Whether you want it to be your full-time job or a handy side hustle, teaching English online can be a great way to make some extra cash.
Aside from the awesome commute (no public transport and no traffic ) and the opportunity to chat with people all over the world, working as an online teacher means you can choose how much you work and where you work from, so your earning potential is truly in your own hands.
But while the freedom that comes with online teaching is great, there are a few practicalities to think about when it comes to getting paid. Being in charge of your own working hours, taxes, and even juggling between different teaching companies is perfectly doable, but doing a little prior research definitely won’t hurt.
So, what do you need to know about getting paid to teach English online before you start?
How much will I get paid?
Let’s start with the most important questions! Browsing around online you might notice that many online teaching companies offer pretty great hourly rates: $20 for working from your sofa, anyone? But it’s worth going through the company interview process to get a breakdown of what your actual pay will be.
This is because most online teaching companies don’t pay all of their teachers at the same rate. Instead, they have a pay scale that’s generally between $10-25 per hour. For example, VIPKID is known to provide some of the most generous salaries for online teachers in North America and they pay up to $22 per hour but their rates start at a significantly lower $14.
Where you get placed on the scale depends on your experience, qualifications and, crucially, interview performance. Interviews for online teaching nearly always involve teaching a demo lesson so make sure you prep beforehand and do the best lesson you can!
On top of your hourly rate, there might also be opportunities to make extra cash that you can factor in. Many schools, such as Qkids, pay bonuses for things like being on time for your lessons, getting students to rebook classes with you and referring new teachers. Some schools pay their teachers more if they work over holidays like Christmas and you might also qualify for a pay rise after you have been in the job for a few months.
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What about lesson planning? Is that paid too?
A seriously great advantage of being an online teacher is that you’ll probably have much less lesson planning, report writing, and homework marking to do than you would as a face-to-face teacher. These extra tasks often end up taking a significant amount of (unpaid ?) time. Anyone that’s stared at a blank lesson plan will know that cutting out this paperwork will free up your non-teaching hours, give you some extra mental-space, and provide you with mean a much truer idea of what your hourly pay actually is.
That being said, make sure you find out what the expectations are for any school you sign up with. Gogokid doesn’t expect teachers to plan lessons but does require them to write up short lesson reports for parents. Some schools like online teachers to use real-life props in their lessons that you’ll have to find or make in advance. And even if you don’t have to lesson plan, you’ll probably still want to have a look over the provided lesson materials before the lesson starts so you feel prepared.
Ask your school about these kinds of tasks and make sure you factor this time in when you’re working out your teaching schedule.
Will I get paid the same amount of money every month?
How much you get paid each month really depends on your schedule. Each online school works on a slightly different timetable, so it’s worth shopping around a few to see which one will work best for you. To give you an idea, DaDa offers lets teachers choose the days they want to work, but asks for a minimum of ten hours a month. At the iTutor group, teachers must be available to teach some peak hour slots at weekends. And other companies like HAWO work on two and four-week rolling timetables so you can build up regular students.
All this means is that there is probably a minimum you can expect to earn each month, but it’s in your hands if you want to increase your hours and earn more.
Do I still get paid if my internet cuts out?
Making sure you have a reliable internet connection is, well, obviously essential for an online teacher. The last thing your students want is to be stuck staring at a frozen screen, straining to make out your pronunciation through a crackly connection.
This matters because you really need to build up a base of loyal online students. Not only are these students the best way to keep your online teaching career ticking over but they’re also the best part of the job! Getting to know your students and seeing how they progress over time is one of the most rewarding parts of the job for any teacher.
You won’t be surprised to find out that online schools also take your internet connection seriously. Companies like VIPKID will cut your pay if your internet cuts out for more than 3 minutes per class. This might sound harsh, but from the students’ perspective, 3 minutes is 10% of a 30-minute class they’ve paid for. So, if you’re going to invest in one thing before you start online teaching, make it your internet provider.
When will I get paid?
In the same way that different schools have different teaching schedules, they also have different payment schedules. Depending on the policy at your school, you could be paid monthly, weekly, immediately after the lesson ends or a mixture of all three if you work for a few different schools. Way to avoid that end-of-the-month, empty bank account feeling!
Make sure you check not only when you can expect to get paid but also how long the transfer time is for international payments, so you know when any money should be available in your account.
So, will I get paid straight into my bank account then?
Most online teaching schools will either pay you via PayPal (in countries where it’s accepted) or directly into your bank account.
The transaction fee from PayPal or your bank will come out of your wages so make sure you are calculating that into what your take-home salary should be.
What about paying my taxes?
Do not forget to pay your taxes! Whatever you earn teaching online will be subject to tax in the country where you live.
It’s up to you, not your school, to be on top of this so make sure you do some research into how you declare your taxes and how much they will be before you start teaching.
Getting an idea of the taxes you need to pay in advance will mean you’re on top of your legal responsibilities and you can put some money aside on a regular basis to make sure that you don’t get hit with a painful tax bill out of the blue.
And that’s everything you need to know about how you get paid for online teaching!
Remember each school will have their own way of doing things, so make sure you check the finer details with them. And otherwise, get ready to travel the world and earn some $$$ all from the comfort of your apartment. Or, your dream nomad location. Or… Well, you get the idea.