Published 21st March 2020

Make money from home

So, how much money can I really make teaching English online? It’s pretty obvious, but if there ever was a time to teach English online, this would be it. With self-isolation, quarantine and lockdown going on all over the world, hundreds of thousands of English language learners are sitting at home. 

Many of these learners would only be exposed to English at school and if those schools haven’t made plans for their teachers to teach online, these students have been left to their own devices. On the other hand, there are those English language learners who are now at home who have a lot of time on their hands and who can spend this time learning a language. 

Plus with the job market in a spin and nobody really knowing when we’re all going to be able to get back to normal, this is a guaranteed way to safeguard your income to get through these trying times. 

So let’s take a look at how much you can realistically earn teaching English online. 

When you compare the different companies for teaching English online, you will find salaries can vary. But so do the jobs. When looking for online teaching rates be sure to consider the big picture.

How Much Money Can I Really Make Teaching English Online?
How Much Money Can I Really Make Teaching English Online?

There are a few things you need to consider when looking at teaching rates. 

  • What is the base rate?
  • How long are the lessons?
  • Are there any bonuses/incentives?
  • How many hours can I teach?
  • Are materials provided?

Let’s look at some examples to see what we mean.


VIPKID is company which offers one-to-one lessons for English language learners in China. Students are between the ages of 4 and 12. Teachers teach through an interactive learning platform and lesson plans are provided. Teachers for VIPKID must be resident in the US or Canada and have a Bachelor’s degree. 

The base rate for a lesson is $7 to $9 a lesson, depending on your qualifications and experience. Doesn’t sound great, does it? But wait, there’s more. You get a $1 bonus for starting and ending your lesson on time, which isn’t exactly hard. Then, if you work more than 45 lessons a month, you’ll earn another extra $1 per lesson. So now the rate per lesson is $9 – $11 (assuming you work more than 45 lessons a month). And now what if we told you a lesson was 25 minutes, so you can do 2 lessons an hour. Which brings us to an hourly rate of $18 – $22, which is suddenly looking quite nice. 

If you want this to be a full-time hustle, which it can be, and you teach 5 hours a day 5 days a week (any more and your head might explode), that gives you a weekly salary of  $450 – $550. Let’s say you have to pay 25% tax, you’re left with $337.50 – $412.5, or a monthly salary of $1 350 – $1 650. And don’t forget that you don’t have expenses like petrol or public transport.


Palfish is a mobile app, so you teach on your phone or tablet. You can teach English to children or adults (all usually in China) but the best way to earn money is through the Official Kids Course. You teach 25-minute lessons to kindergarten children. Teachers don’t need to have a degree but you do need a TEFL certificate or a Teacher’s qualification. There is weekly minimum of 4 hours you need to teach and you need to be available for those minimum classes between 5pm and 9pm Beijing time. Materials are provided. 

Payment starts at 50 RMB a lesson, with a 5 RMB bonus for being on time. So working 5 hours a day 5 days a week, your weekly rate is 2 750 RMB a week or 11 000 RMB a month, which is currently about $385 or $1 500. Minus 25 % tax we are left with $288 or $1 125. In terms of bonuses, for each lesson you teach you earn points which are added up at the end of the month and which may entitle you to a higher rate for the next month. For example, if you teach over 100 lessons a month your base rate for the next month will be 55 RMB and if you teach more than 150 lessons it’ll be 60 RMB.

Palfish also have a FreeTalk programme which is conversation-based lessons with adult learners in China. No materials are provided and teachers set their own rates. The minimum rate you can charge is 1.5 RMB a minute. So while you might want to start out at that rate, you should soon up your rate to the average of 2RMB to 2.5 RMB per minute. This gives a starting hourly rate of $12.50 and an average teaching rate of $16 – $20. However Palfish take 20% commission from their FreeTalk programme.

But if we do the Maths:

  • Minimum: 90 RMB/hr x 5 hours/day x 5 days a week = 2 250 RMB/wk or 9 000 RMB/mth
  • 20 % commission – 25 % tax = 1 350 RMB/wk or 6 400 RMB/ mth = $190/week or $903/month
  • Average (2.5RMB/min): 150 RMB/hr x 5 hours/day x 5 days a week = 3 750 RMB/wk or 15 000 RMB/mth
  • 20% commission – 25% tax = 2 250 RMB/wk or 9 000 RMB/mth = $315/week or $1 200/mth

These are just two of the companies you can teach English online with. There are a truckload more. Also, bear in mind that this post only covers teaching English online through a company. This makes it easier to find students, or for students to find you, and you usually don’t have to deal with payment issues because the company pays you direct. Of course they will take a commission or a percentage but that’s deal with before the rate you are quoted, and it saves you time and effort. There is the other option of working for yourself, but we can talk about that another day.

  1. Hello, I am interested in teaching online. Can you give me more information regarding teaching English online. I have a TEFL Certificate but I have no experience as a teacher. I am also pursuing a degree in Communication at University. Thanks.

  2. I am 63 years old with a Bachelors & Honours Degree . Strong background in nursing – most disciplines and medical research. What options do i have in English teaching online from South Africa, remotely all over the world?

  3. Hi,

    I’ve been teaching English as a foreign language for 28 years now and I have a teaching degree (EFL – 5 years – 4 accademic + 1training) and a Master in Pedagogical Supervision.
    Can I have more information on opportunities to teach online? Do I need the TEFL certificate with my qualifications?
    Thank you! =)

  4. Hi there.

    I would like more information, please. I have three years of teaching experience at a training school in China and have previously taught online for a Chinese school.

    Hope to hear from you soon.

  5. Hi,
    I am 66 years old. I have earned a Bachelors degree and a Masters Degree. Realistcally, what opportunities will I Have teaching both online and in another country.

  6. Dear,

    When will I be able to apply for such positions please. I have recently started the TEFL course and plan to move to Portugual. Since these are online classes to students, I suppose it does not matter where I live.

    Thanking you in advance


    1. Hi Linda- Many of our students choose to start applying for jobs before they complete their qualification. Employers will often accept applicants without a TEFL certificate, as long as they can prove they have enrolled on and started a suitable TEFL course. This is a good way of ensuring you have a job waiting as soon as you qualify, however any students choosing to apply for jobs before they complete the course should bear in mind that we can not be held responsible if you do not complete your course in time.

  7. Gooday, I am interested in teaching English online. Any recommendations or job opportunities that you are aware of I would greatly appreciate.
    Kind Regards
    Louise Currie

    1. Hello

      Can you tell me whether this is open to someone in the UK, I would like to apply.

      I am available and I am a Law graduate and I am TEFL qualified.

      Mandeep Kaur

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