Published 29th August 2021
We love teaching English as a Foreign Language online for so many reasons. There is a huge demand for online English lessons, which means there are students just waiting to be taught by you! It’s a highly flexible job, meaning that you can teach anywhere and any time you want. You can work from your bedroom in your hometown, or an Airbnb in Mexico if you want. It’s a highly enjoyable job, being both entertaining and challenging in equal measures. And you can earn decent money.
But there are things you can do to maximise your earnings as an online English teacher. And why wouldn’t we want to do that?
Let’s look at a few of our favourite ways to make the most of your salary.
Yes, anyone can find English language learners online and offer them lessons through Zoom – but that doesn’t mean that you’ll be very good. Being qualified is a must when teaching English, even teaching English online. To be qualified to be an online English teacher you need to be a native speaker of English or speak English at an advanced level. Some companies might require you to have a Bachelor’s degree. Most importantly, you need a TEFL certificate from an internationally recognised and reputable TEFL course provider.
If you don’t have a degree and/or are not a native speaker, you should consider a Level 5 TEFL course. Regardless, your TEFL course should be at least 120 hours, should ideally include a practical component, and should cover all the important topics related to TEFL. Your TEFL course provider should be accredited by recognised organisations, and have a good reputation online.
Students and online teaching companies love consistent teachers. Build yourself a reputation as an excellent teacher who is responsive and reliable and your students will keep coming back for more. The key to being an online teacher is not teaching millions of different students. It’s creating relationships with students so that you teach the same students regularly over a long period.
It’s beneficial for you to keep the same students, as they provide regular and guaranteed income. But it’s also beneficial for your students. They need to become comfortable with their teacher to learn better, and getting to know you and your teaching style will help them do just that. Plus, your knowledge of your student’s strengths and weaknesses is helpful to their language development.
Teach at peak times
If you are teaching for an online company, find out when their peak teaching days and times are. This is often a few hours after the working day or school day in the country of your students. For example, if you are teaching schoolchildren in Beijing, the peak times are Monday to Friday 6 pm to 9 pm Beijing time and on weekends, 9 am to 9 pm Beijing time.
If you commit to working at these times, you are guaranteed a good flow of students as this is the busiest time for online lessons wherever your students are. And more students means more lessons means more money! Plus, many companies offer incentives or bonuses for teaching at these times.
If you are not teaching in the same country as your students, you might find the peak times can be a little inconvenient for you. Luckily, as an online teacher, flexibility is your superpower. Do the maths and work out which option is more lucrative for you – teaching fewer lessons during peak times or more lessons out of peak times. Maybe teaching at 10 pm is worth it!
Teach for more than one company
Most online companies have no problem with you teaching for their competitors. If your schedule allows, sign up with more than one company. This will ensure a steady flow of students. Just make sure you are on the ball and keep track of when you are teaching your different lessons – you don’t want to double-book yourself!
It can be helpful to teach for one company in the mornings and the other in the afternoons or the one on Mondays to Fridays and the other on the weekend. This will make sure you don’t get your schedules confused.
Of course, it’s pretty obvious that if you teach more you’ll earn more. But especially when you’re starting out and trying to establish yourself as a teacher, you can’t expect to earn $25 an hour. Instead, you want to accept a lower rate (but not so low that it’s a waste of time!) while you establish a reputation. Once you have a good set of students and hours of lessons under your belt, you can start asking for more. This is why it is a good idea to sign up with more than one company because your starting salary might be lower than you expect.
Generally speaking, when you are working for a company your rate will go up the longer you work for them.
If you are teaching online, why not supplement your income with some private lessons. These can be done online as well or you could find a local student who wants to brush up on their English. Even if you teach one or two extra lessons a week, that could be an extra injection into your bank balance.
Become a digital nomad
If you are teaching English online you are already considered a digital nomad, but there’s no reason you can’t extend your repertoire. Digital nomads can do a range of work, as long as it’s possible to do the work online. Examples of work you could to supplement your online teaching are:
- Blog writing
- Being a virtual assistant
- Social media
Sign up for freelance platforms like Upwork, create a profile and apply for jobs that are suitable for you. This might not be regular work but it is always useful to have a little extra income now and again.
Invest in yourself by completing further qualifications. Doing a short course or an online course will never look bad on your CV, and it will give you a confidence boost. If you want to stand out from the crowd, do an add-on course that specialises in teaching English online, teaching Young Learners, Teaching for Exams, or Teaching Business English. This will make your CV stand out even more and it could be your ticket to a specialised job.
On the other hand, if you want to upskill yourself in another field, have a look at writing or social media courses, which are very flexible qualifications to have. If you’re interested in proofreading, do a specific proofreading course that will train you in how to do the job and demonstrate your dedication to the work.
Read more: Specialise with Our Top-Up Courses
As you can see, there are a bunch of ways you can maximise your earnings while teaching English online. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: teaching English online is your ticket to earning money, travelling the world and living your best life!