At HomeWorkingClub, we hear from a lot of people who would like to teach English online and get paid. Thankfully it’s a very realistic freelance opportunity.
So naturally, English as a Second Language (or ESL for short) teaching has moved online, too. And to meet the demands, there are many companies out there that hire ESL teachers. So below we have a comparison of the big companies you can use to teach English online and get paid, including the pros and cons of each.
We also cover how to recognize and avoid ESL teaching scams.
Education First is an American company that’s been involved in language education since 1965 – long before the internet age! The company recruits teachers to teach English via its online platform.
Unlike some platforms, EF recruits teachers to teach people of all ages and in several different countries. This is ideal for those who’d rather work with adults than children. You can get more information here.
Pay: From $12 to $20 per hour.
Qualifications required: Bachelor’s degree – has to be from a US or UK university.
Pros: A well-established company with a decent reputation.
Cons: It takes some time working on the platform before you build up to the higher rates.
VIPKid is one of the most popular companies people use to teach English online and get paid. Getting a job at VIPKid is similar to interviewing for a more traditional job. You submit a resumé detailing your attributes and teaching experience. Then there is a video conference or recorded session where you display your online teaching skills. Rather than throwing you right in, they provide educational videos and mock teaching sessions with another teacher. If you’re successful with those, the contract requires a six-month minimum commitment and there is a background check. Classes are delivered one-on-one to students.
Pay: $14-22 per hour.
Qualifications required: Bachelor’s degree. You can be located anywhere in the world.
Pros: Great flexibility – you add timeslots to a portal and students can start booking. Lots of training, and the curriculum team provides materials for each class.
Cons: The six-month contract can be a little limiting. Students are in China and therefore best accessed during early morning and late night for teachers in the US. The company office is also in China, which can lead to an awkward time delay during bookings.
Qkids specializes in connecting teachers to Chinese children aged five through 12. The teaching system is already outlined through an app. You help the children navigate lessons with cute characters and their stories, and you play games to facilitate learning. Qkids require that you teach a minimum of six hours per week, and you’re under contract for this.
Pay: $16-20 per hour, with each lesson being 30 minutes.
Qualifications required: Qkids is open to those in the U.S. and Canada with a bachelor’s degree or those currently enrolled in a university program. The site favours candidates with prior teaching experience and English language teaching certificates.
Pros: Qkids is a great platform if you specialize in or prefer teaching younger children. Reviews online state that the staff are warm and supportive towards teachers.
Cons: Most of the hours available are in the mornings for those on US time, with many early mornings around 6:30 AM. Parents rate you in the system, which can be stressful and feel pressured.
Berlitz is a company that specializes in teaching in all languages. The company has physical locations and also looks for teachers in the “Berlitz Virtual Classroom.” Teachers handle private one-on-one instruction, as well as group instruction.
Pay: Around $14 per hour.
Qualifications required: Fluency in both English and the language you’re teaching. Positions posted tend to be U.S.-based. Bachelor’s degree. Teaching experience is listed as a plus.
Pro: Offers professional development courses to hone teaching skills.
Cons: Many of the positions tend to be location-dependent. Also, since they teach a wide array of languages, you need to seek out the open positions that specifically teach English. Hours can fluctuate considerably.
Cambly is on the more simple end of the online English teaching spectrum. You log in online and start tutoring people from all over the world through calls.
Pay: $10.20 per hour ($0.17 per minute structure).
Qualifications required: No experience necessary.
Pros: The system is highly flexible; you can log into the system and take calls right away. No work minimums.
Cons: It’s possible to log in and not get the number of calls you need that day to pay the bills, since you’re paid for each minute of tutoring. Waiting for calls doesn’t get you paid. The system also allows people to make free trial calls, which can mean tutoring less serious students.
italki works rather like a client management database, only in this case your clients are the students, so it’s a bit of a different way to teach English online and get paid. You post a profile with how much you charge, your availability, experience and qualifications. Students browse and can choose you.
italki boasts having over 3 million students with 5,000+ teachers. People can teach from anywhere with a headset, computer and internet connection. The system helps you handle the international payments and organize student records and teaching history.
Pay: italki allows you to set your own rates and takes a 15 per cent commission.
Qualifications required: The profiles come in two tiers: 1) A community tutor profile where you must simply agree to a code of conduct to sign up and 2) A professional teaching profile where you need to submit documents detailing your teaching experience and training to be accepted.
Pros: No work minimum requirements. You set your available hours and students can schedule lessons.
Cons: A system like this can create a “race to the bottom” bidding war where the teacher with the lowest hourly rate gets the most students. You’re also essentially competing against thousands of other teacher profiles and it’s easy to get lost in the noise. You’ll also most likely find yourself figuring it all out on your own, including self-promotion within the system, so that students see your profile.
This system teaches specifically to children ages five to 12 in China. The application process takes six steps involving an application, a live interview or recorded demo, workshops, trial classes and a background check. There is a six-month minimum commitment.
Classes come in a one-on-four structure, and students can vary from class to class. Classes go for 25 minutes and teachers must submit evaluations on students within 12 hours of the daily classes finishing.
Pay: Teachers are independent contractors and pay goes in tiers. There is a $9 to $11 per class base pay based on past experience. From there, teachers can get an extra dollar per hour for incentives like showing up eight minutes before the first class and keeping to the schedule. There are also performance-based incentives based on a quarterly assessment from teacher supervisors. They say you can make up to $26 per hour.
Qualifications required: Open to people in the U.S. and Canada. They want online teaching experience and prefer a teaching certificate.
Pros: The system comes with a prepared curriculum, though teachers must plan props. Teachers don’t communicate with parents, the company does.
Cons: Students are in China, so the time difference can mean odd hours. The pay tiers can be confusing, and incentives can be missed.
Preply is another student-teacher management system. It’s interesting in that there is a job board that teachers can browse and apply to jobs that were posted by Preply students. There is also a searchable marketplace that lets students view your profile. Plus there’s a calendar system to manage your lessons. They also say they have a personal website service coming soon so that you can promote your English teaching services online.
Pay: You set your own rate, and then Preply takes an 18 to 33 per cent commission, dependent on the number of hours sold.
Qualifications required: None. Teachers don’t need to be certified, but teaching experience will help attract people to your profile. Tutors can be based anywhere in the world.
Pros: This is a system that allows you to be more like the owner of your own English teaching business. You can see what types of jobs are posted and choose with ones to apply to. Meanwhile, you also become searchable to students.
Cons: Applying to jobs you don’t hear back from can be time-consuming and disheartening (it’s similar to applying for positions on a job board like Upwork!) There’s never a guarantee you’ll pop up in searches. And, as with italki, choosing your own rate introduces the stress of needing to remain competitive against other teachers while still getting a fair hourly rate.
Dada states that it “is the first online English education company in mainland China to partner with the American TESOL Institute.” The company is partnered with Pearson Test of English Academic, McGraw-Hill Education, Highlights, and National Geographic Learning.
The is a one-on-one system that teaches English to children between the ages of four and 16. DadaABC is an online company and has an impressive web presence and a strong support team. Contract terms run for six or 12 months.
Pay: Up to $25 per hour.
Qualifications required: Native English speaking and a bachelor’s degree. Teachers are based all over the world.
Pros: They provide teaching materials to teachers. One of the higher payers around.
Con: Again, a mainland Chinese company can mean odd hours for those in the US.
How to avoid scams when teaching online
If you’re looking to teach English online and get paid, it’s almost certain you’ll run into scams. It’s (sadly) the nature of all job searches these days.
Below are a few tips on warning flags to look out for on job ads. You’ll also find some more general tips on avoiding online scams here:
- If the job ad is vague and full of poor English, that’s not good. A company that expects you to teach English should know the language and have people around to proof-read their content!
- If there is ever any talk of you having to pay the company money, run! That’s not how these jobs should work. Along the same lines, some scammers will send money and then expect you to wire back a small portion. This can be indicative of money laundering, or a scam in which people get money through canceling/disputing transfers.
- If there is no screening process or interview, that’s a problem. Teaching, even if it’s online, is a huge responsibility, since you’re educating other people’s children. A legit company will want to check you, test you and vet you. If a job seems to magically fall into your lap, it’s probably not a legit gig.
- If the pay is too good to be true, it’s most likely a scam. If the school is offering double, triple or more for what is standard in the industry, that’s a major red flag.
- Email addresses should show the domain of a company, not Gmail, Hotmail or another free email service. It’s not a 100% sign of a scam, but it’s a possible red flag. Check the emails listed on the company’s website and see if the domains match up.
- Look at a company’s website before applying. Does it look professionally made? Does it provide concrete information on the application process? Bonus points for real photos of students and teachers!
- Also, take a look at sites like Glassdoor.com and Indeed to read reviews on the company.
Remember, one of the best ways to find legit opportunities is being exactly the kind of candidate that companies and students want to hire! This means having in-demand teaching abilities. Take a look at these courses at Udemy that will boost your ESL teaching skills: