The 7 Best Online Teaching Jobs of 2021
- Best for ESL Teachers: VIPKID
- Best Runner-Up: DaDa
- Best Variety: Instructional Connections
- Best for K-12: K12
- Best for College Teaching: Pearson
- Best for Continuing Education and Specialties: Kaplan
- Best for Field Experience: American Public University System
Between current events and the ever-present shift in technology, online teaching jobs are more popular than ever. For instructors looking to tackle some online work, though, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the potential job listings. And, it's not uncommon to just get stuck looking at the same type of job post over and over again. We’ve done the research and put together some recommendations for you. Here are the best online teaching jobs, broken down into a few categories.
Best for ESL Teachers: VIPKID
Based in Beijing, VIPKID is among the most popular and well-established online companies for ESL teachers. It offers English immersion for Chinese students, so even if you don’t speak a word of any Chinese language, you’re eligible to teach with them.
The system is straightforward and easy to use: Teachers sign up, and once they’ve been approved (the company does require a bachelor’s degree and prefers some prior teaching or tutoring experience), students can book them for classes during the availability they've chosen. There’s plenty of flexibility in terms of teaching and payment schedule, so it’s a great option for ESL teachers looking to pick up a side hustle or work flexible hours.
One of the biggest advantages for VIPKID teachers is the company’s prepared lessons. If you prefer to make your own, this company might not be for you, but it does mean teachers don’t have to spend hours doing lesson prep.
VIPKID’s rates are competitive, along with other top ESL online programs. And, unlike some companies, its rates are pretty transparent before sign-up: Base pay is roughly $7 to $9 per 25-minute class (working out to just over about $14 to $18 per hour), and there are a variety of bonuses available for extra teaching, referrals, and more.
Best Runner-Up: DaDa
DaDa is the first China-based company to partner with the American TESOL Institute, and its website makes it clear that its standards are high: Only 3% of applicants are accepted after initial training.
For top-notch ESL teachers—especially those with qualifications like TESOL or TEFL—DaDa may be the kind of selective company that’s just right. It’s a serious gig for serious teachers. The proof is in the partnerships: DaDa has not only partnered with the American TESOL Institute, but also major brands like Highlights and National Geographic.
DaDa’s instructional format is one-on-one tutoring, so instructors who prefer individual lessons over group classes are likely to fit in well. Although scheduling can be flexible, the company does require teachers to work at least 10 hours per month, but it does help to guarantee bookings to get you there.
The pay scale ranges from about $13 to $23, with the possibility of bonuses based on performance, referrals, sign-ups, and more; raises are also a possibility with contract renewals. The company has positions for teachers at all learning levels, for students from elementary school through high school.
Best Variety: Instructional Connections
You don’t necessarily have to have a Ph.D. to work with college students through Instructional Connections. It’s a slightly different kind of teaching opportunity that means partnering with universities and colleges to provide support for faculty and students alike.
Instead of creating and being fully responsible for their own classes, teachers are assigned to assist with existing courses, under titles like Academic Coach or Instructional Associate. The focus for these teachers is on improving the educational experience, rather than the actual course development.
For instructors looking for more traditional teaching opportunities that just happen to be online, this probably isn’t the best job option. This isn’t to say, however, that these jobs are for lower-qualified applicants: a master’s degree is required for most positions, and many of these instructors are the primary contact for students, dealing with grades, student questions, and more.
Fields of study include higher education, nursing, business, natural sciences, political science, and computer science, both at undergraduate and graduate levels. Teachers looking to tackle a slightly different model of work might find the jobs here to be just the right fit.
Rates depend on what kind of role is being pursued.
Best for K-12 Teachers: K12
K12 is one of the most popular companies, providing online education for elementary through high school students in the U.S. With a range of subjects and grade levels, the company essentially serves as an alternative to traditional, in-person schools.
Students from a variety of backgrounds may enroll in K12’s classes: homeschooled students, children of military families, students looking to do advanced or career-specific coursework, or kids who travel for work or activities, such as acting or sports.
The company offers ongoing training to keep its teachers up to date on the latest information, technology, and teaching strategies. In many ways, the K12 structure imitates a traditional classroom experience online.
Rather than doing one-on-one tutoring, teachers are able to utilize online classrooms to meet with students, present lectures, pose and answer questions, and even form breakout groups for students to work together or independently.
Parent-teacher communication is similarly remote, conducted via email, which can be helpful for maintaining paper records of student and parent needs over time. It’s a modern remote teaching experience without too many frills. Prospective teachers will need to contact K12 regarding pay.
Best for College Teaching: Pearson
Yes, we’re talking about that Pearson, the company that published some of the textbooks you used throughout your years as a student.
The education giant has partnerships and programs that include actual work with students, particularly at the college level. In terms of teaching jobs, Pearson tends to have several openings at once for different subjects, often under the title of "course facilitator."
These instructors are responsible for overseeing three-credit, undergraduate-level courses in subjects such as math, sociology, computer science, and more, functioning as remote instructors who grade assignments, present lectures, and answer student questions.
For teachers who aren’t necessarily looking to run full-fledged courses right now, there are also “tutor” positions open, ranging from writing tutors to subject-specific tutors in math and finance, for instance. Pay varies depending on the position.
These roles are more for instructors who have college-level teaching experience, along with strong practical experience in the field of study. But, if you meet those qualifications, a remote tutoring position allows you to work with students and help them succeed without having to develop lesson plans or grade assignments.
Best for Continuing Education and Specialties: Kaplan
As one of the biggest names in test prep, you’ve definitely heard of Kaplan. But, did you know it also has jobs geared at more straightforward teaching and tutoring?
Kaplan’s instructors help students with one-on-one tutoring, as well as more structured classes. Whether you’re a teacher with experience tutoring students for standardized tests or you have specialized, career-focused knowledge and experience, there's a remote teaching job for you under the Kaplan umbrella.
Many of Kaplan’s course offerings are targeted at specific goals, whether that’s a standardized test, an entrance exam, or some sort of professional licensing or certificate (although there are a few more general options as well, as well as a partner university, Purdue University Global).
As a result, the teaching positions often require professional experience, licenses, or similar qualifications. Teaching degrees aren’t necessarily required for many of the roles, but for the most part, job requirements include a degree in a related area, a professional license where appropriate (i.e. for accounting or medical classes), and education experience of some kind.
Pay varies depending on the role.
Best for Field Experience: American Public University System
The American Public University System, comprised of American Public University and American Military University, offers remote education for continuing learners who are not necessarily traditional, post-high-school students.
The system hires faculty for either fully remote or partially remote positions, mostly in career-focused fields such as health care, government and public policy, hospitality, tech, and more. Although it’s largely targeted at military students, other continuing and returning learners may enroll as well, so teachers are likely to have a diverse group of student backgrounds.
The requirements for many of the teaching posts with APUS are on par with other university postings. In other words, a bachelor’s degree won’t do it—they’re looking for instructors with master’s degrees or Ph.D.s for most positions.
Field experience is a bonus, as these classes tend to be focused on preparing students for practical careers. Part-time and full-time faculty members are expected to prepare and teach their own curriculum, grade assignments, and facilitate online discussions. While a few fields require some in-person work, there are plenty of options for remote-only teaching.
How We Chose the Best Online Teaching Jobs
In order to present options for as many job seekers as possible, the picks above represent a broad cross-section of potential teaching jobs. We’ve defined "teachers" very broadly, including college instructors and professional/continuing education, along with more traditional online teaching roles for K-12 or ESL instructors. Because online teaching often requires slightly different strengths than in-person instruction, we’re hoping this makes it a little less intimidating for teachers who perhaps don’t have the same traditional experience.
Still, we’ve ensured that most of our recommendations are chosen from the best and most reputable companies in the online teaching space. Major companies like Pearson, Kaplan, and K12 are among our picks for their widely recognized names and reputations. We’ve also looked at student reviews to ensure that the companies we recommended provide satisfactory service to their students.
What Is an Online Teacher?
An online teacher is exactly what it sounds like: a teacher who provides online instruction instead of (or, occasionally, in addition to) in-person classes. Fully remote teachers may do one-on-one instruction or offer more of a traditional classroom structure that’s just moved to your computer.
Do I Need to Be Certified for an Online Teaching Job?
It depends on the individual job, but there are a few general guidelines. For some roles, especially the less formal ones, you may not need a teaching certificate or an education degree. However, these positions may prioritize a degree and/or experience in the field you’re teaching.
ESL programs may require a TESOL or TEFL certification, and teaching for professional development is likely to need the corresponding professional license or certification, if applicable. Always be sure to check individual job requirements before applying.
What Are the Requirements to Become an Online Teacher?
Requirements will vary based on the individual job, but in general, online teachers for reputable companies are expected to have at least some of the same credentials as a teacher in a traditional school.
For K-12 teachers, that usually means an education degree/teaching certificate. For ESL teachers, some form of certification, such as TESOL, is often (but not always) required. For college and continuing education instructors, that’s likely to mean some combination of an advanced degree and experience or expertise in a given field.
How Much Do Online Teaching Jobs Pay?
Pay varies widely by the type of teaching, the level, and the time commitment. Some online teaching jobs, especially those for more structured classes, may pay a flat salary. Others are hourly rates, with some companies offering merit- or milestone-based raises and bonuses. Before accepting any online teaching job, be sure to check the job listing or contact the company about rates, and make sure they’re within your acceptable range.