Best Sites for Online ESL Teaching Jobs

Best Sites for Online ESL Teaching Jobs

One of the best opportunities for people with foreign language skills who want to work online is teaching English. ESL, or English as a Second Language, refers to an emerging field of international education helping non-native English speakers learn to speak English. The educational industry of teaching English to non-native speakers is hot for another reason: teachers and students primarily interact online from both nearby and from opposite sides of the globe.

Use this guide to “test the waters” and see what’s out there, or maybe to jump in and begin your new job.

 Qualifications for ESL Instructors

Thanks to technology, one of the fastest growing in-demand jobs requires that you only have a college degree, computer with Internet, and are a native English speaker. 

Qualifications for ESL instructors are light as long as you are a citizen of the U.S. or Canada and have a college degree or one in progress. As a general rule, ESL teaching sites expect you to be a native speaker. For former teachers, part-time teachers, semi-retired college graduates, and even current college students, the earning potential is high.

 Types of Online Teaching Jobs

Within the educational field of teaching English online there’s a variety of teaching approaches, each with its own acronym. 

  • ESL, standing for English as a Second Language, usually refers to non-native speakers wanting instruction to learn English in an effort to be multilingual for a variety of reasons.
  • TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) refers to the tasks associated with ESL instruction.
  • EFL stands for English as a Foreign Language. Those seeking EFL instruction usually live in the U.S. or Canada but do not possess adequate English skills. Again, TEFL refers to Teaching English as a Foreign Language.

 Closely associated with the two approaches above are TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) and CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults).

What You Need to Get Started

Until you’ve gotten certified and taught a couple of TESL courses online, working in this field can be more challenging than you might think. That being said, getting certified and gaining experience is relatively simple. Depending on which program you choose, getting TESL (or TEFL) certification can take a few weeks to a few months.

Note: Many ESL sites do not require you to get certified.

 Equipment You Need

For starters, you will need a reliable computer with reliable Internet. Each online teaching service will host its own software or recommend video software that they would like you to use. Some sites only allow you to use a Windows computer, so if you prefer using Apple, make sure that the ESL site’s software works for a Mac.

Work Schedule

Because most (or all) of your students will be overseas, you may be working odd hours. For example, Asia is one of the leading places in the world hiring online instructors, and China is 12 hours ahead of the U.S. Eastern Time Zone. Look through each ESL site carefully to understand prime hours.

Most often, you will be providing your available hours and students (or their parents) select when to schedule their courses. Be aware that most ESL sites require you to open up your schedule for a minimum number of hours during “prime time,” which could be late evening and/or early morning.

Residency Requirements

 Only a select few ESL sites let you teach if you live outside the U.S. or Canada. For this reason, many TESL instructors who teach abroad have difficulty adding online teaching to their workload. Ideally, you live in the U.S. or Canada, demonstrating that English is your native language.

Sign-up Bonuses

Many ESL sites offer limited-time sign-up bonuses. Survey the field of ESL sites and don’t be afraid to pounce on a sizeable bonus if the site gives you everything you need to get started.

Top ESL Sites for Online Teaching 

Here’s an overview of some of the best job sites to use to find ESL jobs, what you need to get hired, certification requirements, typical pay, required hours, and how to apply.

One of the highest-paying and more flexible ESL sites is Palfish. You can set your own rates and your own schedule. When setting your own rates and schedule, keep in mind that doing so requires some critical thinking on your part. New online teachers sometimes prefer to have the ESL tell them their rate and ideal schedule while they grow accustomed to the job.

  • Minimum hours required: 4/week
  • Typical pay range: $10-$30/hour
  • Student ages: preschool – adult
  • Is TESL/TEFL certification required? No, but they encourage it
  • How to apply: visit their guidelines page here
  • Glassdoor rating: 3.6/5

VIPKID is a huge favorite among online teachers. The catch is that you must have at least a year of teaching experience, which could include formal classroom instruction or homeschooling. The company continuously improves its tools, both in teaching aids and video software. The site has been featured in both Fast Company and Forbes.

PK Fish (Wuhoa)
This site can give you paid training in the ESL field. They also happen to pay at the top end of the industry hourly rate. New teachers must complete an interview after applying. If hired, training includes a handful of courses and mock classes (for which you get paid) before you start teaching live students. PK Fish is probably the best site for brand new ESL teachers.

  • Minimum hours required: 6/week
  • Typical pay range: $22-$27/hour
  • Student ages: elementary – high school
  • Is TESL/TEFL certification required? No, but they encourage it
  • How to apply: visit their home page for teachers here
  • Glassdoor rating: 4.2/5

QKids is one of the most engaging sites for your students, and the teacher support is top notch. Teachers are grateful for the full schedules and fast bookings (some sites can be slow with bookings for new teachers). While not one of the highest paying sites, you are likely to stay busy.

This site is also great for new ESL teachers. Support staff accommodate teachers according to their needs. Additionally, if you want to branch into new styles or ages, the site offers a sample lesson for each class category to help you prepare.  In addition to teaching one-on-one, you would also have the opportunity to teach small groups.

  • Minimum hours required: none
  • Typical pay range: $15-$22/hour
  • Student ages: elementary – high school
  • Is TESL/TEFL certification required? No, but they encourage it
  • How to apply: visit their recruitment page here
  • Glassdoor rating: 4.8/5

Starting Your Own ESL Teaching Business

Once you’ve been teaching a few years, you might consider branding yourself on your own website. This would give you more control over your teaching materials, schedule, and you could make quite a bit more money.

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  • June 8, 2021