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Nicola Rae By
Posted 09 Mar, 2020 | No comments
Posted in: Teaching English

There are countless reasons that teaching English online is a great remote job. Working from home with flexible scheduling and limited prep work is a dream, but at the end of the day, everyone wants to know how much an online teaching salary actually is.

You’re likely interested in teaching English to make money. That, or you just really love singing the ABC song, which I highly doubt!

In this post, you’ll learn all about the teaching English online salary, how many hours you will work, what sort of expertise you should have, and finally, your financial FAQ’s will be answered.

Teach English Online Salary: How Much Money Can I Make? 

The simple answer? Most teaching English online salaries are between $10 and $20 USD per hour. I know that’s a huge range, so below we will talk about some of the factors that play into that amount.

Your Base Pay

When you get hired with an online English company, you’ll be offered a base pay rate. This is the amount you will make per class you teach.

Usually, classes are either 25 minutes or 55 minutes long.  For most companies, the base rate for a 25-minute class is between $6 and $9 USD per class.

Your base pay can be impacted by your credentials, past experiences, and performance on your interview or demo lesson. With most companies, a combination of all three will result in the highest salary.

The following attributes will help you ensure you make the most money as your base rate: 

  • Level of education: With some companies, higher levels of education could result in higher base pay amounts.
  • Your certifications and teaching experience: If you have more years of experience and certifications like a TEFL certification, you could end up making more money.
  • How you perform in your interview or demo lesson: Most online teaching companies require that you submit some kind of teaching sample or demonstration lesson at the beginning of the hiring process. Your performance in this demo lesson could be used to determine your pay rate for the company. Practice the lesson they give you to teach and have your classroom all set up for your interview. This will give you a better chance of getting the highest base rate possible.

teaching online salary

Some Companies Have Bonuses and Incentives

Many companies have activities throughout the year that allow teachers to make some extra money.

For example, one company offers an incentive where anyone who opens a certain number of classes during the week of Chinese New Year will earn a small bonus.

You can choose to participate in these activities if you want to but you’re not required to do so.  Companies like VIPKID offer additional bonuses when teachers open classes “short notice.”

Normal classes can be booked by a parent up to 24 hours in advance. A short notice class is a time slot that can be booked up to one hour in advance.

If a teacher opens a class “short notice” and it’s booked in the short notice window of 24 hours to one hour in advance, the teacher will receive a $2 USD bonus.

If the teacher opens two short notice classes in an hour and gets booked for both of them, they would earn a $4 USD bonus on top of their base pay and other incentives.

Some companies also do incentives like an on-time bonus and additional pay if you teach a certain amount of classes per month.

These bonuses can be as high as $1 USD per class, so it’s worth striving for these incentives if you can.

vipkid application

Sample Teaching Schedules and Estimated Income

Let’s look at some examples to see how much money you can make teaching English online with a few different schedules. 

Example 1: Teaching Online 4 Hours Per Week

If you were making a base rate of $8 USD per class and classes were 25 minutes long, you would be making $16 USD per hour.

With most companies, you also get a $1 USD bonus per class if you start and end on time, so we will assume that you earned that bonus as well.

Now your hourly rate is $18 USD per hour.  If you were only teaching online as a side hustle to make some extra cash, you might just open up a few time slots on the weekends.

Let’s assume you taught 2 hours in the morning on Saturday and Sunday.  At 4 hours per week at a rate of $18 USD per hour, you would be earning $72 USD per week or $288 USD dollars per month.

That’s not bad for a little weekend side gig! 

Example 2: Teaching Online 15 Hours Per Week

For this example, we will use the same rate as above: $18 USD per hour.

But, now let’s assume that you wanted this to be a more substantial source of income for you. Maybe you plan to travel or are saving up for a big expense. 

If you taught every weekday from 6:00 am to 9:00 am, you would be working 15 hours per week. At $18 USD per hour, you would earn $270 USD per week.

You would be making $1080 USD a month, just by teaching 3 hours in the mornings.&nbsp

Example 3: Teaching Online 26 Hours Per Week

Now let’s assume that the same company also has a $1 USD bonus if you teach a certain number of classes per month. Many companies do this to encourage teachers to open more spots.

You’ve hit that number so you now earn an extra $1 USD per class, so your hourly rate is now $20 USD per hour. 

In this example, we will assume that you are trying to live off your online teaching job as your main source of income.

You teach classes from 5:00 am – 9:00 am every weekday and on Friday night and Saturday night, you teach from 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm.

These weekend evening spots are popular since they correlate to Saturday and Sunday morning in China.  With that schedule, you would be working 26 hours per week.

At a rate of $20 USD per hour, you would make $520 USD per week. Your monthly earnings would be $2080 USD, and that’s with mostly part-time hours. 

That’s pretty good for a job where you can work from home in your pajamas! 

Example 4: Teaching Online 40 Per Week

Just for fun, let’s calculate how much you could make if you really hit it hard as an online English teacher.

I’m talking about pulling multiple all-nighters and working full-time hours.

We’ll stick to the same base rate as the examples above, including the incentive teachers get for opening a high number of classes each month.

Your base rate is $8 USD per class. You also get a $1 USD incentive for starting on time and ending on time, as well as a $1 USD incentive for opening a high number of classes.

This means that you’re earning $10 USD per class. If you teach two classes per hour, that’s $20 USD per hour. If you teach from 3:00 am until 9:00 am Monday through Friday you will be teaching 30 hours per week.

On Saturday night, you pull an all-nighter and teach from 10:00 pm until 9:00 am with a one-hour break in the middle. Phew!!

You’ve just taught for 40 hours. At a rate of $20 USD per hour, you’ll earn $800 USD per week. That means you’ll earn $3200 USD per month.

teach english online salary

A Word Of Caution

Now, before we go any further, I don’t recommend you try to recreate the schedule above often. Teaching online can get very tiring and if you push yourself too hard, especially at first, you could get burned out quickly.

Also, if you were to do this from North America, you would be working through the night most nights which could mean a wacky sleep schedule.

But if one month you needed a boost in income or just wanted to push your teaching stamina a bit, it’s fun to consider what you would make if you taught English online with full-time hours.

Teach English Online Salary: How Do Teachers Get Paid?

With most online English companies, your salary is paid either weekly, bi-monthly, or monthly. Some companies pay through direct deposit to your bank account.

If this is the case for you, you will need to provide your company with your banking details when you sign your contract. Other companies pay through third-party apps like PayPal and Payoneer.

Most companies pay in United States Dollars, but some of the companies geared to the Chinese market pay in Chinese currency.

Check the conversion rates before signing up to get a more accurate picture of what your payment will be.

What Are The Expenses As An Online English Teacher?

While you can make a pretty solid income as an online ESL teacher, there are some expenses you’ll need to consider when doing your financial planning.

Classroom Supplies

Teachers usually need classroom supplies and decorations to make their online classrooms fun and inviting for students.

This means you’ll have some upfront expenses like wall decorations, puppets, flashcards, and a dry erase board. Luckily, you’ll probably have to make these purchases only once.

magnets teaching english

Technology And Home Office Space

Online English teachers spend a lot of time with their technology, so you’ll need to invest some money in the appropriate gear.

Make sure you have the following online teacher technology:

  • Laptop or Tablet with webcam
  • Headset with microphone
  • Ring light or ample room lights
  • Ethernet cord to connect the computer to the router if possible

You’ll also need a quiet space to set up a desk and comfortable desk chair if you plan to do lots of teaching. If your internet in your home isn’t very fast, you might need to pay for an upgrade to teach English online.

Additional Certifications and Training

Many online teaching jobs require that teachers have a TEFL certificate. If you aren’t already certified, getting your TEFL could be an additional expense. TEFL courses range from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars depending on the program you choose. You can read about a few solid TEFL course options in this post.

international TEFL academy

Other Financial Considerations

There are a few other financial things you need to keep in mind.

Health Insurance

As an online English teacher, you’ll very likely be classified as an independent contractor or freelancer. This means that you won’t receive any health care benefits from your online teaching company.

You’ll need to sort out your own health insurance and other types of insurance that a traditional teaching job might cover. Keep this in mind as you calculate your estimated online teaching salary. 

You’ll Need To Take Out Your Own Taxes

Since most online ESL teachers are independent contractors or freelancers, you’ll likely need to pay your own taxes.

I don’t know of any online ESL companies that withhold taxes for their teachers, so you’ll have to file and report your income independently. 

Since taxes are highly personal and vary depending on your financial situation, you should talk to a tax professional if you need help with this. I’m sure you know this, but this blog post doesn’t constitute tax advice. 

Save For Retirement 

Freelance and independent contractor online English teachers don’t get any kind of retirement benefits from their online ESL company. If you choose to save for retirement, you’ll need to set that money aside independently.

You Usually Aren’t Guaranteed Bookings

While some online teaching companies will guarantee payment for any spot you open, most companies don’t offer this kind of compensation.

You’ll only be paid for classes that actually get booked, not time spots you opened.  This means that when you’re first starting out, you might not get fully booked at first.

It takes most teachers between two and three months before they can regularly fill their schedules, so keep this in mind when planning your finances.

One tip is to apply to be an online teacher a few months before you’d actually like to start making consistent income.

For example, if you want to become a digital nomad teacher in August, go ahead and sign up for an online teaching job in April.

Applying to teach online early gives you plenty of time to build up loyal students, process all the required paperwork, and get plenty of parent reviews in the system.

All these factors will make it easier for you to get consistent bookings when you need them.

Teach English Online Salary and Hours: Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some frequently asked questions about the financial aspects of teaching English online. Remember that for specific questions about taxes and insurance, it’s best to speak to a professional in those fields.

Why do online English teachers have to work so early in the morning?

Right now, the highest demand for online English lessons is in China.

If you’re teaching from North America, you will be in a time zone almost opposite from China. Luckily, with VIPKID, you can work from anywhere in the world — meaning, you could be in a time zone similar to Asia.

Most parents want their students to take online ESL lessons in the early evening on weekdays and at any time of day on weekends.

For teachers in North America, there is the highest demand for classes in the early mornings on weekdays and overnight on Friday and Saturday.

online english teaching salary

Can I teach English online full time?

With most companies, there are no minimum or maximum teaching hours. This means that in theory, you could teach online 40 hours a week.

However, if you were to teach online full time from North America, you would very likely be working overnight to fulfill those hours.

This is because there is no demand for classes during the hours that students are sleeping on the other side of the world.

Keep in mind that even though you might be teaching full-time hours, you still won’t receive full-time employee benefits.

I don’t know of any online ESL companies that provide benefits to their contractors, regardless of the number of hours they teach.

How many hours do most online teachers work per week?

Almost all of the online English teachers I know fall into two camps: they either teach as a side hustle in addition to a traditional job, or they’re using online teaching as their main income.

For those who teach as a side hustle, teaching three to five hours a week is normal. Often, these people will do an occasional class before work in the morning or on the weekend if they want a bit of extra income.

For those who teach as their main income, most teach between twenty and twenty-five hours per week.

This workload is enough to still keep a semi-regular sleep cycle and make a decent amount of money.

Do I have to pay taxes as an online English teacher?

Yes, you very likely will have to pay taxes as an online English teacher.

Your online teaching company won’t take them out for you, so you’ll need to set money aside from each paycheck to account for this.

Do I have to work on the same schedule each week?

For most companies, no you don’t need to keep the same schedule every week. You are free to change up your teaching hours from week to week as necessary.

Since most companies don’t have a weekly minimum or maximum teaching hour requirement, you could even take weeks off at a time without penalties.

How many vacation days or sick days do you get as an online English teacher?

Unfortunately, you won’t get any paid vacation or sick leave days as an online ESL teacher.

Since you get to make your own schedule, you simply wouldn’t schedule yourself to teach during a vacation or at a time when you have a doctor’s appointment.

If you get sick, you’ll need to provide a doctor’s note to cancel already booked classes. You won’t be paid for these classes.

Can I get a raise as an online English teacher?

Whether or not you can get a raise as an online English teacher depends on which company you’re with.

Some companies keep teachers at the same base rate as when they started and some offer opportunities for raises.

The raise criteria are set by each individual company and automatically applied to your contract when you qualify.

For example, with VIPKID, teachers are eligible for a raise after a year of teaching on the platform as long as they have a certain percentage of positive parent feedback, a high volume of classes taught, and a limited number of cancelations and no shows.

Are there any websites where I can set my own pay rate?

There are some online English platforms that allow you to set your own pay rate for your teaching/tutoring services. Websites like SkimaTalk, Palfish Freetalk, and iTalki are popular choices.

For these platforms, it’s recommended that you start out by pricing your services lower so that you can attract more clients. After you have several positive client reviews on the platform, you can up your prices accordingly.

Now You Know How Much Online English Teachers Make!

Online English teachers can actually make quite a decent living, even while working part-time hours.

Since online teaching is one of the most flexible remote jobs around, you can work as many hours as you need to generate the income you desire.

Learn more about teaching online in our comprehensive post: Top 10 Companies to Teach English Online

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Nicola Rae

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I’m Nic! I am a former classroom teacher turned full-time traveler, online English teacher, and house sitter. In June 2017, I stumbled on an online English teaching gig that allowed me to travel anywhere with good WiFi. I packed up my classroom and decided to take my job on the road and combine my two passions – teaching and traveling! I now blog about my life as an online English teacher and traveller on my blog, SeeNicWander.com.

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