Teaching English online is as good as it sounds—make [decent] money while at home, secretly wearing your pajama bottoms? Moving abroad and sustaining a life full of travel? Paying off student loans with a side hustle? Yes yes YES!
But hold your horses! We’re here to ensure that you have everything you need to get the right offers and to optimize your teaching experience. You don’t want to jump in too early and allow yourself to be lowballed because you were too eager to tick off the checklist.
As with anything in life, there are a few boxes you need to tick before you are an eligible candidate for the next well-paid online English teaching jobs you come across. You might have unknowingly met all of the requirements to teach English online, but you also might be missing some crucial items on the list. Here, we outline all of the teaching English online requirements, so you can get started on your TEFL journey today. Not tomorrow, but today.
So, what are the basic requirements to teach English online?
1. English Proficiency
You guessed it. Speaking English is among the requirements to teach English online. Now, there’s more to it than just being fluent in English, especially if you’re proficient but not a native speaker. Different companies will require different levels of English language know-how. Some, like English Key, only hire native English speakers who have passports from countries like New Zealand, Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Canada. While proficiency is a testament to an advanced level of skill, companies recognize the difference between proficient and native speakers. If anything, employers will augment the difference between these two categories.
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Other companies, like TOPICA Native and Fluentbe, only require that you speak English at a high proficiency. TEFL Qualifications aren’t the only necessary qualifications to teach English online. Companies like iTalki require their non-native English speaking online teachers to test at the Advanced (C2) proficiency level from Cambridge English. Certificates of Proficiency in the English Language are always a plus. A native speaker will have been exposed to the language all their life and will recognize the colloquial or idiomatic language. This might play a factor in the lessons, especially if they include casual dialogue or focus on informal expressions.
English proficiency doesn’t mean you need to show off how articulate you are and pretend to be Shakespeare with your students. Remember that these students are learning English, not completing their literature thesis. Either way, in order to teach English online, you need to be able to speak English pretty well yourself.
2. A Bachelor’s Degree
To Degree or Not to Degree?
Similar to how you can find some TEFL jobs abroad without a degree, it is possible to find some online English teaching gigs that don’t require a bachelor’s degree to be considered as their next hire. Online platforms such as PalFish have a ‘no degree required’ policy to teach English, and they also welcome non-native English teachers. They’re on the lenient end of the spectrum when it comes to teaching English online requirements.
However, more often than not, your future employer is going to want to see proof of college completion before they take a second look at your resume. While it’s advantageous that you have a degree in English Language or Literature, it really doesn’t matter what it is as long as your degree was conducted in English. A degree is a degree, and whether your degree is in English, Business, Biology, or even Viticulture & Oenology, it fits the requirement.
This is also the case for non-native speakers that are proficient in English. To support your proficiency, many companies will just want to know that you have enough academic experience that was conducted in an English setting.
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3. Teaching Certificate (TEFL/TESOL/CELTA, etc.)
Possibly the most important item on the ‘qualifications to teach English online’ list, but it’s also the most obtainable. Most online English teaching platforms will require that you have been trained to be an English teacher. We recommend that all aspiring online English teachers earn their TEFL certificate in advance of applying for jobs. This flexible TEFL course will give you a firm foundation to build your lesson plans, pedagogies, and activities from—plus a deep understanding of complex grammar rules and tactics for effectively teaching a second language.
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Not only this but taking the time to complete the course beforehand demonstrates your willingness and implies that you’ll stick around the TEFL scene longer. It makes it look like you have aspirations in the TEFL industry, and you’ll be more suitable for hire than someone who might cut and run. The benefits that companies will offer teachers will be more appealing if they have a qualified teacher that is likely to work for a longer period of time.
With a TEFL certificate under your belt, you’ll have access to better, more reliable jobs and higher pay, so despite the upfront time and financial investment, the outcome is a true win-win. What is it they say? You gotta spend money to make money. YOU get a better online English teaching experience and your STUDENTS get a better online English teacher. Sounds like a good investment to me.
There’s No Excuse
If you’re short on time to get your TEFL certificate, the 120 hour TEFL course is the best option for you. It requires a minimal time commitment but is full of quality content. Even if plans change and you still don’t have enough time right now, you have 6 months of course access, because we understand life happens.
You can stand out even more when looking for TFEL jobs by completing a specialist course. Completing the 30-hour Teaching Online Course for example will take 1 – 2 weeks to complete. This will place more emphasis on the online aspects of TEFL. Market yourself well enough, and you’ll come across as an online teaching specialist to your employers.
4. Is Experience One of the Requirements to Teach Online?
Not all companies require proof of past English teaching experiences, but they will undoubtedly ask you about your background when applying to teach English online. Some kind of formal or informal teaching experience, such as mentoring or being a camp counselor, will all help you make the case as to why you should be their next hire.
What if I’m a First Timer?
Remember, being experienced isn’t an absolute deal-breaker. Otherwise, how is someone new to the game ever meant to get hired? Luckily, that’s where we come in. We’re the only online level 5 TEFL provider to offer fully organized teaching practicum with real ESL students.
Get Teaching Practice, Get Hired
Teaching practice is now highly favored by your future employers. What was once an optional thing when applying for jobs, is now an essential sought-after component in the EFL tutor toolkit. When employers read resumes and applications they are looking for confident and competent TEFL teachers, and that’s exactly what teaching practicum offers. Get 32 hours of real teaching practice with real students who want to learn English. You’ll also receive feedback from qualified tutors who can help you improve and grow as a teacher.
Aspiring teachers to be who enroll on this level 5 TEFL course with teaching practicum qualify confident in their skills, competent in their ability to teach and manage a class, and most importantly – experienced.
Companies that typically pay more will require a higher standard when it comes to qualifications and experience. That’s why a level 5 TEFL course with teaching practice is ideal. This level 5 TEFL course is a government-regulated, CELTA – equivalent qualification with real teaching experience. If you don’t have the experience yet, don’t think of this as an obstacle, think of it as an opportunity to learn something new!
There is more to being a teacher than just teaching, as silly or simple as it sounds. Your employer needs to know that they are hiring someone that will be engaging with the student and unlock their potential. Even if your only experience with children was by babysitting or in a summer camp environment, it shows that you were suitable to interact with children.
Showing responsibility with children, whether it was in an academic setting or not, is a huge plus, and you should definitely emphasize it on your resume and in your interview. Be sure to mention any experience that you’ve had working with children! This experience is a testament to your personality and character.
5. Proof of Health
Have you had a physical lately? You might need to get one. Many online English teaching companies will expect their hires to have proof of good health prior to hiring them. Though this is less common than when you apply to teach English in a classroom, it may show up as a requirement in your online English teaching application, too.
Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have to visit the doctor and have an extensive examination to support your statement. Some companies will have you fill out a declaration stating that you’re healthy and ready to work.
6. A Clean Background Check
“Safety and security don’t just happen, they are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear.” – Nelson Mandela
Nelson got the gist. Your employers aren’t just looking for a good teacher, they’re looking for a good person. Many companies will want to use a formal background check to confirm that you have a non-criminal history. For obvious reasons, this is paramount when concerned with the requirements to teach English online.
This is a common protocol for companies that want to ensure that they’re hiring people who are reliable. While some companies might have you declare your absence of prior convictions and your work experience which would reinforce this, others might want a DBS check. It shouldn’t take long, and it isn’t expensive.
This is basic best practice for companies hiring people to work with children, so don’t be too alarmed about their concerns for your ability to provide a safe learning environment for their clients. If anything, you should be more alarmed if they aren’t showing any concern regarding their employee’s background.
7. The Right Equipment
While different online English teaching companies will have different requirements, they roughly involve the following:
- A computer + webcam
- A good internet connection
- A headset with a microphone
In addition to these generic equipment requirements to teach English online, some companies may also asks that teachers use the Google Chrome browser or their specific teaching software. Others take it a step further, requiring their online English teachers to have a minimum operating system of Windows7 or Mac OS 10.x, a memory of at least 4GB RAM, and a stable internet connection of at least 20 Mbps (Megabits Per Second), and the latest Flash Version on Chrome or Firefox.
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A solid internet connection is the most crucial aspect when it comes to the technological aspects of your application. Without it, you cannot conduct lessons. Different companies will have different minimum requirements of Mbps and some might even require a wired ethernet connection. You can test your internet connection easily with a speed test. Here are examples of the connection requirements to teach English online:
DaDa requires a minimum Download Speed of 10 MBPS and an Upload Speed of 2 MBPS
VIPKid requires a minimum Download Speed of 10 MBPS and an Upload Speed of 2 MBPS
iTutorGroup requires a minimum Download Speed of 0.8 MBPS and an Upload Speed of 0.5 MBPS
Palfish requires a minimum Download Speed and Upload Speed of… Good enough connection? I can’t tell you because it isn’t mentioned on their website.
The Good and the Bad
The fact that you conduct lessons over the internet can be a godsend or a massive liability. It allows you to be flexible with your location, as you can teach from wherever you are as long as it’s an appropriate setting. On the other hand, being dependent on a strong connection will leave you with many problems if your internet decides to fail on a particular day. Check whether your connection qualifies with Speedtest by Ookla!
The companies will have an IT test for you to determine your microphone and webcam quality before you begin teaching. This won’t be a problem provided that you have the right equipment. If you’re lucky enough, your computer will have a built-in webcam that meets the standard for teaching.
8. Enthusiasm and Passion for Teaching
A soft requirement but something you’ll see when applying to teach English online nonetheless, all of these companies will want to get the feeling from you that you are stoked for this opportunity. Someone’s skills or experience will be completely overlooked if they fail to show any enthusiasm towards the job they’re applying for. Imagine you want a pizza, and you find one that has no flavor and a terrible texture. Sure, it qualifies as a pizza, but where’s the substance?
Don’t be that pizza. Enthusiasm is a significant layer to what you offer, along with experience and qualifications to teach English online. You need to actually demonstrate that you’re invested in this opportunity. It’s an essential requirement to teach English online. This needs to be evident from your choice of words as well as your demeanor. Your employer won’t hire someone who doesn’t want to be there. Think about it, you’d hate to have lessons with a disinterested teacher. Communicating your passion and enthusiasm for kids, cultural exchange, sharing knowledge, TEACHING, etc. will help you stand out and land the job—exceeding the minimum requirements!
What’s Required When Applying for Online English Teaching Jobs?
Here’s the TL;DR version of what’s required when applying for online English teaching jobs:
- English language proficiency
- A Bachelor’s degree
- A teaching certificate
- Proof of health
- A clean background check
- The right equipment
- Passion and enthusiasm
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To summarize, as long as you’re not an illiterate criminal with a burning hatred for teaching, I’d say you’ve got a good chance of becoming an Online English Teacher. It’s not a case of ‘yes’ or ‘no’ when asking whether you can teach English online, but a case of ‘where’ or ‘with who’ you can teach with.
Don’t worry if you haven’t got a degree. Many companies stand by their ‘no Degree required’ policy, and you can get a TEFL qualification anytime, from anywhere. Whether it’s a 130-hour TEFL course or a 310 hour TEFL course, we’ve got you! That means you can gain qualifications to teach English online, and the required experience and keep climbing the ladder.
Every teacher has a different level of experience and qualifications, and each teacher will have different opportunities. The requirements to teach English online are extremely flexible. And you’ll find plenty of companies that will seize the opportunity to utilize your skillset and personality.