Starting a career in online education has been easier, here’s what you need to know to start enjoying the freedom it provides.
For those of you considering becoming an online teacher, the process might seem daunting. Maybe you’re trying to make the transition from classroom to virtual, or maybe you’re just starting your search for online jobs.
Whichever it is, trying to understand the ins and outs of a new job or industry is never fun.
This post aims to make it a bit easier and will shed some light on the requirements, available jobs, and even what it means to be an online teacher.
Note: the focus of this post will be teaching English online, but most of the information can be applied across subjects and jobs.
What Does Becoming an Online Teacher Mean?
You will likely have very little (if any) interaction with your students in real life, something you need to keep in mind, especially if you are used to seeing and conversing with pupils face to face.
Online classes are held all day, every day, in almost every country in the world. Most of the time, as a teacher, the only thing you need to figure out is what you want to teach and how often you want to do it.
This is not meant to imply that being an online educator is a walk in the park – far from it in fact. Online teachers often have to be much more organized, disciplined, and adaptable to work from home. You will be dealing with students you can’t discipline directly and material you can’t reinforce manually, all from an area much smaller than a regular classroom.
Still, there are tremendous benefits to teaching online, namely that you can often make your own schedule and teach from anywhere, provided there’s internet.
What Kind of Jobs Are Available?
There is seemingly no limit to what can be taught online and the variety of jobs reflect that. The most common is teaching English online but the reality is that if you have a specialty or passion, there is a platform on which it can be taught.
Online English Teaching
There is no better time to become an online English teacher than right now – jobs are abundant and the available technology makes it easier than ever for a teacher in America to teach a class of Chinese students in real time.
Online English teachers have incredible degrees of flexibility when it comes to job options as they are only limited by the time zone of their students. This means that as long as you don’t mind working odd hours, you can pretty much teach as much as you’d like.
Teaching College Online
Foreign schools aren’t the only ones getting in on the action, almost every higher learning institution has an online program for students. If you’re a qualified professor, this means your job prospects just opened up a lot.
You’re no longer bound by state borders and campuses and there are plenty of instances of teachers working online on the side because they love the program or are just interested in making some extra money.
Skills and Crafts
Is your passion or expertise not typically taught in schools? Platforms like Udemy and Skillshare allow you to package, market, and deliver non-traditional courses like marketing, coding, and photography to students in an instant.
Because these classes are often pre-recorded, this is a great option for teachers looking to share their knowledge but don’t have a schedule that allows them to do it in real time.
What Are the Requirements?
If you’re thinking about becoming an online teacher it’s important to find a position with requirements you can either meet or achieve in time. Luckily, there are plenty of positions out there for people just getting interested in becoming an online teacher as well as jobs for seasoned vets.
It’s impossible to list every requirement in one post, but there are a few commonly accepted ones when it comes to traditional teaching:
- Native speaker
- Teaching certificate related to ESL or TEFL
- Official teaching license
- Subject matter expertise
- Classroom experience
How Much Money Can You Make Becoming an Online Teacher?
Salaries and hourly pay vary widely when it comes to teaching online and are directly related to your experience and expertise, especially when it comes to teaching English.
Almost all English teachers are paid hourly and with rates ranging from $12-$20, though it is not uncommon to have a bonus structure in your contract to reward you for student retention and good feedback.
Does this mean you can’t make/save money? Absolutely not!
This teacher for VIPKid made over $75,000 in 2016 and as we mentioned earlier, you’re really only limited by how much you want to work. There are plenty of teachers out there hustling daily for more than one company in order to maximize their earnings, and they are doing all while sitting behind their computer at home (or in Spain, like this teacher).
If you’re fortunate enough to be a digital nomad and work from a country with a cheap cost of living, it’s quite easy to save most of your salary and still have more free time and you would back home.
College teachers have a bit less volatility in their pay with salaries typically holding steady around what they would make for traditional classroom teaching. If you’re pursuing this route, it’s also common to receive the same benefits as a full-time, local teacher, which can obviously be a huge plus.
Where Do You Start?
If you’re still interested in pursuing a career as an online teacher there are a few good places to start your journey. Remember – even if you have classroom teaching experience it’s a mistake to assume the process will be the same for online – training is key to making sure both you and your students enjoy the class.
Reddit can be invaluable when it comes to finding information related to teaching online or support for current teachers. Subreddits like TEFL and TEFL Teachers are a great resource for anyone looking to teach English and provide both a mean of asking and finding answers to questions.
In addition, if you’re one of the lucky few that are teaching online while traveling, we recommend Nomad List to find the best cities from which to work. Warning – this site can be addictive and inspiring.
For those of you looking to teach at the university level, we recommend checking on the job boards of your respective schools to learn about open positions. Keep in mind that colleges adhere to a more defined hiring schedule than English schools which hire year round.
The popularity of online education is soaring and driving the need for online teachers through the roof. However, despite the abundance of the positions available and the appeal of working online, it’s important to realize what the job entails and if it is the right choice for you.
With that being said, it’s an exciting time for those interested in becoming an online teacher and there is no shortage of options available for those who are interested.
See how Dan made more than $75,000 in 2016 by teaching with VIPKid, including how he got started and what his current schedule is like.
Thinking about applying to work at VIPKid? Genevieve is one of the 2500 teachers that loves working there – see why in this interview.
See how Lingo Live depends on experienced teachers to provide language training to companies like Google, Twitter, and Eventbrite.