Online English Teacher Salary and Hourly Pay Explained

How Much Can You Make as an Online ESL teacher?

Teach English online – salary, expectations and more. If you’re new to teaching English online you’re going to have a lot of questions as to the potential pay. Online English teachers are not paid a salary, they are paid by the hour.

For native English speakers with a bachelors degree and perhaps even a TEFL certificate with some experience you can easily make $20 at a minimum. It’s not unreasonable to be paid in the $24 to $30 an hour range.

Qualified native speakers, particularly Americans and Canadians are hard to come by so the pay reflects this demand.

Teacher Pay for Non Native Teachers

For non native teachers, expect to be paid around the $10 an hour mark. Please keep in mind, this is generally speaking. Case by case it may be different.

A native speaker is someone who is from a country where English is the native language. For South Africans, this can be a bit tricky as most countries have caught on that the majority of the population does not speak English natively.

If however you’re in that minority of the population that does speak English as a native language you can still find work with enough effort. Checkout our online teaching companies for South Africans guide. Please however, be a native speaker, not an Afrikaans speaker.

Teach Online With an App vs Your Laptop

Another interesting aspect of teaching English online with regards to pay is how you actually teach. If you teach using an app like Palfish or Cambly, the requirements are less but the pay is also less. These types of apps are great for casual, part time income.

Palfish does have a higher paying kids course you can apply. But if you’re just looking to teach adults with causal conversations, Palfish basic and Cambly are great choices.

Most of the teachers here at Teach and GO work with VIPKID (the best online teaching company) as well as Magic Ears, DADA and Say ABC. With VIPKID, and other online teaching companies you can expect to teach a 25 minute class. The material is provided for you, all you need to do is prepare your online teaching class environment.

They pay for something like VIPKID is quite good because as you become more proficient, it just becomes easier and easier. You’ll get to a point where you can jump into a class without needing to review the material at all.

Online Teaching Hours

Most online teaching companies and programs are supplements to a students school. As such, students attend online class during after school hours generally. This means early mornings if you’re based in America.

Online teaching is designed for after school, the max amount of hours you can teach Monday to Friday is 4-5 hours. On the weekend, you can teach all day if you like (or night if you’re US based). Most online teachers tend to do the bulk of their hours on the weekend.

To sum it up, as an online English teacher can reasonably expect to teach 20-30 hours per week, making an average of $2,000 to $3,000 USD per month. Again, as an online teacher you’re considered an independent contractor and can teach as much or as little as you like.

It simply depends on where you’re based and what your availability is.

Schools in China also have a summer break like schools in the USA. During this break is when you’re able to teach 5-8 hours a day, everyday if you like. Allowing you to make upwards of $5,000 USD per month.

In Thailand and Vietnam we had numerous teachers do this. Work 7.5 hours a day while teaching 6 days a week. Easily making $4,000 USD each month during the Chinese summer break.

What does the Average Online English teacher make?

The average online English teacher makes anywhere from $800 USD to $3000 USD per month depending on hours taught. Online teaching companies structure their pay in two main ways. A base pay and added bonuses.

Bonuses are usually based on class completion as well as the amount of classes taught. Some companies like VIPKID regularly run monthly incentive pay if you teach at a certain time or if you teach more hours than you did a previous month.

You should expect to recieve a base pay + bonus, with your average being over $20 an hour if you teach more than 8 hours weekly.

Penalties

It should be noted that online teaching does involve penalties if you miss a class. You will usually be deducted $10 or more per class missed. If you miss a predetermined amount of classes per contract you will be subject to termination.

If there are technical issues that prevent the class from taking place, the class will simply be marked at “tech issue” and you won’t be paid IF it was your fault. If it was the students fault, you’ll be paid in full. You also won’t be deducted money for a tech issue.

Sick Leave

If you’re someone with constant health issues, online teaching may not be appropriate as you’re considered an independent contractor (no sick leave given) and being sick is not an excuse to miss class.

You are allowed to cancel classes if you’re sick up to a limit per day with all online platforms, but you’re limited to how many classes you can cancel per day. If you have 5 hours of teaching booked for example, you may be only allowed to cancel 2 of the 5 hours. It depends on your contract.

How are you paid and when?

Most companies pay you in US dollars or they will pay you in the local currency which will then be converted and deposited into your bank account. Some websites and platforms also pay by PayPal. Expect monthly payments for an online English teacher salary.


Popular Websites to Teach Online

There is a seemingly endless amount of online platforms where you can teach English. Here are three that I know that have a good reputation for high pay, quality students and professional organization:

CompanyHourly RatePaid How?
VIPKID$18-25 US Dollars, Direct Deposit
DADA abc$18-22Paid in RMB, Direct Deposit
Boxfish$20US Dollars, PayPal or Direct Deposit

VIPKID

VIPKID is currently the industry leader. With good hourly pay, monthly incentives, high demand and the flexibility to set your schedule week to week, VIPKID is my #1 choice for teaching English online.

If you’re looking to have a good salary as an online English teacher, checkout VIPKID. Your students will be Chinese students ranging from ages of 6-12 who will study with you after school. Americans and Canadians only. They won’t even interview you if you’re not North American.

Magic Ears – Best VIPKID Alternative

Cambly – Teach on Your Phone

Cambly is an app for your phone. The way it works is that it pairs you with language learners for short conversations. Cambly is an excellent choice if you’re looking for something part time where you will be working with adults.

Palfish – Teach on Your Phone

Palfish is another app like Cambly except it’s a bit more developed. They have your standard adult course like Cambly where you simply have conversations with adults. They also have a much higher paying kids course that you can apply to.

The advantage of the kids course is better pay, a more structured teaching environment and a more consistent schedule.


Online English Teacher Benefits

Are their any specific benefits to being an online teacher? From our experience teaching online, here are a few that come to mind.

Make a full time income and live abroad

Online teaching allows you to make a $2,000-$3,000 USD online. While this amount is not enough to live comfortably in England or the United States, it is a great income in South East Asia, eastern Europe and South America. Allowing you the cash to enjoy and explore new areas of the world.

Supplement your teaching salary

Online teaching is disrupting the ESL scene, particularly in countries like Thailand where the ESL industry pays almost $1,000 USD less than all other countries. Why work full time at a school in Thailand when you can teach online and make double or triple what you would at a government school?

Even if you choose to work for a school, online teaching is a fast and easy way to supplement your income instead of doing private tutoring. No need to manage in-person students, cancellations and payments. Just teach and go on your terms.

Fast, fun, easy

Teaching English online is fun. Yes it’s stressful getting setup but it’s worth it. The material is provided for you, it’s one on one instead of a loud classroom of 35+ kids and over time you get to know the material with ease. Making your job easier as you become more competent.

Set your own schedule

One thing I love with teaching online part time is that you have complete control over your schedule. Want to take a week off and go on vacation? You can without issue as an online teacher. No needing to ask permission to live your life.


How To Increase Your Salary as an Online English Teacher

Get a raise

Most platforms will give you a raise if you’re teaching 20+ hours a week consistently and have maintained a good rating among parents. Each platform is different however so make sure you understand clearly what the process is for getting a raise. Related: How to get a raise with VIPKID.

Freelance teach

You can also teach English as a freelancer where you could work with students independently and charge your own rates. This is ideal because you can work with students who are in a different time zone than Asia. But it’s much more difficult to setup.

Take on new opportunities with your company

I teach with VIPKID. They offer new positions on a monthly basis to do practice lessons with prospective teachers, be a substitute teacher and they also offer nice bonuses for short notice classes (classes booked within 24 hours). The point is most platforms provide bonuses and other opportunities. Take advantage of this as a way to boost your online English teacher salary.

Teach English Online Compensation Conclusion

You can reasonably expect to make $500 USD minimum a month if you’re teaching part time (5-9 hours a week). If you want to increase your pay, simply increase your availability.

With VIPKID and other online teaching platforms it’s totally possible to live in Spain, Thailand, Vietnam or Romania where the hours are much better (no early mornings), the cost of living is much lower and you can actually get the hours in to make a lot of money.