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Online English teaching jobs, a new career in 2024. Where to look? How to prepare? What do I need to become an online tutor?

In recent years, education has seen a big transition to online learning with courses all over the world offering online options. You can now even study higher-level courses such as degrees and Master’s courses only online. Online learning has opened up many more opportunities for both teachers and learners and TEFL is no exception to that.

Whilst other languages are on the rise, the demand for learning English continues to increase. Students worldwide want to learn English for their careers, academic prospects and general enjoyment. Thanks to online learning, students can access teachers from multiple countries and are keen to take online lessons to learn with the best teachers and from their homes. We’ll take a look into how you can get into online teaching in 2024 and what you’ll need to get started.

How can you teach online?

There are many ways you can teach online in 2024. The most common way is to work for an ESL/ TEFL company. There are ESL companies based in many countries around the world, such as Japan, the USA and Poland, to name a few. These lessons will involve the teacher indicating their weekly availability and being assigned students for classes. You might teach one-to-one or group classes, adults or children – there is a lot of variety. Some companies provide materials and some will ask you to organise your own.

These types of jobs usually require a minimal number of hours per week – typically 10-15 and are paid hourly.The number of hours is not guaranteed and there may be periods where classes are quieter (holidays and summer for example).  You might always teach different students or have some returning to book lessons with you after enjoying your class! Often, these companies have a scoring system where students “rate” your lessons. The better the rating, the more you can retain students. Some companies also offer financial incentives based on this reward system.

Another way to teach online is to advertise yourself on a teaching platform that allows you to set your own rate and hours. Instead of students being assigned to you, the students freely look on this platform for a teacher to suit their needs. You can build up your profile by gathering reviews from former students and offering trial classes to encourage new students. The benefit of doing this is that you can decide your own hourly pay and charge more. Note that these platforms often take a commission so you need to factor that in. You can also set a package for students to buy – buying classes of 4 or 8, for example; this ensures some stability for your income and commitment from the student.

Once you have the confidence, the most lucrative way to teach TEFL online is to teach your students without using any platform or company. You can charge as much as you want and set your own hours. This can take time to build up and establish a student list, but it’s worth it in the long run. You can also create a professional website for students to learn about the lessons offered and your background and even book lessons with you!

How to prepare to teach online?

The first thing you need is a TEFL qualification, which can be achieved online from the comfort of your living room! From the start, you’ll have an idea about what it’s like to study online, just like your students. The industry minimum is a 120-hour course, but you should consider a Level 5 Diploma to help you stand out from the rest. 

You should also think about how you can enhance your skills and give your profile an extra boost. Studying a specialist course in the area you want to teach is a great idea for this. You can do a course in teaching English online specifically after your TEFL certificate to fully prepare you for online classes and the techniques involved. You can also think about qualifications in classes for young learners, exams and Business English – all of these can be taught online too so these courses will help you have a solid knowledge of these contexts.

Make sure you are familiar with teaching platforms such as Zoom, Teams or Google Meet, as these are commonly used. Many companies will want you to use platforms such as these to deliver the lessons. This will be a big plus for your interview if you have a sound knowledge of how they work. If you know other new TEFL teachers, you can organise a session where each person is the “teacher” and practises sharing the screen or putting students into smaller breakout sessions. Many programmes have the same functions so in theory, once you master one, you can adapt to others.

Ensure you have a good laptop, camera and headset for your lessons. They need to be reliable; otherwise, you won’t get any jobs, or students won’t want to continue lessons with you if the tech quality isn’t good for their lessons. There are some platforms that allow you to do conversation classes on a tablet, but this isn’t ideal for more structured classes or in the long term, so think about investing in a good laptop. You’ll also need to check you have a sound internet connect and consider a backup, just in case!

An essential aspect of online teaching is having a quiet workspace with a professional background. You shouldn’t have any distracting noises in the background such as music, dogs or other people. You should also avoid classes in public spaces as there will be a lot of noise here. Your background can either be decorated for teaching or neutral with a plain wall. Ensure you don’t have anything distracting or inappropriate while you’re teaching.

Whether you’re going to work for yourself or someone else, you need a top-notch CV and profile to sell yourself. Make sure you present yourself well and list your qualifications and skills. Even if it’s your first TEFL job, you will have picked up skills in other work that are transferable, too. Remember to always include ideas about the type of teacher you can be and want you can offer your students. 

Teaching English Online

Where to look for an online TEFL position 

There are many opportunities advertised every day for online TEFL jobs. Some of these might not be what you’re looking for and some might be right up your street!

You can look at specific companies for positions. A lot hire on a regular basis so it’s worth checking often. Some of these include Novakid, LatinHire, Voxy and EF which assign students based on a weekly availability.

There are also companies that hire teachers to simply have conversations with learners who want to practise their English rather than structured lessons. These sessions are often paid less but can be good for building up some extra income on the side or getting some experience. Some of these include Preply, Cambly, or Verbling.

You can advertise yourself on platforms such as Amazing Talker, Italki or your local tutor websites in your country. You can set your own rates here. Consider offering a trial lesson for your students. This can be a short 20-30-minute session at a reduced rate, allowing the student to meet you and see if you are the right fit for them as a teacher. Teachers who offer trial lessons are much more likely to have students sign up with them. 

There are also online TEFL adverts on general job websites that you can apply for. For example, you can check out your local page of indeed.com for many online opportunities. LinkedIn is also a good place to make professional connections and have jobs suggested for you. Ensure to set up a smart-looking, professional profile as the employer will be able to see this when you apply.

You’d be surprised at what you can find on social media – you can even come across work now! There are many Facebook groups for online work where adverts are posted. Of course, some of these are unfortunately not legit, so you will have to filter out the posts that are worth your time. If an advert on Facebook doesn’t involve key information such as the company name or salary, it’s unlikely to be trustworthy. You might also find individual students looking for lessons in these groups too.

You can use websites such as Glassdoor to check employee reviews of certain TEFL companies. They leave reviews based on salary, trustworthiness and the amount of work offered. This can be a good way to filter out any companies that might not be worth your time and energy.

There are many opportunities for teaching TEFL online in 2024. It’s all about finding the right opportunity and conditions for you and preparing yourself well for the role. It’s common for teachers to take on multiple sources of income when working online. Some companies prohibit you from working for competitors, so you should check this when you receive a contract. Mostly, it’s fine to work for multiple companies or to work for a company whilst you also teach your own students. This is smart planning for your time and finances, so be sure to go for anything that takes your fancy in the online TEFL world!


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