How long are online English teaching contracts?

With online English teaching companies, many will ask you to sign a contract – stating the salary, required hours and conditions of your employment – with the average length of a contract being 6-12 months. Here are a few things to be mindful of before signing on the dotted line.

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This post is part of our “Ultimate teach English online guide“. Go check it out. 

A common question many soon-to-be teachers ask is “How long are online English teaching contracts?”. A long contract can be a help or a hindrance depending on what you’re looking for when applying for an online English teaching job. The security of a one-year contract might be reassuring for you and provide a degree of security but it may also make you feel locked into one position, so it’s an important consideration before applying for a job.

From our research, the average length of a contract is around 9 months, yet many companies will hire you as a contractor with an ‘open-ended’ agreement that specifies required working hours and requirements but with no specific length. Companies that assign students for a designated period of time are more likely to ask you to sign a contract in order to ensure that students stay with the same teacher for a specified teaching period (for one semester or level, for example).

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Some things to think about before signing your online English teaching contract:

    • Can you teach for other companies?

      Although rare, some companies ask you to sign an agreement saying that you will only teach for them. As it is common to teach with multiple companies, please be aware of this before signing. We would only recommend that you sign an agreement of this kind if the company can guarantee your required teaching hours and can ensure a full schedule.

    • What are the termination conditions?

      Unfortunately, due to the nature of teaching English online, companies can terminate your contract at their own discretion. We advise carefully reading your contract and making notes of what conditions the company can terminate your contract (for example, negative feedback, absences and/or cancellations) and being aware of these before starting.

    • What penalties (if any) apply for circumstances such as technical difficulties, illness and negative feedback?

      Although reliability and consistency are an important part of being a good teacher, some companies can be harsh on teachers in circumstances that happen to even the most prepared. We recommend that you consider these circumstances before starting and having a plan in place, such as learning to screen record any computer/browser difficulties, having a mobile phone hotspot in case of wi-fi issues and knowing how to upload a doctor’s certificate in case of illness. Planning ahead can prevent many issues relating to the expectations of your contract.

    • How can you terminate the contract?

      If you are not happy at your company, or get a better offer, you can usually terminate your contract with a specified notice period. Make note of this period and any penalties that may be applied before signing.

As you are likely signing a contract with a foreign company, it is especially important to read your contract thoroughly before signing it. Contracts translated into English may not always be as clear as if written in a native language. If you are confused, you may have more luck asking for a copy in the native language of the company and running it through an online translator. If you can find somebody who speaks that language to translate for you, that is even better. Contracts and working conditions may be very different in the country in which your company operates. If you don’t agree with the terms of the contract or you are uncomfortable with its contents we highly advise you not to sign it and to consider another company.

If you want to ‘lock-in’ a job for six to twelve months, a contract may be the way to go. With a little bit of research and a quick read of those dreaded ‘T&C’s”, you can ensure that you have a stress-free contract period. Good luck and happy teaching!

Do you have any experience with online English teaching contracts? Comment below.

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This post is part of our “Ultimate teach English online guide“. Go check it out. 

About the Author:

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, well… succeed teaching English online. Whether you are just starting out, want to apply to one of the 300+ global companies or build your own small independent teaching business, she can help.

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