Richard McCully

Online teaching - an overview

Who do you teach and how much can you make?

Looking at the last few cost of living reports here on, we can see that online teaching is the way forward for those looking to make a few extra Baht.

Working from home, choosing your own hours and rates means you control how much you work and importantly how much you make.

Many teachers here have a few hours spare in the evening or maybe a weekend day they want to use to make extra money. Of course you can go to your local language school and get 200-300 Baht an hour but why do that when you can stay home and potentially make over double?

Thai students love a last minute cancellation or just don't show up. With online platforms you have the guarantee that you will be paid if students no show and cancellations must be made at least 24 hours in advance.

How does it work?

There are many platforms for online teaching who can offer you a steady stream of students (for a 15% commission of any class taken). There are also companies who pay you a set rate per class but you often have to work for less. 

Classes are normally done via Skype and last for an hour.

Your students could be from anywhere in the world which means you will get more variety and talk about new topics which you wouldn't normally discuss with your Thai students.

Payment is made via PayPal in USD which can be sent to your home bank or Thai bank.

How much does it pay?

At first it is difficult to get new students so a lower rate will encourage them to book.

You can normally charge around $12 an hour (c. 415THB) but after a few reviews you can bump that up to around $18 (c. 620THB).

Teachers offering exam prep and other specialist courses charge around $25 (c. 860THB) which is good money compared to language school offerings in Thailand. When you also consider you have zero transport costs then you are on to a winner.

What do I need to do?

So it sounds easy but there are a few things to consider.

You must have great internet. This is a big thing - crappy shared internet in apartment blocks probably won't cut it. If you can't offer smooth Skype calls then you will get bad reviews and no students.

Also you need to have a quiet environment - you shouldn't need to shout above your neighbors to be heard. So if you live in a decent condo or house and have private internet then online teaching is something to look into. You will need to invest in a good headset (500-1000 Baht) and then you are good to go!

Is teaching face to face better?

I'm sure there are some of you who have reliable students you teach in person for over 500 Baht an hour and if it works for you that's great.

I'm sure it took effort on your part to get that student and for many people it's too much hard work to find these students. A quick look on craigslist shows that many teachers offer private English classes at around 300-400 Baht an hour. When you add on your travel time it is not worth it (in my opinion).

I'm sure many people moved to Thailand to teach as they wanted to escape sitting behind a computer all day so for some it might not be a desirable option.

Personally I suffer far fewer headaches and feel my eyes are less stressed as I avoid using the computer as much as I did when in England. Working a full time online job could mean over 30 hours a week on Skype which is too much for me.

If you have some free time and want to top up your income, then look into online teaching. It certainly is a viable option for many teachers here in Thailand.

If you enjoyed this blog, check out my website - Life in a New Country

You might be interested in....

The online English teacher - Teachers can now find students all over the world - without leaving home

The online English teacher (part two) - What to teach and how to find students 

Richard is co-author of a great new book on planning a life in Thailand. 

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Richard, to be fair, the amount I posted (which was a conservative estimate) was for teaching university classes and dissertation advising online, and not through teaching ESL independently online. The term "online" teaching has different meanings and the way the term is used in "academia" or the university teaching community is somewhat different than how it is used within the ESL community.

I don't want to give the impression any level of income is possible through independently teaching English online, as I do not have any experience or knowledge in this area.

But obviously the principle of not limiting your opportunities to the geographical location one is located at is the same, and seems to make sense if one can expand the number of possible sources of income, if a higher income is a priority.

By Jack, In front of my computer (20th March 2016)

Hi Jeff

I decided not to include the names of specific companies as firstly it is very easy to Google them and secondly I'm not here to promote a company - I didn't want it to become an advert.

I feel this article covers the details in terms of pay, equipment and the facilities you need to teach online. The figures on earnings are correct from my experience - There are many other online teachers who make the same or perhaps more. On 15th March teacher Jack submitted his cost of living stating he makes around 80K a month online teaching which shows what is possible.

Maybe it seems a bit simplistic in terms of equipment but you really do only need a laptop, decent internet, a headset and a quiet place. It's simple, you could be teaching within a day of signing up.

I appreciate your comments regarding the differences between teaching online and in the classroom - maybe that can be my next article :)

By Richard, Bangkok (19th March 2016)

I was disappointed by this article. There are no specifics and one wonders at the accuracy. No actual examples of teaching platforms, or different student experiences (classroom vs. online), and no links out to learn more about this interesting employment option. Really expected more.

By Jeff Mcneill, Chiang Mai (19th March 2016)

Apologies for not directly my comments specifically at Richard's article, but I thought I would just add some additional comments about the topic, online teaching.

I don't have any experience with online ESL/TEFL teaching, but I do earn the majority of my income from teaching online.

My personal experience is with university teaching online, and while there are a few full -time online positions, most work is for "adjunct" staff, but the pay is about the same as it would be for teaching a university course in a classroom back home. Also, if qualified, one can do dissertation advising online for PhD and Master level students. There is work available at "online schools" and also online programs offered by "traditional" schools. I have worked at both.

Currently, I do work for 3, 4, or sometimes as many as 5, different universities in either the US or Europe. I do spent a lot of time online, but probably not that much more than many Facebook addicts.

While many teachers reading this might not currently have the qualifications to teach at this level (I also didn't have the qualifications needed for this type of work when I first came to Thailand and took a job teaching English for 220 Baht an hour in a famous downtown Bangkok language school, but over time I gained the needed qualifications and expereince), gaining the qualification might be a good long-term plan for individuals wanting to live in Thailand but still have a career and earn pay similar to what a university lecturer/professor makes back home. And of course this type of teaching is not limited to ESL. Business and computer science appear to be especially popular in online programs, but there are positions available in a wide range of disciplines. Check out or other academic job sites. This option has worked out pretty well for me over the years and might be something others would want to consider (or maybe not, I might be the only person who thinks this is not a terrible idea :)). Working in a high income Western location while living in a place with low living costs is not the worst idea I have ever came up with.

In the US, home schooling is big and I assume there are options for qualified teachers in Thailand to work with home schooling programs accredited by each individual state, although I don't have any direct experience with this type of online teaching.

Online teaching can be a career, and not just something to earn a few extra baht.

By Jack, In front of my computer (18th March 2016)

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