teach ESL Online

Teach ESL Online: Be Your Own Boss & Travel The World

Would you believe me if I said you never had to go to work again? What if I added that not only do you never have to go to work, but you will also have the freedom to go anywhere you want in the world, whenever you want? And all you have to do is sit down at your laptop. That’s exactly what you can do if you teach ESL online…

Add in the fact you’ll also have complete control over your own schedule and financial independence, and it’s a no-brainer.

It Sounds Like a Dream Life, Doesn’t It?

It’s the life I’ve been living for over a year. Even before that, life was pretty good: I’d been calling Asia home for three years, I got to see new places and meet new people regularly, but my time was not my own. I had a couple of weeks’ holiday each year and begrudgingly, I had to get dressed and go into work each day.

Sure, I was living out my wildest dreams, but still, l felt trapped. I knew I needed more freedom when it came to my time, but I had no idea how to acquire it. Then I met a guy who told me about online English tutoring. We were both living in Vietnam, and I was complaining about driving to work in the cold, and how miserable winter is in northern Vietnam. He said to me, “Teach online, mate!”

It took me a year to finally get the courage to give it a try. I don’t know what I was afraid of. Maybe it was just the prospect of doing something unknown. I was comfortable in the classroom. I was not comfortable sitting in front of a webcam. Years have passed since that fateful conversation.

teach ESL Online

“I’ve Been an Online English Teacher for Over a Year Now”

I can honestly say that as long as teaching online is an option, I will never return to the front of a classroom. The freedom this job provides me is too valuable. So, you’re probably wondering: can I do it? Absolutely! Here’s how:

First Off, What Do You Need?

Well, a laptop is a good place to start! After that, credentials and requirements can shift across the board. It is a very big market, with new companies coming onto the scene regularly. But there are some basics. First, a TEFL qualification.

Some of the biggest and most well-paying online ESL companies are based in China, and recently the Chinese government has made a TEFL certificate a requirement for all online English teachers. Getting a TEFL qualification will also prepare you for the world of ESL. I had no idea what I was getting into when I signed up for my TEFL course. By the end of it, I knew exactly where I wanted to apply and how I was going to do it.

1. Get a TEFL Certificate

The amount of TEFL course providers out there can almost be overwhelming. You want the company you enrol with to be accredited and internationally recognised. My suggestion is The TEFL Org, as they are the UK’s most experienced provider, an accredited company, and they offer a wide range of courses to suit your specific needs. 

After getting your TEFL qualification, requirements will be dependant on the company. Some companies require a Bachelor’s Degree, while some do not. Some companies will require you to be a native speaker and will only hire from certain countries, whereas others are much more lenient.

The higher paying companies will be more strict about these things. If you do not have a degree or are not a native speaker, expect to make less money than those who do.

2. How Much Money Can You Make?

In my most lucrative month, I made over $4000. It was honestly the most money I’ve ever made in my life. I was floored when I saw my paycheque.

Generally speaking, if you are a native speaker with a degree, you can make anywhere from 20-25 USD an hour. There are more specialised niches of online ESL that pay higher, but those jobs are harder to obtain. I once heard of someone teaching ESL online to pilots, making almost $50 an hour! 

Myth or fact? I’m not sure. But I do know that business specialisation markets exist and they are high paying. That being said, there are also lower-paying companies, and often the work is easier with them. Some of them will even let you teach from your phone!

Many companies pay in USD. I have heard of others paying in their local currency as well, like Chinese RMB. Some will do bank transfers, others will pay via Paypal, generally once per month. Also, for most companies, you will be considered an independent contractor, meaning that you are responsible for handling and paying your taxes to your respective country.

3. What Company Should I Work For?

Honestly, the list is probably inexhaustible. The company you want to look for will depend on what passport you hold. Some big names lead the Chinese market, but some of them only hire North Americans. However, the list goes on and it is rapidly changing. Do some research and see where you fit in the market. 

Still Hesitant?

I wish I could go back in time, to when I first arrived in Vietnam and woke up each morning filled with dread as I drove to my public school job, where I taught classes with as many as thirty kids in them. Now, I sit in the comfort of my own home and teach one student for 25 minutes. 

For many companies, there is no hour requirement, and you can pick your schedule. This means that if I want to get on a plane to Timbuktu next week, I can. No one has control over my time besides me.

Also, the amount of hours you want to work is often up to you. Do you have specific goals in mind and need some extra cash? Open up your schedule and the hours and money are there for the taking. 

I’ll never be able to give up the freedom this job gives me. Teaching online has allowed me to pursue my passion projects. It’s given me the ability to prioritise my time to work on things I love, like writing the book I’ve been working on for the last two years. Accomplishing that would have been nearly impossible if I were at home, constrained to a 9-to-5. 

Teaching ESL online will change the way you work and live. What are you waiting for?

This article is in partnership with TEFL.org and is authored by Sabrina Pinksen.

Big 7 Travel Team

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