Teaching online is a relatively accessible job to a lot of people but is it easy for everyone to find decent work and receive decent pay? It depends what your notion of ‘decent’ is, but in general, there are certain things that will make it harder for you to be hired in the industry at a decent rate per hour and this is what I am going to discuss here.
I would like to mention before going into this, that this is not meant to inhibit you going out there and becoming an online ESL teacher! Please, by all means, do it! It is great and I am here to inspire everyone who wants to do it, to give it go. Nevertheless, it is best to make yourself aware of what sorts of things may make it ‘harder’ to find a job (Note: the word harder, not impossible)
Let’s jump right in, shall we?
This is hugely important. Especially for the Asian companies (Like China the powerhouse of E-learning) So why is it such a big deal? Well, the students and the parents of the students want to learn from native English speakers from the USA/UK because they want to adopt US/UK English accents. They want to be speaking like an “English” speaker from ‘native English' speaking countries. So as a result, the companies need to hire teachers that appeal to their students, because it’s a business after all right? If you have a thick accent it may inhibit you in getting hired by some companies. You may be thinking: How do they know my accent? They will ask you for a self-introduction video and that is entirely to showcase how you speak. Here’s a little sneaky tip: Getting hired to teach adults may be a bit easier to find, as they are less strict with accents based on the premise that adults are less likely to adopt accents then children.
Your nationality plays a big part in whether you find getting hired easy or not and even determines, to a large extent, how much you are paid. If you come from USA or Canada then you are ultimately the best off. If you are from UK/AUS/NZ/IRE then you are well off too because those are inherently known as ‘native speaking’ countries. If you are from South Africa, it can be a bit tougher but still, there are hundreds of companies out there that you can apply too! If you are any non-native English speaker with a desire to teach English online, there are companies that will hire you, so don’t be disheartened!
Sadly, some companies out there do have some form of ageism in their policies. This is nothing to be proud of and doesn’t really sound very appropriate or make sense, but it exists. There are companies that want teachers under 50 years old. These are normally the companies that are looking for K-12 teachers, in other words, they want younger more energetic and enthusiastic teachers in that program. Another aspect of the age policy is based on the fact that the older generation can be generally less ‘technologically inclined’. This proves to be a problem when wanting to teach online because of the mere fact that you need to be computer savvy and quick to learn new software and platforms. I mean it makes sense, right? If you want to work online with computers all day then surely you need to have some tech-skills. Some companies are willing to give you a demo opportunity in order to see your skills when using their platform, if you nail this then you should be good to go.
#4 Lack of experience in any form of teaching.
This is quite an obvious thing that would inhibit you to find a ‘teaching job’. Are you likely to find any job easily with no experience in the field? No, not really. So, it does help to have some teaching experience under your belt. If you have no formal experience then try to think about other avenues that exercise teaching skills such as tutoring, coaching, mentoring, training. It is possible to be hired with no teaching experience but then you have to show you know what you are doing. Doing an actual online English teaching course like my Jump Start mentoring program is designed to make you a good English teacher, regardless of your experience or not :)
#5 Having no ESL certification or lack of documents to prove.(TEFL/Diploma/Bachelors certification)
Documentation is important. Primarily because they want proof that you actually have the things you say you have. Most online ESL schools will ask for a copy of your TEFL certification, your bachelor’s degree or any diploma. If you don’t have copies of these certificates you could run into problems somewhere down the line in the hiring process. Here’s a tip, if you are physically missing any of these documents and you are serious about finding a job, I’d suggest you start the process of getting the hard copy/digital copies of these documents now.
These are 5 core things that may cause some hurdles in you securing a great online English teaching job. Of course, there are hundreds of companies out there to have a potential chance to work with. However, if you are finding it hard to get hired, it could likely be the above things that are causing this.
How to minimize these hurdles?
- Record your self-introduction video in a professional way that showcases a neutral, easy to understand and clear accent.
- Apply to companies that are hiring from your nationality. Avoid all companies that you don't meet the minimum requirements for.
- If you are slightly older and are not so comfortable with technology. I would suggest doing a little computer course, or simply practicing with the computer and learning how internet works, and how to navigate programs with ease. Get someone to show you the ropes;)
- If you have a lack of experience, then go and volunteer and teach somewhere or pick up some tutoring to give yourself a taste of teaching. Perhaps, this will make you realize if it's the kind of work for you to be doing to begin with. Experience is good for your resume, but also for yourself to see if you actually like teaching or not.
- If you aren't TEFL certified, then get your TEFL certification. This will open doors for you! If you don't have hard copies/digital copies of all your certification then start working on getting those.
Last but not least, don’t lose hope, if you want this enough you will get it. The power of positive thought and perseverance is key! Do what you can to minimize these hurdles, and forge ahead.
If you need to get the ball rolling and would love a little guidance on how to do that, click here to download my FREE cheat sheet on HOW TO START: The First Four Steps to Becoming an Online ESL Teacher. Let's get moving!