Becoming an online teacher and having the ability to work from home has changed my life. Instead of spending 11hours a day away from my children, I teach for around 3-4 hours a day with the remainder of my time focused solely on them.
Many mums aren't aware of the options available to them to be able to work from home. Choosing to become an online teacher is a fantastic source of income. You aren't having to pay for fuel costs. Say bye bye to those long commutes twice a day. Plus, you no longer need to pay high childcare fees, which can actually end up taking most of your full time wage, especially if you have more than one child.
Depending upon your availability, experience and qualifications, you can replace a full time income as an online teacher. Personally, I am a trained Primary school teacher in the UK. As an example, if I returned back to work full time, I would only come out with £200 a month after childcare costs (based on two children). Whereas, as an online teacher, to date, I have earned £1450 in my best month with a full schedule booked, working approximately 22-25 hours per week.
If you are interested in working from home as an online teacher, here are my top tips to help you maximise your earning potential:
Many companies hiring online teachers focus on teaching ESL to Chinese students. Their peak hours (aka most busiest times) are focused on when students have finished their day school and are at home on the evenings or weekends. Peak times for most companies are between 6-9pm Monday to Friday and 8am-9pm at weekends (Beijing Time / BJT).
With this in mind, check your time zone in comparison with BJT. You can do that here.
Select your time zone and Beijing so that you know how far ahead or behind you are and whether you can realistically work those times. Being able to work peak hours increases your chance of bookings and pay.
Now check your schedule, how many hours a day you want to work, which days of the week and would you like a fixed or flexible schedule. By establishing your availability first, will help when choosing which companies to apply for.
*Not every online ESL company focuses on just Chinese students or only has Beijing Peak hours available. This is just an overview, focusing on the majority of companies. There is also a very high demand for learning English in China, hence most earning potentials and work can be found in this market.
Not every company will require you to have a degree and you certainly do not need to have been a classroom teacher to be able to teach online.
BUT, if you are applying for companies with Chinese students, the Chinese government have recently changed its guidelines for online teachers. You do require a teaching certificate in order to become an online teacher such as a TEFL/TESOL/CELTA.
Do not worry though, you can gain an online TEFL certificate quite easily and pretty cheaply. They don't all take you weeks to complete, some only a few hours of your time. Generally, the assessments are in the form of multiple choice questions. Here is a FREE TEFL course to get you started with meeting the requirements to become an online teacher.
Above I mentioned that I am a trained Primary school teacher. However, this does not mean that if you are not a teacher or have had no teaching experience, you cannot apply to become an online teacher.
The fantastic part of online teaching, is that it is pretty much accessible to everyone, especially mums! Us mums have so much experience of teaching our children from the ABCs, colours, counting, animals etc. We have experience making animal sounds, asking basic questions, managing excitement and boredom. All of these skills apply when teaching online.
You will teach a range of ages and abilities in your career as an online teacher, but many of the children are very young with little to no English. So the majority of lessons are focused on those beginning words your own children will have learnt. Here are some beginner topics I have taught:
- Counting 1-5 and 1-10
- Pets – dog, cat, bird, rabbit and fish
- Farm animals – horse, sheep, pig, duck, hen and cow
- Fruit – apple, banana, orange
- Colours – red, orange, blue, green
- You also have more experience as a mum than you realise which can help you to become an online teacher:
- Time management – the ability to attend appointments with your children, arriving on time to work after morning school run, children's after school activities
- Organisation – managing housework, dinners, school drop off and pick ups, own workload
- Education – supporting children with homework
- Creative – fun activities for your children to learn e.g. painting ABCs, colour matching objects around the house, playing animal SNAP and naming each card
- Patient – I think this one speaks for itself and an incredible skills all mums possess.
- For interview support, check out these posts:
4) Working around your kids
This is a very personal one as it depends upon your own children and their level of needs. Being an online teacher, you are working from home around your family. It is really important to have an area that you can work with minimal disturbances. You are still a professional teacher and whilst teaching your attention must be focused on your students, not your own children.
This can become difficult and as I mentioned is a personal factor. Being based in the UK, my peak work times are in the middle of the day whilst my children are up and playing. My children are also very young so do not attend school whilst I work. Thankfully, my husband is able to watch them, saving childcare costs. If you live in the states, your hours might be first thing in the morning or at night when your children are in bed, so this might work well for you.
If your children are older, they might be able to independently read, or complete their homework during your teaching time. Relating back to your schedule and company requirements, you may be able to manage your teaching so that you have a break between classes to be able to check on your children and their needs.
Here are some more tips for work at home moms from an online ESL teacher:
5) Choosing the company
Sometimes, choosing the right company can take time, especially if you are new to online teaching. It may take you a few experiences before you find the right company for you and it is definitely worth researching first.
Initially, there are a few things you need to consider to help you narrow down your search:
- Do you want to teach only adults or children?
- Are you looking to only teach via audio and not video?
- What is the companies minimum requirements of hours?
- Is your schedule fixed or flexible (aka can you change your schedule every week)?
- Do they require a degree or just TEFL?
- Are they only hiring native English speakers?
- Do they teach one student at a time or whole classes?
- How often and by what method are payments made?
These are just a few considerations to make when choosing a company to apply for an online teacher position. Facebook is a fantastic resource for finding your first teaching position. Here are a couple of groups to get you started:
I highly recommend applying to a number of companies and managing your schedule so that you can work with more than one. Working with multiple companies enables you to diversify your income, gain even more experience and provides you with a back up option in case something happens to one of the companies. It also helps to cover you with more work if one company is going through a quieter period.
Finding the Company for You
Personally, I manage my schedule with 4 different online teaching companies. Two of these are fixed, contracted hours which I am required to attend every week. Two of them are extremely flexible, where I open and close my own availability every week. You can find more information about them and where to apply, if you choose to, here:
You must be a native English speaker and able to provide a fixed schedule for 6 months, with a minimum of 8hours per week. They offer Peak BJT times for 6-10pm Monday to Friday and 8am-10pm on Weekends. Classes are 50 minutes long, with a 10minute break in between and a maximum of 2 or 3 students per class. Pay is between $18-30 per 50 minute class, plus bonuses. This company does require you to have a BA degree.
Again you must be a native English speaker and possess a BA degree. They require 4hours per week minimum for 6 months. At UUabc, classes are for up to 4 students at a time and they are also looking to branch out to whole classroom teaching. Lessons are only 30 minutes long, with a 5 minute break in between. Hours are 550-915pm Monday to Friday and 1015-915 on Weekends. Pay is between $18-30 per hour plus bonuses.
SayABC require you to be a native English speaker. Most applications require a degree, but they will consider you without one if you have lots of experience. Lessons are 40minutes, with a 10 minute break in between and up to 4 students per class. SayABC offers a flexible schedule where you can open and close your own availability each week up to 14 weeks in advance. Lessons are from 6-910pm Monday to Friday with 950-1120am additionally available on weekends. Base pay is $15 per class, with additional per class bonuses available.
They do prioritise those with a North American accent, however do consider others with a neutral accent and experience. They also require a BA degree. Lessons are 25minutes and taught to whole classes of between 15-30students at Kindergarten age. Available times are 8-12am and 2-5pm everyday. Though they ask for a 6 month contract, you are in control of your own schedule and provide your availability for the next two weeks. Pay is between $16-22 per hour.
These are just companies I personally love and have experience with. There are 100s of online ESL companies hiring new online teachers. If you are looking to work from home, becoming an online teacher is such a fun and rewarding opportunity. Not only does it provide you with an income each month, but many companies give you the chance to grow and take on additional roles alongside your teaching, such as training, interviewing and mentoring. The industry continues to grow, with more companies launching and expanding. It is an exciting career option to be able to be present with your children as an online teacher.
If you would like further information or support on your application with the companies I mentioned above, please do not hesitate to contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org
This post does contain referral links. This means that if you choose to apply to a company via one of my links below, I may earn a commission.