Are you looking for the ultimate side hustle?
Or perhaps a fulfilling career that you can scale from nothing and end up earning a decent income?
How about a job where you can genuinely help people achieve their goals, build their careers and improve their future selves?
You know, that kind of job where you can set your own hours and achieve the elusive work-life balance that so many of us strive to achieve.
What if I told you that you could have it all? And that you might not even need a specific degree to obtain the above attributes mentions?
Sounds too good to be true, right?
If I’ve hooked your attention, then teaching English online without a degree might just be what you’re looking for.
There’s never been a better time to enter the online education market. With booming technologies, global accessibility and a massive desire for English language acquisition, it’s a decision that you definitely won’t regret.
I’m going to be honest, though, it’s easier said than done. But with some dedication, preparation and knowing where to look for work, teaching online can be an achievable goal!
Let’s go through step by step to see how you can make this dream a reality.
Why You Should Consider Teaching English Online
Online teaching is an educational approach that came into the forefront of the public consciousness in early 2020 due to the outbreak of the devastating coronavirus. Many teachers were required to make the shift to teaching online not out of choice but out of necessity.
But long before the breakout of this global pandemic, there was (and still is) a large group of entrepreneurial-spirited teachers opting for the freedom, balance and income that an online teaching position offers.
An online teaching job generally has the following attributes.
It’s Totally Flexible
Many online teachers report increased flexibility in their working hours and schedules once they started their new digital careers. Many of the opportunities that we’ll look at below allow teachers to select their own working hours and days.
This means that once you’re on board, you can arrange your day and productive output hours to best suit your specific needs and desired schedule.
It Can Be Lucrative
Depending on your approach (and dedication), online teaching can prove to be a very lucrative career. Have a scan online and you’ll see that many platforms will pay anywhere from 10 and 50 USD per hour, and many also allow you to set your own rates. This earning potential will grow with your experience, student base and reputation.
If you decide to go at it alone and without the support of an established platform, you could hypothetically charge whatever rate you think is appropriate!
It’s Relatively Secure
While I don’t personally believe that any industry is truly recession-proof, the online English education market is set to see massive growth in the coming decade. This is due to several factors, including the domination of English as the global language of business and a general upward trend of online education demands.
It’s Highly Satisfying
Teaching English can be a deeply satisfying job. With every class, interaction and connection, you’re helping your students achieve a greater goal, whether this is to travel, secure a job or simply expand their language horizons.
In addition to this, you’re meeting individuals from across the globe who are genuinely interested in learning your language. Watching your students grow from timid beginners to fluent speakers is an incredibly rewarding experience.
Your Step-by-step Guide to Teaching English Online Without a Degree in 2021
Step 1: Consider a TEFL Certificate or Relevant Course
While the focus of this blog is on securing jobs without the requirement of a degree, many online teaching platforms and positions will require or, at the very least, strongly recommend a TEFL certificate.
Recent Chinese legislation has now made it a requirement for all foreign teachers working with Chinese platforms to have a minimum 120 hour TEFL certificate and a bachelor’s degree (doesn’t have to be education-specific).
Many companies offer internationally recognized TEFL certificates, and while you may need to fork out a little bit of cash, these certifications will award you teaching credibility and open up opportunities to teach and travel abroad.
Not only will earning your TEFL certificate help your prospects of landing that online dream job, but it’ll open up possibilities should you decide to change direction and apply for an in-school position.
Another valuable approach is to complete some short online courses. They’re a great resume booster and serve as an excellent primer for what to expect.
Check out this free course for teaching online from Cambridge Assessment English. This is a great first step if you have no prior teaching experience!
Step 2: Prime Your CV
It’s important to organize and structure your CV for a teaching position as much as possible.
To do so, follow this simple checklist:
- Highlight all relevant skills
- List your education (TEFL and online accreditations)
- Note any language skills (including your native language)
- Make it simple, actionable and have some solid references ready to go
- Add a presentable photo
Check out this great breakdown from the TEFL Academy on how you can optimize your CV for English teaching positions.
It’s also important to focus on any personal skills that directly translate to language teaching.
- Can you explain difficult concepts in a simple and digestible manner?
- Are you patient and intuitive?
- Are you outgoing, flexible and able to manage different personalities and educational needs?
These are the sorts of questions that you should be asking yourself, and they should be reflected in your CV.
Also, try and link past work experiences to highlight these key points wherever possible.
Step 3: Optimize Your Profile
Often, to apply for available online teaching jobs, you’ll be required to set up an online profile. In fact, it’s not uncommon to be required to upload a video where you introduce yourself, talk about your experiences and share some of your teaching methods.
It’s vitally important that you start to think about how you want to market yourself and your services.
At the end of the day, students are looking for results and progress on their language learning journey; otherwise, they wouldn’t be looking for a teacher!
Remember to present yourself clearly and engagingly both in writing and in your introductory video.
Focus on keywords such as:
- Focused and success-driven
If you have any accreditations that can help boost your profile, you can list these as specialist training. Definitely incorporate these into your profile, as they’ll help build your “brand.” There are plenty of different accreditations that you can earn that relate to teaching.
For example, you can take a free course that introduces you to teaching the highly regarded IETLS course to students. This immediately sets you apart from other applicants and teachers, especially on the larger platforms. Find it here and search around for additional opportunities.
Step 4: Check Out Some Traditional Platforms That Accept Teachers Without a Degree
Here we’re going to have a scroll through some popular and lesser-known platforms that accept teachers without bachelors or higher-level degrees. Two things are imperative at this stage.
Firstly, ensure that the platform or organization definitely accepts proposals without a degree.
Secondly, ensure that they’re hiring. You can always shoot off a quick email to check the hiring status of the platform.
Cambly pays a flat rate of $0.17 USD per minute, and everything is automatically tracked. Many users have highlighted the flexibility of the platform as you can log on whenever it suits you and start teaching almost immediately. The conversations are quite free-form, and you can highlight on your profile some of your personal interests to attract like-minded students.
Preply allows you to set your own rate, as well as organize your personal schedule. The average hourly average rate sits at around $20 USD, but Preply takes a percentage cut from each class that you teach. This cut decreases as you increase your teaching hours.
If you have a particular area of interest or any specialized skills, it may be possible to fetch a higher rate. Preply states that the highest earners can earn up to $550 USD per week!
While you won’t need a degree to teach on Lingoda, they have a fairly tight hiring checklist. You’ll be required to hold a certificate to teach your chosen language (TEFL, CELTA, etc.) You’ll also need to be an experienced teacher with a minimum of three years of experience.
They pay anywhere from $8 to $13 USD per hour.
The platform italki has two options for teachers—professional teachers and community teachers.
Professional teachers are required to hold a bachelor’s degree; however, community teachers are only required to be native speakers of the language they teach (some teaching or tutoring experience definitely doesn’t hurt, though).
Community teachers generally assist students with conversational studies and speaking. With italki, you get to set your own rate. They take a commission from each of your classes as compensation for using their platform.
Verbling is very similar to italki in the way that the platform is managed. Their only requirements are that you be a native level speaker and have previous teaching experience.
Verbling takes a 15% commission on your classes, but they allow you to set your own rates.
Fluentella is a relatively new platform that focuses on real and meaningful interactions with their students. Keep an eye on their jobs page as they randomly post available jobs.
Fluentella does require some form of teaching certificate from their teachers.
Skimatalk is quite flexible with their requirements, and while teaching experience is recommended, it’s not required.
On Skimatalk, you’re able to work as few or as many hours as you wish. You can earn an average of about $13 USD per hour.
Step 5: Try These Two Out-of-the-box Approaches
There are many different ways to teach online, and it’s becoming apparent to the savvy teachers and lone-wolfs out there that teaching through an established language tutoring platform might be just the tip of the iceberg. That’s why we’re going to take a look at these two other approaches to securing some online teaching work.
If you’re passionate about becoming a digital English teacher, it’s important to not forget that where there’s a will there’s a way! If the above platforms aren’t panning out for you, you’re just going to have to take things into your own hands, which might be one of the best decisions you’ve ever made!
Approach 1: Lone-wolf Approach
Who says that you have to teach through an online platform anyway?
If you’re motivated, active on social media and well-organized, it’s entirely possible to build a teaching business from scratch.
Not only will this ensure complete autonomy over your outcomes, but it comes with increased rewards.
Here are a few personal tips for taking this approach.
- Consider a niche. Have you ever considered a niche service? If you have a background in a particular business, industry or field, this may be a great starting point. Think about your own background and work experience, and how that could translate into an online teaching business.
Many individuals who are interested in learning English have a very specific reason for wanting to do so. This might be related to the specific industry that they’re involved in, a specific country they dream of traveling to or living in or perhaps they’re planning on attending an English-speaking university to study something specific in the future.
The reasons are endless, and as a future online English teacher, you can take advantage of this diversity. You just have to get creative and utilize your own unique background, interests and skills.
- Flourish on social media. These days, it’s important to have a social media presence in order to promote yourself and your online teaching business. Having a blog and a website definitely doesn’t hurt either! For networking purposes, LinkedIn is valuable, as well. Creating a positive, professional, informative and inviting online presence and brand will only further help you attract clients.
- Get some gear together. Unlike other types of businesses, to teach English online, you actually don’t need too much to get started! To begin, you’ll need a reliable internet connection, a decent set of headphones, a microphone, a Skype account (or whatever communication platform you decide to use), a calendar and a big smile. Take a look at this thorough guide on using Skype, finding materials, searching for clients and more!
Approach 2: Content Production
Teaching online is a very broad concept these days. You don’t necessarily have to be a face-to-face teacher with a student. There are plenty of out-of-the-box opportunities and more creative pursuits that may be more suited to your particular skill base. These are perhaps more indirect opportunities, but ones that still contribute to helping others learn English.
Many education and ed-tech platforms, such as FluentU, sometimes have openings for teachers and language learning content creators.
FluentU is always on the lookout for creative, passionate and dedicated content creators and teachers. Offering both part-time and full-time positions, successful applicants will be given a fantastic opportunity to teach English (and other languages) through blogging and video content creation.
If you’ve got a flair for the creative side of things, then these out-of-the-box opportunities are a great way to build a following and reputation in the online English language teaching world.
Take a look at their “Jobs at FluentU” page to see what positions they’re currently hiring for.
You can also consider other types of opportunities, such as producing English language content on Instagram, TikTok, etc.
Check out this English teacher from Cork named John who has over 145,000 followers!
Many ex-teachers and creative language lovers have also created very lucrative businesses selling English learning materials online. This is a great way to indirectly help others while earning a steady and scalable income.
It’s also a good idea to regularly search through job boards and check out education blogs that might be accepting content pitches.
Sometimes you just have to get creative and do a little digging around!
Hopefully, this post helps you start your teaching English online without a degree success story. Whether you want it to be your full-time job or just a side hustle to save up some money to travel, online teaching is a fantastic way to supplement your income or build up a full-scale education business.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to teach English with real-world videos.