How to Become an Online English Teacher?

Learn everything you need to become an online English teacher, from the necessary degree and experience to websites you can use to start earning online.

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Do you have a passion for the English language, and want to know what the online teaching requirements are for English tutoring jobs? Have you ever thought about teaching online from the comfort of your home (or anywhere else, for that matter)?

If the answer to both of these questions is “Yes!” then you’re in the right place.

Teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) online is something almost every native English speaker can do. Not only is TEFL online accessible and in high demand right now, but it’s also one of the most rewarding careers you can embark on. Your students will feel inspired and confident, and you’ll see how you’re making a difference as you watch them grow. 

But what if I have no relevant experience to show? What if I don’t have a degree of any kind? And how does my nationality limit or expand my opportunities?

We hear questions like these a lot, so if you’re wondering what the answers are, you’re not alone. This article was designed to answer these questions and more. We’ll take you through the different things you’ll need to meet the requirements and expectations of an online English teacher, so you can feel confident and take the next steps towards building your English teaching career.

What does it mean to "teach English online"?

Teaching English online involves instructing or tutoring someone less proficient in English over an online video call or live messaging software. Compared to teaching English in a physical school, there are four key differences when it comes to teaching English online.

TEFL opens many teaching opportunities you never thought you had, even if it has a few key differences when compared to teaching English in person. These days, hardly anyone wants to be in a cubicle from 9-5, so TEFL allows English teachers to work from anywhere, and make a decent living doing it!

4 key differences when teaching English online

  • Teach Without Homework: Teaching online doesn’t come with the usual pains of traditional teaching. There are no mounds of essays and tests to grade, no unruly or large classes to manage, and no cleaning up after students. Instead, you’ll spend 30 minutes or so on a video call with a student or a small group—completely focused on teaching them the English language.
  • Basic English Proficiency: The students you teach are typically learning English as their second or third language, which means they don't speak English regularly or in daily conversations. Compared to teaching those who live in English-speaking households and communities, your TEFL students will need much more guidance when it comes to grasping the new language.
  • Teaching Style Limitations: Because you teach through video calls, you can’t strictly rely on verbal and nonverbal cues (e.g., body language) in your teaching methods. You can smile and nod your head, but internet delays and technical limitations may limit your teaching style, especially if you normally teach in a hands-on setting.
  • Time Zone Differences: You interact with students from a variety of time zones, since most of them will come from a non-English speaking country. This can impact your work schedule significantly. For example, you may have to work during odd hours of the day to teach students in China if you live in the United States.

Why should you become an online English teacher?

Apart from the beauty of working without geographical constraints, work as an online English teacher is also a good financial decision. There’s a reason it's a career common choice for digital nomads!

Currently, online teaching is a multi-billion dollar industry. In fact, the global e-learning market is projected to grow from $226 billion in 2020 to $370 billion by 2026. That’s a compound annual growth rate of 8.56%.

Major factors that are driving this growth include the expansion of internet connectivity in emerging communities, the introduction of cloud infrastructures in the industry, and companies leveraging online tutoring and digital material delivery tools to upskill their employees.

What are the requirements to teach English online?

Despite what you might think, it’s not too difficult to start teaching online. Thankfully, most people are eligible since there are only a few requirements to become an online English teacher. And even if you fall short on some of these standards, there are alternative ways to still teach without them. 

Let’s go through the five main requirements to become an online English teacher:

English Teaching Experience

You don’t need teaching experience to become an online English teacher, but it does help with setting yourself apart from other applicants. Many companies out there won’t ask you about previous teaching experience, especially if you already have a 120-hour TEFL qualification in your pocket. If you want to start teaching English without any experience, it’s certainly possible.

Here are some companies and online marketplaces that won’t require you to have previous teaching experience, along with their typical hourly rates and job description:

Apart from teaching experience, English instruction companies will also consider what other work experience you have. For example, if you worked as a server in a kid-filled restaurant, you probably have excellent skills in handling rowdy children. If you’ve given any kind of presentations in your past jobs, that’s also a relevant skill to highlight when applying for an English teaching role.

Company Hourly rate Degree required Lessons provided Students Min. hours per week TEFL qualification required Accepts non-native speakers Previous teaching experience required? Additional requirements Application link
Cafetalk £8 - £22
($10 - $28)
Noa cross icon Noa cross icon Adults None Noa cross icon Noa cross icon None None Apply
Cambly £7.65
Noa cross icon Noa cross icon All ages None Noa cross icon Noa cross icon None None Apply
Engoo £2 - £7.20
($2.80 - $10)
Noa cross icon Yesa tick icon All ages None Preferred Yesa tick icon None Apply
Italki* Set your own hourly rate Noa cross icon Noa cross icon All ages None Preferred Yesa tick icon None Apply

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Q. Are there any sites that don’t require experience, a degree, or native English?

    A. Yes, there are websites that don’t require English teachers to have any experience, a university diploma, or native English ability. Companies and online marketplaces such as Ginseng English, Preply, Cambly, SkimaTalk, and Italki
    don’t require their teachers to have a degree, previous teaching experience, or be a native English speaker.

  • Q. Can I work as an English teacher with no degree if I have a TEFL certificate?

    A. Yes, you can teach without a degree, as long as you have a TEFL certificate. Companies such as Hello Kid, PalFish, Open English, and Learnlight accept teachers without degrees, as long as they hold a TEFL certificate.

  • Q. How can I get TEFL certified?

    You can get TEFL certified with our best-selling 120-hour Premier Online TEFL course. TEFL Org’s internationally-recognised programme comes with
    personal tutor support and can be done at your own pace. Plus, you’ll have access to our TEFL Job Centre to find a job immediately after completing the course.