How to become an online teacher in 2020

The online teaching industry has seen a boom in recent years, and it's not difficult to see why. Eager to get started as an online teacher? Below you'll find useful information on how you can navigate and succeed with online teaching.

Online teaching gives you the creative licensing to teach the way you want to. The internet is vast and without borders allowing you to teach anywhere and anyone in the world. It's also an incredible opportunity to gain work experience and earn money, all from the comfort of your home.

As the popularity of online teaching continues to climb, more teachers are taking advantage of the opportunities that this industry has to offer. However, it's important to know the industry you're getting into and what's required of you.

Why become an English teacher:

There’s no better time to become an online teacher than right now. This form of teaching is incredibly convenient for students and online teachers. Instead of paying exorbitant prices for face-to-face classes, more parents are turning to online teaching as an affordable learning tool. It may sound like a cliche, but there’s nothing more rewarding than helping a student improve their English skills, especially when you can see the result of your efforts. Teaching online is also a great way to earn money from the comfort of your living room.

Working from home is an unbelievable opportunity, but it’s no walk in the park. Online teachers need to be disciplined, versatile, and organized to work from home. The opportunity to find online teaching jobs doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon, and if you're considering teaching abroad, it's a great way to improve your teaching skills and gain experience.

What you need to teach online

Because you’ll be conducting classes by using a video platform assigned by the company of your choice, you’ll need a reliable device (laptop or computer) and a stable internet connection (very important!). Since online teaching is such a popular choice for anyone looking to work from home, it can make finding online teaching jobs that much harder if you don't have a TEFL/TESOL certificate. However, some online learning platforms or schools don’t require a certificate. But if you’re looking to stand out from the crowd, especially on platforms such as PalFish and iTalki, it’s best to promote yourself as a teacher that knows exactly what they’re doing. Therefore, it helps to have the relevant teacher certification. As mentioned before, teaching online is not for the faint of heart. You’ll have to have enough passion and enthusiasm to fill a football stadium, as working with kids in a virtual classroom can present unique challenges. Since your students are halfway around the world, it’s important to exercise creativity when establishing your virtual classroom, and this will not only help you retain students, but it makes teaching/learning fun! You’ll also need to master the art of patience, be friendly and resilient.

Things to consider when teaching online

Becoming an online teacher is not for everyone, so make sure you love what you do before approaching any online schools. Here are just a few things to consider:


If you jump for joy at the thought of sipping coffee and gossiping with your coworkers over lunch, then this might not be the job for you. Most days will be spent in your living room (or designated area) teaching your students online.

Being an online teacher can be frustrating at times, and not having colleagues to vent to can make online teaching a little lonely. To combat any loneliness, make sure you join relevant ESL teaching groups on Facebook or inquire about any Skype groups available through your ESL company. This is also a great way to connect with other online teachers and bounce ideas off of them.

There's always work:

There will always be students looking to improve their English, so they'll always be someone to teach. But there will also be times when there are fewer students than the month before. Class bookings will fluctuate depending on the time of year, so make sure that if this is your only source of income, that you plan accordingly.

How to get your first online teaching job

Once you've decided that you want to become an online teacher, and you've chosen the ESL company of your dreams and reviewed their requirements, it's time to apply. Whether you've decided to go for an online language school or ESL marketplace, the application process is the same. Make sure you have any documents that they require handy and click send.

If you've applied to an online teaching company and you've wowed them with your skills and qualifications, you'll be invited for an interview. Treat this like any other job interview and research the company you've applied for. Find out what their values are and what they're looking for in their online teachers.

Once you've passed the interview, some companies may require you to send through a self-introduction video, but other companies will need you to complete a live demo lesson. This is usually a lesson that demonstrates to the recruiter what your teaching style is like and whether you'd be a good fit to teach English online. This is usually the final and the most nerve-wracking part of the application process. Make sure you get tons of practice!

Here are a few online education schools and platforms that provide teaching jobs:


VIPKid is one of the biggest online education companies in the industry right now. They provide one-on-one classes to Chinese students between the ages of 4-12 years old, so if you enjoy molding the minds of young kids through the English language, this is a great opportunity for you. Along with providing online teachers with a flexible schedule, they are also one of the best paying online education companies. The company also provides the curriculum and lesson plans, giving teachers more time to create a classroom that is positive and fun.

Because this is such a well-respected company, they do have requirements that can make or break your application. You’ll need to be from North America, have a degree, a reliable internet connection and a reliable device.

Earnings: $14 -18 per hour, which can include incentives.


If you love the sound of VIPKid, but you don’t meet their requirements, then SayABC is a great alternative. This online education company is owned by VIPKid, but they have a more flexible hiring policy when it comes to nationality. They pride themselves in having a recruitment process that’s quite fast, so you’ll be teaching online in no time! You’ll be teaching English through their interactive platform to a small group of students aged 5 - 12 years old. There’s no need to worry about creating your lesson plans, as they have pre-uploaded National Geographic lessons.

While they accept teachers of all nationalities, you will need to be a native English speaker, have a degree and TEFL certificate. Teaching experience is not required, but it is preferred. The base rate is $13 per 40-minute class, but you do receive incentives based on your attendance and productivity, and this is $4 per class.


If you’re looking to dip your toes into the online teaching waters and you don’t have a degree, Cambly is the perfect solution. Aside from being a native English speaker and having a stable internet connection, there’s not much else that they require from you when applying. Unlike with other similar platforms, you’re not able to set your rate, but you can expect to make $10.20/hour, which isn’t a bad deal. The premise is simple: go online, wait for students to call, teach online, and earn money. Most students on this platform are adults from Russia, Saudi Arabia or Brazil, which is another perk for anyone who prefers having a more engaging conversation with their students.

Earnings: $0.17 USD per minute or $10.20 per hour.


This is another great company to work for, especially if you have teaching experience, and you’re simply looking to enjoy a flexible schedule while earning extra money. With students located all over the world, you can choose what a schedule that works best for you based on your timezone. Classes are small groups of adults which are conducted on Zoom. Lingoda also provides you with the curriculum, which you'll have to prepare for beforehand.

Along with three years of teaching experience, you’ll also need to have a TEFL certificate or anything equivalent to that. You don’t need to be a native English speaker, but you do have to be fluent in the English language. Your salary is dependent on your location and qualifications, but online teachers can expect to earn $8 - $13 per hour.


This online learning platform is fast becoming a favourite amongst teachers and students. If you’re fluent in more than one language, then this is the perfect place to market your teaching abilities. iTalki considers themselves an online marketplace for students to find an online teacher, and there are tons of students eager to learn English online through this platform. Unfortunately, with the good comes the bad - there are also plenty of teachers on this platform, so making sure you stand out from the crowd is essential.

There aren’t many requirements other than being a native English speaker. However, there are two types of teachers you'll find on the platform: Professional teachers (requires TEFL, University degree and teaching experience) and Community teachers (no teaching experience or TEFL certificate needed). For more information about the difference, have a look here.

We hope that the growing benefits of teaching English online will provide you with incredible opportunities in 2020!

Whether you decide to become an online teacher full time or part-time to gain teaching experience – there are also some options for those of you who are biding your time before hopping on a plane to teach English halfway around the world.