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How I travel the world: Teach English online without a degree

by Lisa Stentvedt
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I rarely publish guest posts here on Fjords and Beaches, but when I do, I make sure they are ones that will get you excited and are valuable to you. Such as this one with Michele’s Instagram Tips! I’m excited to share this guest post with you, and it is absolutely perfect if you want to learn how you can teach English online without a degree (and make money from it). Nicola is an online English teacher, and this is how she manages to live a nomadic lifestyle of travelling, house sitting and blogging from all corners of the world!

So, if you are curious about virtual teaching jobs and want to teach English online and get paid for it, this is the post for you! Nicola breaks down exactly how she got started and ended up where she is, and shares tips and tricks for how you can teach English online without a degree (or with, if you have one). The opportunities are seemingly endless, and I am so excited to share them with you. She has also included an overview of online English teaching companies for you to browse through AND sorted them into which ones will let you teach English online with no degree, and which ones require one. Super easy!

I know some of you are aspiring (travel) bloggers and digital nomads, and so I hope you’ll enjoy this post. Diversifying my income was how I was able to get started (more info in this post where I announced that I was going full time with Fjords and Beaches), and so it is also my #1 tip for anyone who wants to do the same.

Side note: If you are curious about starting a blog, I have a FREE 8-day Blogging eCourse for you here!

teach english online no degree, computer working remotely

How Nicola travels the world: Teach English online without a degree

The dismissal bell rang loudly in the hallway outside my classroom. Chairs squeaked back and my students sprinted out of the classroom waving hurried goodbyes, eager for summer adventures. When the papers settled, I did what I always did during quiet moments. I pulled up my favorite travel blog and read the latest post. And for the hundredth time, I tried to figure out how I could start traveling too. 

Two years ago, I felt stuck. I loved my job as an teacher, but I knew I wanted to travel. I had big dreams of beautiful beaches in Asia, sunrise hikes in South America, and warm fresh bread in Europe. I knew I wanted to expand my world beyond the four walls of my cozy classroom. But I had no idea how to do it. I didn’t know I could teach English online and get paid.

I researched everything. For months, I watched youtube videos of this couple who traveled all over Taiwan, read blog after blog of people teaching English abroad, and looked into being an Au Pair or a volunteer or a WOOFER. I watched hours of backpack reviews online and dreamed about packing up only what I needed and heading off into the world. Somewhere. Anywhere. I started a few applications to international schools in South Korea and Poland. But nothing felt exactly right. I was a bit all over the place.

One day at the end of the school year, a coworker, like a magical fairy of wisdom, stuck her head into my classroom. I guess I wasn’t very discrete about my travel desires, because she said “hey, you should start teaching English online. Then you can go anywhere, you know?

My mind was blown. I had never heard of teaching English online and I hadn’t even considered working remotely. I assumed remote work was something only for big fancy website developers or graphic designers. But there it was, an opportunity to teach online, a job with no location requirements, a life of total freedom as long as I had WiFi.

That summer, I applied to the company she recommended, VIPKID. In two weeks, I taught my first class online while wearing pajama pants.

It felt like winning the lottery.

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I now teach English online and get paid!

Since that time, I’ve loved the flexibility of being a remote worker. Teaching online has given me the ability to travel all over while still making a living doing what I’m passionate about. I can’t believe I get to teach English online and get paid for it.

I love that I don’t have to ask for time off to travel any more. I can work from home, from my parents’ house, from a friends place in another state, from a hotel on a beach somewhere, or really from anywhere with good internet. I went home for Christmas and didn’t have to request any days off, which felt amazing. I went on girls trips, road trips, helped friends move, and explored new cities all while teaching English online.

Teaching English online pays very well. I easily make enough to cover my expenses and travel as much as I want working only part-time hours. Most companies don’t require any outside planning and there’s no commuting since you’re remote, which saves lots of time and money.

The best part is you don’t even have to be a traditional teacher to become an online English teacher. Sure, it helps your application to have professional teaching experience, but as long as you’re a native English speaker, you’ll likely be able to find an online teaching job that fits your needs. I have friends who are software developers, counsellors, college students, and stay-at-home moms who all teach English online with no degree in the teaching/academic field.

While having a degree will give you access to more online teaching companies, it’s not required. It’s totally possible to teach English online without a degree and travel as much as you want!

Here’s how you can teach online and get paid too!

here's how you can teach english online without a degree, girl on her computer

How you can teach English online without a degree

Below is a guide to exactly how you can start teaching English online, even if you don’t have a relevant (or any) degree. There are loads of Online English teaching companies to choose from, and one will definitely be the right fit for you. I’ve listed quite a few of them below.

#1 Sign up with an online English teaching company

The easiest way to become an online English teacher is to go through one of the established online English teaching companies there are to choose from. The company hires teachers and recruits students, so you don’t have to worry about finding your own clients somewhere on the big wild internet. The majority of big-name companies focus on teaching English to children in China.

You should pick your online English company and apply at least two or three months before you want to start traveling. It can take a while to build up your student base and just get all the paper work processed. If you want to start saving money for travel, start even sooner. Many of the options below do not require a weekly minimum or maximum hours so you can teach online while still working your normal job.

Below are a few of my top pick online English teaching companies for people who want to teach English online without a degree, and those who have a degree.

Best online English companies if you have a BA Degree

VIPKID – VIPKID is one of the oldest, largest, and most established online English companies. They offer one-on-one classes to students in China between the ages of 4 and 12. There are no minimum or maximum hours and the lesson planning is done for you. The pay is between $14-22/hour depending on your qualifications.

Read my full VIPKID Review here!

The requirements for VIPKID are:

  • native English speaker
  • eligible to work in USA or Canada
  • BA degree
  • 1+ Year experience teaching/tutoring/mentoring/coaching/working with children

If you choose to apply to VIPKID and want my help with the process, you can use my referral code NICOL0117. That code is a referral code which means I’ll get a bonus for referring you. There is no cost to you or anything, you’ll just get an awesome cheerleader and helper along the way! If you don’t want to use my code, just leave the field that says “referral code” blank.

GoGoKid – GoGo kid is a new company but so far it’s received rave reviews. I have friends who do both VIPKID and GoGoKid to mix it up a bit and really like both. The layout and requirements are similar to VIPKID. There are no minimum or maximum hours and the lesson planning is done for you. GoGoKid pays $14-25/hour depending on your qualifications.

The requirements for GoGokid are:

  • Native English speaker
  • BA Degree or higher
  • Eligible to work in USA or Canada

DaDa – DaDa is an awesome option for teachers from English speaking companies outside the USA and Canada. They accept teachers from any native English speaking country (UK, Australia, South Africa, etc). They require a minimum of 4 hours a week commitment and expect a consistent schedule.

The requirements for Dada are:

  • Native English Speaker
  • BA Degree

iTutor Group – I’m including this one on the list because it focuses on teaching Adults. iTutor group offers individual and small group classes to adults around the world. Pay depends on qualifications and how well students rate your class after it’s finished.

The requirements for iTutorGroup are

Best online English teaching companies if you don’t have a BA Degree

If you want to teach English online with no degree, no problem! These awesome companies will make that possible.

Qkids – QKids is an online teaching company for students in China. All the lesson planning is done for you and Qkids requires a weekly commitment of 6 hours.

The requirements for Qkids are:

  • Eligible to work in USA or Canada
  • 6 hours a week availability
  • Prior experience teaching, mentoring, coaching, etc
  • TEFL certificate required if no BA

Cambly – Cambly is a great option for those who love to chat. Cambly is a talk based platform so you will have conversations with people from all over the world. Cambly focuses on adult students and teachers get paid $0.17 USD per minute or $10.20 per hour.

The requirements for Cambly are:

  • Native English Speaker

iTalki – iTalki is a bit different from the other platforms in this list because you have more flexibility in what exactly you teach. Italki is a language tutor platform. You can teach classes in any language you’re fluent in and you can choose your own pay rate. With iTalki, I’ve seen people offer classes like “Business English” “Interview skills” and proofreading and editing help. You don’t need a degree to make a community tutor profile and you can attract students from all over the world. This is an awesome option for people who aren’t native English speakers and want to tutor in their native language, or for people who speak more than one language fluently

The requirements for iTalki are:

  • Fluent in the language you are teaching

Now that we have covered some of the great online English teaching companies out there, including ones that will let you teach English online without a degree, it’s time to continue on our guide to how you can teach English online and get paid!

#2 Prepare your technology

Your technology is about to become your life, so make sure you have what you need. Most companies require that you teach from a laptop, but a few will allow you to teach English from an iPad as well. You’ll also need a headset with a microphone and a high speed internet connection.

There’s some debate as to what “high speed” actually means and each company will have different specifications. I’ve taught successfully on speeds around 10mbps and from a 4G mobile hotspot. If possible, using an ethernet cord is preferable since it’s more stable.

Fun fact: when I teach from my parents’ house, I run a literal 100 ft ethernet cord from the router in their home office, down the hallway, under the rug, around the kitchen table, down another hallway, under a door and to the laptop in my room. It’s extra. But hey, it works. When traveling, I usually rely on WiFi and my mobile hotspot.

#3 Prepare your online classroom

Getting your online English classroom together can be so much fun! Scrolling through Pinterest will give you dozens of envy-inducing ideas for how to decorate your online classroom but since you’re traveling, keeping things lightweight and packable is also important.

Spoiler Alert: The laminator is about to become your best friend.

You’re going to need two main elements to build your traveling classroom: a background and props. Some online English teaching companies don’t require a background but I’ve found that parents and students like it, which means that you’ll probably get higher ratings.

It’s also nice to have a background of some kind since you don’t always know what kind of walls you’ll have behind you when you are teaching. It would be nice if we always had beautiful clean walls to sit by, but sometimes that’s not the case. If you end up in an unfortunate mustard yellow wallpaper situation (yes, that really happened), having a background will keep your set up looking professional.

Make a simple background:

  1. Laminate some educational images like the ABCs or a world map. You can also make a sign that says “Welcome! Teacher [Your Name]” or the name of your teaching company. Laminate them flat and they’ll pack down nice and slim in your bag.
  2. Buy a world map made of decent paper. I grabbed mine on amazon for under $10 and it’s been great! Even though the paper is a bit fragile, it holds up well as long as I’m gentle with it when hanging and removing it.
  3. Pack command strips to hang your background on the wall without damaging the wall. The lightweight poster size command strips will work just fine.

The following props will go a long way in your online English classroom

  1. A wipe board with a few dry erase markers
  2. A set of ABC flash cards and a set of Animal Flash cards
  3. A set of small animal finger puppets
  4. A laminated world map

Your props don’t need to take up a ton of room to be effective but will come a long way when you start to teach English online and get paid for it. Another reason to start teaching a few months before you leave so that you know what props come up in your lessons. For example, I teach several lessons that involve animals so I made sure to have a set of animal finger puppets to make class more fun for my kiddos.

list of online english teaching companies, and tips for teaching english online

#4 Teach and build up regulars

After you’ve been hired and have your classroom set up, it’s time to start teaching! Try to teach as much as you can at the beginning before you actually start traveling to build up regular students. Learning to teach English online with no degree will go smoother once you start teaching more regularly. With companies that use a rating system, you’ll have an easier time getting consistent bookings after you have a few five-star reviews.

#5 Book places with good wifi accommodation

Okay, you’re a fabulous online teacher now, but how do you find a place to stay that fits your needs? If you’re using a service like Airbnb or couch surfing, talk to the host before booking accommodation. Ask the host to run a speed test using this website. This will tell you the internet speeds at their place before you go.

You want a low ping score, an download speed around 10 or higher, and an upload speed around 5 or higher. You should also ask if they have 4G coverage. They can tell by looking for the little 4G icon in the top corner of their phone.

Another thing you can do is read reviews if you’re using a service like booking.com. I scan reviews like a maniac looking for mentions of WiFi. Since it can be a bit risky just going off some random person’s perception of “good” or “bad” wifi, I always have a local sim card or a phone with data that I can use as a backup hotspot. You can also use portable WiFi rental devices like Sky roam and Teppy wireless. I’ve never used these personally but I’ve heard that they work pretty well as long as you’re in an area with 4G coverage.

Final thoughts on teaching English online

Teaching online is an awesome way to make money on the go and fund your travel adventures. Since you can teach from anywhere with a good internet connection and you can make your own schedule, it’s one of the most flexible remote jobs out there. With tons of options for both degree holders and non-degree holders, you’ll definitely find a company that fits your needs, and that lets you teach English online with no degree.

I know people who have taught from sailboats, vans, exotic beaches, national parks, and RV’s. Having a flexible remote income allows you to have more adventures, but also allows you to spend time with people who matter most. While it’s fun teaching from a little bungalow on an island somewhere, it’s also so nice to be able to go to visit your sister in the next state, work in the morning, and spend the day exploring together. And trust me, once you get accustomed to teaching from your laptop in pajama pants, it’s hard to imagine doing anything else.

guest post by Nicola rae, teach english online no degree

About the author

Nicola Rae is an online English teacher, house sitter, and travel blogger. She’s known for getting lost in new cities, befriending big lizards, and eating impressive quantities of guacamole. Read more about teaching online, house sitting, and practical long-term travel on her blog See Nic Wander.


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