Is Teaching English online a viable career change?

If you are over the age of 40, then changing careers can be daunting especially if you don’t have experience in any other industry. What new career path can you choose where you can apply the skills you have already gained, regardless of your current or previous job? The answer is simple, Teaching English Online.

Almost any native English speaker can do it and you don’t require any teaching experience to get started. The online teacher training doesn’t take long to do and it is affordable too. That’s why I believe teaching English online is a viable career and one of the best midlife career changes.

The e-Learning Industry

This is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world and currently valued at over $150 Billion. The Asian market, especially China where there are over 500 million English students, is behind this massive growth as there just aren’t enough qualified, native English-speaking teachers to fill the need for classroom training. Therefore, students and their parents and even schools are moving their English lessons online.

What is teaching English online and how do you do it?

Teaching English Online is teaching English to a non-native English speaker over the Internet. In the past, Skype was the preferred medium to deliver classes but now every online school has its own virtual platform.

You can teach English online in 1 of 3 ways:

1. As an employee – teaching online for a school

In this option, you interview for a position with an online teaching school, you get hired, you have a contract and they pay you a fixed hourly wage once or twice a month.

Advantages of contract teaching online:
  • They provide you with the students, materials, and curriculum.
  • There’s very little prep work.
Disadvantages of contract teaching:
  • The hourly wage can vary a lot ($5 – $30 per hour)
  • You can’t choose your students
  • And many require you to have a bachelor’s degree (in any field)

A typical class with an online school.

2. Teaching English Online as a Freelancer

In this option, you apply for a position with an online teaching platform that connects students with teachers.

Advantages of freelance teaching online:
  • Choose your own hourly wage, students and hours.
  • You’ll have more autonomy – work as much and whenever you want.
  • It’s much easier than finding your own students.
Disadvantages of freelance teaching online:
  • Competition between teachers
  • Income is not guaranteed
  • They charge you a commission of around 10-20%

3. Your Own Online Teaching Business

In this option, you build your own online teaching business. You have full control of every aspect of your day including your students, income, and methodology. The income has the potential to be much higher but so is the risk.

  • Total autonomy, you are your own boss.
  • Possibility to scale. Growing your business to a point where you are talking about $100s/hour instead of $10 or $20/hour.
  • Very steep learning curve. You need to build a website, learn to advertise to get students and create your own materials.
  • Larger initial investment

What do you need to start teaching English online?

Teaching Qualifications

To tutor English online, you’ll need a TEFL certificate. TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language and is the industry standard when it comes to online teaching qualifications. In the past, these courses were only available through brick and mortar teacher training schools but nowadays they are mostly provided through various online platforms. The online TEFL course is a 120-hour certification course which you can complete at your own pace and you will be guided through it by your own personal tutor. Most people complete the course in an average of 20 to 30 days studying only 1 or 2 hours per day.

Teacher CV/Resumé and Cover letter

Resumés for online teacher applications are not the same as other industries and this is where most applicants fall short in the recruitment process.
The larger and better paying online schools receive 100s of applications every day and it would be impossible for a human being to read every one, so they use ATS, or Applicant Tracking Systems. These systems scan incoming emails and resumes for keywords and resume length before they are passed on to the recruiters. If your CV is not formatted to the correct layout and does not include the required keywords, your CV will be rejected by the system. The same is true for your cover letter.

Other qualifications

Many of these online schools require that their teachers have a bachelor’s degree, or higher, in any field but you don’t need to have a teaching degree. Other certifications to consider are the Cambridge TKT and Teaching English Online courses.


You will also need a desktop or laptop computer, an HD webcam, a noise-cancelling headset, and a fast, stable Internet connection. Your internet should be wired (ethernet cable) and you’ll need at least 5 to 10Mb/s Download speeds and 1 to 5Mb/s upload. Of course, the higher the speed the better as this will also open more employment opportunities with online schools that require higher speeds.

How much can I earn teaching online?

As an employee of an online school, your pay rate varies depending on your qualifications, experience, and nationality. Most online schools only hire native teachers from the USA, Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand or South Africa.

  • If you have a bachelor’s degree, then you can expect to earn between $15 and $20 per hour as a starting salary.
  • If you don’t have a bachelor’s degree, then you can expect to earn between $5 and $15 per hour as a starting salary.

Teaching English online is a viable career change

There you have the reasons why we believe that teaching English online is a very viable career change. More than that in fact, we rate teaching English online as one of the best midlife career changes you can make. Especially when it comes to rewarding and ethical career options online.

How can eTefl Online help you?

eTefl Online is more than just another TEFL course provider. Our packages include everything you need to start a new career teaching English online and we have a proven 3-step system to help you get started quickly and effortlessly.

1. Online Teacher Training

Included in every online package is the TEFL course, the Cambridge TKT, and the Cambridge “Teaching English Online” course. Only the TEFL course is compulsory but the Cambridge courses come highly recommended.

2. Document preparation and coaching

Included in our Professional Online package is a professional CV/resume and cover letter writing service. Your documents will be prepared by industry professionals, Just ESL Resumes, to ensure they pass the Applicant Tracking Systems and reach the hands of the recruiters. The layout and information included will also be optimized to make yours stand out amongst the 100s of other applications by presenting your skills and qualifications gained in your previous industry in a way that is relevant to online English teaching.

In the Complete Online package, you’ll also be provided with coaching services. We’ll do online job interview coaching with you over Skype and give you a professional feedback report. We’ll also write a personalized script for your introduction video which you’ll then record and submit with your job applications.

3. Job support and guidance

In both the Professional and Complete Online packages, you’ll also receive recruitment consultancy services tailored to your specific needs. We’ll guide you through the entire process whether you choose to become an employee, freelancer or even start your own online teaching business. And in the Complete online you’ll be assigned your own job consultant to guide you through the process for as long as you need.

You can find out more about all our online teacher training options and support services on our website

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *