Can You Teach for Multiple
Online ESL Companies?
Teaching English (ESL) Online has grown in popularity in the last couple of years. Many people are taking up the remote profession as a way to earn money while travelling or living in various parts of the world, while others simply enjoy being able to work from the comfort of their own home. It's no wonder people are looking to break into the industry when the average starting wage for an online ESL teacher is between $18 and $22 a hour. Nowadays there are more and more online ESL schools popping up, and it can sometimes be hard to know which one you should teach for. But, the question is... can you only work for one or should you apply to teach for several? Lets find out...
How many hours a week do I have to teach?
The first thing to watch out for are the minimum number of hours you will be required to work every week. These vary from school to school. Some have no minimum hours, meaning you can book as many or as few time slots as you wish to teach per week. Others require that you teach at least a certain number of hours. Most online ESL schools' minimum hours fall within the range of 4-12 hours per week. Below you will find graphics outlining the minimum number of hours you will need to work per week when you have two online teaching jobs.
*Start with the schools on the left and trace your finger along the row until you reach another online teaching school. The number in this column is the total minimum number of hours required to work for both schools.
As you can see above, even if you only want to work 20 hours a week, you can teach for any combination of these online schools. You may also be required to work a certain number of hours during peak teaching hours.
What are peak hours with Teaching Schools?
Peak hours are the high priority hours when online ESL companies are most busy. They have lots of students in need of online English lessons and teachers will find it easy to get booked during these times. Many online ESL companies are based in China, and their students are looking for lessons in the late afternoon and evening time (Chinese time GMT +8). For this reason, peak hours often fall between 6pm and 10pm on weekdays (GMT +8.) If you are living in the UK (GMT), then you will be working from 10am until 2pm. On the east coast of the USA, you'd have to wake up a little earlier in order to start working at 5am. If you want to check what the peak hours are like where you're living, check out this timezone calculator.
If you want to teach for more than one ESL company, then you must make sure that the minimum required peak hours don't clash.
If you want to work for ABC360 who insist that you teach at least 12 peak hours a week, as well as Whales English who want you to work a minimum of 8 peak hours per week, then you need to ensure that you can fit these 20 peak hours into your schedule.
Here are some questions to ask yourself when deciding whether or not you can work for two ESL schools:
To make it easier for you, we have outlined all the available and peak teaching hours for all the online ESL schools with whom we work. The available teaching hours are marked in yellow, while the peak hours are in purple. We have included graphs for both the weekends & weekdays.
Weekday Hours - Teaching English Online:
Weekend Hours - Teaching English Online:
More details on the peak and minimum required hours (specific to each online school) are outlined in our Online ESL Companies FAQ bundle. You can download a copy of it for free here.
So why work for more than one ESL company?
When starting out teaching English online, you may have fewer classes than you would like. It takes time to fill up your schedule and to get regular students. You will have trial classes with students, and if they sign up for lessons, they will become your regular weekly students. How many classes you have depends on both the online school you work for as well as the time of year (some months are busier than others), but having two online teaching jobs helps you to avoid this slow start.
Teaching with two online companies also means you have more teaching hours during less busy times throughout the year when classes are infrequent, ie during national holidays like the Chinese New Year, Tet or Golden Week.
Plus, working for two schools means you get paid at least twice a month, ensuring that you have some month left at the end of your money!
Want to know what date you'll be paid by your school?
Find out how, when and how much you'll be paid when teaching with any of the 10 biggest online ESL companies!
It's very possible to work for two or three online schools at the same time, but you will need to do some forward planning. You need to organise your teaching schedule to ensure you can fit in both your trial classes and your regular students with both companies.
How far in advance do you get your teaching schedule?
Apart from your weekly lessons with regular students, you will also have some trial classes. How much notice do you get for these classes, and how can you make sure they won't overlap?
Some online ESL companies operate on a fixed contract hours basis, meaning that you are scheduled to work for a certain number of hours per week, and regardless of whether or not you have classes, you must be sitting in front of your laptop & available to teach. During these contract hours, trial classes can pop up last minute, so it is advisable to check your computer every 15-30 minutes (or however long the classes are!)
With other companies, you will be employed on a flexible hours (fixed classes) basis, whereby you only teach the classes that are assigned to you at least 24 hours, but usually a week, in advance. If you haven't been assigned any classes for a particular day, then you can always open up some time slots with your second company.
Even if you don't have any classes during your contract hours, you shouldn't book any classes with your second company, as you need to be available and ready to teach at all times when on call... and if you miss a class you will most likely incur a penalty!
Click here if you want to see the specific penalties for absences with all the popular online ESL schools.
Do online schools let you work for other ESL companies?
Most online ESL schools are aware that their teachers are working for more than one company. There's still a slight bit of rivalry between the big teaching companies, but they no longer have non compete clauses like they used to do.
This is how they see it; the fewer schools you work for, the more hours you will be available to teach for them... so I wouldn't bring up in an interview that you are working for another school unless you're asked directly.
Final thoughts on all things English Teaching...
If you want to teach for more than one online ESL school, it's a good idea to work for two which complement each other nicely in terms of the hours they have available on both the weekend and weekdays.
For example VIP Kid offers very flexible hours, while Whales English offers more structure. Hujiang's K12 Programme requires a minimum of 10 hours per week, but these can all be done on the weekend.
Teaching for two online companies offers you the opportunity to teach more classes and make more money, but make sure you take at least one day a week off to avoid feeling burnout!
Not sure which schools you should work for?
About the author:
Laura is the founder of Online English Teacher, an ESL recruitment and training company which helps people to start teaching English Online. They have a free job placement service, providing online teaching positions for hundreds of people every month. They also offer interview preparation calls and demo lesson practice sessions, ensuring that their customers become confident and well prepared online teachers. If you're interested in teaching English Online, learn more here.
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