What You Really Need to Start Teaching English Online to Succeed

What You Need to Get Started Teaching English Online

You may have heard that teaching English online is an easy way to make money, and it’s true. A lot of people start teaching online as a side hustle, and then realise they are making as much from teaching English as they were from their ‘real job’.

But of course you can’t just start tomorrow, there are some things you need to get start teaching English online. Some things you might need to purchase, some you might already have at home. But it’s worthwhile considering before you commit to your newfound career (or side hustle).

Remember though, even if you have outlay a couple of hundred dollars, you could make that back within a week of when you start teaching English online. Anything after that goes straight into your pocket, and those purchases may actually be a tax deduction. Amazing right?

Okay so what do you need to start teaching English online?

TEFL/TESOL Certificate

First up you need to have completed or almost completed your TEFL/TESOL qualification for most online jobs. Some allow no TEFL/TESOL but they are very few and far between. They usually cost US$150-$500. Remember cheaper is not always better though. You want to actually learn how to teach, and many of the cheap providers give you no support on completion. 

We recommend eTEFL Online who provide several packages that are tailored to your background and education. Including (depending on your package) job application documents, guaranteed interview, mentor, 10 hours online teaching experience, lifetime support and much more.

Find out more about getting your TEFL certificate with eTEFL Online.

Is Doing a TEFL Certificate Really That Easy?

Part 2: Is Doing a TEFL Certificate Really That Easy?

Part 3: Is Doing an Online TEFL Certification Easy?

Part 4 – Is Doing an online TEFL Certification Easy?


While there are some online tutoring platforms allowing you to use either a tablet or smartphone, there aren’t many of them, and they pay much less. But of course, if that is all you have access to at the moment definitely Google and see what is available so you can get started. 

Otherwise, most platforms and schools require you to have at least these requirements for a laptop or PC. 

  • HD webcam
  • Windows 7 and above
  • i5 processor or equivilant

If you’re not tech minded you might feel like you have no idea if your laptop or PC is up to scratch but you can check it by googling your laptop make/model number or by:

Go to Windows Explorer, right click on ‘this PC’ and select properties from the pop up menu. All the required detail will be available there.


Obviously to start teaching English online you will need an internet connection! Each online English school or platform will have different requirements for internet quality and speed, some even require cable rather than wifi. But generally the faster the better, if you can’t have a Skype conversation without it lagging or freezing you won’t be able to teach English online.


Some companies will allow you to start teaching English online without a headset, or even just with the headphones/mic that come with your smartphone but they do not provide high quality learning opportunities for students.

When you start teaching English online you to make more money with good reviews and more bookings, so having decent equipment will serve you well. The best ones offer noise cancelling microphones. They are not overly expensive and will ensure your students can understand you, and that you can hear them. Plus it looks professional! 

Here are some of our top picks for headsets for teaching English online.

Backdrops and Props

Whethere you’re teaching kids or adults, it is important to have a professional looking ‘office’. Using a background looks great and allows you to have a dedicated ‘classroom’. Props are also a valuable tool for keeping kids engaged and to help improve learning concepts for young and old. 

Get access to our 50+ background and props to start teaching English online.

50+ Budget-Friendly Background and Prop Ideas for Online Teaching


Good lighting is a must have for teaching English online, but where the lighting comes from can be free, or you can purchase professional lighting. 

Having good lighting ensures your student can see you and again makes you look more professional. ESL teachers who look professional are more likely to have fully booked timeslots, and on platforms where you can charge what you want, will be able to charge more. 

Having an overhead light in your room or office is actually not so great for teaching English online as it creates shadows across your face. You really need direct light on your face and you need to not rely on a window to provide it, so the easiest way is with a lamp you can use as required. 

There are a lot of various lamps of different descriptions that any online English teacher can use but here are some of our best picks.

And that is about it to start teaching English online. Without including a laptop/pc and internet because most people already have these items if you had to purchase:

  • TEFL/TESOL certificate
  • Headset
  • Backdrop and props
  • Lighting

You could start teaching English online with an investment of between US$200 and $400. If you’re earning US$20 an hour you will make that back plus more within your first week of teaching English online. 

Further Reading:

Teaching English Online: Don’t Let Not Having a Degree Stop You

Start Your Own Online ESL Tutoring Business: Insider Knowledge

Common ESL Classroom Problems, How to Fix Them and Not Panic

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What You Really Need to Start Teaching English Online to Succeed