There has never been a better time to teach English online than 2020.  Online tutoring is rapidly becoming more popular, with demand at an all time high of over 1.5 billion global English learners.

In fact, online teaching companies such as VIPKID have reported over 200 times growth in the last 4 years. Even faster growth is expected this year partly due to the COVID-19 lockdowns.

But where is the best place to start? With so much information, it can often be overwhelming. 

Regardless of whether you are brand new to online English teaching, or trying to find a better job, TEFL Associates is here to guide you every step of the way.

Why Should You Teach English Online?

Everyone has their own reasons for teaching English online. Benefits include a flexible schedule, working from home, and making a positive difference in students’ lives.

  • Earn money - either as a side hustle or full time job. Teachers can expect to earn anywhere between $10 - $22 per hour.
  • Work from home - working remotely means saving money and time by not commuting.
  • Freedom to travel - many teachers travel to countries with low costs of living. This allows for a very comfortable lifestyle with the ability to save most of your income.
  • Impact lives - you are making a positive difference to students' lives. Learning English is one of the most valuable skills they can have.

General Teacher Requirements

In January 2019, the Chinese Ministry of Education updated their requirements for online teachers.

TEFL Associates have updated our recommended requirements in order to reflect these new regulations.


  • Teaching Certificate (TESL/TEFL/TESOL/ESL/ESOL/EAL)
  • Bachelor degree (or higher)
  • Native English speaker
  • Computer with webcam and fast internet


  • Teaching experience

Teaching Certificate (TESL/TEFL/TESOL/ESL/ESOL/EAL)


There are different names used for these certificates, but any of the following will be recognized:

  • TEFL - Teaching English as a Foreign Language
  • TESL - Teaching English as a Second Language
  • TESOL - Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages
  • ESL - English as a Second Language
  • ESOL - English to Speakers of Other Languages
  • EAL - English as an Additional Language


In 2020, a teaching certificate is considered essential for online teaching. For many companies it is a legal requirement. 

It is important to remember that there is no official international agency that can licence you to teach English online.

Instead, private organizations accredit TEFL certificates. Be careful, as some of these organizations have low standards, so the quality of courses can vary.

There are a range of courses available to suit everyone’s budgets and time commitments. We have researched the best options for three categories:

  • Best Value Certificate - for those looking for the most affordable option.
  • Best Online Certificate - if you are looking for the highest quality online certification.
  • Best Classroom Certificate - for those who want to attend a local training center and teach in a real classroom.

Best Value Certificate ($119)

The International Open Academy 120 Hour TESOL Certificate is our recommended option if you are on a budget. It is low cost, but still meets the requirements for online English teaching.

  • Internationally accredited and recognized by online schools.
  • Online and self-paced, so you can work from home at your own schedule.
  • Total cost of only $119.

If you use our referral link, you may also be eligible for a TEFL Associates discount.

Best Online Certificate ($308 - $995)

BridgeTEFL has a wide range of highly accredited certificates. The 150 hour International Diploma in English Language Teaching is our recommended certificate if you have a high budget and want the very best quality.

  • Partnered with the University of Northern Colorado and Texas A&M University. You can use this graduate level certificate as college credit towards a diploma or degree.
  • Interactive webinars and a personal tutor. You will get individual feedback and guidance throughout the course.
  • Teaching delivered by M.A. level TESOL instructors.

They also offer some good alternative options if you do not want to commit to a full 150 hour graduate course. These include: 

Best In-Class Certificate ($2,945)

The Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (CELTA) is the most prestigious TEFL certificate available. You will need to travel to a training center to teach in a physical classroom.

  • Accredited by Cambridge, and the most recognized English teaching qualification in the world.
  • 120 hour course. Although there is an option to take some of it online, you will still need to teach in a physical training center to finish your CELTA.
  • Lesson observations and feedback from a Cambridge teacher trainer.

This level of certificate is not needed for online teaching. However, it could be worth considering if you want to teach abroad as a career.

The only equivalent qualification to a CELTA is the CertTESOL from Trinity College London, but it is less well known.

Bachelor's Degree

The vast majority of companies ask for a bachelor’s degree.

Does that mean it’s impossible to get an online teaching job without one? No, but your options are going to be limited to lower paying companies such as Cambly.

Native English Speaker

An essential requirement for most companies is being a native English speaker.

Each company has different guidelines, but generally you are a native speaker if you hold a passport form one of the following countries: USA, UK, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and in some cases South Africa.

Technical Requirements

Due to these jobs being remote, your device needs to meet the technical requirements.

Most companies will do an equipment check during the application process. If you do not pass, you will not be able to continue. This means you may need to upgrade your equipment before applying.

Based on our research, the table below is a typical example of the technical requirements. If you do not know your computer specifications, you can check them using this guide by Windows Central.


Intel i5 or better


4GB or more


HD camera with microphone


Stable, high speed connection

Recommended Equipment

If you do not have a suitable computer or want to upgrade, we recommend this Acer Aspire laptop and Cyber Acoustics headset as an excellent setup for teaching online.

You could also consider one of the few companies that use phone or tablet apps for teaching, such as Palfish.

When using a laptop, we recommend you use a wired connection instead of WiFi. For some companies this is not optional. You may need to buy an ethernet cable for this if you do not already have one.

Prepare your CV/Resume

Free CV/Resume Template

Your CV or resume is one of the most important things to get right. Far too many good potential teachers get rejected before they have a chance to interview!

Want to use a resume template with a proven track record of getting interviews? Send us a message and we will send it to you for free.

Top Tips for Getting an Interview

  • Include a summary that shows nationality, qualifications, teaching experience, and technical specifications. This should be near the top of your resume so it is easy to see. Most recruiters spend less than 30 seconds making a decision, so doing this puts you at a huge advantage!
  • Keep it under 2 pages long (1 is fine). The information from the first bullet point is all you need - everything else is fluff.
  • Include a professional but smiling photograph of yourself. Although this is not recommended for most resumes in the western world, it helps a lot for TEFL jobs.

Apply for Jobs

There is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to finding the right job for you as a teacher. It depends on your qualifications, time commitment, salary expectations, nationality, and personal preferences.

TEFL Associates has helped hundreds of teachers find their perfect online job. We offer free, personalized help so you can save time and get instant access to the best schools in the industry.