A TEFL career – what you need to know

Teaching English online is an increasingly popular career choice. Whether you want to travel, be a stay at home parent or earn some money as a full time student, online TEFL is an option worth exploring. If you decide it might be for you, here are some things you might want to consider:

Your education level

Generally online TEFL companies prefer applicants with degrees. However, if you do not have a degree, you still have options. Cambly is an online networking platform that allows teachers to create a profile to attract students. Classes are fifteen, thirty or sixty minutes long. The pay is around £7.86 per hour. Another possibility is Palfish. Using your phone or tablet, you would teach Chinese children for £16.96 an hour. Alternatively, you could teach adults and set your own rates. IQ bar is also an option. Paying £9-15 per hour, it offers the flexibility to choose which courses you teach. Courses include phonics and exam preparation in addition to general English.

If you do have a degree, you have more options. Your degree subject might open up areas of specialisation. For instance, a business or marketing degree would be useful if you want to teach business English. If you have a degree in Education and experience in an educational setting, consider applying to Vivaling. Vivaling has mainly European students and pays £15. Teachers have a lot of flexibility to create their own lesson plans using the course materials provided. Vivaling also has very good reviews from current and former teachers.

Your available hours

When you teach English online there is a high chance that your students will be in a different time zone to you. It’s not uncommon for online English teachers to be working during the night. This might be exactly what you’re learning for, but if you want to be working “standard” hours then it is worth being more selective regarding the jobs you are applying for.

Students generally take classes during their evenings and weekends. However, many companies offer business English classes during the work day, or around an hour before work. This is a great option for teachers who have a business background. There are also students who take classes during their night time hours.

If you want to choose your own working hours, freelance tutoring might be the best choice.

Companies also differ significantly regarding the hours they expect you to commit to. For instance, Itutor group expect a minimum ten hour commitment with four of those hours being at weekends. However, they also have classes available at almost any time. At the other end of the spectrum, Dada ask for a four hour commitment and have limited class times.

If you can’t make time commitments, IQ bar, Palfish and Cambly could be good options. These companies have no minimum hours, so you can work when it suits you. The downside is that they do not guarantee hours either. You could find yourself with no classes even when you’re available to work.

Pensions/sick pay

Most online TEFL positions are self-employed, meaning that you are responsible for your own pension contributions. You are also not entitled to sick pay. In fact, many companies impose fines or remove bonuses when you take sick leave.

If the responsibilities of being self-employed are a concern for you, consider applying to English First. English First is a rapidly expanding company with many language schools in China, Russia and Indonesia, as well as offering online English classes. The pay is comparatively low for teachers with a degree, starting at £9.35 an hour for teachers in the UK. However, you will be employed and have your taxes and some pension contributions paid via the standard schemes.



Being self-employed means you are also responsible for your own taxes. In the UK, this means completing a self-assessment form every year. You can get help with your taxes here:



Your preferred students

The majority of companies either teach children exclusively or pay more money for children’s classes, However, there are still many jobs available for those who want to teach adults.

  • Profile websites

  • Companies that teach adults

Exchange rates

Currency values go up and down. If your pay rate isn’t set in your national currency, this can mean that your pay goes up and down with currency fluctuations. If this is something you’d like to avoid,

Itutorgroup could be a good option for you. Itutorgroup is one of the biggest, most well-known online TEFL companies. Consisting of four language schools based in China and Taiwan, it employs teachers all over the English-speaking world and sets pay rates locally. In the UK, children’s teachers can earn a base rate of £9 per twenty five minute class. The pay can rise to £18 an hour with bonuses.

Freelance teaching

If you can’t find the right job for you, consider becoming a freelance teacher instead of working for an established company. Freelance teachers need to find their own students, lesson materials and way of collecting payments. The good part is that they have more flexibility regarding their hours, earnings, students and the type of lessons they teach.

There are two options for finding students. You could create a profile on a website like Preply or italki and let future students find you. This is a good choice if you already have a teaching specialism. Another option is to advertise your classes to potential students. You can do this locally, by putting notices like local libraries and newspapers, or online, through your website and social media accounts. You could, of course, do both.

Websites like Preply collected the payment from the students and charge a commission. Alternative options include using Paypal or Stripe.

Companies to consider

There are lots of online TEFL companies out there. It is always worth doing your own research to find the best job for you. Here are some of the more popular companies.

Itutor group

Itutorgroup requires a degree and completion of a TEFL certificate within three months of starting work. You will need to work for ten of their peak hours, four of which will be at weekends. The base pay varies significantly. Those teaching adult group classes will earn just over £4 per forty five minute class. Those teaching one to one or one to two children’s classes will earn £9 per twenty five minute class.

Those teaching adult classes will be able to earn bonuses due to Itutor group’s review system. After all classes, students are given the opportunity to review their teacher and give them a mark out of ten. A mark higher than seven will earn the teacher a bonus.

Landi English

Landi pays $10-18 an hour. You will need to work twelve hours a week, over four days. The students are Chinese children aged 5-10.

Whales English

Whales English pays $18-26 an hour. You will need to work at least eight hours a week. Classes are fifty minutes long and there are two or three children in each class.

Say abc

Say abc pays up to $17 per 40 minute class. The students are Chinese children and there are four in each class. Contracts are three months long, making this a good option for short term or irregular work.

VIP Kids

VIP Kids employs American teachers only. There are no minimum hours. The base pay is $7-9 per class, but with bonuses you could earn up to $22 an hour.


Ringle is a South Korean company requiring a degree and a TEFL certificate. There are no minimum hours. Classes are 40-55 minutes long. The pay is $15-20 an hour

You can find more information about TEFL companies and freelance work here:



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