Is teaching English online worth it?

The TEFL teaching sector has experienced (and continues to experience) dramatic transformations over the past two decades. As English has solidified its status as the global 'lingua franca,' we have witnessed a tremendous surge in demand for English language lessons across all types of medium.

The past decade has seen a considerable portion of this growth facilitated by online teaching and learning. This trend has led to an entirely new avenue for ESL teaching, offering job opportunities that break away from traditional teaching parameters.

Notably, online teaching has broadened horizons for those who prefer not to stay in a single location for long periods, often termed 'Digital Nomads.' With a reliable computer, internet connection, microphone, and camera, it is now possible to teach from virtually any corner of the world at any time, aligning with your lifestyle.

Also read: Where can I get a digital nomad visa for teaching English online?

In response to this surge in demand, hundreds of online teaching firms have emerged globally, employing hundreds of thousands of teachers on various contract types, catering to all levels and types of English teaching needs, from kindergarten to advanced business English training.

The different types of online teaching available:

Table of Contents

Working for a company

Profile marketplace


Working for a company

Numerous online teaching companies cater to a diverse demographic, from kindergarten students to retired individuals, across various scenarios such as young learners and business English.

Working for an online teaching company is akin to any traditional employment, with potential advantages of negotiating your working hours, holidays, and in certain cases, your salary. However, the quality of these companies can vary significantly, especially concerning employee support and payment reliability.

Profile marketplace

In this setting, you craft your unique profile and upload it on a profile platform. After reviewing your profile, students can directly reach out to you if they feel you are a suitable tutor for their situation. This format often involves one-on-one teaching, and students typically leave reviews about your instruction on the marketplace websites.


As the term suggests, you work independently in this scenario. Maintaining an online presence to advertise your services is crucial. While this approach provides maximum independence, there is no backup if any issues arise. It would also be your responsibility to manage all legalities of your employment status, including tax issues and work permits.

In conclusion, to address the initial query: Is online teaching worth it?

We need to weigh the potential benefits and drawbacks.

  • Good pay rate... 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?