Hi there, I’m Teacher Chelsey!
I’ve been teaching English online, full-time, for the past 3 years.
As an online ESL teacher, I’ve been able to live in various cities, taken extended time off whenever I felt that I needed a break, and I’ve been able to work from home with my husband and our fur family.
On top of all that, I’ve been able to earn much more money than when I was teaching in person.
Most months, I’ve averaged between $3,000-4,000.
I’ve earned less, but some months I’ve earned more.
Is Teaching English Online Worth It?
Financially speaking, absolutely. Being able to work remotely, totally.
However, the job has also been extremely stressful in ways that I didn’t expect.
Just because I consider the job to be worth it, I’d like to deep-dive into the stresses of online English teaching.
I want to be as honest and upfront about it all, that way, you can decide for yourself if it’ll be worth it for YOU.
Is Teaching English Online Stressful?
Teaching English online is stressful, but not for blatantly obvious reasons. Those reasons include:
- Those “schedule your own hours”, in reality, is limited between 9pm-9am EST
- Due to students being in school, most weekday bookings are between 3am-9am EST
- Working weekends is the key to earn a full-time income
- There is absolutely NO guarantee that you will get booked
- Most platforms/companies only have 2-5 minutes between classes
- Due to holidays and school demands, you’ll get booked far less during certain months
- Students can be unruly, aggressive, and/or just not interested in your virtual classroom
- Keeping spouses, children, and/or even apartment neighbors up because you’re teaching in the middle of the night
- Very difficult to get approved teacher cancellations (even in legitimate emergencies)
- The flipped schedule gets in the way of doing family/social events that aren’t planned out weeks in advance
From the outside looking in, teaching English online looks stress-free. Especially when you read the $3-4k/month pay, working from home, and the ability to “schedule your own hours”.
However, with most teaching platforms/companies, those “hours” can only be scheduled as a nighttime shift for Americans.
“Schedule Your Own Hours” – Too Good To Be True? Totally.
Most of the popular online English teaching companies are set up so that you will be teaching children and young adults. These students are also in their regular school during the weekdays (and a lot of times on Saturday as well).
Because of this, while taking into consideration that there is a twelve-hour timezone difference, most students are only available for you to teach from the times of 3am-9am EST during the weekdays.
On the weekends, if you want to actually be able to make a full-time income teaching English online, you will need to open up your schedule from literally 9pm-9am EST.
For instance, I open my Friday and Saturday night slots from 9pm-12:30am, 2:00am–4:30am, and 5:30am-9am.
Scheduling breaks are important because, for most companies, you will have around 2-5 minutes between classes. This makes it very hard to go to the bathroom, much less eat.
You’ll also find that you may just need a mental break because…
Some Students Will Drive You Nuts.
Yeah, there will be plenty of kids that will not pay attention, fuss (even cuss) at you for correcting them, ignore you completely by playing on their phones, pointing toy guns at you, and a whole slew of other things that’ll make you want to close the laptop right then and there.
Unfortunately, you have to keep a smile and continue on with the class teaching the student anyway.
You Aren’t Guaranteed Anything
Just because you open your slots… doesn’t mean that you’ll even get booked.
If you have another income, this is not as stressful.
However, when/if this were to replace your main income… not having guaranteed bookings will stress you out. Especially if you forget to open up your slots within the first few hours of the “booking frenzy”.
Even if you are consistently getting your slots filled, there will be months that the students will have more school responsibilities, and/or holiday celebrations that will deter them from booking.
Those months, my monthly income would drop from $3-4k down to $1,500-2,000.
If you’re looking for guaranteed and consistent month-to-month income, teaching English online is a hard way to go.
That being said… the hourly pay is great, even if you’re just trying to earn a side income.
Does Teaching English Online Pay Well?
Teaching English online has paid me much more than I made teaching in the public school system. I’ve averaged $3,500-4,000 per month for a few years (when getting booked full-time). Lately, my income has averaged $2,000-2,500 per month with a more part-time approach to the job.
During the summer months, I will open my full-time slots again because the students will be out of school. In the summer, I’ve been able to make $5,000 in a single month.
That being said, I literally taught all night long… 7 days out of the week… all month long.
Is Teaching English Online A Good Job?
There are stresses, but teaching English online has not only been a good job… it’s been my favorite job.
If you are able to get bookings, the job pays well enough to earn a full-time, liveable wage. As long as you account for the inconsistent months, you can budget accordingly.
I have never minded the awkward schedule, but some people do.
The unruly students that you encounter will drive you nuts, but there will be ones that just melt your heart. Those are the students that you have to remember… when the rude ones are making you reconsider the job.
Some teachers complain about having to handle their own taxes, but I prefer it. Being an independent contractor allows you to take advantage of legitimate write-offs.
Even when I have a fully booked schedule (with only a few minutes for a bathroom break), it’s still cool being at home working. To me, I’d rather have a few rushed bathroom breaks at home instead of at an office with limited bathroom breaks anyways.
Is It Hard To Get A Job Teaching English Online?
As long as you meet the minimum teacher requirements, getting hired at the top paying online ESL companies is straightforward and easy.
In fact, if you do meet the requirements for one company… I suggest that you go ahead and apply to the other.
This will allow you to have two platforms to test in order to see which one you get more bookings through.
Is There A High Demand For Online English Teachers?
There is always a demand for online English teachers. The top companies are constantly hiring. As long as you meet the teacher requirements, you’ll likely be able to get hired at one of them (if not all of them).
Please note, however, that getting hired doesn’t guarantee you’ll get bookings.