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How Much Money Can I Make Teaching English Online?
Written by: Nicola Rae
Last Updated: July 19, 2021
So you want to get paid to teach English online? Then this detailed guide for how to teach English online for money is for you and anyone else wondering both how much money they can make teaching English online, and how to make the kind of money teaching English online that fits their budget and lifestyle.
Can you teach English online full-time?
Teaching English online is very literally what you make it. With most online English companies, you can work as much or as little as you like, which means your online English teaching gig can be anything from a small-time side hustle to a full-time career hustle.
Briefly, online English teacher salaries vary depending on a variety of factors:
- The company with which you teach English online;
- The number of hours you put in;
- Your qualifications and experience;
- Your base pay and bonuses.
Some online English teaching companies provide a flat-rate of payment per hour, while other platforms allow you to set your own hourly rate.
Does teaching English online pay well?
Generally speaking, online English teachers typically make anywhere between $10 - $40 USD per hour depending on their level of qualification. If you’re a first-time English teacher with a TEFL certification, you will likely be making $10-$20 per hour to start.
Platforms such as VIPKID offer base rates plus incentives. Incentive bonuses may include things like an extra $1 of pay per class if you complete more than 45 classes per month.
If you choose to work for open-marketplace type companies where you set your own rate, know that a percentage of your rate may be deducted by that company as a fee.
If you choose to travel the world and support yourself via teaching English online, you can make a very comfortable living by earning U.S. dollars in countries that have a cheaper cost of living such as the Czech Republic, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Colombia, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica.
View our Teach English Online Employer Comparison Chart to compare hourly rates of pay in $USD across several different online ESL schools.
Do I Need to Pay Taxes on the Money I Make From Teaching English Online?
Many online English teaching jobs categorize you as either an independent contractor or self-employed. This means it's your responsibility to report your earnings as a self-employed income. This process will differ based on your country of citizenship or the country you are teaching English online from.For U.S. citizens teaching English online from within the USA but for a non-U.S. based company (e.g. The company you teach English online for is based in China), taxation papers are often not provided, however, you are still expected to report any self-employed income earned. If your income is paid through PayPal and you have:
- Earned $20,000 USD in gross payment volume for sales of goods or service in a single year;
- 200 payments for goods or services in the same year.
PayPal will send Form 1099-K to you and the IRS for that year for taxation filing purposes.
One benefit of online teaching (if you pay your taxes) is that the U.S. and Canada will allow you to write off a portion of your home or apartment as a home office. You can also write off expenses like your computer/laptop, Internet, webcam, microphone, headset, teaching supplies, etc.
For U.S. citizens living abroad and teaching English online from anywhere other than the USA (i.e. You are a U.S. citizen living in Japan and teaching English online from Japan), you are not expected to pay U.S. taxes on the first $80,000 that you earn each year.
For more, read:
Example: How Much Money You Can Earn Teaching English Online With VIPKID
VIPKID is one of the largest online English learning platforms out there. Since this is the company I work for, this section will be focused on what you could earn as a VIPKID teacher. But from what I’ve seen in ITA’s Online Teaching Directory, the VIPKID pay seems pretty consistent with other online English companies. So let’s talk about the question people always have before they get started – how much do online ESL teachers really make teaching English online with VIPKID?
Teachers at VIPKID make a base rate of $7-$9 USD per class. This is determined during your interview based on your experience and interview performance. In addition to the base pay, you can earn an extra $1 per class for starting and ending the class on time. You can also earn an extra $1 per class if you complete more than 45 classes per month. Each class is 25 minutes and you can teach two classes in an hour. This makes the hourly wage $18-$22/hour if you get both incentives.
Let’s meet in the middle and assume a teacher makes $20 an hour or $10/class (Base pay of $8 + both incentives $2 = $10). Since I get to make my own schedule, I usually have certain weeks where I put in way more hours and lighter weeks where I go out and explore. On a typical work day, I teach for five hours with a half hour break in the middle.
Example 1: The Light Hustler
(Aka those looking for some extra cash who only want to work a little bit on evenings and weekends, also ideal for those trying to save up money for traveling while still rocking their soul-crushing 9-5!)
1 hour, 2 nights a week + 3 hours on weekends = $100/week
Total time commitment = 5 hours/week or 20 hours/month (Come on, anyone can do 5 hours a week!)
Total earnings = $400/month – 30% Taxes ($120) = $280/month
Example 2: The Midi Hustler
(Aka those trying to make a decent part-time income but still want to have plenty of time off to raise alpacas, write a great American novel, or learn to play bassoon)
4 hours/day , 3 days a week = $240/week
Total time commitment = 12 hours/week, 48 hours/month (totally doable, heck, you could even do that while teaching in a traditional classroom abroad!)
Total earnings = $960/month – 30% Taxes ($288) = $672/month
Example 3: Heavy Hustler
(Aka those using VIPKID as their only source of income, aka the cool kids, aka me)
5 hours/day, 5 days/week =$500/week
Total time commitment = 25 hours/week or 100 hours a month (still less than my traditional teaching job by a landslide)
Total earnings = $2000/month – 30% taxes ($600) = $1400
Again, you are free to make your schedule whatever you want to suit your needs. As you can see, it is possible to use teaching English online as a light income booster or as a serious income opportunity.
How to get paid to teach English online:
- Earn your TEFL certification - most companies require it.
- Research teaching companies that would be a good fit for you based on your goals and their requirements.
- Hop online and find discussion groups for online teachers, where you can ask questions and get feedback from others who work in the field.
- Apply and interview for positions. You can also market yourself as a private tutor.
Is teaching English online worth it?
Yes. Teaching English online provides great opportunities to earn a good salary on either a part-time or full-time basis. While it isn't the most lucrative profession, it does offer great flexibility and convenience, including the ability to make money from home while impacting the lives of others.
Want more information in addition to learning how much online ESL teachers make? Read more: 8 Top FAQs about Teaching English Online
Nicola is an Atlanta native who loves teaching, budget travel, and guacamole. She holds BA’s in Anthropology and Sociology from the University of Georgia and a Masters in Education from Francis Marion University. Nicola has spent the last couple of years teaching English online while house-sitting her way through Europe, Asia, and Latin America. When she's not busy teaching or drinking coffee in cozy cafes, Nicola enjoys writing about her travels on her blog.
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