get certified before you travel abroad, this is an excellent choice.

For the last 30 years, ITTT has been offering high-quality TEFL programs and has sent its teachers worldwide to land jobs.

Plus, they have many sites across the world. So, if you’re looking to live abroad and earn your certification, this is an excellent choice.

Its accreditation comes from Lamar University (USA) and the Paris College of International Education (France).

The course pricing is less than International TEFL Academy and is what you’ll find with other programs.

TEFL Campus (Phuket/Chiang Mai)

I have personal experience with TEFL Campus. It’s how I became certified, and the instructor training is top-notch.

Eric, the owner and instructor, is responsive. He goes above and beyond for his students to ensure they’re prepared for the classroom.

Plus, you get to take classes near the jaw-dropping beaches of Phuket, which is never bad. Recently, it added a site in Chiang Mai. Here you experience Thai culture firsthand while exploring the beautiful mountains of the north.

Prices are like what you’ll see for the in-person course — around $1500 — but you can snag a discount if you book in advance.

I recommend TEFL Campus if you want to head to Thailand (one of the top countries for TEFL teaching).

i-to-i TEFL

i-to-i TEFL has three decades of experience preparing English teachers for the classroom.

They offer various options to their students — online and in-person — and have excellent job placement.

The only con (if you consider this one) is they don’t have as many sites around the world. So the options for getting certified are limited to a few countries (although they are expanding).

Also, they have a few locations in the United States, so they’re a great option if you want your certificate in hand before traveling abroad.

Online TEFL Certification

Online TEFL certification is an excellent option if you want to get certified without leaving the comfort of your home (or country).

While you won’t have experience teaching in a physical classroom, it’s still a fast (and cheaper) option. But, many still offer a teaching practicum as part of their curriculum.

Get a TEFL Certification online to save money.

And many certification institutions began offering online versions of their courses when the COVID pandemic started. So you can still get top-notch certification while learning online.

Here are some of the top options for getting TEFL certified online:

International TEFL Academy

Like the in-person option, International TEFL Academy is one of the top options for online TEFL certification.

Offering the same professional instructors, you know you’re getting tremendous value from an institution that specializes in having its teachers ready for class on day one.

They offer a 4-week full-time option and an 11-week part-time option.

Teach Away

Teach Away has been offering TEFL certification for 15 years and has partnered with top educational institutions to back their certification.

These institutions include International House — Berkeley, University of Toronto, and Manhattan College.

Also, they offer a few different options for hours, including 100, 120, and 150-hour courses.

The only downside is that their courses can be expensive compared to other options. Still, you know you’re getting proper accreditation through the universities listed above.

Premier TEFL

Premier TEFL was one of the first institutions to offer online courses, so they jumped into the race early.

It offers a variety of options, from 120-hour to 300-hour courses.

Premier TEFL is accredited by institutions such as Highfield Qualifications and TQUK, Open & Distance Quality Council, and Accreditation Council for Distance Learning.

It offers affordable options (a bonus) and even has a payment plan to make it easier for cash-strapped individuals.

i-to-i TEFL

Here is another choice that offers an in-person option. Yet, i-to-i TEFL is rated as one of the top choices if you’re looking to get certified to teach English online.

Other choices focus on getting you certified to teach English, but most don’t focus on teaching online.

This is where i-to-i TEFL excels.

And, with the number of options they choose for hours, you have a lot of flexibility in time and price to determine what best fits your needs.

Tutor English Online

Okay, now that you understand how to get certified, let’s dig into the details of what you’ll be doing and how you can land a job.

There are options to teach in a classroom-style learning environment. Or, you can go more personal and tutor English online to individuals, including children or adults.

Online English Teachers

First, I want to make something clear to you. This will depend on how hard you’re willing to work.

As the COVID pandemic locked-down borders, many English teachers turned to the internet to become online English teachers.

This means that competition has increased, and it has become harder to separate yourself from others.

But, remember that big market of students I mentioned earlier?

Teaching English online is a great way to earn money from your home.

More people are looking to find online English teachers, and there’s a space for you in that mix. It may take some elbow grease (or finger grease).

It sounds cliche, but the sky is the limit with online English teaching.

I’ve seen individuals charging as high as $50/hour for their lessons. And that’s because they’ve spent time separating themselves from other teachers.

Online English teachers must set their pricing lower to attract students at first. But, as you gain a student base, you can begin increasing that rate to be more suitable for you and your needs.

So, with that said, here are some places to find teaching jobs online.

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Teaching Jobs Online

Online English Teaching Companies

iTalki

iTalki is one of the best ways of teaching English online

iTalki is one of the top online English teaching companies, so much so that you must wait for the right opportunity to apply.

I teach for iTalki, but I had to wait for the applications to open because they had so many people applying during the pandemic.

Online English teachers are free to set their own rates and offer as large a variety of courses as they see fit. The classes are 1-on-1, so you don’t have to worry about preparing for groups.

For example, you’ll see courses for:

  • Grammar
  • Conversation
  • Business English
  • Test preparation
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • and more

Conversation classes are the most popular because they’re also the easiest. But, test preparation and business English are where the top online English teachers make their living.

A quick note: you don’t have to be certified to teach on iTalki. It offers two options, a community tutor or a professional teacher.

Community tutors can be anybody who wants to sign up and teach English online. Professional teachers, however, have to have some certification. That can be a TEFL certification, degree, or a similar level qualification.

So, if you’re looking to teach and aren’t certified, this is still an excellent option for teaching English online.

Also, if you’re proficient in other languages, you’re not limited to only English. I’ve seen teachers who offer English, Spanish, German courses, and others.

Since you’re a “business owner,” in a sense, all teaching materials must be created and supplied by you.

This offers you even more of an opportunity to maximize your earnings.

You can apply to become an iTalki online English teacher here.

iTalki Recap
  • Set your own rates
  • Be a community tutor (no qualifications) or a professional teacher (qualifications required)
  • 1-on-1 classes
  • Can teach other languages if proficient
  • No minimum hours required
  • Open to native and non-native speakers

Preply

Preply is a top company for online english teachers

Preply has a similar style to iTalki, meaning it’s more of a marketplace, and you’re the one that has to work to get your students. Also, like iTalki, the classes are 1-on-1.

You don’t have to be certified or have teaching experience to become a tutor on their platform. But it definitely helps.

Preply doesn’t have a system of community tutors and professional teachers, but having a list of qualifications makes you a more attractive option to students.

Also, you can teach those if you have expertise in other areas.

Here are some more subjects Preply offers:

  • Math
  • Physics
  • Algebra
  • Computer Science
  • Business & Management
  • Content marketing
  • and more

Since you’re on a marketplace-style platform, all teaching materials must be created and supplied by you.

Plus, Preply offers webinars and training so you can continue to further your education in the area and learn new skills.

You can apply to become a Preply online English teacher here.

Preply Recap
  • Set your own rates
  • No qualifications are needed, but they help
  • 1-on-1 classes
  • Can teach other subjects (math, science, marketing, etc.)
  • No minimum hours required
  • Open to native and non-native speakers

Cambly

Cambly is an excellent company for teaching English online

Cambly will operate a little differently from iTalki and Preply. They supply their online English teachers with classes, and teachers don’t get to set their own rates.

For adults, you make $0.17/min ($10.20/hour). For children, you earn $0.20/min ($12.00/hour).

While you earn less and don’t have the flexibility of setting your own rates, you do have the assurance that you’ll receive students.

On iTalki and Preply, it’s dependent on students booking you, and you could go without students for a long time.

You don’t have to be certified to teach with Cambly. Their website lists that you don’t need a “teaching certificate, bachelor’s degree, or prior teaching experience.”

So, certification isn’t essential, but it helps with getting hired.

You can apply to become a Cambly online English teacher here.

Cambly Recap
  • Rates are set ($10.20/hour for adults, $12.00/hour for children)
  • No qualifications are necessary
  • 1-on-1 classes
  • No minimum hours required
  • Must be a native English speaker

English First (EF)

English First is a company that offers teachers the chance to teach online.

English First is another excellent option if you’re seeking to get into teaching English online.

Like Cambly, they provide you with students. Hence, it removes the worry of attracting students to your classroom.

You can teach adults or children with English First; the classes are 1-on-1. They also provide you with the course material, so there’s no lesson planning necessary.

But, they require you to have at least a TEFL certification and be fluent in English. Also, you must have at least a bachelor’s degree (it can be in any field.)

You don’t have to have previous teaching experience, but it’s preferred.

Unlike the companies above, English First offers a few different types of lessons:

  • 20-minute 1-on-1 lessons
  • 40-minute 1-on-1 lessons
  • 45-minute group classes (5-6 students)

There isn’t much information about their pay scale, but it looks like they pay between $10.00 to $17.00 per hour. The pay rate is higher if you teach children with reports of $20/hour.

You must also work at least five hours per week.

You can apply to be an English First online English teacher here.

English First Recap
  • Rates are set ($10-$17/hour), more for teaching children
  • Must have TEFL certification and bachelor’s degree
  • 1-on-1 classes or group classes
  • Minimum of five hours per week
  • Must be a native English speaker (North American, UK, Australian/New Zealand, Ireland, South Africa)

iTutorGroup

iTutorGroup is one of the longest-running online teaching companies, and they have a huge student base for you to get students.

Because of this, you don’t have to worry about getting students as they’ll be assigned to you. Most students are adults, but they offer courses for children as well.

To teach with iTutorGroup, you must have at least a bachelor’s degree (any subject), a teaching certificate, and prior teaching experience (online is preferred).

You must commit to teaching a minimum of six hours per week. Classes are 45-minutes for adults and 25-minutes for children.

The pay rate is determined by your application, qualifications, and mock class. But, for US/Canada/UK teachers, the rate can be up to $24/hour. Unfortunately, the difference in pay rate between native and non-native speakers is significant and will vary.

Classes are usually groups, but you can get 1-on-1 classes as well. All teaching materials are provided.

Because most of the students are in Asia, you have to schedule around this (an 11-12 hour time difference from the East Coast of the US.)

You can apply to be an iTutorGroup online English teacher here.

iTutorGroup Recap
  • Rates are set (up to $24/hour for native speakers)
  • Must have TEFL certification and bachelor’s degree
  • 1-on-1 classes or group classes
  • Minimum of six hours per week
  • Open to native and non-native speakers

Online English Teaching Companies Recap

Online English Company comparison

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Teach English Privately

Now we get to where you can earn a fair amount of cash, but this will involve the greatest amount of work, hustle, and marketing.

And that’s acquiring students independently.

Since you’re the one that’s finding students and bringing them in, there’s no commission taken from your pay, and all the money goes straight to you.

So, you’re free to set your own rate.

But, this also offers the most freedom. You’re free to create your own materials, set your hours, and conduct classes as you see fit.

You get a similar style with companies like iTalki, Preply, and others. Still, they take a commission considering they’re hosting the platform and attracting the students.

One thing that should be noted is it is prohibited to teach with any of the companies listed above and then “steal” their students to teach independently.

For most companies, this will result in immediate termination.

Besides, teaching English privately offers you the most longevity. You’re not reliant on the companies and their future; it’s entirely on you.

You can form your own business and grow it as you see fit, expanding to whatever countries and nationalities you can attract.

For me, I do a mix of both. I teach for some of the companies listed above and I have students I’ve gathered through my teaching career that I teach privately.

I like this mix as it gives me the most options and allows me to earn money from many sources.

You can determine what you feel is best based on the information provided.

Teaching English Privately Recap

  • Set your own rates
  • Get your own students
  • Design your own classes
  • Grow your business
  • Maximize income
  • Maximum workload (con)

Conclusion

With the rise of the internet, there’s never been a better time to get an online job. And online English teaching is one of the top ways to earn an income.

This guide gives you the basics to get started in this industry.

So, it’s up to you to get certified (or not) and teach.

The world’s students are waiting for your class.


If there’s anything I didn’t cover, or you have any additional questions, please leave a comment or email me. I’d be happy to help out.

I’ve been in this industry for 5+ years and have seen and experienced everything it offers. I’m more than willing to share my advice the best I can.