Teaching English Online is an amazing opportunity, simply in and of itself. Working remotely can mean home comforts, the ability to strike a really ideal work/life balance, meeting care needs while earning a wage, and so much more. It can even mean travelling while you work, as a digital nomad, an undoubtedly exciting endeavour for teachers who don’t want to stay affixed to one location.
Over the last decade – and especially since the pandemic – online teaching has absolutely blossomed. The appetite for English learning, the improvement of internet infrastructure worldwide, and the accessibility and ease of online platforms has increased enormously. This means there is plenty of work online for anyone who’s qualified. But what can teachers actually earn teaching online?
Well, that’s the question: how much can you earn teaching English online? Who’s paying the most, what factors determine wages, and why can salaries and hourly rates vary?
Let’s explore teaching English online, and the companies that pay the most for English teaching talent on the world wide web.
How much do online teachers earn?
Annoyingly, this question is like asking “How long is a piece of string”? There are many variables: teaching experience, duration of lesson, the qualifications a teacher holds and the demand for a particular teacher’s services are all vital factors.
Depending on these factors, an English teacher can charge anything up to $100/£80 for an hour’s teaching. However, this is the extreme end of the scale. Typically, an English lesson online will cost a learner between $10-30/£11-£23, depending on the service.
For an English teacher to make a living from online work, you could aim for a schedule of 8 lessons a day, 5 days a week. If a teacher is charging $25/£20 a lesson, and doing 8 lessons a day, that’s $200/£160 per day, and $1,000/£800 a week before tax and commission from the platform, where applicable. Not bad, but it can certainly take time to build up a client base and get to that point.
5 of the top-paying online teaching companies
So now we know what can typically be charged for an hour of English teaching, let’s get to the crucial part: who’s paying the most, and what do you need to get started?
English Hunt, an English teaching platform founded in South Korea, has a rate of $16/£12.50 an hour – a very decent wage for online English teaching. You’ll need a degree to be considered, but lessons are provided, meaning there’s no need to worry too much about lesson planning in advance. There are branches across the world, including the USA, who at the time of writing are looking for more tutors to join.
VIPKID, meanwhile, offers teachers up to $14-$22/£11-£17 per hour of teaching, though teachers will start with a base rate of $7-9/£5.50-£7 per hour. There’s no limit to how many classes you can teach, and lesson materials are provided, meaning no stress or additional cost in finding great class plans. Incentives such as referrals can also bump up your salary, though you will need a degree to get started.
NIL English is an online service for English learners based in South Korea, a bit of Korean will most certainly help, but it’s not a hardline requirement. For teaching Korean students, you’ll be compensated a typical rate of $10-20/£8-£16.
If you don’t have a degree but you’re looking to teach English online, Ginseng English might be just what you need. A platform which utilises Zoom to connect teachers to learners, the typical charge for classes is $10-$15/£8-£12 an hour. The only drawback is that you’ll need to provide your own lesson plans and materials, but as an accessible English learning platform – which offers discounts to learners who can demonstrate a “need” – Ginseng English is growing.
Along similar lines, you won’t need a degree to teach on NativeCamp, which offers teachers a typical rate of $9-$18/£7-£14 per hour. With over 500,000 students and 13,000 teachers across 110 nations (and growing), NativeCamp has surged in popularity. Teachers don’t need to be qualified or experienced; students will be the judge of your ability. All you need to start is a solid internet connection, headphones, the relevant software and, of course, plenty of time! Lessons are provided, which is a real boost.
Setting your own rates
There are other services that could pay you more, but a lot of that comes down to you. Yes, there are online teaching platforms where you can set your own fees, and charge what you believe is fair, based on your experience, qualifications and the results you’ve had teaching online.
Preply, for example, can connect you with over 200,000 students worldwide, and you can choose your fee. Italki also has this function, which has proved increasingly popular with English tutors over recent years.
The only drawback of this is that students might not necessarily agree with what you’re charging. If you do decide to set your own rates, make sure you’re aware of how the market values your specific experience and qualifications. Setting too high a price might scare off the typical English learner.
The different forms of online English teaching
So what are the crucial differences between online English teaching spheres?
Online teaching companies
Generally speaking, online teaching companies are all-encompassing. They’ll take you on as an employee, decide your rate, some will even help you out with teaching materials and find you students to work with, whether one-on-one or in a group. Finding a company which will help with lesson plans and a curriculum, it’s a huge time-saver and requires far less work on your end. Being paid for lessons is one thing, but the preparation you have to do behind the scenes can often go unpaid.In essence, working for an online teaching company is a bit like working for a school; you’re given the work to do, and you’re an employee.
Online teaching platforms
Online teaching platforms are quite different. Platforms are where users – either teachers or students – sign up and have much more control over the experience. Platforms like Preply or Italki require teachers to make their own profiles, set their own hours and rates, and generally ensure that they’re doing everything they can to attract students. Students, meanwhile, can pick tutors based on their level of experience, qualifications or reviews.
Freelance teaching is fully autonomous. With no employer involved, there won’t be a company either paying you a regular wage, or taking a commission from your classroom earnings. This means you can always set your own rate and choose your own hours, but you’ll be responsible for finding clients, building a client base, organising your own taxes and company logistics, and all the other trappings of running your own business. Of course, you’ll also have to create all of your own lessons and materials, as well as develop a curriculum.
Teaching online: earning potential
We use the term ‘potential’ strictly here. There’s no set rule on how much each online English teaching experience will earn for you; different companies and platforms will have different expectations, salaries and experiences.
That said, you’re more likely to earn the most if you’re entirely freelance. This does come with a lot of aforementioned logistical work, but if you’re setting your own fees and no commission is being taken by a company, the potential to earn more is right there. Whether you’re on a platform or freelance, it can take time to build up a solid reputation, and as such, charge more from students. Referral fees and bonuses, though, can really add to your pay packet.
Online teaching companies are more likely to offer a contract of employment, and that’ll be your rate going forward. Most likely, you’ll earn the least money out of the three if you’re employed by a company, but the security of an organisation can take away the anxieties that often come with freelance work.
Online teaching is what you make it!
Ultimately – and it might sound like a bit of a cop-out – online English teaching can be an idiosyncratic experience. No two online English teachers are likely to have earned the same amount or had the same kind of experience. Different companies and platforms vary wildly in terms of salary and perks, and of course, you could go freelance.
It’s a booming industry, though. Whether you’re looking to go full-time as an online English teacher, or want to supplant your income with 5-10 classes a week, the online teaching sphere is positively crackling with opportunity. You can work for it, or make it work for you.
Read our comprehensive guide for more information on teaching English online.