Is Teaching English Online Worth It?

Is Teaching English Online Worth It
Perhaps you're wondering if teaching English online is worthwhile? Like many things, it depends on what you want to get out of it. IN this article, we look at the online ESL job opportunity from different angles to help you decide if teaching English online is worth it for you.

Contents

Is Teaching English Online Even Legit?

Perhaps before we even delve into the pros and cons of teaching English online, we should clear up any doubts about it:

Teaching English online is a legitimate, viable way to earn an income, and there are people teaching English online, both part-time and full-time. We don’t suggest anyone to quit their current job to pursue a career as an online ESL teacher, but we can recommend it as a way to supplement or diversify your income streams. That’s not to say it can’t develop into something more. Indeed, some online ESL teachers found their way into full-time careers in online ESL.

Teaching English online is a good option for people who have seasonal jobs, are freelancers, or bootstrapping a startup. Even for those who don’t need the additional income, teaching English online can be a great way to bring more fulfillment and joy into your life. The online ESL industry is populated with school teachers who have made the transition to online teaching, stay at home parents, musicians, artists, career ESL teachers, and world nomads who have discovered they can enjoy a decent lifestyle in countries where the cost of living is relatively low.

So now that we have cast any doubts about whether teaching English online is legit, let’s examine the opportunity from different angles and determine if teaching English online is worthwhile for you.

Video Interview: "Teaching ESL Online is the Best Job I've Ever Had"

Michael Wasserstein

Michael Wasserstein is an online ESL teacher who lives in Florida. Prior to starting his career as an online ESL teacher, Michael worked as a computer training consultant. But as the market forces in his career changed, Michael found himself at a crossroads that would eventually lead him to the world of online ESL education.

Michael only works with one company, and he is one of the most popular online teachers in the company. He is also a member of the company’s academic team, enabling him to enjoy a near full-time schedule in online ESL.

Pros and Cons: Making Money as an Online ESL Teacher

Earn Money Online Esl Teacher

People who enter the online ESL industry don’t do it to get rich. You probably won’t get rich teaching English online, either. However, not everyone has the opportunity or fortune to earn fantastic salaries or launch a successful multimillion dollar startup. The fact of the matter is, for many people, searching for an online teaching job is a means to making ends meet, or paying down debts. So, let’s be crystal clear that if you’re looking at teaching English online from a monetary perspective, it’s likely because you need to make money. Let’s look at the pros and cons and see if teaching English online is worth the money: 

Pros

Cons

How Much Can You Expect to Make?

How much money you earn as an online ESL teacher is going to depend on a number of factors, but primarily your earning potential will be tightly correlated to your availability to work. Some people have a high availability to teach English, and thus have more earning potential. Others look at online ESL teaching as a side hustle, and fit it in or around other work. So even though you could potentially make $75,000 per year teaching English online with a company like VIPkid, in reality, the earnings for most online ESL teachers is going to be lower. Below is a table we have designed to help you estimate your potential monthly earnings based on a $20 per hour rate. Note that these amounts are before taxes:

Hours Per DayDays Per WeekRate (USD)Monthly Earnings (USD)
2320
3320
4320
5320
6320
2420
3420
4420
5420
6420
2520
3520
4520
5520
6520

Pros and Cons: Job Satisfaction as an Online ESL Teacher

Job Satisfaction Online Esl Teacher

When it comes to teaching ESL online, the old adage money isn’t everything holds true. What you will discover from the broad range of online ESL teachers is that many find the work enjoyable and personally rewarding. Still, not everyone would be a good fit for online ESL teaching. Particularly, if you are introverted and find it uncomfortable engaging with others, this may not be the ideal opportunity for you. Let’s have a look at the pros and cons in terms of job satisfaction.

Pros

Cons

While money is certainly not everything, and online teaching does come with a high level of job satisfaction for many, it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and for some, the job may actually feel unrewarding at times. Still, many people will find this teaching online to be truly worth doing. and many online teachers enjoy the work so much they could not imagine doing anything else. Much of it comes down to being passionate about the work and the difference you make in the lives of your students, but beyond passion, most of it boils down to whether you have the right personality for this job. 

Pros and Cons: Challenges of Being an Online ESL Teacher

Job Satisfaction Online Esl Teacher

Most experienced online ESL teachers will agree that the job itself is not difficult. If you are fluent English (which you are if you are reading this), enthusiastic and engaging, and genuinely passionate about teaching and helping your students improve their English fluency, there isn’t anything complex about teaching ESL online. However, as with anything, some aspects of being an online ESL teacher can be difficult to cope with. Let’s look at these.

Pros

Cons

In a nutshell, teaching English online is fairly easy work. Literally anyone who is fluent in English can do it. There are going to be times when you feel frustrated, feeling like it isn’t worth it, and throwing in the towel. Based on our experience though, the pros far outweigh the cons, and as long as you have carefully selected who you want to work with, and selected well, the negatives will be a once in a blue moon kind of thing.

Pros and Cons: Getting Hired as an Online ESL Teacher

Challenges Online Esl Teacher

As with many things, getting hired into online ESL teaching used to be super easy. If you spoke English, looked like someone who ought to speak English, and had a pulse, you were hired. Due to the enormous demand for online ESL teachers, it is still relatively easy, but, as the industry evolves, requirements for hiring online ESL teachers are becoming more stringent. You will need a university degree as well as a TEFL certification for most dependable online ESL teaching positions today. Here are the pros and cons of getting hired into online ESL teaching:

Pros

Cons

Generally speaking, getting hired should be the least of your concerns. Whether you are a native or non-native English speaker, opportunities to teach English online continue to exist. If you are a native speaker who is a visible minority, don’t feel dismayed. Things continue to improve on that front. It is difficult to say discrimination in ESL will vanish completely, but take comfort knowing that many visible minorities are teaching English online with a great deal of success. And, some online ESL companies are equal opportunity employers.

Wrapping Up: Is Teaching English Online Worth It?

If you are adaptable, open-minded, and enthusiastic when interacting with people, then teaching online is totally worth it. It offers you a lot of flexibility that other types of work don’t, and for many people, it is one of the most enjoyable parts of their day. You probably won’t get rich teaching English online, but it might open the door to new opportunities you never imagined.

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Adil Vellani
Adil Vellani
Born and raised in Toronto, Canada, Adil Vellani is the co-founder of ESL Job Exchange. With more than 20 years of international experience in both the education and corporate sectors, Adil is devoted to sharing his knowledge and experience to help individuals and organizations connect and make a massive impact in the lives of ESL learners across the globe. Adil also lectures at the Sino-European Institute of Aviation Engineering, where he teaches aviation engineering students in an international degree program.
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