Online English Teaching: What Are Your Options7 min read

Not everyone who gets into online English teaching will have the same goals. Some people are hoping to supplement their income. Others are looking to bring in a full-time income. There are also people who are hoping to move from just online English teaching to working in the main offices of these companies and advance their careers. The path to each of these is going to be different and structuring your working life correctly can better help you move towards your goal faster.

What different goals might online English teachers have?

As mentioned, different people are going to have different goals. Not everyone who works teaching English online is going to want to make a full-time career out of this. Conversely, people who do want to become full-time online teachers may not be wise to just look for the highest paying jobs. Let’s take a look at some of the different types of people who might find themselves getting into online English teaching before we go into what different options each of them has.

Full-Time Online English Teachers

For various reasons, there are many people that are getting into teaching English online to create a full-time income stream. Many stay-at-home parents and retirees are getting into teaching for these reasons. There are also many expats living in countries with low costs of living that can make enough teaching English online to live a very comfortable life where they are.

The reasons for wanting to teach online full-time are going to be varied. However, what won’t be varied is the need to create a stable income stream that is both predictable and supportive of the lifestyle, within reason, each person wants to lead.

Part-Time Online Teachers

Just as with full-time teachers the reasons for wanting to become a part-time online English teacher are going to vary widely. Many people who only want to teach online part-time are looking to supplement their income. Some people may be looking to use online teaching to pay off student loan debts or other types of debt. There are also individuals who are teaching English abroad already and who are hoping to increase their income by teaching part-time online.

Whatever the reason, the best route for teaching part-time is going to be a bit different than someone who is trying to create a full-time income as stability isn’t as big of a concern if this is not going to be your primary income stream.

Teachers Wanting To Advance in the Online Industry

Not everyone looking to get into online English teaching full-time is going to want to remain a teacher long term. For some people, the goal in getting into online English teaching will be to carve out a career that they can advance in. While this is certainly going to be a bit more challenging than just teaching English full-time, it is not impossible.

All of the online English teaching companies employ westerners to help in roles that they local population cannot do. Many of these westerners employed by these companies were teachers for the companies when they first started out. This means there are opportunities to advance within companies.

For people who want to make a long-term career in the online English teaching industry the good news is that this is an industry still in its infancy. This means there are plenty of available positions and many more that will be created as new companies enter the market and older companies expand.

What are the best options for each person?

Best Option for Teaching Full-Time

For people looking to teach English online full-time the most important thing will be stability and dependability. They are going to want to know month to month how much they are going to make and ensure that they will be able to pay the bills each month. For many people, this can be a tough thing to accomplish because of the way they are approaching the subject.

Many people, when looking to teach English online full-time, begin by trying to find the highest paying companies and then they stop there. The problem, as many people figure out, is that even though they are making more per-hour, they aren’t getting enough classes to create a consistent and steady income.

For people who are making enough money of their one job there are other problems that can arise. If the lose their job, for whatever reason, or if the company they work for suddenly stops having as much work, then they are going to find their  income taking a sharp decline.

For this reason, the best option for people who want to create a full-time income stream is to work for multiple companies and have various backup options in place to create redundancy. The companies that are best are going to be different for each teacher but the primary thing is to not let any one company have too much time. If a teacher is working 30 hours at one company and 10 hours at another then, for whatever reason, if they lose a significant amount of hours at the 30 hour company they are in trouble and it will be much harder to fill that time up in a short timeframe.  

If, however, a teacher is working for four different companies giving each one only 10 to 15 hours then there is little concern about being let go or losing hours. It is much easier to fill up 10 hours with the three other companies than it is to fill up 30 hours with the one other. If teaching full-time online is goal then diversity of income streams is the best and most secure way to go. Remember to not just look for the companies that pay the best but the companies that will be able to provide consistent work. $15 per hour with stable class numbers each week is preferable to $25 per hour and 3 classes one week, 10 the next, and no classes for a two week period.

Best Option for Teaching Part-Time

People looking to teach only part-time are going to have a bit more freedom in the way they work. For full-time teachers it is important to look for a stable month to month income as they will need to take care of monthly expenses. However, teachers who only want to work part-time teaching English online, whether to supplement their income or pay off debt or save extra money, they don’t necessarily need stability month to month.

If, for example, a person is looking to bring in an extra three or four thousand dollars each year, it is less important that this money is equally distributed each month. So, if a person works for a company and they are making different amounts each month but it averages out at the end of the year to the sum they are looking for then all is well.

For this reason, it is possible for a part-time teacher to look for one high-paying job and stick to that if they are getting what they need to. It is still a good idea to have backup options in the event that one company doesn’t provide what is needed. However, it is much less important for a part-time teacher than for a full-time teacher relying on online English teaching for a full-time income.

Best Option for Advancing in a Company

For teachers whose goal is to move up in a company into other positions such as curriculum development, hiring, or even moving abroad to work in the main office, then the best option will be to find one company and go full force.

Teachers with this goal in mind will want to make their presence known when possible and network with anyone they can at the company’s headquarters. It is important to go the extra mile in order to stand out. This could mean consistently taking substitute classes when possible as well as accepting other opportunities such as training or hiring if given the chance.

The thing to remember is that online companies are in a state of growth. This means there are going to be more and more positions added as time goes on and some of those positions will be open to foreign staff. Make sure to always keep a look out for emails or social media posts from the company looking to hire staff. Also, it never hurts to ask.

What are some final thoughts?

It is important to remember that for different teachers with different goals there are different ways to structure their online teaching. The main thing for each person to take into consideration is what they are looking to get out of teaching English online. Someone who is looking for stability is going to have to take different things into consideration than someone who is just looking for some extra spending money. For this reason, online teachers need to examine their end goal and then plan their careers accordingly.

I want to help you find an awesome job in the ESL industry and then excel at it. I’m a TESOL certified teacher with over two years of experience working both online and offline. I have worked with students ranging from young learners to advanced level university speakers and have worked in recruiting and hiring, teacher training, and content creation. I’ve seen the good and bad of the ESL industry and I’m here to tell you about it.