8 Reasons Why Teaching English Online is the Best Way to Make Extra Cash While Volunteering Abroad

InterExchange participants at camp InterExchange participants at camp

Are you excited to get going with your adventures volunteering, but concerned about being short on cash? Do you want to learn how you can make extra money to fund travel, cover expenses, or save money for school or student loan payments?

With nearly two billion people learning English worldwide and the explosion of online education, teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) online provides international travelers and volunteers with opportunities to make money just about anywhere in the world. To learn more, here are 8 reasons why teaching English online is the best way to make money while volunteering abroad.

Want the full scoop on how to make money teaching English online? Download this free PDF Guide to Teaching English Online from our Partners at International TEFL Academy!

1. You Can Make Money from Anywhere in the World

1. You Can Make Money from Anywhere in the World

One of the top benefits of teaching English online is that you do it from virtually anywhere on earth, as long as you have a reliable Internet connection. At International TEFL Academy, we have graduates who are living and working abroad to support themselves by teaching English online in Europe, Latin America, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. Of course, you can also teach English from your home country, which means you can make money before and after you go abroad as well. It’s important to note that in most cases, you’ll be teaching English to students who live in different countries (many students are Chinese) from where you may be volunteering, so even if you are in an English-speaking country, you’ll still be able to make money teaching English online.

Another advantage is that as long as you can set up your virtual classroom in a room that is quiet and has a good Internet connection, you can teach English online from virtually any home or office with minimal overhead expenses. Again, this provides the type of flexibility that is nearly impossible to find with any other side job.

2. You Can Make Decent Money

2. You Can Make Decent Money

Most first-time online-English teachers can make $10-$20 an hour (if you are a fluent English speaker with a TEFL certification) and sometimes more, especially as you gain more experience or if you have advanced credentials (like a teaching degree).

To some extent, it will depend on which company you work for, who your students are, and of course how many hours you work each week or month. Typically, a first-timer can easily make $100-$200 a week working 5-10 hours a week (most likely if you are volunteering) or up to $2,000 - $3,000 a month teaching English online as a full-time job.

If you choose to work for an agency that finds/recruits and schedules work for you, then that agency may take a cut of your hourly wage as a finder’s fee for their role in getting you the job. Please research all agencies diligently and steer clear of any companies asking for up-front payments of any sort.

To learn more about what different companies pay first-time online English teachers, check out International TEFL Academy’s Teach English Online Employer Comparison Chart to compare hourly rates of pay in $USD across several different online ESL schools.

3. Flexible Hours Make Teaching English Online the perfect side hustle

3. Flexible Hours Make Teaching English Online the perfect side hustle

Most online education companies and schools that hire for online teaching jobs will hire on a full- or part-time basis. InterExchange’s, Language Homestay program in France, Italy, and Spain is a volunteer commitment of 15 hours per week, giving you plenty of time to teach English online on the side!

What’s more is that you’ll teach students in time zones all over the world, so you’re not limited to working only during specific hours of the day. Want to put those hours from 1 am to 8 am to use? Hey, there are 300 million English learners in China alone looking to improve their English skills.

4. Make a Difference in the Lives of Others

4. Make a Difference in the Lives of Others

Anybody who has taught, coached, or mentored others understands the challenges and satisfaction of teaching and making a difference in the lives of others. It’s a powerful feeling that inspires many of society’s most talented citizens to forego more lucrative opportunities in other fields to pursue a career in education.

The vast majority of students you work with while teaching English online will not just be taking classes for fun or even just to pass a class. For billions of people worldwide, learning English significantly enhances their educational and professional opportunities and empowers them to get better jobs and make a tangible difference in their standard of living. By teaching them, you will be helping them achieve life-changing goals. Now that’s something to feel good about!

5. Unique opportunities to interact with people from cultures around the globe

5. Unique opportunities to interact with people from cultures around the globe

Whether you teach businessmen in the Middle East, school children in China, or university students in Brazil (or mostly likely a combination thereof) teaching English online not only offers a convenient way to make money and pay the bills, but unique opportunities for you to engage with people from all over the globe.

6. Gain Valuable Skills & Experience That Will Boost Your Resume

6. Gain Valuable Skills & Experience That Will Boost Your Resume

Whether or not you pursue a full-time career in education, teaching English online enables you to gain valuable skills and experience that will serve you no matter what career path you choose. You’ll develop communication and organizational skills, and develop your abilities to work and communicate with people from all sorts of cultural, national, and linguistic backgrounds.

In the globalized economy of the 21st century this sort of experience and skill set can go a long way from setting you apart when pursuing other job opportunities or graduate school applications. Are you shy or introverted? Teaching English online provides a perfect opportunity to gain a strong comfort level dealing with and presenting to people you may not know.

7. Demand is nearly endless

7. Demand is nearly endless

According to the British Council, the world’s single largest provider of English language instruction, nearly two billion people will be using and/or learning English by 2020. In China alone, an estimated 300 – 400 million people are learning English. With such a high demand for qualified instruction, teaching English online (and teaching English abroad) provides nearly endless opportunities and a far from saturated job market.

8. You don’t need prior teaching experience or a degree in education

8. You don’t need prior teaching experience or a degree in education

One great aspect of teaching English online is that you don’t need to invest tens of thousands of dollars or years of your life into getting a specialized degree. Whether you graduate with a degree in engineering, English lit, psychology—or any of those liberal arts degrees that people keep telling you will never get you a job—you can make good money teaching English online. In fact, some online teaching companies or students looking to hire a freelance teacher will employ you to teach English online even without a degree at all.

Can I Teach English Online Without Prior Teaching Experience? How Can I Qualify?

Can I Teach English Online Without Prior Teaching Experience? How Can I Qualify?

Yes, you can teach English online without prior teaching experience, or a degree in education, or even a college degree. However, the vast majority of online teaching companies do require an accredited TEFL Certification that will also qualify you for thousands of jobs teaching English abroad both now and in the future.

InterExchange enjoys a longstanding partnership with International TEFL Academy, a world leader in TEFL certification that also provides lifetime job placement assistance to all students both for teaching English abroad generally and teaching English online. Mention InterExchange when you sign up for one of our courses, and you’ll get $50 off your tuition!

To learn more about teaching English online & TEFL certification check out International TEFL Academy to Request More Information.

John Bentley

Guest blogger John Bentley is a Senior Editor at International TEFL Academy, a world leader in TEFL certification for teaching English abroad. A native of Southern California, John is a lifelong traveler who grew up in Cairo, Egypt, and wrote for the Egypt-Israel Edition of the famous Let’s Go! guidebook series during his student days at Harvard. He also holds a Masters in Journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern and currently lives in Vancouver, Washington. When he’s not writing and speaking about teaching English abroad, John loves to cook, drink craft beer and pal around with his golden-chow mix, Trevor.

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