We’ve gone through the process of applying, interviewing, getting hired and working in the online teaching space. This page is designed to be your reference guide for finding teaching English online jobs, evaluating employers and getting hired.
Our teachers have gone through the various hiring process for numerous online teaching companies.
In this guide we will cover the following:
- How to evaluate an online teaching company
- Where to find places to teach English online
- The hiring process
How to evaluate an online teaching opportunity
If you’ve been a member of any Facebook related group you’ll see numerous hyperbolic posts about how an “amazing” opportunity to teach English from your laptop (see our guide to teaching referral links.
There are some very good online teaching companies out there (our favorites being VIPKID, Palfish, Cambly, GoGo Kids and Magic Ears) but there are also some bad ones.
Reasonable expectations and requirements
The standard for online teaching is that the platform has some sort of teaching methodology they need you to perform. That means material should be provided by the company. They should also pay a class rate of at least $7-12 per class. That means at least $14 per hour at a minimum, up to $25 an hour.
If the website is wanting you to teach for a full hour and only compensate you $10, that is simply too low if you’re an actual ESL teacher with a bachelors degree and relevant teaching experience.
The low pay comes from the notion that “anyone” can teach English. It also comes about due to Filipinos and other non-native speakers willing to work for cheap. As teachers, we all know that there are good teachers and bad teachers . If you’re a good teacher, go for an online teaching company that will pay you $20 an hour or more.
It’s a process to get hired so don’t go through a long hiring process to get paid close to minimum wage.
Teaching is a skill. You should be paid well for your skill, particularly if it’s in demand like English is in Asia. If you’re an ESL teacher with a TEFL or CELTA and a bachelors degree I would not accept anything less that $20 at a minimum.
Websites and platforms that want to pay you $10 an hour are either catering to individuals with no teaching experience or they don’t value teaching as a skill.
In house technology
When you work as an independent contractor for an online teaching company, ask about their in-house platform.
The company should have there own scheduling system, their own video chat platform, they should make the teaching material. If the platform expects you to do all of this then it’s not worth it.
It would just be better to freelance teach where you can at least set your own pay and hours (see our Italki review for more).
Proper companies should have educators involved in setting up the curriculum. There should be different levels for students (based on fluency), vocabulary, target sentence structures and so forth.
If a company simply wants you to practice “conversation” I would be weary of how professional they are on the back end. Now some platforms are for strict conversation. Palfish and Cambly come to mind. But they also offer more detailed programs if students want.
Professional website and email
We have various professional emails for Teach and GO. If we can set up a proper email for the team that runs teachandgo.co, you should expect the same from an online teaching company.
On a side note, please be aware that many websites offer their teachers incentives to recruit new teachers. So you will see random gmail and yahoo email accounts from teachers promoting their company.
English version of their website
This should be obvious, but often times companies won’t even have an English version of their website for prospective teachers. This should be a red flag as to how established and developed the company is.
Head over to Glassdoor.com an look up reviews of various companies you’re interest in and read the reviews. I tend to pay attention most to 3-4 star reviews as they tend to be the most honest and realistic.
Where to find places to teach English online
There are a few different places we suggest looking for an online teaching job.
First Teach and GO maintains a vetted online teaching company directory. Only companies that are hiring and meet all the previously laid out standards are added.
Facebook groups are also an excellent place to find help. Join an online teaching group that has a few thousand members. Please be aware that there are numerous teachers who will post their referral link.
Facebook groups are a great place to ask questions. But again, often times it’s the blind leading the blind which is why we created Teach and GO in the first place.
Last, Quincy of ESL Authority maintains a jobs board for various ESL related jobs. You can visit the jobs board here and sort by online teaching jobs.
The hiring process explained and what to expect
For online teaching platforms that require you to have a TEFL certificate, a bachelors degree and be a native speaker. This is a general outline of what you can expect with any hiring pipeline.
The first step is to simply apply online. You’ll need to submit things like a profile picture, resume, passport and TEFL or CELTA certification. The key focus here is to demonstrate you have the experience they are looking for.
If you the company is interested in bringing you on, they will schedule a short 20-30 minute interview in most instances.
The interview is informal. Expect it to be conversational with them explaining the process of teaching as well as expectations of teachers. They want to get a broad impression for how you would teach.
Look presentable and make sure your background in the video call is presentable.
Training videos and tests
If you pass the interview you’ll be required to watch a few training videos and then take a test to evaluate your comprehension of the material. This is part of the on-boarding process for all teachers. You need to self-study the material as well as company policies.
If you fail any of the comprehension tests, you’ll simply need to review the material again until you pass.
You’ll be required to pass some sort of mock class to become a teacher. This is by far the most stressful process of the hiring process and it’s where most teachers drop out of the hiring process.
A mock class can be any number of things. Some companies will have you submit a demo video of you teaching no student but demonstrating how you would teach a student. Other companies pair you up with a current teacher who acts like a student and gives you feedback. Some companies bring you on with a real student and your performance is then evaluated.
Regardless, this part is the hardest but it’s worth it as you’ll have a profitable side gig.
Hired – Sign your contract
Once you complete all aspects of the on-boarding process the hard part is done. You’re now a teacher. For your first contract make sure to review all material and really understand the platform and online teaching.
After a month or two, it gets much easier as you’ll understand all the different lessons as well as how to teach. You’ll get to a point where you just teach and go.
How To Find an Online Teaching Job Conclusion
There are many good online teaching companies. All you need to do is find the right one for you. If you’re an American with a bachelors degree with some experience teaching kids (coaching, volunteering, school teacher) you should apply to VIPKID. They are the industry leader.
Industry leader. $25 an hour. Educated Americans and Canadians only.