Dreaming of that work-from-home life where pants are optional? Perhaps becoming a digital nomad while you bounce from country to country and work when it suits you is more your style? Whatever it may be, teaching English online is making this possible for thousands of people around the world - and it's here to stay! But before you embrace a pants-less work environment, make sure you meet the basic qualifications to teach English online.
What Qualifications Do You Need to Teach English Online?
In order to teach English online successfully, you'll need a TEFL certificate, a laptop with a webcam, and a fast and reliable Internet connection. A 4-year college degree is recommended but not mandatory. Finally, native English proficiency is expected from employers.
Online English Teacher Requirements
Now that you know what you need, let's take a look at the following requirements to teach English online in more detail:
Watch this brief video about online teaching requirements:
1. Get Your TEFL Certification
Being a native or fluent English speaker is a key part of teaching English online, but that alone does not qualify just anyone to take charge of a student’s future with the English language.
Do you need TEFL to teach English online?
Both students and online language schools typically seek out English teachers holding a legitimate (accredited) TEFL certificate because they are looking to hire teachers with a strong grasp of important skills in areas like lesson planning, classroom management (in a virtual setting), and teaching grammar.
Can I teach English online with a TEFL certificate?
Yes, you can. Online language schools typically require their English teachers to hold a legitimate TEFL certificate. A professional-level TEFL certification will provide you with the skills and qualifications you need to get hired to teach English online, even with no prior experience in education.
If you don't have an accredited TEFL certification, then this is your first step. To start your research and learn how to get TEFL certified to teach English online, take a look at International TEFL Academy's TEFL course options. We offer online TEFL courses, in-person TEFL classes in 20+ locations globally as well as additional TEFL Programs and ESL certification.
2. Hold a 4-Year College Degree (Recommended But Not Mandatory)
While this is not always a mandatory requirement, you will find that a majority of the reputable teach English online employers require that all their teachers hold a Bachelor's degree (BA).
Demand for English language education among online students remains high, and a native English speaker is the ideal educator for this language education. It is extremely common for online language schools to prioritize a 4-year degree in addition to a TEFL certification when seeking English teachers, even if your degree is unrelated to education! Your 4-year degree can be in any field or subject matter - Marketing, Arts, Computer Science, Civil Law... you name it, it'll work - so long as it is a 4-year BA.
Can I teach English online without a degree?
Yes, you can. While many of the biggest online teaching companies require a 4-year degree and a TEFL certification, there are still some companies and online schools that will employ you without a degree, if you gain an accredited TEFL certification.
To learn more about opportunities to teach English online without a degree, please read 11 Companies That Let You Teach English Online Without a Degree.
3. Possess a Laptop, Webcam and Other Devices
This may seem obvious enough but the following technical items are important requirements for online teaching:
- Laptop (or desktop computer): Choose either a desktop computer or a laptop. A small number of online schools work via an app-based platform in which your cell phone or an iPad may be used. Make sure the teaching platform your online employer uses is both Windows and MAC compatible. Hujiang for example, is only compatible with a Windows operating system.
- Webcam or other cameras: You will need a high-definition (HD) external camera or an HD integrated camera (most laptops these days come with in-built cameras).
- Headset & microphone: Use a headset with a microphone for clearer communication and to help omit background noise.
4. Secure a Fast and Reliable Internet Connection
It should go without saying that you will need a fast Internet connection to teach English online. Most online employers require a wired connection (instead of WiFi) and a majority of them even have upload and download speeds you will need to adhere too. During the interview process, you will likely be asked to conduct a speed test so they can confirm that your Internet speed will satisfy their requirements and not drop out mid-class.
Not sure how to check your Internet speed? You can do it here.
Here are just a few Internet speed requirements requested by some online English teaching schools:
- VIPKid: Wired DSL Internet Connection - at least 20 Mbps
- DaDa: Upload speed at least 2Mbps & download speed at least 10Mbps
- Magic Ears: Min. requirement for both download and upload speed is 10Mbps
- Hujiang: Internet speed over 10Mbps
5. Next Steps
You now know the basic requirements on how to become an online ESL teacher. Now head on over and check out our guide on teaching English online from home, remotely or while traveling to go further.