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This post is all about the best online ESL companies to work for.
But it’s not a lame “Best ESL teaching jobs” kind of post that just lists the obvious.
It’s better than that. Because not only will I tell you WHY these are the best companies that hire ESL teachers, I’ll give you some real information you can use, like:
- How much online ESL teachers make with each company.
- The best features of each ESL company.
- What you should consider before applying for one of these companies.
One more thing: All these companies let you work from home because, well, that’s what we’re about.
So, if you’re wondering if teaching English online is worth it, read on.
Criteria for Online ESL Teaching Jobs
Because there are practically thousands of companies that hire people to teach English online to foreigners, here are the criteria I looked at:
- Class / Students: The age of students, the teacher to student ratio and the length of class.
- How you get the work: whether the company or parents viewing your profile set you up with students.
- Platform: How you will teach and communicate with students, peers and parents (if necessary) as well as ease of use.
- Lesson Plan: Whether or not you create the lesson plans.
- Pay: The pay varies among these companies and what you earn is dependent upon the number of classes you teach, how well you teach, and your punctuality.
- Qualifications and Requirements: As far as what you need to become an ESL teacher, you need a set of qualifications like I outlined in this post. As far as requirements, you need at least a Bachelor’s degree; native fluency in English; and, most importantly for many of the popular companies, a TEFL certificate. A lot of companies also look for other specialized training similar to teaching such as coaching or mentoring.
- Contract: The length of the contract, if there is one.
- Commitment: This is the amount of time, or hours, you are required to teach both minimum and maximum.
- Schedule: How your teaching schedule is determined.
I also scanned through some of the most popular job-finding and company-review sites.
What are The Best ESL Companies to Work For ?
VIPKID – Best For Popularity Among Students
VIPKID is one of the most popular online teaching jobs where you’ll be teaching English to Chinese students, mainly children. Having been around since 2013, this company is going strong with over 200,000 students from 300 cities.
In fact, VIPKID has received top-ratings on Glassdoor.com, giving an overall rating of 4.3 stars out of 5 with flexibility as the main positive with this job.
The hiring process is pretty strict, which is a good thing, actually, for students and the quality status of the company. You’ll have to go through an interview and demo lesson process and then demonstrate your teaching skills, time management abilities, and how you’ll elicit complete answers from students.
VIPKID encourages teachers to participate in the “meet-ups” and network with other teachers, a great way to pick up tips for a better teaching experience.
- VIPKID tells us that the pay is $15.00 – $22.00 per hour, but what you earn is actually based on the number of classes taught and earned incentives. Classes last 25 minutes and the pre-class prep and after-class review takes about 5 minutes, making the base pay $7.50 up to $11.00 per class plus incentives.
- Your base pay is based on your credentials and demo lesson performance.
- Incentives may be added, which is tier based, and can increase your earning to $8.30 – $14.20 per class:
- tiers are determined by the total number of classes completed
- you are given an incentive on the current number of classes completed. For example, if you’re a new teacher, you start out in tier 1 with the base pay of $7.50. Your first 20 classes completed earn you an additional $.80 cents per class therefore your pay is $8.30 per class.
The current pay structure can be a bit confusing, but MikeandLauraTravel.com has a well-written post detailing the VIPKID teaching salary. For a quick peek, here’s a look at the 2020 incentive tier schedule:
- Payment via direct deposit between the 10th and 15th of each month.
- You are eligible for a raise if your contract is renewed.
- Classes are 1:1 with Chinese children aged 2-15+ .
- Classes last 25 minutes plus 5 minutes for teachers to leave comments.
- Parents select the teachers so a parent-friendly profile is necessary.
- The platform is Power Point Based.
- They create the lesson plans for you.
- No minimum or maximum required hours.
- Set your schedule weekly, one month in advance, and work as little or much as you want.
- There are pay in deductions if you’re late or don’t show up for a class.
- You are not paid if you don’t have students, but…
- If you have a trial student who’s a no-show, you’re paid 50%.
- You have to be a native English speaker from Canada or the US.
- You do not need to speak Mandarin or Cantonese.
- Bachelor’s Degree and teaching experience is required. No exceptions.
- You must have a solid internet connection. If your internet cuts out for more than 3 minutes your class is cancelled.
- Your schedule must be set one month in advance.
- Contract only lasts for 6 months but can be renewed.
- You need to purchase a headphone.
Here’s my review of VIPKid.
Learn more and sign up with Vipkid
BlingABC – Best Paying ESL Company
BlingABC claims to value their ESL teachers and will give you the necessary training to assure you are confident when beginning your first class. From what I have read, this is one of the main reasons BlingABC is a top-rated ESL company.
Teaching Chinese children, the class sizes can be anywhere from 1 to 24 students, depending on your qualifications and passing of the additional training sessions. And speaking of teaching large groups, there is a pay increase of $6.00 per lesson.
BlingABC uses their own interactive teaching platform which you will be trained on during your orientation time.
- Base rate of $21.00 to $27.00 an hour, depending on your qualifications, up to $51.00 an hour for teachers with exceptional backgrounds and teaching performance.
- Bonuses are available.
- Payment is made via direct deposit on the 10the of each month.
- You’re paid in full for classes that have been canceled within 48 hours.
- There is a variety of class sizes:
- up to 3 students, which meet with teachers at a fixed time, twice per week.
- up to 6 students, meeting on varying days.
- up to 24 students, meeting on varying days.
- Bling ABC creates your lesson plan.
- Classes last approximately 40 minutes.
- Contracts are 6 months long.
- After you’ve signed the service agreement, you’ll need to complete orientation and training sessions.
- You do NOT have to live in China to work for BlingABC
- Classes are scheduled weeks in advance before the start of a term, so only teachers who come on-board early and complete all the required trainings will be prioritized for class scheduling.
- Teachers who apply during the middle of a semester will be put on standby until the next semester with the possibility of working in the capacity of a substitute or demo teacher if conditions are met.
- If your initial application was denied, you can re-apply after 3 months.
- The class sizes can be quite large – up to 24 students.
- A Bachelor’s Degree or above is required.
- TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certification is necessary.
- previous ESL teaching experience, experience teaching children is a plus.
- Native English speakers with neutral accent.
- You need a fast & stable Internet connection.
- Tablets and iPads are not acceptable, only a desktop or laptop can be used.
- You need a webcam and headset.
- Because classes are 40 minutes, the hourly rate is prorated. In other words, your pay is actually $14.00 to $18.00 per lesson…not $21.00 to $27.00 per hour.
Learn more and sign up with BlingABC
QKIDS – Best for Flexibility
QKIDS is another great choice for North American residents with a Bachelor’s degree. They connect 100,000 Chinese students who want to learn English as a foreign language to qualified teachers who want to start their day with cute, smiling children.
Qkids lets you set a flexible schedule, working on their easy-to-use platform, and it appears the staff is very supportive.
In fact, Indeed.com gave QKids a 4.5 out of 5 star rating with work/life balance and overall culture being the top positive factors in this high ranking.
- $16.00 to $20.00 an hour, assuming you teach 2 25-minute classes in an hour. The base pay is $8.00 per class with the possibility $1.00 performance and $1.00 attendance incentive per class.
- Classes consist of children ages 5-12 years.
- You are also paid $4.00 for standby lessons (which, according to QKids, is approximately 10 minutes with no teaching required).
- Each class lasts only 30 minutes.
- Qkids book students for you so you don’t have to cater to parents.
- Their platform is easy to use.
- They create the lesson plans for you.
- Flexible contract term but you have to commit to your schedule.
- You’re paid even if no students.
- You can work at least 6 hours a week up to 19 hours a week.
- Choose your schedule once and commit to it.
- You will teach up to 4 students per class.
- Only North American residents can be teachers.
- You must have a Bachelor’s degree or are currently enrolled in a university program.
- Teaching license or English teaching certificate (TESOL, TEFL, CELTA, ESL) required before lessons are assigned.
- This is considered a part-time teaching gig.
- You need to have a headset with a microphone.
- They prefer you have a cable internet connection.
Learn more and sign up with QKids
SayABC – Best for Team Support
SayABC is one of the highest rated ESL companies to work for, claiming a 3.5 out of 5 star rating on Glassdoor. In fact, 68% of people who work for SayABC say they would recommend them to a friend.
As an ESL teacher for SayABC, you’ll teach small groups of Chinese students between the ages of 5 and 12 enhance their English language skills.
The application process consists of 4 steps:
- You sign up.
- Go through either a live or recorded interview, lasting about 30 minutes and includes a demo class.
- Do the evaluation class to see if you’re a good fit.
- If accepted as a teacher, sign the agreement.
- The pay is up to $19.00 to teach a 40 minute class.
- You will receive a base pay of $13.00 – $15.00 with a $4.00 incentive based on your attendance and productivity.
- You can also earn an additional $7.00 for a class if you’re asked to teach with less than 24 hours notice.
- Another incentive: for teaching students who are trying-out SayABC, you will receive a $7.00. bonus is they sign up with the company.
- All teaching materials are created by SayABC.
- You can review the teaching materials prior to class time.
- You do not have to communicate with parents, SayABC will do that on your behalf.
- SayABC has their own platform to communicate with students.
- You need at least a Bachelor’s degree.
- Contracts are 3 months long and may be renewed.
- You have to contact SayABC at least 2 weeks in advance if you want to take time off within your contract.
- There are 3 class types:
- Major class, where you help students develop good study habits.
- Trial classes, where you provide students with a good experience as a means to showcase the platform, and
- Emergency classes, where you substitute for another teacher.
- If teaching the Major class, you will have the same students twice per week. Trial classes have different students for each class.
You can schedule to work every day of the week, from 9:50 a.m. to 8:50 p.m. as indicated in this schedule chart from the SayABC website:
Learn more and sign up with SayABC
GoGoKid – Best for Easy-to-use Platform
Although GoGoKid is a newer ESL company, it’s quickly gaining on the others. In fact, I’ve had a few VIPKid teachers tell me they switched over to GoGoKid.
As a teacher, you’ll be an Independent Contractor paid a base wage as well as a salary boost based on their credit score system. In other words, you earn $7.00 – $10.00 per 30 minute class slot PLUS up to an additional 125% of your base pay. So, the better a teacher you are, the more you make.
Some of the things that affect your credit score are:
– Your credentials
– Frequency of teaching
– If you miss a class
– If you’re late for a class
– Your reviews
– Your score may go down if you go a week without booking a class
- $14.00 to $25.00 an hour; $7.00 to $12.50 per class slot.
- Each class lasts 25 minutes, however, they are considered 30 minute slots to allow for review and prep.
- Classes are 1:1 to Chinese children of all ages.
- GoGoKid provides your lesson plans.
- Their platform is easy to use, which works best on Chrome.
- They have an Performance Guide you can review prior to applying for a position.
- You can review the class ‘slides’ prior to class time.
- You set your own schedule with no minimum hours required.
- You need a Bachelor’s degree.
- GoGoKid is a new-ish company so they’re still going through technical growing pains.
- All classes are booked at least 24 hours in advance – no last-minute bookings, therefore if you have free time, you can’t take a last-minute student.
- Contracts are for 6 months and subject to review.
- The best times to have booked classes are 7-9pm on weekdays and 9am-9pm on weekends.
Learn more and sign up with GoGoKid
MAGIC EARS – Best for Interview Process
Magic Ears has only been around since 2016 but they are quickly become one of the most popular ESL portals among Chinese students, making them one of the best ESL companies to work for.
Just like these teachers tell us:
The interview process is relatively quick, lasting only about 15-20 minutes. Although it’s short, it’s still vigorous. So, if you want some insider tips to pass the interview and start your new career as an ESL teacher with Magic Ears, I encourage you to take a look at this video:
- Teachers are given feedback on a regular basis with encouragement to continue to grow with the company.
- Pay is $18.00 – $25.00 per hour.
- You will teach Chinese Children aged 4-12 years.
- Classes last 25 minutes with 5 minute student evaluation.
- Magic Ears assigns students to teachers.
- You will use their platform.
- Lessons are created for you.
- Class size can consist of up to 4 students.
- You have to be a native English Speaker from USA or Canada with a Bachelor’s degree.
- 6 month contract.
- You are expected to work a minimum of 5 hours per week.
Learn more and sign up with Magic Ears
DaDa – Best for 1:1 Classes
DaDa is a one-on-one English education platform for students between the ages of 4 and 16. They want teachers who are native English speakers to help each student improve their daily conversational skills, expand their vocabulary, and build their confidence to communicate with others in English.
Here are 3 of the best things about DaDa:
- You teach the same students therefore building a rapport and really getting to know your students.
- The teacher platform is similar to Skype with a guided lesson plan, making it easier for you as a teacher.
- DaDa has an active Facebook community of teachers who share stories and tips.
And the pay is pretty good, too. One of the best, in fact. Based on your performance and demo, you can make up to $25.00 an hour with bonuses !
- You are paid up to $25.00 an hour.
- Teach 1:1 with Chinese Children aged 4-16 years.
- Classes last 30 minutes (some exceptions).
- Parents select the teachers but DaDaABC fills your schedule.
- You will use their platform.
- They create the lesson plans for you.
- 6 – 12 month contract.
- You can work a minimum of 2 hours a day and 2 days a week, no maximum.
- Teachers average 15 hours a week.
- You let them know your available hours and they select the times you work.
- This is a part-time teaching job.
- You need a headset with a microphone.
Learn more and sign up with DaDa
ITALKI – Best for Teaching Options
Italki is an interesting twist to the ESL world and a bit different from the other companies I listed above. You won’t be teaching English to Chinese students, instead, you apply to teach your native speaking language…which may or may not be English.
You’ll set your own rates, schedule, and lessons, which are taught via Skype, Facetime, Hangouts, or QQ.
Another twist to iTalki is their characterization of teachers:
– A professional teacher, if you have a teaching degree, or
– A community teacher where you just need experience leading children (youth minister, coach).
And how much you earn depends on what kind of teacher your are, as this iTalki explains:
- You set your own fee.
- There are two levels of teachers: Professional and Community.
- Professional Teachers charge an average of $25.00 an hour and Community Teachers charge on average $12.00 an hour.
- Classes are 1-on-1 and you teach any language you’re fluent in.
- You students may be children or adults.
- Students / parents select their teachers so your profile has to cater to them (consider how your profile looks to them and create it in a way that represents your best YOU).
- You will teach via Skype, Facetime, Google Hangouts or QQ.
- You set your own schedule.
- You have to create the lesson plans.
- italki will take 15% commission of your completed lessons.
- You can be one of their two types of teachers: Professional Teacher, where a teaching degree is required, and Community Teacher where you just need experience leading children (minister, coach…).
- No contract.
- No minimum or maximum required hours.
Learn more and sign up with italki
Which ESL Company Pays The Most ?
Looking at the best ESL companies I just outlined, here’s an overview of what they pay (up to $27.00 and hour !):
#1 BlingABC: $21.00 – $27.00 an hour
#2 GoGoKid: $14.00 – $25.00 an hour
#3 Magic Ears: $18.00 – $25.00 an hour
#4 iTalki: Up to $25.00 an hour
#5 DaDa: Up to $25.00 an hour
#6 VIPKid: $15.00 – $22.00 an hour
#7 QKids: $16.00 – $20.00 an hour
#8 SayABC: Up to $19.00 an hour
Each company has their own starting pay and how much you start earning depends on how well you perform in your demo class. Your earnings increase with bonuses and incentives based on overall performance, student retention, punctuality, and rapport with your students.
So now that you know the best ESL companies to work for, let’s answer this question:
Is It Worth Teaching English Online ?
Based strictly on the pay of each of these companies, it definitely is worth teaching English online, especially if you’re working for one of the higher-payers and have a solid reputation with your students (and their parents if you’re teaching children).
So let’s talk a bit about the pros and cons:
PROs of being an ESL teacher:
- The pay is more than just supplemental income and is REAL.
- You can work from anywhere and is a great job if you want to travel.
- You don’t need to know your student’s primary language.
- There is usually some flexibility in setting your schedule.
- For the most part you don’t have to create lesson plans.
CONs of being an ESL teacher:
- You may run into technical issues so you absolutely need a good internet connection.
- You may work late nights or early mornings, which translate to local time for your students.
- Classes are not full hours so it may be difficult to time the ending of each session just right.
- Back-to-back classes can become stressful because of the short time to prepare between lessons.
Personally, I think the pros outweigh the cons. So yes, teaching ESL online is worth it.
How To Pick The Best ESL Job For You
To pick the best job for you, consider these things:
– Popularity. The more well-known a company is, the more opportunities you have to book classes
– The pay. You want a job with a company that pays you well for your time.
– Flexibility. The company that offers the right amount of flexibility for your personal situation is what you want to look for.
– Support. It’s important to have support from other teachers as well as the company.
– Platform. The platform is the bones of the ESL program and it has to be user friendly for you as the teacher AND your students.
– Interview process. Some companies have a very rigorous interview process and some are a bit easier to get through.
– Class size. Do you want to teach one student per class or multiple students ?
– Teaching options. Consider the options each company offers as far as the different ‘types’ of teachers needed.
Wrapping It Up:
If this post successfully helped you figure out which ESL company you should work for, then I say “go for it”. It’s such a rewarding way to make money, especially when your students shine.
VIPKID – best for popularity among students
Bling ABC – best paying ESL company
QKids – best for flexability
Say ABC – best support
GoGo Kid – best platform
Magic Ears – best interview process
DaDa – best for 1:1 class
iTalki – best for options
And as a little bonus to help you get going, here are a few resources to set you up for success:
You need to correct some of the things you posted about VIPKid that might be important to those shopping ESL companies.
Your base pay stays the same now no matter how long you are with them. They have gotten rid of base pay raise opportunities with the new restructured fee tier system. People should definitely read the latest reviews on Glassdoor about this. Every single one of us teachers are now earning less then when we started. It’s important to understand your pay is never guaranteed beyond your current contract. What you earn now, or less, is what you will earn for the duration of your time with them.
You do not, nor have you ever had to commit to a full month’s worth of set times. In fact, you don’t have to commit to set times at all. However, the booking window is set up so that parents can book on Mondays for the following week. For example on Monday June 8th, parents can start booking for the week of June 15-21. They cannot book further out than that week. It’s up to you if you want to open up your slots for that week or not and you can definitely close and open as needed as long as they aren’t booked. I’ve been with them for over four years and have never had to commit to a schedule.
Hope this helps.
Thank you for the additional information about VIPKid, Rachel. I appreciate it.
I plan on doing a re-write soon…with pay structure clarification.