Starting Your Own Business with TEFL

Working for yourself is not new, but it was spotlighted during the pandemic. People are forced to work from home and realise that they enjoy the lifestyle and freedom this offers. Of course, you don’t have to work for yourself to work from home, but starting a business offers the most independence and freedom to make decisions. Starting your own business with your TEFL qualification is a great option. To make it easier, if you are thinking of doing so, we have put together this guide to help you.

The TEFL World 

Teaching English as a foreign language can be done in person in any country, or remotely This means using the Internet, a computer, a tablet, or even your phone to teach English. Lessons take place using video platforms like zoom or Microsoft teams. There is the opportunity to lead groups of students or one-to-one tutoring. Different classes also offer other skills, for example, exam English, medical English or business English. It is fair to say that this is an ever-expanding industry. It could become a very lucrative way to make money from the comfort of your home.

Before we had even heard of COVID-19, the industry was worth approximately $32 billion in 2010. By 2015 this had jumped to $108 billion. It is now predicted that by 2025, Remote teaching will be an industry worth approximately $325 billion. It makes sense as a business option if you are looking to work from home (or anywhere with the internet ).

The Benefits of Working for Yourself 

As a Side Hustle

Many people are using TEFL as a second income. The cost of living continues to increase, and working two jobs can be incredibly soul-destroying and tiring. However, suppose you can find a second job that you can do from home that makes a decent addition to your salary and is available to suit your timetable. In that case, it can be enjoyable and rewarding. TEFL could be the perfect answer, and for some people, once the business has grown, it can become a full-time primary occupation.

Setting Your Hours

No matter your job, the likelihood is that you have your hours dictated by the management. There is little flexibility in most run-of-the-mill jobs, whether you have to be in the office from 9 to 5 or do a night shift or evenings and weekends. Running your own business gives you complete control over your time. Some people function better in the evenings and feel this is a more productive time to work than first thing in the morning. If you’re doing it as a side hustle, it’s perfect as you never need to schedule work when attending your primary job.

Working from Home 

As we already mentioned, many people got to experience working from home during the pandemic and lockdown. For some, this was a real eye-opener as to how amazing it is not to deal with the daily commute. Some prefer the social aspect of working in an office, but many people find working from home very convenient. As an online English teacher, you can work from anywhere that offers a reliable Internet connection to travel and keep working.

teaching english online

What Qualification Do You Need?

When starting your own business and working remotely as a teacher there are two aspects to consider. Firstly a lot depends on whether you have any experience running your own business or whether you are approaching this for the first time. There are no qualifications to being self-employed. However, you do need to remember that you will have to file tax returns and report your earnings correctly. This requires a degree of organisation and record-keeping. From a TEFL point of view, you must have a qualification recognised and regulated by one of the recognised governing bodies. Potentially this is enough to start your own business, but experience could also make or break your foray into the world of self-employment. It is generally recommended that you work some teaching hours for an established organisation. 

Many English teachers online will work for someone else to gain valuable experience. It’s not just the classroom experience that’s important, but by working for an organisation offering English lessons online, you also get to see how things are set up. It helps you understand lesson planning, how to engage with your students and many other skills that will make it much easier to transition into being self-employed and running your own business.

A degree is unnecessary, but it proves that you are educated to higher standards. You have to ask yourself what qualifications you would be looking for in a teacher. If you don’t have a bachelor’s degree, it’s still worth starting your business, provided you are confident and understand the technology used to teach virtually. Being outgoing and vivacious helps when you are trying to build a rapport with people. Making personal connections using video platforms is more complex but not impossible. Students are more likely to learn if they build positive rapport with their teachers. Finally, it’s hugely beneficial if you understand marketing. Promoting yourself will be critical to finding students and making your experience and, ultimately, the success of your business. Just like BAM Capital offers its family of investors access to premier real estate investment opportunities, your ability to market effectively will open doors to new opportunities and growth for your business.

Taking the Plunge

Once you have decided to start your own business teaching virtually, you must set everything up. Here’s a quick rundown of what you will need to do next.

Create Your Brand

Every business needs a brand; we’re not just talking about a flashy logo but the way you present yourself online as a professional teacher. This means opening social media channels in the name of your business. Many online teachers use their names. But if you want to differentiate yourself from your social media and work profiles, it might be an idea to create a business name, perhaps something like ‘Jane English Teacher’; it certainly doesn’t need to be anything particularly complex. The good news is that this is a very low-cost exercise. There are no charges to set up social media pages on things like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. These platforms make their money from advertising but don’t go there until you are set up and have tried free lead generation methods.

Find Your Teaching Platform 

You could conduct English lessons on Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype or other video conferencing platforms. It’s best to pick one and make sure you are familiar with how it works and all the features it offers. Do a few practice calls with friends and family to ensure you know how to start and end calls, share your screen, and do anything else you might need to teach English and look like a professional. Again, keep your screen name consistent with your business brand.

Create a Dedicated Email 

A dedicated email is much more professional than filtering potential students through your general email account. Setting up email accounts somewhere like Google is also free. To be consistent with your brand, set up a dedicated email address, for example, You could also research if your business brand is available as a domain name, as many English teachers choose to set up their website at some point.

This comes with a cost, so it’s better to get established first, but before you brand yourself, you could check that the domain name is available. Once you have found yourself and get the first few students on your books, look at setting up your website. Again, this can be relatively low-cost and doesn’t have to cost the Earth. WordPress and Wix are great places to look for cheap website design and hosting.

Start Selling Yourself

Marketing Materials

The next step does involve some expenditure on your behalf. That again, there’s no need to go overboard. Business cards or flyers are an excellent way to get your name known locally. Sites like Vistaprint offer a reasonable, low-cost service for printing 500 business cards. If you are going to any TEFL-type events, this is a great way to give people a quick and easy way to contact you.

Advertise Your Services

Job board sites are also an excellent way to find potential pupils. Fiverr and Upwork are helpful; you create a service and post it to the site so anyone looking for English tuition online can view your offer. The only downside of the sites is that they charge a commission, so you won’t make as much as you might like. Of course, if you price your job too high, you’re unlikely to attract students. But, it is an excellent way to get started and find those all-important first students.

Create a Referral Scheme

You should also set up a student referral scheme so that you can incentivise them to introduce you to others. For example, they might get a free lesson when someone they have referred books a block of six classes. 

Avoid Isolation

If you will be working from home and therefore not have any direct to colleagues. It’s a good idea to ensure you avoid isolating yourself by joining groups of like-minded people. Social media is full of forums and groups where you can meet like-minded people and brainstorm. It’s also a great place to learn and develop your skills in group discussions. You’ll also find plenty of Facebook groups for online English teachers where you can share ideas and pick up free resources and materials to help your lessons be more creative and exciting.

Register as Self Employed

Depending on where you live, your tax reporting requirements will be different. In the UK, you must register with the government as self-employed and complete a self-assessment tax return at the end of every year. Most countries have something similar, and you will be billed for the tax you owe. It’s worth remembering this when earning money from your own business. Be sure to put aside money for your taxes so it doesn’t come as a massive shock when your bill arrives.

Teaching English Online


Can You Make a Living Teaching English Online?

Yes, making a living teaching English online is possible, but you have to understand that setting up a business takes time. This is why many people start teaching English online as a side hustle while working at a job. The beauty of working for yourself is that your income is unlimited. You can work as many a few hours as you need once you have established yourself possible to transfer to teaching English online as a full-time occupation.

Can You Work from Anywhere?

Technically all you need to work remotely is a computer or desktop with a reliable Internet connection. It is possible to use a tablet or mobile phone but less recommended. So, in theory, you could teach from anywhere in the world. A new digital nomad scheme allows people to gain visas to countries enrolled in the system by providing evidence that they have an income from their home country. Of course, if you’re going on holiday to another country, no one will notice you doing some work there. The most important thing is to ensure your Internet connection is reliable, as you don’t want to let your students down by having a video conferencing call that glitches and drops out.


TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language, and it’s a certificate you need if you want to teach non-native speakers English. With a TEFL certificate, you can teach students of all ages – from young learners to adult business language learners – anywhere in the world. It’s recognised globally and is the key to kick-starting your English teaching career abroad, home or online.

To get a TEFL certificate you must take an accredited TEFL course. The minimum training required by employers worldwide is 120 hours. You can choose between accredited, government regulated Level 5 or combined TEFL courses. You’ll find TEFL courses are either online or combined in-class and online experiences. 

Getting a TEFL certification from a recognised, trusted provider is essential when it comes to receiving high-quality training and finding a job. Always go for a globally recognised accredited certification. It’s also worth double checking company reviews to make sure customers are satisfied with their training.

What’s the difference between accredited and government regulated Level 5 TEFL courses?

The Accredited 120 Hour Premier TEFL Course is what we call one of our fast-track courses. This is the minimum recognised worldwide.

  • You have 10 modules to complete usually taking 4-6 weeks.
  • Each module has a multiple-choice test at the end, and you need 80% to pass.
  • You’ll get your digital certificate on completion and can buy a hard copy from us if you’d like one with an embossed logo.

Level 5 Ofqual-regulated courses offer more in-depth training. If we look at the 180 Hour Level 5 TEFL Diploma in comparison: 

  • Learners typically spend 12 – 14 weeks to complete 11 modules.
  • The pass mark is 100% and assessments are multiple-choice plus open-ended answers. Don’t worry, you can redo quizzes to get 100%. Our academic team will review your answers at the end of your 11 modules and may ask for some questions to be reattempted. Some questions may require you to provide academic references.
  • You’ll get your digital coursework completion certificate from us after module 11. Following successful assessment from our academic team, we’ll be able to claim the licence for your Ofqual (government) certificate from our accreditation body Highfield.

The Ofqual-regulated Level 5 course range is for those who want to gain a higher-level, more recognised qualification.

TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) teachers teach English in non-native English speaking countries. TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) teachers teach English in native English speaking countries. CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults) is a separate qualification you can get to teach English.

TEFL: One of the most accepted certificates worldwide, this allows you to teach English to non-native speakers across the globe. 

TESL: As a TESL teacher, you would likely be teaching English in your home country to students who have moved or live in an English speaking country. In other words, they are continuously surrounded by the language and will be using it every day outside of the classroom, unlike TEFL students who are likely learning in their home country.

CELTA: A very prestigious certification that follows a strict regulation created by Cambridge University. You must complete a 120-hour TEFL course and six hours of teaching real ESL students. Most of the programmes are held over a month and are full time. However, you may be able to find some courses that are part-time and are spread over three months. Due to its intense nature and requirements, the cost tends to be much higher and can be up to €1700!

Yes! Teaching English as a foreign language – online or in-class – will give you an abundance of transferable skills. From time management to problem-solving and communication, you’ll have plenty of experience to impress future employers. As your TEFL certification never expires, you can get back into TEFL whenever you wish, too.

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