There are a lot of online teaching jobs available to teachers, former teachers and even those with just a bachelor's degree to make money online while putting their experience and love for kids to great use. If you’re one of these awesome people looking for an online job, here are some great ideas to get you started.
If you enjoy working with children, you’ve probably entertained the idea of becoming an online teacher or tutor. When you combine your passion for a subject, your ability to present complex information in digestible chunks, and the benefits of working from home, this can be a dream job.
Online teaching isn’t right for everyone, but is it a good fit for you? Let’s look closer at these stay at home jobs.
(Already know you're cut out for teaching online? Skip straight to the list of online teaching companies below)
Types of Online Teaching Jobs
Online teaching covers many different positions. They each have different requirements and expectations. However, the ultimate goal of each of them is to present information to students.
Here are some common online teaching opportunities:
- Teaching English online as a second language
- Tutoring K-12 or college students in a specific subject or subjects
- Creating and teaching an online course for adult learners
- Working from home as a teacher from an established online school
- Teaching remote college classes from home
- Starting your own tutoring business
As advances in technology continue, the availability of online teaching jobs continues to soar. It’s now possible for students to attend online classes for each grade K-12. Online college options are also increasing. Additionally, many students need a bit of extra help to keep up with their schoolwork, particularly in reading and math. These students often require tutoring.
While face-to-face tutoring used to be the norm, online options are becoming more desirable. Accessing virtual services allow students to get help when they need it, at a time that’s convenient.
Opportunities Available If You’re Still Teaching
Whether you want to put your summer break to work or you want to build up a side income to pad your paychecks all year, ad hoc online work opportunities are a great opportunity for you. Don’t just stop reading in this section, though — there might be other opportunities that you’ll want to explore in the other parts of this post.
- Teaching online. The most obvious place to start is with your own employer. If your school or school system offers online classes as an alternative form of education, see what the opportunity is there for teachers. You may be able to pick up an extra class or two in your expertise without picking up the responsibility of an additional classroom. It’s not always feasible to teach both offline and offline for your school, but it’s worth looking into!
- Tutoring online. Online tutoring websites offer flexible hours and let you determine your own workload. Whether you want to tutor for three hours every evening or simply pick up a few tutoring sessions per week, online tutoring is a great fit. You can also ramp up your hours over the summer to help students catch up or even get ahead. (See the list of online teaching companies below.)
- Test prep. Similar to tutoring, teaching test prep classes to help students prepare for their standardized testing not only helps children achieve their dreams, but it brings in some extra income for you without requiring huge amounts of planning and grading. Kaplan is the biggest name in test prep, but look into smaller local and regional organizations that also offer prep classes, or hang your own shingle!
- Test scoring. If the idea of doing more grading doesn’t make you want to run for the hills, consider picking up some scoring work. Programs like the Advanced Placement Program, Praxis, the GRE, and TOEFL all hire test scorers to evaluate written and spoken answers and essays.
If You’re Not Teaching Anymore
Not everyone is destined to stay in the classroom forever. Many teachers leave education entirely, finding new work that uses their knowledge and experience in other ways. I know several people who have made the jump from teaching to becoming copywriters and marketers, for example.
While there’s no limit to what you can do when you’re no longer teaching, there are a few options for people who want to somehow remain in the educational universe without actually being in a school. These are a few ideas and opportunities for you.
- Instructional design. Broadly defined, instructional design is the creation of any type of “instructional experience.” You’re basically writing the coursework for any given topic. It can be putting together a course in remedial math to offer to the elementary street down the school, and it could be an employee training for the mega-corporation whose headquarters is across the country. Instructional design is great for teachers who enjoy teaching itself but aren’t interested in overcoming the challenges posed by the classroom. Having a teaching background will give you a big leg up when you start looking for instructional design work.
Sites like Study.com, StraighterLine and Shmoop are places that pay freelancers to put together lessons, tests, tutorials, and documents to help students through their coursework. If you want to keep teaching what you teach but do it in a different environment, these websites could be a great place for you to get started with online instructional design. And who knows — you may find that you qualify for a staff position at one of those sites, too!
- Test development. If you’re interested in putting together future SAT exams, check out the employment opportunities with Pearson. If you have classroom experience but are looking for something else, you can work for Pearson doing anything from question development to graphic design.
- Teachers Pay Teachers. The TPT website is an enormous collection of free and paid resources for teachers, by teachers. If you’re no longer going to use your lesson plans but you still think they’re great, you can upload them to TPT and start getting paid for them. It might not be the path to replacing your teaching salary, but it could build up a decent income stream, especially if you’re strategic with your descriptions and promotion.
Education Writing Opportunities
As you probably know by now, I’m a huge fan of freelance writing. It’s something you can do on the side or really build into a full-time income. You manage your own workload so you can pick up work when you want it and cut back when you don’t have the spare time. And because you’re a teacher with skills, experience, and likely some certifications, you’re poised to be able to command higher rates than the average beginner.
No matter where you are in your teaching journey, there are freelance writing opportunities. In addition to the ones discussed in the sections above, here are a few sites that regularly pay teachers for freelance writing:
Don’t dismiss freelance writing even if you don’t consider yourself a writing teacher. It’s a wonderful way to have a lasting impact on students not just tomorrow, but for years to come.
Requirements for Online Teachers
As an online teacher, you will need a solid high-speed internet connection. You’ll often need to screen share and communicate with students via video. Slow internet makes these tasks impossible.
You’ll also need a solid computer for your work that has the memory needed to use multiple tabs at the same time.
Since you have access to confidential records, you need to pay attention to your online security. Many companies will have a list of precautions you need to take to protect your students’ confidentiality.
Some companies require you to speak with students over the telephone. If yours does, it helps to have a dedicated phone line. That way you can have your voicemail message set up professionally with the name your students call you. You can also shut off the phone so it’s not ringing at all hours of the night.
If a dedicated phone line isn’t required, you might still want to set up a (free) phone number using Google Voice or a similar service. These calls can be set up to connect to your regular phone, and you can even receive text messages to that number on your phone if you want.
The type of employment you have as an online teacher depends on your role. If you’re working for a virtual school, you’ll likely be an employee with benefits. Working for a college, you’ll be an adjunct professor and may qualify for benefits after a probation period.
Most online tutoring positions are freelance, so you are a contract worker instead of an employee. You need to know which type of employee you are, so you make sure to meet the tax requirements and set up your bookkeeping appropriately.
How Flexible Are the Hours for Online Teachers?
As an online teacher, you will likely have a set schedule. This is especially true if you’re working as a contractor for an established company or teaching for a school. Some positions will require you to be available during certain hours. For many tutors in traditional subjects, that's evenings here in the U.S. For those teaching English as a second language, your availability may need to be early morning hours as you are working with children on the other side of the globe.
Some online tutoring positions typically allow you more flexibility. You may be able to set your schedule based on what works for you. With some companies you’ll be able to change this often, others will require you to stay locked into this schedule for the school year.
Training and Degrees for Online Teaching Jobs
To teach, you must be proficient in the subjects you are teaching. You also need to know how to effectively present material to your students. The most common way to prove proficiency for a teaching position is with a state-issued teaching certificate. Many online teaching jobs require you to hold valid credentials in one or more subject areas. Some positions, typically when working for a college, require you to have an advanced degree in a related subject area.
Other companies, English-as-a-Second Language companies specifically, will accept any bachelor’s degree in lieu of a teaching certificate, as long as you have experience working with children. There are also some online tutoring positions available that you won’t need a degree to apply for. However, you will usually need to take a proficiency exam to prove that you know the material well enough to teach.
Experience plays a large role in proving that you’re qualified for a position. You may need to provide letters of recommendation for former colleagues or principals. If you haven’t taught before, you will need letters of recommendation from anyone who can vouch for your teaching skills. This could be a pastor if you taught Sunday School, the head of an organization if you volunteered to tutor kids in the past, or anyone else who is not related to you, who can speak to your abilities.
To protect the children, you will also need to pass a background check before becoming an online teacher. Most companies have the required form as part of their application material. Once you’ve accepted a position, you may need to go to your local police station to submit your fingerprints for further checks.
If you’re working as a teacher, you also will need to maintain your state credentials. The requirements for this vary from state to state but could include taking 15 college credits every five years or earning a certain number of clock hours.
What Questions Might Come Up in an Online Teaching Interview?
Your education, background, and experience will all be covered in an interview for an online teaching position. There will also be questions related to your temperament and teaching style. Many questions will be scenario style, where you’re asked what you would do if a certain event happened. You can expect questions such as:
- What would you do if your student just isn’t understanding the material?
- Tell us about a time you resolved conflict with an irate parent.
- What are your strengths/weaknesses as a teacher?
- How would you ensure that all students are learning?
- What would you do if a student became disrespectful or out of control?
- What experience do you have in this subject?
- Why are you a good fit for this position?
- What would you do if the curriculum was too easy for one of your students?
It would be wise to expect subject specific questions as well. For instance, if you’re applying to teach math, there will likely be math questions, or questions about classroom management for a math class for you to answer. Typically, these subject-specific questions are given in the form of a written test.
There are a few ways to find online teaching jobs, and the type of work you desire will determine where you should look for positions. If you want to teach in a virtual school or for a college, you can go directly to the school’s website. Once there, look for a Human Resources or Employment tab. Open positions should be listed, along with the application materials you need. Some online schools house their open positions on a local state school’s website, so don’t give up if you don’t immediately find what you’re looking for. Google “virtual school in [your state]” and see what comes up.
If online tutoring is more your style, you can apply directly with tutoring companies. There are plenty of them out there. You check for reviews on a site like Glassdoor before applying. A few companies known for hiring tutors and teachers:
Teaching English as a Second Language
Traditional Tutoring and Teaching
- Elevate Learning
- Connections Academy
You can also look on Craigslist for tutoring opportunities. Some parents will post their requests directly on there to avoid paying large fees to an established company. However, if you work directly for the parents, you won’t have access to any tutoring materials a company would provide. You will also have to deal with tracking down payments from parents directly.
Occasionally these online teaching positions will get posted to general job boards such as FlexJobs or Indeed, especially in the late spring and early summer, when schools are trying to get their rosters figured out for the upcoming school year. You may find a couple of positions in the fall as well, to cover last minute resignations.
Is Online Teaching a Career?
Some online teaching positions are long-term and can definitely be a career. Others are freelance, or short-term, and won’t replace a full-time income. If you work as a teacher for an established virtual school, you may even have retirement benefits, so you won’t have to work forever.
Sometimes teachers switch to an online role while their own children are in the house. Then they plan on returning to the classroom once their kids are all in school. In this case, online teaching can help you maintain your seniority and continue to qualify for experience jumps on the pay scale.
Your salary as an online teacher varies greatly from location to location and is also dependent on what you’re doing. A virtual tutor is typically going to earn about $10-20 an hour.
Working as a teacher for a state-specific virtual school means you’ll be at the proper place on the school’s salary scale as determined by education level and experience. Many starting teachers earn $34,000 a year, and that number continues to go up as you gain experience and take additional coursework.
There are some national virtual schools as well. Some of these are private schools and others are public. Each will have their own pre-determined pay scale.
If you decide that teaching isn’t what you want to do forever, your experience will still be valuable. You can transition into school leadership, curriculum writing, or online course designing. You will have gained organization and communication skills that transfer well to many different fields. Online teaching can prepare you for a future career or can be your career. It’s all up to you!
Originally published Dec 20, 2016. Updated June 15, 2018.