California Dreaming: Teach English Online from the Golden State

If you're interested in working as an online ESL teacher in California, do your research to find companies that are still hiring and that comply with AB5

In this blog post, we’ll explore how you can find online English teaching jobs in California.

Some online ESL companies don’t hire people who live in California due to the state’s labor laws and regulations. I still remember 2020. I was working for online ESL companies and heard that teachers who legally resided in California were being laid off. In particular, California’s Assembly Bill 5 (AB5) had caused some companies to reevaluate their hiring practices. (Read below this blog post for more info on AB5.)

Online English teaching jobs in California

However, not all online ESL companies have stopped hiring in California. Some companies complied with AB5 by reclassifying their workers as employees. Others established a business structure that allowed them to hire independent contractors in compliance with the law.

If you’re interested in working as an online ESL teacher in California, do some research. Find companies that are still hiring and that comply with AB5 and other applicable laws and regulations.

If you live in California, I suggest you either freelance teach or look for a more traditional remote ESL job. Think of jobs with a w-2 and a local employer. Just because it is a traditional job, doesn’t mean it can’t be remote. You can work as an English instructor remotely for many organizations. For example, look for jobs with refugee resettlement agencies, local public and private schools, adult learning programs, and other nonprofits.

Freelance teach remotely

My first suggestion is to just freelance teach. There’s no reason why you need to work for anyone else at all. Set up your own business, flyer your profile around town, and go at it. I have landed many local students in Boston from just replying to Craigslists ads looking for tutors. In fact, I found one of my more lucrative positions this way. A dad was looking for a tutor to help his son with his college writing. He paid me better than any online ESL company, that’s for sure. Search through California job and gig postings (you can pick the city) and work for yourself. Here is the Craigslist site for Los Angeles jobs. Be sure to filter it by industry (education) and whether you want full or part-time work.

Get a Full-Time Remote Online Teaching Position

Many online ESL companies work like gig economy employers. And, California doesn’t want gig economy employers to exploit workers.

Consider the many ways online ESL companies act like gig economy employers. They hire you and require certain things, but they don’t offer the same rights that a traditional employer must offer you.

For example, they might require a logo of theirs in your background, or you have a certain dress code (I remember when Itutorgroup required you to wear red, for example).

Please check out this comprehensive post I wrote about getting a full-time online remote teaching job that fulfill the requirements California has for online teaching.

More info about California regulations on ESL companies

AB5 went into effect on January 1, 2020. It established stricter criteria for determining whether a worker is an independent contractor or an employee. Under AB5, workers are presumed to be employees unless they meet certain criteria. For example, they must be free from control and direction from the hiring company. Also, they must be providing a service that is outside the usual course of the company’s business,. Finally, they must be customarily engaging in an independently established trade or occupation.

Some online ESL companies choose not to hire people who live in California. They are afraid of the potential legal risks and compliance costs associated with AB5. This is because they are subject to greater scrutiny. They risk potential legal action if they are found to be misclassifying workers as independent contractors instead of employees

Here are some other posts I wrote that might help you.

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Ingrid Maria Pimsner, MA, BA, TEFL
Ingrid Maria Pimsner, MA, BA, TEFL

Ingrid Maria Pimsner has been teaching for over a decade in various universities, nonprofits, and private academies. She has taught English as a Second Language for Lutheran Children & Family Service, Nationalities Service Center, Lernstudio Barbarossa Berlin-Tegel, and more. In addition to her Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) Certification, she holds a BA from the University of Pennsylvania and a MA from Maryland Institute College of Art.