How to make money online tutoring

Do you love teaching, want to earn some extra cash and revel in the opportunity to come up with a creative lesson plan or presentation? If so, you may want to look into teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) online.

Whether you’re a teacher on your summer break, a stay-at-home parent looking to boost your savings or a digital nomad who needs to pad your cash flow, you can easily get started tutoring online. You don’t have to know the students’ language to apply, but if you’re an animated person who can use your creativity to make lessons engaging, interactive and fun, you’ll likely succeed.

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How it works

Before you decide whether teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) is for you, you’ll probably have a few questions about how it works, how teaching online is similar to or different than teaching in a classroom, how you’ll be paid, etc. We’ll try to answer as many of those here as possible.

Why teach English online?

Qualifications

Although specific requirements vary, you can count on any legitimate platform offering online ESL teaching positions to require the following:

  • You’re a native (or near-native) English speaker
  • You’re from Canada or the United States (or in some cases, another country where English is the primary language)
  • You have a university degree or are currently enrolled
  • English teaching certificates (TESOL, TEFL <https://mytefl.com/about/>, CELTA, etc.)
  • You’ve got an enthusiastic personality, positive outlook and have a passion for teaching
  • You’re digitally literate and have a reliable Internet connection, with headset, camera and microphone
  • Able to teach a number of hours weekly (specific to each platform)

Note: Some of these, such as the TEFL Certificate, are not compulsory requirements in every case, but they do dramatically increase your chances of being hired and give you background experience that will help you succeed.

Online Tutoring Guide

How much money can I make?

While teaching English online won’t make you rich quickly by any means, you can combine the income you’ll earn with income from another side hustle such as amateur photography, renting out an Airbnb, or driving your car.

Your pay rate per hour will vary with each company or platform depending on a number of factors such as your previous experience, the hours you work, etc. You can generally expect anywhere between $10 to $25 per hour. Policies also differ – while on some you can choose your hours, with others you’ll have to commit to a specific number of hours every week.

While some companies pay via a direct deposit to your bank account, others will pay via PayPal.  International teaching recruitment company Teach Away has a calculator that shows you how much money you can make teaching online.

Where to sign up

Here are a couple of the most reputable companies that hire teachers from North America to teach online:

VIPKID

With VIPKID, all classes are one-on-one with children between the ages of 4 to 12, office staff communicate with parents, and the curriculum and materials are pre-designed for every class, taking a huge load off you. This also ensures every student receives the same level of education. You’ll just have to review the class materials beforehand, which are available on the teacher portal 6 to 12 hours in advance. When you apply, you’ll need to commit to a 6-month contract, which can be renewed.

For more information about the application process and getting started, visit VIPKID’s FAQ page . Read reviews from VIPKID teachers on Glassdoor.

Qkids

Qkids  connects 300,000+ Chinese children between the ages of 4 and 12 with thousands of online teachers, tutors, educators, stay at home parents, college students, and all those who have a passion for teaching.

There’s also no lesson planning here, as all lessons are pre-set within the app. You’ll teach 1 to 4 students per lesson. Similar to VIPKid, the contract term is 6 months with the possibility to extend upon re-evaluation.

For more information about the application process and getting started, visit Qkids’ FAQ page.  Read reviews from Qkids teachers on Glassdoor.

Find more sites that will pay you to teach online. 

Online Tutoring Guide

Pros to teaching online

As for pros and cons to teaching ESL online, here is a brief list:

Amazing students

When you’re a teacher, your students should always be first on your list of pros, as you’ll be spending lots of hours in the classroom. According to VIPKID teacher and YouTuber Nancy Taylor,

nothing will get me out of bed other than my students. I look forward to class, it’s so much fun

she said, adding she gets to engage in conversation and see her students grow as they improve their understanding of the English language.

Work remotely

When you teach online, there’s no need to commute into work.

Flex hours

If you’ve got another gig and need to teach during evening or non-business/school hours, this will be a plus for you. For example, with VIPKID, peak hours in Utah are 4 to 8 a.m. You’ll also have the option to do 7 p.m. to 4 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. In summer, students are out of school and you could teach during the day or evenings.

Spend time teaching and making an impact

With a traditional teaching job, you’re probably saddled with hours of work outside of the classroom – creating and printing lesson plans, answering emails from parents, or other extras. When you teach online, many of the best companies do all this, so you can focus on teaching.

Online Tutoring Guide

Cons to teaching online

Schedule

While you have some flexibility with your schedule, some teachers report that early start shifts can be tough to wake up for, and shift availability depends on a number of factors. The people you’re teaching are located across the world, so time zones can sometimes be an issue.

Technical problems

Sometimes technical or internet connectivity problems can result in a delay or cancelled class, but this shouldn’t happen very often, as these platforms are engineered to be accessible and user-friendly for thousands of students and teachers. And once you handle them once, you’ll know how to resolve them!

No insurance

Because you’re considered a private contractor, you may have to purchase your own insurance for health, dental, etc.

Taxes

You’ll want to consult your accountant or another tax professional for advice about taxes, because you’ll need to pay them annually.

Communication issues

Keep in mind you’re communicating via email and chat programs across oceans and time zones with students and sometimes other teachers. You hopefully receive answers in an acceptable timeframe, but not always immediately.

Feedback issues

Sometimes parents or students will provide feedback on a metered system (e.g.: 3 or 4 out of 5) without adding context as to what could be improved. What you need to do is keep a close eye on your feedback overall, and adjust as necessary, but don’t panic about a couple of bad reviews.

Online Tutoring Guide

Wrapping up

Whether you’ve been bitten by the travel bug and are looking for a remote job you can do from anywhere or you just need to add a side hustle to put some extra cash in the bank, tutoring students in English online may be for you. If you’ve got a Bachelor’s degree, are digitally literate, love kids and people, have an internet connection and don’t mind working flex hours, you’re good to go.

Have you ever taught English or another subject online?  What was your experience like?  Did we miss covering anything? Tell us in the comments!

Learn more about how to make money tutoring online

Teaching English online: Get paid with these top 5 companies – Goats on the Road

Online English teacher jobs (with salaries) – Indeed

How to teach English online: The ultimate guide to getting started (2018) – Teaching ESL Online 

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