Is teaching English online worth it?

The ESL teaching industry has undergone (and continues to undergo) huge changes over the last twenty years. We have seen massive growth in required provision as the language of English has been accepted as the ‘lingua franca’ worldwide.

Over the last ten years in particular much of the growth in provision has been provided by online teaching and learning. This trend has allowed for a whole new sector of ESL teaching to emerge and provide employment opportunities which are outside the conventional teaching requirements.

In particular, online teaching has opened up the teaching world to those who do not wish to remain in one place for any particular length of time. Such employment is commonly referred to as being a ‘Digital Nomad’. With a good computer, ability to connect reliably to the internet, a microphone and camera you can now teach from almost anywhere in the world and find classes at any time of the day or night to suit you and your lifestyle.

Also read: How can I teach English online and travel?

To cater for this massive increase in demand hundreds of online teaching companies have sprung up throughout the world, employing hundreds of thousands of teachers on various types of contracts, for all levels and types of English teaching situations, from kindergarten to high-level business English training.

The different types of online teaching available:

Working for a company

There are literally hundreds of online teaching companies catering for students from kindergarten to retired people, in a whole range of situations, such as young learners and business English.

Working for an online teaching company is the same as working for any employer except it is usually possible to negotiate your own hours and holidays and if you have some experience, even your pay rate.

The quality of companies varies greatly in terms of the help they give their employees, how reliable they are with pay and so forth.

Profile marketplace

In this situation you create your individual profile and then post it on a profile website. Students can then contact you directly having reviewed your profile and deciding that you may make a good tutor. Teaching in this situation is often one-to-one. Students are usually required to post reviews on the marketplace websites about your teaching.


As the name implies you are basically working for yourself. You will need to create and maintain an online presence to promote your services. This gives the greatest autonomy, however, there is no back-up when things go wrong. You will have to deal with all the legalities of your employment status, tax issues and work permits for example.

Conclusion: So to answer the question posed; Is online teaching worth it?

We can consider a number of pros and cons.


  • Good pay rates…up to US$25 per hour
  • Flexible working possible
  • Not location dependent
  • Many companies provide readymade lessons and materials
  • Teach many cultures without going to the country


  • It can become repetitive
  • Technology can be frustrating
  • Can be lonely
  • Time zone differences can become difficult
  • A large part of this market is for kindergarten (a problem for some)

Also read: Which platforms hire online English teachers?