So you’re interested in teaching English online but you’re wondering about the types of online English teaching jobs out there.
In fact, you’ll find quite a lot of variety in both who you can work for and how you find your students as well as who you’ll be working with and what their needs are.
You could find yourself teaching young children basic literacy, coaching business executives on their small talk skills or helping university students with their essay writing skills.
Whatever you’re interested in and whatever your skills and background are, when you teaching English online, the world is your oyster. And you can teach how you want with who you want more easily than you ever could offline.
So, with that in mind, let's take a deep dive into the 8 types of online English teaching jobs.
#1 Working For Online English Teaching Companies
Working for an online English teaching company is probably what springs to mind when you think of an online English teaching “job”.
Be aware though that these companies won’t hire you in the traditional sense with paid holidays and sick leave. Instead they’ll expect you to be registered as self-employed in your country so you’ll have to deal with things like taxes etc.
That aside, working for companies can be a good option if you’re just starting out. And don’t want to look for students yourself. Companies will give you students and usually guarantee a certain number of hours.
In some cases, they’ll also provide lesson plans or lesson materials. But it’ll be up to you to provide a laptop, webcam and internet connection.
Companies will have different requirements for getting hired. Some will require a Bachelor’s degree (often in any subject), as well as a teaching certification. But it is possible to teach English online without a degree, even when working for a company.
#2 Working For Online Language Teaching Platforms
Another way to work as an online English teacher is to sign up to work on a platform such as iTalki, Verbling or Preply. The platforms don’t provide you with a guaranteed number of students or hours.
Instead, you’ll create a profile, upload your profile video and students will see you as they browse through the site. If they like the look and sound of you, then they might book a trial lesson and go on to work with you. Or not.
As you can imagine, there’s a lot of competition on the platforms. But if you want to work independently, they can be a good place to start as people are there for a specific reason – to find a language teacher or tutor.
You set your own prices on these platforms. But expect to start off at the lower end of the scale when you begin, around 10 USD per 1 hour class.
And know that the platforms will take a percentage of what you make. As you get more experience and reviews on the platform, you can increase your prices little by little.
#3 Create Your Own Job: Teach English Independently Online
If you don’t mind finding students yourself (check out this post on how to find students for ideas) then teaching English independently online could be the best “job” option for you.
You can consider this path when you don’t need money fast and you’re willing to build up your roster of students gradually.
The advantage of teaching independently online is that you’ll have more control over the rate you set. You won’t have a platform talking commission from you. You can also choose who and what you want to teach.
The downside of all this freedom is that you’ll have to spend a lot of time marketing your services so that you can find new students. You won’t have a company or a platform sending them to you regularly.
So you’ll have to get creative about how you bring in new students. This can include placing classified ads on sites in your country, creating a social media profile or going to networking events.
If you're serious about starting your own online teaching business, I recommend checking out the CeOLT (Certification of Online Language Teaching) programme.
This qualification not only helps you to become a better language teacher but also teaches you how to find paying students and build a language teaching business online.
#4 General English Teaching Jobs
This is probably what most ESL teachers, online or offline will be doing. In this case, you’re teaching people who want to improve their English fluency, but without a specific purpose in mind such as preparing for an exam or learning business English.
Of course, that doesn’t mean they don’t have goals. Some people might want to travel (and not necessarily to an English-speaking country) while others may want to interact with friends or family overseas. Knowing your students’ goals will help you to prepare your lessons.
Teaching general English means you’ll be helping your students improve their vocabulary, get their heads around grammar, master pronunciation and develop their skills in reading, writing, listening and speaking.
The advantage here is that you can use whatever material you want (particularly if you’re teaching independently). So, if you want your student to read my short stories in English book outside of class, and then come to the lesson to discuss it, go ahead!
You can also use your student(s) favourite podcasts, YouTube channels or blogs to plan your lessons. Also, just because you’re teaching online, it doesn’t mean you can’t use textbooks.
If there’s a textbook or grammar book you like and think could be helpful to your student, ask them to buy it so you can set them work from it.
#5 Teaching Kids English Online
The online English teaching era of plenty of work teaching kids is coming to an end with the Chinese government’s crackdown on out-of-school tutoring.
This has led to the collapse of some high-profile companies like GoGoKid. Others, such as VIPKid are pivoting to tutoring markets outside of China.
That said, there will always be demand for teaching kids online as parents know that good English can be a ticket to better grades at school and a better job.
Teaching kids could mean doing lessons for a company specialized in teaching kids. If you really like working with children, you could also teach them independently. In that case, you’d be marketing your lessons to their parents.
You could also work with older children and teenagers, as a more “traditional” tutor. Again, you’d need to search for parents who are looking for support for their children, or for someone to help prepare them for an exam.
If you’re going to teach teenagers, then it will help to know about their school curriculum and what the exams they’re preparing for look like. That way, you can target your classes to their needs.
That said, you’ll need to find ways to make your lessons fun and relevant. Maybe you can discuss the latest trending videos on TikTok or talk about the influencers they follow online.
#6 Teaching Business English
Business English teachers help students prepare for using English in the world of work. This could mean anything from preparing them for a job interview to teaching them presentation skills.
You could be working with executives and managers or bilingual assistants. You’ll guide them through email etiquette in English as well as how to make small talk with a client.
As you can see, there’s more to teaching business English than just grammar and vocabulary. Often, when you work with people in specific industries, they will know the technical lingo better than you.
What they need help with is communicating effectively in business situations. If they’re doing business in your country, they’ll need help navigating business and politeness norms.
If you’ve got business experience yourself, like Shanthi Cumaraswamy Streat from English with a Twist, then teaching business English can be a great option. You’ll understand your student’s struggles and goals better than someone who has never worked in an international firm.
That said, if you’re interested in teaching business English without the business experience, that’s possible too. There are plenty of lesson plans or business English textbooks to help you as well as certifications you get to help you teach business English.
#7 Teaching English For Specific Purposes
Now, you could put business English in this category which typically refers to EAP or English for academic purposes. But it can also refer to any situation where you’re teaching students a particular type of English, usually for professional or academic purposes.
Some examples include areas like aviation English or medical English. But according to some definitions English for specific purposes can also include focusing on specific skills such as writing or listening.
Teaching a specific type of English can be a great way to create a niche and stand out from others who are teaching general English.
It can also make it easier to find students – if you’re teaching English for people in the watch industry for instance, you can contact companies in the field, hang out at trade shows or follow profiles of people in that industry on LinkedIn.
However, if you’re going to present yourself as a specialist, you’ll need the credentials to back it up. If you make mistakes when teaching aviation or medical English, the consequences could be fatal.
So make sure you either know the field because you’ve worked in it. Or you’ve taken a certification in that type of teaching. Preferably both.
Medical English or aviation students will probably also want preparation for certain exams such as the OET or those required by the International Civil Aviation Organization, which brings me nicely to…
#8 Exam Teaching
Many online English students want to pass international English proficiency exams such as the TOEFL or IELTS. Exam teachers can be in high demand and command higher rates of pay.
After all, your students are hoping for entry into an overseas university or to live and work abroad. So the stakes are high. You can expect your students to be motivated as well.
If you want to prepare students for English proficiency exams, it can help to have experience as an examiner. Or failing that, to take the exam yourself to see how it works.
If you’re an exam teacher, you’ll have a certain amount of pressure on your shoulders too as your students are coming to you for a specific result. Can you deliver it? Are you familiar with the ins and outs of the particular exam? What results have your past students achieved?
Types Of Online English Teaching Jobs
So there you have it – 8 types of online English teaching jobs that you can do and that’s just the start.
You can combine these jobs. For instance, you may want to teach kids or business professionals for a company rather than strike out on your own. That’s cool – there are opportunities out there.
You can make your profile stand out a bit more on a platform by offering a specific type of English for the type of client you want to work with – lawyers, dentists, entrepreneurs, life coaches – assuming you’re familiar with those fields.
And if you want to teach English online independently and find your own students, you can teach what you want (depending on qualifications and experience of course!).
You can stick to general English teaching or specialise in teaching young people or business executives. You decide!