Search Search guidebooks
  • Intern
  • Teach

Become a certified online English teacher: Your step-by-step guide

Written By
By Munira Maricar
Travel Writer

In a world where the quest for work-life balance, freedom, and flexibility is more prevalent than ever, teaching English online emerges as a practical and appealing option. It’s not just a career—it’s a lifestyle choice for those who dream of traveling the world, controlling their schedule, and making an impact across global communities. 

The online English teaching sector offers a wide variety of specialized areas for potential educators to explore. This includes general English teaching roles, teaching young learners foundational language skills, and more niche roles like teaching business English or preparing students for English proficiency exams. The range of opportunities in this field is extensive. Each area presents its own set of challenges and rewards, enabling teachers to adapt their skills to meet different learning needs. This diversity makes online English teaching a dynamic and rewarding profession.

As an online English teacher, you define your work environment. Fancy teaching English from a sun-soaked beach in Thailand? Or perhaps from a quaint café in Italy? This career offers unparalleled flexibility to teach English online from home or any corner of the world.

Potential Earnings as an Online English Teacher

There are three primary methods to make money teaching English online:

  1. Teaching with an Online ESL Company ($10-$20 USD per Hour): This is perhaps the most straightforward option. Companies like Lingoda and Open English provide lesson plans and teaching materials. However, these companies set the hourly rate based on your experience and qualifications.
  2. Offering Your Teaching Services on an Open Marketplace (Set Your Own Rate): Here, you have the liberty to set your rate of pay per class. It’s important to start with a competitive rate to attract students and gradually increase it as you gain more positive feedback and experience. This also depends on the income level of your potential students. For example, $20 USD per hour can be a normal rate if your students are based in the United States, but if you want to teach clients in Indonesia, you may need to start lower. 
  3. Creating Your Online ESL Business (Set Your Own Rate): This option offers the most control and potentially higher earnings but requires significant effort in terms of marketing, creating lesson plans, and managing the business aspects. This is also much easier after having gained experience and connections with both clients and fellow instructors in the industry. 

Key Factors Influencing Earnings

  • Qualifications and Experience: Higher qualifications like a TEFL Certification and extensive teaching experience can lead to better pay.
  • Company or Platform: Different companies and platforms offer varying pay structures, with some providing flat rates and others allowing for more flexible pricing.
  • Hours Worked: The more hours you teach, the more you can potentially earn. Keep in mind that your students are likely based in different time zones, so you must be willing to work outside of traditional working hours (late nights or very early mornings)  to maximize your earning potential.
  • Incentives and Bonuses: Some companies offer additional incentives like bonuses for a high number of classes taught or positive reviews.

Examples of Online ESL Teacher Salary at Online Companies

  • Beyond English: $14-17 USD per hour for U.S. teachers.
  • Cambly: $0.17 per minute ($10-$20 per hour).
  • Open English: Up to $15 per hour.
  • Engoo: $11 per hour.
  • English2Go: $11-$12 USD per hour starting rate.
  • FluentBe: $10 per hour.
  • VIPKid: $14 per hour.

Teaching English online offers flexibility. You can choose to make it a part-time side hustle or a full-time career, and your earnings will correspond to the amount of effort and time you invest in teaching.

Get TEFL Certified

Book with title Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL).

A TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certification can significantly enhance your skills and capabilities as an online English teacher in several ways:

  • Understanding Student Diversity: TEFL courses equip you with strategies to accommodate various learning styles and needs.
  • Pedagogical Techniques: Learn essential ESL teaching methods for grammar, vocabulary, and key language skills.
  • Classroom Management: Gain insights into managing online classrooms effectively to maintain student engagement.
  • Cultural Sensitivity: Develop skills to navigate and respect diverse cultural backgrounds in teaching.
  • Lesson Planning: Master the art of crafting structured, impactful lesson plans and teaching materials.
  • Language Skills Enhancement: Fine-tune your English proficiency, particularly in grammar and pronunciation.
  • Assessment and Feedback: Acquire techniques for evaluating student performance and providing constructive feedback.
  • Professional Credibility: TEFL certification enhances your qualifications, opening doors to better online teaching opportunities.
  • Confidence Building: Boost your teaching confidence with thorough preparation in methodologies and classroom dynamics.

Here are a few providers that have a great reputation in TEFL certifications. These institutions provide a range of courses, both online and in-person, catering to different learning styles and schedules. Their certifications are globally recognized, making them a great choice for anyone looking to enhance their credentials in the English teaching field.

Maximo Nivel’s TEFL Program

Maximo Nivel's TEFL

Since 2003, Maximo Nivel has been offering diverse educational and volunteer programs in Latin America and is acclaimed for its global accreditations. As an English as a Second Language (ESL) institute with 20+ years of experience, they have expertly built an effective TEFL program to help people start their journey in teaching English abroad and online.

Along with in-person or hybrid TEFL certification courses based in Latin America, Maximo Nivel provides an interactive online TEFL course for those who need more flexibility. This program is designed for those seeking a more intensive and hands-on approach to TEFL training, with a course structure that allows for teaching practice and feedback from experienced TEFL instructors. The course creatively blends theory with practice. What sets it apart is the inclusion of 5 hours of live teaching with English students, supplemented by 10 hours of tutoring and coaching. The certification you will receive is accredited and recognized worldwide.

Additionally, Maximo Nivel offers help with job placement guarantee and lifetime job-finding support providing continuous support for a successful teaching abroad career.

International TEFL Academy’s Accredited Courses

Earn your TEFL certificate and teach English abroad with ITA

Founded in 2010, the International TEFL Academy (ITA) is renowned for offering globally recognized TEFL certification courses in over 20 locations around the world. Renowned for its Level 5 Ofqual accreditation from TQUK, ITA has established a vast network of partner schools throughout Asia, Europe, and Latin America. The academy has garnered media attention from prestigious outlets like Forbes and CNBC, highlighting its significant presence in the field of English language education.

Besides providing certification courses in over 20 worldwide locations, ITA also offers online TEFL courses. These online courses, designed for both full-time and part-time learners, blend theoretical instruction with live practice teaching, providing a rigorous and comprehensive learning experience. Supported by highly qualified instructors, ITA’s online courses ensure flexibility, accessibility, and quality education, backed by lifetime job search guidance for diverse international and online teaching opportunities.

An important specialty course that they offer is the 30-hour Teaching English Online Course. This specialized training equips you with the necessary skills to excel as an online English teacher and distinguish yourself in the competitive online teaching job market.

IVHQ’s TEFL HQ Online Certification


TEFL HQ offers a specialized 100-hour online TEFL course, internationally recognized and developed by second language acquisition experts. This course is a comprehensive introduction to teaching English, covering aspects like grammar simplification, lesson planning, and classroom management. TEFL HQ’s course is particularly beneficial for those looking to volunteer abroad or enhance their teaching credentials.

Intern Abroad

Intern Abroad HQ, a sister organization of IVHQ, offers an enriching opportunity to teach English online with their Remote Education Internship in Tanzania. This program allows you to gain practical experience in education without the need to travel, making it affordable and accessible. You can start your internship at any time, choose your hours, and work from anywhere globally. The program is ideal for those passionate about education, including high school graduates and individuals interested in the TEFL industry. Your tasks include preparing lessons, assisting a mentor teacher in Tanzania, and developing resources, all conducted in English. This remote internship is an excellent way to impact underprivileged children’s education and build your career credentials from home. For more information, click here!

African Impact’s Online TEFL Course and In-Person Teaching Internship


This unique TEFL Teaching Internship by African Impact combines online coursework with a hands-on practicum in Zanzibar or Zambia. Tailored for those enrolled in African Impact’s TEFL course, this program requires a minimum of 28 hours of practical teaching over two weeks, which is a requirement for participants to graduate with their TEFL Certification. Interns teach in nursery schools and at an Education Centre, engaging with children, adults, and women’s groups. This experience not only involves lesson planning and classroom support but also immerses participants in local culture. The program promises a comprehensive, fulfilling experience with accommodation, meals, and support, empowering local communities through education and providing interns with diverse teaching skills as they complete their TEFL Certification.

Volunteering SolutionsTEFL UK Course


The Online TEFL Course by Volunteering Solutions, in collaboration with TEFL UK, offers a flexible and comprehensive program for those eager to teach English globally. Catering to a wide audience, including high school graduates, gap year travelers, and experienced educators, this 120-hour course is ideal for developing essential teaching skills. It opens doors to international teaching opportunities, allowing you to learn at your own pace and even from home.

Teach English Abroad to Gain Experience

While having formal qualifications can set you apart and give you a leg up in terms of opportunities and pay, many institutions and online platforms are happy to prioritize candidates who can demonstrate fluency in English and practical teaching experience. This can allow individuals to bump up that CV and get some real-world teaching hours under their belt – so just go for it!

For aspiring teachers without formal qualifications, there are numerous opportunities to gain practical experience and demonstrate a commitment to teaching, typically, by volunteering to teach abroad:

Maximo Nivel

Teen and high school volunteer abroad programs - under 18 mission trips - Maximo Nivel

Maximo Nivel offers enriching opportunities to teach English in Latin America, specifically in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru. These volunteer programs address the gap in high-quality English language education in public schools and communities.

Key features of Maximo Nivel’s programs include:

  • Placement in a variety of educational settings such as public schools, community centers, and after-school programs.
  • An ESL Crash Course for volunteers to prepare them for effective teaching.
  • Support from an academic team for lesson planning and teaching resources.
  • A minimum commitment of one week, with recommended longer stays for greater impact.
  • Volunteer work for 3-4 hours per day, Monday to Friday.

The all-inclusive program fee starts from $685, covering accommodation, meals, and in-country support. Through these programs, volunteers not only help improve English language skills in underprivileged areas but also gain invaluable teaching experience and cultural insights.

International TEFL Academy (ITA)

gap year teaching English

ITA not only offers a range of internationally accredited TEFL Certification courses across Asia in-person courses or online courses, but also provides a Guaranteed Job Placements for Teaching English in Asia Jobs Program, which ensures  job placements for teaching English in South Korea, Thailand, Japan, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Myanmar. This is not a volunteer program but a premium program that focuses on personalized job matching to approved schools, aligning teacher preferences with suitable job placements. It ensures top salaries and working conditions, with 40 hours of cultural orientation and language training. This is a great program to start your teaching career supported by a 24/7 in-country support team. This program is bolstered by partnerships with over 2,500 vetted schools across Asia, ensuring a diverse array of teaching opportunities.

International Volunteer HQ

Volunteer teaching with IVHQ

International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ) offers a great way to teach English abroad, even for those without formal certification. This organization opens the doors to a variety of countries, allowing volunteers to immerse themselves in new cultures while contributing to the local communities’ education.

With IVHQ, you can start teaching in countries in Asia, Latin America, Africa, and Europe, with incredibly affordable program fees, starting as low as $275 for a week in India, making these opportunities accessible to a wide range of volunteers.

Here are just a few cool opportunities you can choose from:

IVHQ ensures a fully supported experience with accommodation, meals, and in-country assistance, making it a safe and rewarding adventure for volunteers.



GoEco offers a unique chance to teach English in various countries, providing valuable educational support in communities where English proficiency is key to future opportunities. GoEco volunteers play a crucial role in changing this by inspiring and encouraging their students to become confident and articulate in English through group conversations, or games, songs, and movies.

The organization offers a range of destinations for volunteers interested in teaching English abroad, including:

Each of these programs is designed not only to educate but also to facilitate cultural exchange and understanding. Volunteers get to immerse themselves in the local community, experience new cultures, and contribute meaningfully to the educational development of students.

Projects Abroad

Volunteer opportunities with Projects Abroad

Projects Abroad offers diverse teaching opportunities around the world, particularly in countries with limited resources. Volunteer teaching roles with Projects Abroad involve working with children and young adults in schools, assisting local teachers, contributing to lessons, and gaining firsthand classroom experience. The programs are designed to accommodate both short and long-term commitments and are ideal for those looking to gain teaching experience.

Projects Abroad’s teaching programs offer year-round opportunities, perfect for those looking to volunteer in summer or during the school year. These programs are accessible as they don’t require TEFL or CELTA qualifications, previous teaching experience, or knowledge of the local language. 

Here are some specific Projects Abroad teaching programs for those seeking experience teaching English abroad:

African Impact


African Impact offers volunteer teaching programs in Africa, designed for individuals passionate about education, regardless of their teaching experience or degrees. These programs, available in locations around the African continent, focus on enhancing education in under-resourced communities. Volunteers have the opportunity to work in a variety of settings, including pre-schools, primary schools, and adult literacy classes.

Country highlights include:

Volunteers receive comprehensive training and orientation, preparing them for impactful roles in childcare and teaching. By participating in these programs, volunteers contribute to sustainable education initiatives that uplift communities across Africa.

Involvement Volunteers International


IVI offers a diverse range of teaching abroad programs in multiple countries, catering to volunteers of all backgrounds, regardless of their teaching experience. IVI is known for making a real impact in communities through focused projects in education, healthcare, childcare, and construction. They offer affordable placements and a wide range of project options in over 20 countries, with flexible start dates. As a non-profit organization, IVI emphasizes significant and lasting impacts in communities, making their programs an excellent choice for volunteers seeking meaningful experiences abroad.

Key Features of IVI’s Teaching Abroad Programs:

  • Open to anyone with a good standard of spoken English, with no previous teaching experience required.
  • Focus on English conversation and language teaching, with opportunities to teach other subjects like science, math, and sports.
  • Various teaching settings, including government primary schools, community teaching, after-school clubs, and special needs teaching.

Some of the destinations where IVI offers teaching programs include tranquil Bali, vibrant Costa Rica, and picturesque Fiji just to name a few. The Pacific beauty of Samoa, the safari spirit of Tanzania, and Vietnam‘s dynamic history all make for unique and enriching English teaching settings with IVI, turning each location into an adventure of cultural exploration and impactful teaching.

Volunteering Solutions


Volunteering Solutions offers a diverse range of volunteer teaching programs ideal for those looking to contribute to children’s education without needing formal teaching qualifications. These programs are designed for volunteers of all backgrounds, with a good command of written and conversational English being the primary requirement.

Key Opportunities with Volunteering Solutions:

These programs, available throughout the year with flexible start dates, typically involve improving students’ vocabulary and spoken English skills. Creativity and improvisation are often key, as teaching conditions can vary, with some classes being held in open-air environments. These programs offer engagement with local communities, understand different cultures, and make a lasting impact on the educational development of children in various parts of the world.

Tips for a Successful Setup for Online English Teaching 

With your certifications and work experience in hand, ensuring you have the appropriate technical setup is crucial for a smooth and effective teaching experience. Here’s a list of key technical requirements for online English teaching:

  1. Stable and Reliable Internet Connection: This is absolutely essential. A strong internet connection ensures your lessons run smoothly without interruptions, which is vital for maintaining a professional and effective teaching environment.
  2. High-quality webcam and Headset with Microphone: Clear audio and video are non-negotiable for online teaching. A good-quality webcam and a headset with a microphone ensure that you and your students can interact clearly. 
  3. Proficiency in Online Teaching Tools: Familiarity with platforms like Zoom or Google Meet is important. While many online teaching platforms have their specific software, being versatile and adept with various online tools is beneficial, especially if you plan to freelance. 
  4. A Quiet Workspace: Having a quiet, distraction-free area for conducting your lessons is crucial. This not only helps in maintaining professionalism but also ensures that your students have your undivided attention, which is critical for effective teaching and learning.

These technical requirements are key to establishing a successful online English teaching setup, ensuring that you provide high-quality, uninterrupted lessons to your students.

Get Ready to Launch Your English Teaching Career!

Teaching English online is a gateway to a life where your passion for teaching, love for travel, and desire for a flexible lifestyle converge. It’s a career that not only offers freedom and flexibility but also the satisfaction of making a significant impact in the lives of students around the globe. Start your journey today, and embrace the limitless possibilities that teaching English online presents!