Teaching English Online as a Career

There has never been a better time to consider shifting to remote online work than now. Right this moment!

Now that we are coming out of the most acute phase of the global COVID pandemic, more and more employers are considering remote work patterns for their employees, but the online English teaching industry has been working in this way for years. 

If you like supporting people of all ages to access English and improve their lives through language, this is the path for you. Let’s look at a few of the critical factors to consider.

What age group could you work with?

You know you want to help people learn new skills, but let’s take a second to think about what that means for different ages. 

If you’re thinking about the younger ages, make sure you’re someone with a big personality who doesn’t mind acting silly on screen! The younger children looking for English lessons can be as young as 3 years old, so they need you to have lots of energy to keep them engaged. Think about toys, songs, and lots of games. Not for you? Older children could be a better choice, but you will need to judge their mood and energy levels in each class. Finally, teaching adults can be unique, and you can have very interesting conversations about all sorts of topics. Learning can be more informal with less need for behaviour management.

Where would you want to live?

Perhaps the most critical question and an aspect that will significantly influence your quality of life overall and how much you enjoy your teaching experience. You should do your research! 

For example, think about the type of climate you would be comfortable in, and find out what the local culture is like. Will you be able to find the food you can eat? What are the rules for travellers and remote workers regarding visas, healthcare, and places inside your chosen country where you are allowed to live? 

Some enjoy the variety of life in Europe, while others prefer stable, reliably warm weather! If this is you, learn much more about teaching in Taiwan.

How much are you hoping to earn?

There are many different online schools and companies out there looking for teachers like you, and with them come many different pay levels. The general levels of progression for online teachers include those teaching without any certification, and these are the positions you get the least money for. 

These teaching jobs can pay as little as $7 per hour, so you must carefully examine your budget. The next step is to get a TEFL certificate; the industry standard is a 120-hour qualification. Do your research and see what will suit you and your goals best.

Are you looking for progression?

Being able to progress in online companies can be challenging, principally because of the online nature, meaning workers and colleagues are mostly very separate. 

In some cases, if you speak to the right people in your company early on and show you are willing to take on extra roles, you might be selected to check courses for errors or even become a curriculum developer, helping to create the materials that will be used in the virtual classrooms. 

As with all jobs, it requires you to put in some extra time and effort to prove you are a good candidate, but the results can be very good. If you are teaching for a school based in another country, consider learning their language too, this can make you a highly attractive candidate for additional work.

Consider your contract and tax options.

More often than not, you will be a freelancer when you teach online. This usually means you have no firm schedule of hours, although some companies require you to commit to 8 regular hours, while others allow you to sign up for whatever slots you like, changing them weekly. 

If you’re a freelancer, you should look at your home country’s tax rules and ensure you have the correct visa for the country you pick. Some schools may give you a more formal contract, requiring you to work the same hours each week and with specific rules about holidays and illness. Consider what suits you best and what compromises you’re willing to make. 

More flexibility and less pay, or a rigid schedule and higher hourly rate… are all things you will need to think about before you pick your school.

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