Teaching online is a fun and flexible way to make money online but salaries can be low, especially for new teachers. Here are 10 easy things you can do pre- and post-interview to make more money teaching English online.
This post is written for Australian and New Zealanders but all of our information can be used by teachers worldwide. We are not financial experts, so please consult a professional for financial advice. We use affiliates links, which earn us a a small commission (at no cost to you) but always aim to give you the best quality advice that we can provide.
BEFORE YOUR INTERVIEW
Do your research
There are hundreds of online English teaching companies, with salaries ranging from less than $5 to over $55 (AUD) per hour. Only a few run ads on Australasian jobs sites. As these companies hire 75-80% of their teachers from the US, Canada and the UK, they do not spend their recruitment budgets ‘down under’.
If you want to find out more information about smaller companies, you will need to either spend hours of research or you can buy our list of online English teaching jobs here.
Hourly rates can be confusing to calculate, often being a ‘base’ rate + bonuses. Once you decide on a company, we recommend following a few steps:
- Search for the name of the company and look for teacher reviews and information. Some companies have a good FAQ page and are quite transparent while others are not. Take negative reviews with a grain of salt and focus on information posted about salaries.
- Search for facebook groups for current teachers at your chosen company. Teachers are generally a friendly bunch and other than bombarding you with referral links, will often help you with salary information. Remember to search the group to see if there are recent answers around salary before asking. It’s a common question.
- Ask your recruiter/interviewer before the interview. If you have an email address, send your question there but remember they are some of the busiest people in the company and cannot always answer. Ask about salary at the end of the interview and definitely make sure you understand the rates before signing a contract. Read it carefully and confirm anything you don’t understand. Bonuses are often much harder to achieve than they seem, so estimate an average amount (around 50%).
- This is an optional step and slightly dishonest, so take this as a suggestion only. If you are an Australian/NZ citizen or resident based at home your salary will be higher than if you are located overseas in SE Asia, for example. In order to circumvent this, you might be able to use a VPN (like Express VPN) to make it seem as if you are in Australasia. While we have not done this ourselves, we have heard people have.
A high hourly salary may seem like the only consideration when selecting a company …but see if you can get a sense of the booking rate before signing a contract using the above methods. If there are no students, 40 hours a week x $0 is still $0.
The longer that you work for a company, you may be offered a pay increase for your loyalty, although this is the exception, not the rule. Check for bonuses such as being a substitute teacher for cancelling teachers, working unusual or off-peak hours and to recruit other teachers. Being flexible and carefully researching potential benefits before starting makes you ready to take advantage of opportunities when they arise.
Submit an A+ resume
A clear and concise resume will show your skills, attributes and why you deserve the highest salary in the range that the company offers. Remember, they make money from you so show them how you can be of benefit to the company. For our complete and detailed post on writing the perfect resume, click here.
Just remember, the person reading your resume is likely NOT a native English speaker and keep this in mind when writing it. Keep language simple and sentences shorter than usual. You don’t need a professional headshot but a clear, smiling photo is key (if you add one).
Make a short introduction video
This differs from company to company, with some asking for a short video and others not. This is a way to show off your personality and on-camera performance skills. Those new to speaking to a camera might feel shy and awkward…. that’s ok! It takes practice.
Our top tips: write a script, have good lighting and do some basic editing. Oh… and look AT the camera, not at yourself.
Read our full blog post on how to make the ultimate online English teaching introduction video here.
Get a TESOL certificate
A TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) or TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate takes between a few days and a few months and will make you a better teacher from the interview to your first day on the job. Read our full post here.
Why? With knowledge and experience comes confidence and someone who gets the basics of teaching and a ‘classroom’ will act more confidently in the interview. Premier offer a 250 hour certificate in which you can practice teach over Zoom with some peers before your interview.
There are also lots of FREE courses
that you can study before you begin – check some out, they’re free!
Set up your teaching space
A professional (and higher paid!) teacher will have a clean, appropriate teaching space. You might be sitting at your kitchen table with your laptop sitting on a shoebox, with your pyjama pants and slippers on…. just don’t let THEM see that.
A few basic items of technology, good lighting, a quality headset and a well-decorated (or plain) background will likely earn you a higher rate and the respect of your students (and their parents).
Practice, practice, practice
Just like an ”in-person” interview, being prepared makes it much more likely that you will succeed and be able to negotiate a higher hourly salary. Check YouTube for anyone who explains the interview before hand.
The interview will likely consist of a Q&A session followed by a ‘mock/demo/demonstration’ class for real students or staff posing as them in lieu of that. Find out beforehand what is required, if possible. Record yourself teaching a class for a few minutes and watch it back beforehand. Or, practice in front of the mirror. They both seem very cringe , we know… but it will show and will likely affect your offered salary. For new teachers or teachers who have moved online for the first time, it is worth that extra effort in the beginning and can pay off financially over your teaching career with the company in the form of cold, hard cash.
AFTER YOUR INTERVIEW
Negotiate your salary
This can be scary and many teachers are intimidated to negotiate a higher salary but please, if you only take one piece of our advice today…. negotiate. They can only say no. Our experience from talking to hundreds of teachers is that online English teaching companies rarely offer the highest rate upfront. The more qualified/experienced you are and the better you performed in the interview the higher your offered rate will be but you can ask for more. Be firm, state your reasons and do it in email if it makes you feel more comfortable. There are 100’s of companies out there. DON’T TAKE THE LOWEST OFFER!
Self-promotion and social media
Many companies have some form of ‘in-house’ social media, a section where you can customise a profile or the ability to connect with students in some way. Take full advantage of these if you can. Some companies do not permit direct contact while others do. Do note any company policies regarding this as many consider this ‘poaching’. If you can add extra slides to a .ppt, make up one with your name, education and working hours (see image).
Promote yourself and your classes! Ask for feedback and reviews, sell yourself and your skills. Teachers with a loyal following have more power and are in a better position to negotiate with a company. If you can promote your classes on other outside social media sites, do so. Just like the resume, keep promotional language simple and short.
You can lose A LOT of your salary due to the fees and charges involved in International payments. Ask about your payment options and research the best one for your situation.
Often, as an online English teacher, you are employed as a contractor. As a contractor, there is more involved regarding your taxes. There are also some things you can now claim on your annual tax return (see sites for more information). Check out the Inland Revenue or ATO website for more info about saving money when the tax man (or woman) comes collectin’.
Finally, you will always be limited to a certain salary if you work for a company. To truly earn the ‘big bucks’, you are going to have to go out and find students yourself. It takes a lot of time, energy and marketing to cut out the middle man but teachers can make $100 (AUD)+ per hour when they go freelance. If you want more information about how to break out on your own, please book a coaching session with an experienced freelance teacher.
We hope that these ten tips help you to make more money online, by getting you the highest salary to start, earning you bonuses and saving you in fees and tax. It takes a few hours upfront but can earn you a lot of money over the course of any given financial year. Be prepared, have fun and do your research and you’ll make more money than those who don’t – guaranteed. Do you have other tips and tricks? Leave them in the comments below.
Good luck and happy teaching!
Do you have any money maximising tips for teaching online? Comment below.
Kate (GradCertEd TESOL) studied a TESOL certificate in 2010 and has been teaching English ever since. Tutoring ‘freelance’ for many years before starting an independent teaching business, she began Teach English Online to support Australians and New Zealanders to do the same. Just starting out, want to apply to one of the 300+ global companies or build your own small independent teaching business? She can help.