You have a lot of different options when it comes to teaching English online from home as a way to earn a side income. Yes, there are a lot pros and cons to teaching online, but once you get yourself established, it’s a great work from home side income.
The two main paths you can follow with online teaching are to work for an online teaching company (like VIPKID) or to go the freelance route (like Fiverr).
The advantages of working with an online teaching company are that it’s easy and has a built in community of fellow teachers and students. There are numerous Facebook groups you can join and each platform typically has some type of built in forum. For example, VIPKID teachers have the “Hutong” to post questions and ask for advice.
How to Get Started
To get started with an online teaching platform you simply go through the hiring process for your online teaching company of choice and then once hired the platform provides the students, teaching material and payment. All you have to do is show up and teach.
This is easier than going the freelance route because you have less working parts to handle yourself. However, the pay is also less too. If you decided to go the freelance route you can earn a much higher hourly rate but you need to create your own materials, source your own students through your own marketing, figure out how to actually conduct class (most use Zoom) and so forth.
Requirements to teach online
So what exactly are the requirements to teach online? If you’re going with an online teaching company based in China you’ll need a degree from an accredited university. This is because in the ESL world a degree is legal requirement to get a work permit regardless if it’s online or not.
You’ll also need to be a native speaker as non-natives want to learn with native speakers. There are opportunities to teach English as a non-native but the pay is quite low. For freelance, you don’t need a degree but you will have to demonstrate some type of qualifications to have any success.
Last are the technical requirements to teach online. Here at Teach and GO we have a dedicated guide to the most essential online teacher tools including headphones, laptops, props, microphones, webcams and so forth.
10 Excellent Companies that let you teach English online from home
With that out of the way, here is our constantly updated list as to the best companies and platforms to be aware of in the online teaching space. This content is updated monthly so make sure to bookmark it and share it with anyone who would find it helpful.
- Magic Ears
VIPKID – The industry leader
VIPKID is currently the industry leader in the online teaching space and the most reliable and stable company to work with. With students from northern China and roughly 50,000 online teachers based in America, Canada and abroad – if you’re looking for a good paying online position you need look no further than VIPKID.
- Established company and curriculum.
- Excellent pay, bonuses and always on time with payment.
- Well developed support network of teachers.
- Fun and easy teaching environment once you’re hired.
- Can live abroad and teach with VIPKID.
- Must be a citizen of the United States or Canada – no exceptions.
- Must have a bachelors degree and some experience teaching children – again no exceptions.
- Multi-step application process. This weeds out lazy people however.
VIPKID is a process to get hired as they pay well and have high standards. It also takes a month or so to start getting steady bookings. Once accepted and established, it’s simply a matter of opening classes and teaching.
UPDATE: Online teaching has been banned in china and VIPKID is going to be changing their business model. You can still apply, but the format and students are not set yet.
Teach online with the #1, most highly rated online teaching platform.
*See our dedicated review of VIPKID for more.
Outschool – The creative online teacher option
Outschool is a unique marketplace option for the online teaching space, instead of being restricted to teaching English to young learners like most platforms you can teach whatever class you want on Outschool: Art, history, science and more.
Outschool is designed to be a marketplace of interesting courses for students across the world aged 5 to 18. You don’t need a degree to be a teacher as it’s a US based company (and you’re considered an independent contractor, not a teacher), but you do need to demonstrate subject mater expertise when applying.
Once accepted, you simply create your class, price it and wait for students to enroll. If you have a deep interest or knowledge on some specific field of interest, consider making a class on Outschool.
- Can teach anything, not only English.
- Can make more per hour than what an online teaching company will pay you.
- Once your class has great reviews, getting students is organic and easy.
- No bachelors degree or TEFL required.
- Like all marketplaces, new courses take time getting reviews and students.
- You’re in charge of your class. That means the material from start to finish.
- You have to apply and be accepted to post courses in their marketplace.
- They take a 30% cut on your sales.
The afterschool marketplace. Teach what you know and love.
*For more, see our Outschool review.
Fiverr – The freelance option.
Fiverr is a professional services website and is a surprisingly good option for teaching any language you’re a native speaker of on. What’s great about Fiverr as well is that they are a simply freelance market place.
That means anyone can sign-up and create a gig. Unlike Outschool where there is a vetting and application process, Fiverr is a true freelance option and the success of your “gig” will be based on the value deliver.
On top of that they only take 20% instead of 30% as a commission and you can teach any sort of student, not only young learners. The downside is that they are a broad professional service website and not as niche as Outschool.
- Easy to signup and create a gig.
- No vetting process or degree required.
- Can charge whatever rate you want.
- It’s a marketplace so you can get organic sales with no marketing.
- Teach adults instead of children.
- You have figure out how to teach your course yourself by creating the material, scheduling the time with the student and what what platform to actually host the class on.
The professional service marketplace.
*Learn more about teaching on Fiverr.
QKids – A fun online teaching company
Qkids is big platform that has over 100,000 Chinese learners aged between 5 and 12 years old. Class is about 33 minutes long in all with a scheduled 10 minute break in between back to back classes. Which makes it impossible to teach 2 classes in 1 hour.
However, the company books you instead of the parents booking you. If you’re looking for an excellent alternative to VIPKID check out Qkids.
- Qkids is a well developed platform with an excellent curriculum.
- High pay and good bonuses.
- They make for a great backup for VIPKID.
- The company books you. Perfect if you’re wanting something part time.
- You must be a citizen of the United States or Canada – no exceptions.
- Must live in the United States or Canada – no digital nomad teachers.
- The company books you. Not ideal if you want to teach a lot of hours (20+ per week).
- Must be available a minimum of 6 hours a week.
Start teaching online with this excellent company.
*Learn more about QKids.
Magic Ears – An innovative platform
Magic Ears operates a little different than other online teaching companies. Teachers once hired are assigned various ranks that dictate pay as well as booking rates. As teachers get promoted in rank they earn more and are able to get more hours with ease if they choose too.
If you’re looking for something that you could do full time, Magic Ears may not be the right choice. But if you’re looking for something part time, Magic Ears is an excellent option.
- Magic Ears has some of the highest hourly pay rates around.
- Various performance bonuses.
- An ideal company for those looking for part time work.
- Can do Magic Ears as an ESL teacher living abroad.
- Must me a citizen of the United States or Canada – No exceptions.
- Some may not like the promotion system Magic Ears uses.
- They expect a high energy, teaching style.
UPDATE: Magic Ears is still online, but they are functionally out of business due to the online teaching ban from China. They are still hiring at the moment to help fulfill packages parents already bought for their students.
Start your online teaching journey today.
*Learn more with our Magic Ears review.
Palfish – Phone app for all nationalities
Palfish is a phone app that offers two programs to language learners. The first option is called “free talk” and you simply have conversations with adults or young learners. You get paid per minute to have conversations.
The second option is a higher paying dedicated kids program that native English speakers can apply to. While Palfish is open to all nationalities, the kids program is restricted to native English speakers.
If you’ve been looking for an easy to use alternative app to teach on your phone or tablet, Palfish is a great part time choice.
- Excellent option for native speakers outside of North America.
- Have the option to teach adults with the”free talk” program or apply to the kids program.
- Conveniently teach from your phone.
- Non native speakers can apply to the “free talk” program.
- The kids program is restricted to citizens where English is the native language.
UPDATE: Palfish is still in business, however they have drastically reduced pay for their teachers due to the online teaching ban in China.
Teach English online with your phone or tablet today.
iTalki – The professional language marketplace
What makes italki unique is that they are not an online teaching company like the other on the list. Instead, they are a marketplace for language learners of all languages.
With italki you can find teachers for any language, not only English. The advantage of italki is that you have a bit more control over your hours and pay than working with an online teaching company, but the converse of this is that you don’t have the same schedule week to week and you have to make all the teaching material yourself.
You can charge however a much higher rate for your time. But again, while you can charge a high hourly rate, it depends on if students are willing to pay.
- Good opportunity for non native English speakers to teach their native language.
- Allows teachers from outside the United States and Canada to make a lot of money from online teaching.
- Classes are for 1 on 1 with adults.
- The selection process takes time. Not anyone can become a teacher.
- You have to make all the material yourself for your class.
- You have to organize class and how class will be conducted each week.
An online teacher marketplace for languages.
Preply – A fast growing language marketplace
Preply is the main competitor to iTalki. It’s a marketplace for language learning and is great choice for any teacher to teach their native language. If you wish to teach English, you must be a native speaker.
Classes are 1 on 1 and conduced through Preply’s own internal platform. This makes scheduling and teaching classes much more easy for the teacher.
Last, you primarily teach adult students so if you’re looking for an alternative away from young learners, this is it.
- A marketplace of students. It’s easy to organically grow your student base without marketing.
- Classes are 1 on 1 and held through the Preply’s own platform.
- Can charge whatever hourly rate you want.
- Preply charges a high commission, starting at 33% of your earnings.
- You’re not compensated for trial lessons.
An easy to use marketplace to teach class and find students.
Skooli – The professional tutoring platform
Skooli is tutoring platform for licensed, professional teachers. They are ideal for any current or retired teacher looking to make a either a part time or perhaps even a full time income from home.
The requirements to become a tutor ok Skooli are quite high. You will be required to have a bachelors degree at a minimum in education, English or related field to what you wish to teach.
Lessons are 1 one 1 and conducted through Skooli’s own internal platform. The starting pay for new tutors is around $25 an hour.
- High paying tutoring position.
- Strict requirements maintain a high level of credibility.
- Can teach a variety of subjects, not only English.
- You need to be an actual licensed teacher and be willing to appy and go through the vetting process to get hired.
The professional tutors choice.
Cambly – On demand conversations
Cambly is a platform that connects language learners with native speakers for conversations. You’re strictly having conversations with adults instead of teaching pre-made lessons to children. As such, this casual nature is excellent for language learners to have situational advice on topics like punctuation, grammar as well as slang.
No degree or teaching certificate is required as you’re not considered a teacher. The only requirements are that you’re a native English speaker and you have a access to the internet and are using a laptop with a webcam and a pair of headsets.
- Teach adults through conversation.
- Cambly is available 24/7. You can open your availability and get booked at potentially any time.
- You simply log in and have conversations around pre-determined topics for a period of time.
- No obligation to teach any minimum amount of hours.
- Low requirements mean low pay.
- Calls are not guaranteed.
Casual conversations to help improve non-natives with their speaking and listening abilities.
*Learn more with our Cambly vs Palfish comparison.
Get started teaching online conclusion
So that’s it for our guide on your best options for teaching English online. You can go the freelance route which requires more up-front work but higher pay or you can sign up to an online teaching company.
In general, our favorite on the list is VIPKID. They are the right mix of easy to teach, materials provided for you, reliable bookings and decent pay.