How Teaching English Online Can Fund a 7-Figure Retirement

Looking for a side hustle to build Financial Independence? Maybe a part-time job to boost your retirement savings? Here is how teaching online can do both. minutes


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About the author

Hi, I'm Marco Sison. I worked in finance for Fortune 50 companies before retiring early at 41 years old. I have been an expat for over 10 years, living in over 50 countries to show you the best ways to save, invest, and live in amazing countries outside the USA. I am a trusted resource on personal finance and overseas retirement for US News & World Reports, HuffPost, MSN Money, USA Today, ABC Network, Yahoo Finance, Association of MBAs, the iTunes documentary Seeking FIRE, and the Amazon Best-Seller- Abroad: Expats That Thrive.

In her guest post, online teacher Aisha Preece shares everything you need to know about teaching online and how you can use it to fund your retirement.

It is entirely possible to earn between $20- $80 per hour (I have earned even more), and there is no age discrimination. In fact, older age is valued in this field, as it indicates more experience.

Teaching online gives retirees the flexibility to work from home on hours that fit their schedule. English lessons are the most popular form of online classes, but you can teach other skills such as math or music.

Read on to find how you can boost your retirement savings by teaching online. Learn how to get started and common pitfalls. But first things first.

Here Is What You Need To Know

 EDITOR'S NOTE : How Teaching English Online Can Fund a 7-Figure Retirement- 7-Figure Retirement in 5-Years? How? It is true. You can add $1,065,744 by teaching for just 5-years. Just save what you earn, don't touch your savings, and let your investments grow for 30 years. Click the button below to see how your numbers work.  

Assumptions: You earn $30 per hour. You work for 5-years and invest all your earnings. Investments grow at 7% per year. For simplicity, this assumes no tax. Your specific tax situation will apply.

Why Teach Online?

Have you ever been to Bali? Escape the office and embrace the Digital Nomad lifestyle. Teach online from any country in the world.

Perfect For Geographic Arbitrage

Teaching online means you won't be tied to a set location. 

You will be able to teach from anywhere that has a computer/ laptop, WIFI, and a desk. You can maintain flexible work hours, as students can be from all over the world. You can teach any time zone that fits.

 EDITOR'S NOTE : Flexible Hours- While students are global, a large target market is China and other Asian countries. The peak demand for teaching hours in the US and Canada is in the table below. An ideal schedule is if you move to Asia and have the same work hours as China.

Peak Hours

Eastern Standard Time

Pacific Standard Time

Mon - Fri

6 AM - 10 AM

3 AM - 7 AM

Mon - Fri

9 PM - 12 AM

6 PM - 12 AM


12 AM - 10 AM

9 PM - 7 AM

Want to super-charge your retirement savings? Working online means you have the flexibility to work anywhere in the world. Join the thousands of online teachers using geoarbitrage to earn high incomes teaching, but live in low-cost country like Ho Chi Minh City, VietnamBeijing, China, or Merida, Mexico.  

 EDITOR'S NOTE : Other Remote Work Opportunities: Not a native English speaker or perhaps dealing with kids isn't your cup of tea? Teaching English isn't the only type of job you can do remote. Geographic arbitrage opens you to loads of opportunity to find work abroad

Ideal Jobs for Retirees

Age discrimination is not an issue, as students value older teachers with more experience.

 EDITOR'S NOTE : While there are no strict guidelines or age restrictions, certain countries may have unofficial prejudice against applicants over 50 years old. But each language program and school is different. Don't let one poor experience taint your perspective.
If you find yourself having difficultly, look for companies ( EF English First and Learnlight) that cater to adult students or business professionals. In fact, if you have prior corporate experience, focusing as a Business English Teacher is a niche with better earning potential.

4 Mind-Blowing Stats On Why Teaching English Online Is Perfect For Retirees

  • The estimated market size for English Teachers in China is a staggering $4.5 billion
  • Nearly 1 in 3 students is taking at least one online class. 
  • 6% – the annual growth figure for online english teaching jobs
  • An estimated 1.5 billion people are learning English globally. BILLION with a B.

Potential Tax Advantages (and Pitfalls)

Whether you decide to work for an online teaching school or have private students, you are an independent contractor. Independent contractors and freelancers are taxed differently than regular employees. Tax-wise, you are your own "company." You can potentially save money on business tax write-offs, OR you can potentially owe thousands of dollars in taxes, interest, and fines.

If this is your first time as a business, consult with a tax expert to ensure you don't get caught owing more money to the IRS.  

Get A Free Tax Consultation and $25 off your US Expat Tax return

Working abroad and teaching online can earn you thousands of dollars for retirement. You have the potential to save even more on your taxes. Still, Americans working abroad need expert advice from people who understand the complex laws applicable to United States citizens living overseas.

Full Disclosure, this is an affiliate link. If you use the link, I earn a commission from the company at no additional cost to you. You get the benefit of $25 off your return and a FREE 30-minute consultation with a Tax Advisor.  

Do You Need To Be A Qualified Teacher?

Not necessarily. 

Having teaching qualifications helps, but often programs will hire you if you can demonstrate experience in the area you want to teach in and if you have some form of teaching certification. 

If you want to teach English, you can increase your chances by completing a 120-hour TEFL certificate which is relatively easy and cheap to complete. 

 INSIDER TIP : You can find discounted TELF courses on Groupon for less than $40. Just make sure they are accredited providers.

How Much Can You Earn Teaching English Online?

If you work for online schools, salaries range between $20 to $30 per hour.

However, if you have private students, you can set your own prices. Experienced teachers can charge $45- $80 per hour (or more).

Basic Requirements To Teach Online

There are a number of minimum requirements for retirees looking to make money teaching online:

  1. At the very minimum, a good proficiency with the English language
  2. Have a teaching certification
  3. A stable internet connection 
  4. Have a laptop and headset 

Basic Requirements To Start Teaching Online

A Proficiency in The English Language

If you plan to teach students how to speak, read, and write English, you should be able to speak a decent English level.

At a minimum, you should have a C1 level of English.

Many schools will require an applicant to be native English speakers. 

They determine whether an applicant is a native speaker by an applicant's citizenship. Teaching applicants will be asked to submit a copy of their passports as proof.

Citizens of the following English-speaking countries are usually accepted as native speaking by schools: USA, UK, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand

If you aren't a native speaker, not to worry; here is a list of online schools that hire non-native speakers.

A Reliable Internet Connection

You need to have a WIFI connection to teach online. Every online school has different WIFI requirements. A minimum speed for teaching online would be 8Mbps download and 2-3Mbps upload.

Before making an application for any online school, you can Google the WIFI requirements to determine if your WIFI connection meets their benchmark.

Have A Laptop And Headset

Most online schools will require you to have a laptop with a webcam for video and a headset with a microphone for audio. I was able to use my Apple earphones. Otherwise, you can buy cheap but functional headsets from Amazon.

A few companies out there allow you to teach using your smartphone, but most online teaching opportunities require a laptop.

Here is a list of travel laptops ideal for digital nomads.

Have a Teaching Certification

To get started, you generally need a teaching certificate and a bachelor's degree.

Having a teaching qualification or a degree in education will exclude you from the teaching certificate requirement. Don't have a degree, but want to teach abroad? Here are some countries that don't have a degree requirement to teach English.

There are several teaching certifications. The  CELTA is the most prestigious (but most expensive and rigorous). Several equally good alternatives are a TEFL or a TESOL.

You can easily obtain a TEFL online in 120 hours. Just make sure you take the qualification from an accredited provider. 

Here is an example of an accredited provider offering a TEFL.

 INSIDER TIP :  I do not have a CELTA and had no issue getting hired by numerous online programs. I took a 120-hour online TEFL, and that was good enough.

Work from anywhere you have your laptop and a solid internet connection

Step By Step Process To Get An Online Teaching Job

  1. Check if you meet the basic requirements
  2. Get a teaching certification
  3. Prepare your resume
  4. Fill in an application
  5. Attend the interview
  6. Attend a demo* class
  7. Receive an offer for a teaching position

*A demo class is a video trial lesson where schools assess your teaching skills with a real student. 

Where Are All The Best Online Teaching Jobs?

There are two primary choices to find online teaching jobs. You can sign up for online teaching companies or flexible online teaching platforms. Teaching companies offer a more stable and consistent income, while online platforms allow for flexible working hours and higher potential prices.

Online English Teaching Companies have set hours that you commit to, and schools take care of everything else. They will find the students, provide lesson plans, teaching materials, props, and other helpful tools. One can liken it to being employed by an official school but online.

Flexible Online Teaching Platforms act as a marketplace matching educators offering classes with students looking for lessons in a virtual classroom. Marketplaces let you set up a short bio with qualifications, education, hourly rate, and availability. These factors make up your teaching profile. Students view your profile in the marketplace and book you for English lessons if they like your profile and reviews.

You can teach through online schools or flexible teaching platforms depending on your schedule.

List of Online English Teaching Companies 

Here is an example of some schools with online classrooms you can apply to, but there are many MANY more out there.

List Flexible Online Teaching Platforms

Alternatively, if you would prefer a flexible teaching platform, these websites hire tutors to teach Maths or Science online:

Other Types of Teaching Programs

Websites if you want to teach other languages :

Websites if you have expertise in music:

You are not limited to teaching English, there is demand for different expertise, including music. 

How To Find Students

If you signed up for an online school, they would find students for you.

But, if you signed up for a flexible teaching platform, students choose whether to book you for a class based on your profile. The best "marketed" profile gets chosen most often.  

 INSIDER TIP Look at the profiles of in-demand teachers. Learn how the best teachers market themselves and what factors influence students the most. Try to replicate the marketing messages they use to increase your chance of getting a class booked.

How Do Online Teachers Get Paid?

There are many ways you could get paid as an online teacher, and it is all dependent on each online teaching provider.

Some pay your salary into a Paypal or Payoneer account. Others will pay into your bank account but deduct the international transfer fee.

 INSIDER TIP Reduce Banking Fees- A virtual borderless account with Transferwise gives you "local bank" account details to reduce fees and transfer costs.

Ways To Increase Your Rate

As a general rule, it is quite difficult to increase your rate if you teach for an online school. 

An opportunity to negotiate a higher rate might arise during contract renewals. However, my experience with online schools and pay raises has not been positive.

But don't let this stop you from trying! If you don't ask, you don't get.

Working with a Flexible Teaching platform means no contract and no set rate. You decide your price and can give yourself a hefty pay rise every few months as I did.

How To Ensure Students Continue Booking Your Teaching Services, Even If You Increase Your Rate?

Here is my secret tip. (Not so secret now πŸ™‚ ) If you niche down, you have a better chance of increasing your rate.

Four Niches You Can Focus On To Increase Your Income

Business English Teacher

If you have previous expertise in a corporate environment, target companies looking to improve their adult staff's English communication skills. Hotel and hospitality companies are a key target market. Business English Teachers have additional qualifications and business-specific communication skills that are more in demand and can command a higher rate.

IELTS Specialist

Alternatively, you could also become an IELTS specialist (like I did ) and train students to pass IELTS exams.

Students will pay significant sums of money to IELTS teachers because they are the key to passing their IELTS tests and getting accepted into their dream universities.

Additionally, many countries (the UK as an example) require foreign applicants to pass an IELTS test as a work visas qualification.

Provide Added Services

If you provide added services like an organized lesson plan and homework, it makes students feel like they are getting great value out of the classroom.

Get Your Own Private Students

The ideal situation is to convert students from a company or platform into your private students. Private students eliminate a middleman taking commissions out of your students' payments.

First, a level of trust needs to be built with the student. Once this happens, you can ask if they want to be taught privately via Zoom, Google Hangouts, or Skype.

The student then pays you directly through Payoneer, Stripe, or Paypal. If a student wants to pay their local currency, TransferWise and Revolut are solutions allowing multi-currency accounts.

Do You Need To Have A Lot Of Experience?

Having teaching experience helps, BUT there are ways to demonstrate teaching experience, even if you haven't worked as a teacher before! 

Many schools accept volunteer work, pastoral work, or any workplace training you have conducted.

You just need to demonstrate on your resume that you have the skills to impart knowledge to a student and improve their learning experience.

There are plenty of remote work opportunities, even if you only have minimal experience. 

 INSIDER TIP :How you spin that on your resume is up to you. For example, I used to be the Captain of my college basketball team, and I volunteered to help assist new refugees with settling in when I lived in New Zealand. Online schools accepted both of these as teaching experiences. 

Eight Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting To Teach Online

  1. If you receive an offer with an online school, be sure to negotiate your rate and ensure it reflects your experience. Once a company sets your hourly pay, it's hard to increase your wages.
  2. Review the company terms and conditions on time off and sick pay. Some are stricter than others. As an Independent contractor, you likely will not get any vacation or sick leave. Some schools may even penalize you for sick days.
  3. You will need to get a few props or games for your class to make lessons more engaging. Don't spend too much money, just a few colorful toys, and a map for teaching children.
  4. If you decide to work on an online teaching platform, remember that companies take a commission. Factor commissions into your hourly rates; otherwise, your net salary can be lower than expected.
  5. Sometimes you will receive messages from students who ask for quick answers. Ask them to book a class if they have additional questionsβ€”too many students try to wrangle a free lesson via a message.
  6. You are an independent contractor. You are in charge of calculating and paying your taxes. Your company will not help you with this.
  7. Sometimes there will be technical problems which are no fault of your own. You may not be able to log onto the school platform. Ensure you video the issue and send it to the school coordinator to prevent them from cutting your earnings.
  8. However, if you cannot access the school platform due to bad WIFI, the school considers this your problem and will reduce your pay accordingly.

WRAP UP: Teaching English For Financial Independence

It helped me travel the world while also saving and moving me closer to my goal of financial independence and early retirement.

You can monetize your teaching skills and earn money from the comfort of your own home or on the road, as long as you book accommodation with good WIFI.

I am sending you lots of luck and success on your online teaching journey!

Over the last ten years, the global language service industry has doubled in size, reaching $49.6 billion US dollars in 2019.



'Aisha Preece ditched her corporate job in search of a career that allowed her to work remotely. She now LOVES Mondays and is passionate about helping others make and save more money, so they can live life on their terms.

Check out for unique money tips, and to learn about all the best location independent jobs you can earn from.


Looking for another option to Teach English, I just finished an interview with a teacher in China who has already built a $1,000,000 net worth. She reveals her secrets and how you can save $50,000+ a year teaching English. 

Sign up below to get notified when the interview is published.

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About the author

Hi, That's me. I'm Marco Sison. I am a survivor of the corporate rat race. I started Nomad FIRE to show you an alternative to the stress and grind of 70-hour weeks to pay off a mortgage, student loans, and countless bills. After getting laid off in 2015, I said screw it all and retired early at 41 years old. I have traveled the last eight years to over 50 countries to show you the best ways to save, invest, and live in amazing countries for 70% less cost than the US. I have been featured in: US News & World Reports, HuffPost, MSN Money, USA Today, ABC Network, Yahoo Finance, the iTunes documentary Seeking FIRE, and the Amazon Best-Seller, Abroad: Expats That Thrive. [view press...]