Maximize Your Income: A Guide to Online English Teaching Salaries

Teaching is a vocation, but who says what you do for passion shouldn’t allow you to make a living? Teaching English online can offer a range of benefits, from making an impact in other people’s lives to learning about different cultures while earning a salary. However, to take full advantage of what this industry can offer, understanding the TEFL salary range is key.


The online English teaching market

Since the 1980s, English has become the common international language for trade, technology, business, and science. Globalisation has made doing business internationally easier than ever, especially when communicating in the same language.

In 2022, there were more than 262,000 English language learners in the UK alone and just under 1.5 million people speaking it fluently worldwide. This shows that teaching English can be a lucrative profession and very convenient too, if carried out remotely from the comfort of your own home.

There’s a wide range of English teaching opportunities online, suitable for your needs and preferences. Would you like to indulge your inner child by playing games and singing songs? Teaching children – or very young children – might be your niche. If you are goal-driven, you might prefer to teach exam preparation classes.

You could even make the most of your professional experience in other fields – law, engineering, aviation, etc. – and teach English for Specific Purposes (ESP) or Business English (BE). Would you like to help students gain academic skills to enter their dream university abroad? Then, teach English for Academic Purposes (EAP)! If you are new to teaching, however, it might be a good idea to start with General English (GE) classes for adult learners to gain some experience first, before you specialize in one area.

Setting your rates

Although there is plenty of choice in English language teaching, you need to consider that there are many factors that can affect your full- or part-time earnings, such as one-to-one teaching or group classes. Your qualifications and academic achievements, as well as previous teaching experience, can make a difference in your salary.

You should also remember that pay rates – online and non – vary depending on the location of your students. Hourly rates in Western Europe, for example, might be higher than in South-East Asia. However, this does not mean that you should lower your rates in order to gain more students. Instead, you should focus on promoting your unique selling points and getting qualified and/or specialised.

Unique selling points as a teacher

There are a few points to keep in mind if you want to stand out from the crowd of online teachers:

  • Your approach: A friendly and non-intimidating approach will make your students more relaxed and willing to participate in your lessons. You should also be able to encourage and motivate your learners when they get stuck. Their ability to remain committed to their learning journey will benefit both you and them.
  • Your qualifications: A university degree is often desirable but not a dealbreaker. Having a TEFL certificate nowadays, however, is non-negotiable. A TEFL qualification will help you discover the mechanics of the English language, such as grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation, while helping you develop your teaching skills and define your classroom persona. Furthermore, it instils trust, showing your potential students that you are a professional in the field.

Where to find work as an online English teacher

There are two paths that you can follow to become a successful online English teacher: you can either start your teaching business from scratch or join an already-established online language school to support you.

  • Online teaching business from scratch

This is probably the most gratifying option, but as the saying goes, ‘The greater the effort, the greater the glory’ – so be prepared for some hard work. From creating your lesson materials to finding your students and from building your website to drafting your terms and conditions, everything is down to you. Luckily, you can simplify the process with some bespoke digital solutions.

While the opportunity to have your very own independent teaching business is incredibly exciting, it requires huge amounts of determination and dedication. You are in charge of the marketing, financial, and legal side of things, as well as doing the actual work: teaching. This could be the ideal route if you already have a business background or plenty of time to invest in it.

  • Tapping into the support of online schools

If you decide to buddy up with an existing online school, there are many pros and definitely less stress than starting a teaching business independently, but there are also some compromises that you might see as cons.

The main advantage is that you won’t have to worry about looking for students. Not only will the online school find them for you, but it will also book the lessons, organize your timetable, and schedule your payments. All the legal documents – contracts, terms and conditions, cancellation policy – have already been drafted for you. Many online schools will also provide you with lesson plans and engaging materials to use in your classes.

This is definitely a more carefree approach to becoming a freelance teacher, but it comes at a cost. While the online school will definitely take into account your availability, you might need to guarantee a minimum of teaching hours per week. Furthermore, you will lose your freedom to set your own hourly fee: the school will decide for you. On occasion, you might find schools that allow you to decide how much you want to charge, but they will take a cut to cover for the service they offer (i.e. finding students for you).

If you don’t mind losing a little bit of freedom in certain aspects of this business, you could still retain plenty of flexibility in your teaching schedule, and you would be able to focus on what matters most: teaching.


Online teaching: is it worth it?

Definitely! Teaching English online is one of the most flexible, convenient, and meaningful ways of making money. The key to success is understanding market trends, setting competitive rates, and  emphasising your unique selling points that give you an edge over other teachers. Whether starting an independent teaching business or joining an established online school, online teaching offers incredible professional, financial, and personal opportunities.

By lucija

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