Is teaching English online worth it? 5 things you need to know

Photo of woman teaching online. Is teaching English online worth it?

Teaching English online can be a fantastic way to make an income from home.

Plus, there are plenty of other benefits! For starters, you can set your schedule and enjoy a healthy work-life balance and work from anywhere in the world.

But, you may be asking yourself, is teaching English online worth it? 

Yes, of course! But there are a few things to keep in mind as a digital nomad. 

Sure every job has its pros and cons, but many will attest that teaching online is worth it. 

In this article we'll explore a few essential things to consider, as well as ask some former online teachers what their biggest challenges were.

Here are five important considerations to be aware of when deciding if you should teach English online:

  1. Being an independent contract can be both rewarding and frustrating.
  2. Work hours and time zones can be challenging.
  3. Bookings vary between companies and teachers.
  4. Working at home can mean working alone.
  5. Flexibility is not for everyone!

First, why is teaching English online so popular?

Online English teaching jobs are so popular because of the flexibility and great pay they offer. 

Most people can see the many potential positives to teaching English, like flexibility, staying at home, making good money, creating your schedule and many others. 

This is a great job for stay at home moms (or dads!), travelers who wish to make money on the road and anyone who wants a part-time gig to supplement their income or build a side passion into a larger business. 

That said, there are also aspects of teaching English online that make it challenging, like early morning hours, inconsistent bookings, and frustrations with company decisions. 

Now, let’s take a look at the five considerations in more detail.

1. Independent contractor status can be both exciting and frustrating.

Being an online English teacher that works for a company usually means you are an independent contractor. 

Your online ESL company is not going to pay you health insurance or a pension plan, so you will need to take care of these things on your own.

As well, being an independent contractor means that the company you work for is not guaranteeing you any work. So you need to take the initiative to build up your hours and your schedule. 

On the flip side, being an independent contractor means that you are more in control of your schedule, your hours and how you want to build your online teaching business. 

Not to mention you can also work for any company you’d like and design a flexible work at home lifestyle!

2. Work hours & time zones can be challenging.

Teaching English online means that your students can be all over the world in different time zones than the one you are living in. 

It’s truly something else being able to interact with people from all over the world.

But that also means you will need to be aware of how to convert your time zone so that you don’t miss any classes or sleep in! 

For example, if you live in North America, but your students are in China, they are going to be 12 or more hours ahead of you.

Are you an early bird or a night owl? If you are a night owl, you might need to adjust your sleeping schedule to be up bright and early!

If you are a morning bird, this might be a great opportunity for you. Teachers can teach before their kids wake up or finish work before most people have even started!

woman teaching English online. Is teaching English online worth it?

3. Bookings vary between companies and teachers.

There are a lot of different types of online teaching jobs out there in the market. 

Some online teaching companies book classes for their teachers and other companies, like VIPKid and GoGokid, have the parents book the teachers. 

There are advantages and disadvantages to these two types of systems and teachers appreciate them both for different reasons.  

So which one is best? You will have to decide for yourself and maybe you can try both!

Having a company book your classes means that you do not have the pressure to market yourself to parents or worry about the consistency of your bookings. 

However, companies that book your classes don’t always start you out on a full schedule and you have to earn your way to more bookings.

If you are an experienced teacher with a strong profile, and good ratings with parents, this is a system that many teachers prefer because it gives them more control.

4. Working at home means working in isolation.

Working at home can be lonely at times. You will need to make an effort to reach out to people, connect with others and create a balance in your daily schedule. 

Teaching at home also causes an unrealistic drive to want to teach more classes to make more money and can cause burnout if you are not careful.

Use these tips to ensure that you are mentally healthy while teaching English online at home:

  • Schedule 2-3 social events each week.
  • Create goals and stick to them.
  • Allow yourself a break, a holiday or even a day off.
  • Eat healthy and choose quality snacks while teaching.
  • Drink lots of water and ensure you are well hydrated.
  • Give yourself time to rest.
  • Have 2-3 hobbies outside of working at home.

5. The flexibility is not for everyone. 

The flexibility of online teaching is what draws so many to want to teach English online. 

The incredible flexibility that comes with teaching English online means that you need to be aware of the pitfalls that can come with this. 

Firstly, flexibility means that you can choose your hours, change your hours and work when you want (almost!). 

When you want to create your online teaching hours from home, you need to be driven, focused and have goals for yourself. 

Working at home can be a big adjustment if you prefer the 9-5 schedule. 

However, the flexibility is fantastic! And being able to make your schedule is what many people dream of.

Two online English tutors weigh in on the challenges.

We recently asked two online tutors Rachael and Jessica what the biggest challengers were as an online teacher. So let’s take a look at some of their thoughts:

Are the hours hard?

Rachael: Yes! Like anything, it is a matter of perspective. Once you get used to the early hours, you enjoy the free time you have in the afternoon. 
 
Jessica: It is an adjustment to the classic 9-5 position. It depends on your students, as they can be learning from all over the world and time differences can have an impact on your hours. Some platforms give you the power to choose your schedule, but once you adapt, you will have a unique work schedule suited just to you!
 

Was there anything challenging about being an online tutor? If so, what was your strategy to overcome it?

Rachael: The hours can be really challenging, especially if trying to balance a social life. Luckily some of my friends also teach online, so we were able to support each other and schedule things during traditional ‘work’ hours. There are a lot of online support groups of online teachers now available. 
 
Jessica: I was able to change my hours to suit me. I had more free time than I liked during the day but was able to find different career options and was able to keep working online while exploring new jobs/classes/hobbies etc. 

Man teaching English online. Is teaching English online worth it?

Wrapping it up.

Teaching English online is an incredible opportunity for so many in today’s ever-changing, digital world. 

While it is an awesome gig, there are a few considerations with teaching English online that you should be aware of:

  1. Being an independent contract can be both rewarding and frustrating.
  2. Work hours and time zones can be challenging.
  3. Bookings vary between companies and teachers.
  4. Working at home can mean working alone.
  5. Flexibility is not for everyone!

Sure, this job isn’t for everyone, but if you go into it with the right mindset and love working with kids, then this can be a rewarding job and a great way to get teaching experience.

The ability to get paid to teach from home is pretty exciting and, in many people’s opinions, teaching online is definitely worth it!