The Complete Guide to Teaching Online with Cambly Tutor

by: Matt Moran ESL Authority Matt Moran | Last Updated April 13, 2020

Cambly Overview

Average Salary
$10.20/hr
Native Speaker Required?
Yes
TEFL Required?
No
Degree Required?
No

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There are plenty of companies out there that will pay you to teach online, but few as appealing as Cambly. Cambly is known to offer the most flexible teaching arrangements, along with some of the easiest entrance requirements. If you’re interested in getting a foot in the door of the online teaching world, we’ve got you covered with everything you need to know!

In our complete guide to teaching online with Cambly tutor, we’ll fill you in on all the important stuff, like how much they pay, the application process, the platform, teacher schedules, and more. We’ll also be sharing some Cambly tutor reviews to help you get your online teaching career kickstarted. 

About Cambly?

Cambly is an online English teaching and learning platform that connects language learners with native English speaking tutors. They’ve been around for a long time and are one of the most well-known and well-respected names in the ESL industry. Cambly provides students with an opportunity to practice speaking English with a native speaker, so the focus is less on formal teaching and more on having a natural, informal conversation with a tutor.

Unlike most other ESL employers, Cambly doesn’t focus exclusively on the Chinese or Asian markets. A large percentage of the students on Cambly is, in fact, from Middle Eastern and European countries. Students on the platform are largely adults, but you may encounter children and teenagers from time to time. 

Cambly is also structured differently from traditional ESL teaching platforms in that it’s a 24-hour platform and uses a ‘log-in-and-talk’ system. We’ll explain more about what this means for tutors later on in the teaching schedule section of this guide. 

What are the requirements to teach for Cambly?

Cambly has quite easy entry requirements – one of the lowest out of any ESL employer we’ve come across. You only need two things:

  • Be a Native English speaker
  • Meet the technical requirements required to use the Cambly platform

The latter point means you’ll need a laptop capable of running video chat software, a webcam, a headset, and a strong internet connection. I’m guessing if you’ve made it this far, you probably already have a laptop, and an internet connection, so you’re nearly all set.

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Unlike most other platforms, you don’t need a degree, teaching certificate or any experience to teach with Cambly. This is good news for teachers that don’t meet the minimum entry requirements for traditional ESL employers like DaDaABC.

Related: How to Teach with DaDaABC in 2019: A Guide to Getting Hired

Of course, it doesn’t hurt to exceed the minimum requirements. If you do have any relevant qualifications or experience, I’d definitely recommend mentioning them during the application process as it might speed things up a little.

What does Cambly pay?

Unlike most other ESL companies, Cambly pays by per minute – not per hour or lesson. The reason is Cambly classes have no set length and they can end at any time. Therefore, they pay by the minute to ensure you get paid accurately. Cambly pays their tutors 17 cents USD per minute they spend teaching. That works out at around $10.20 per teaching hour.

$10.20 is less than the industry average, but when you consider how low the entry requirements are, and how flexible the system is, it’s really not a bad rate. It’s probably not enough to support your self full-time, but it’s a great supplementary income. Cambly pays out every week on a Monday via PayPal. The minimum payment threshold is $20, 

What is the interview process for Cambly?

Cambly’s hiring process is pretty straightforward. You don’t actually have to do an interview at all. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Create a profile on Cambly and fill out some basic information
  2. Complete an automatic connection test
  3. Record an introduction video using your webcam and mic 
  4. Send it off and wait for the Cambly recruitment team to approve your profile
  5. Start teaching!

The closest part to an interview is the introduction video, but it’s super easy. Cambly will load up a recording screen on your browser. All you have to do is talk a little bit about yourself. I’d recommend mentioning things like why you want to work for Cambly, your qualifications, and any experience you have with teaching or tutoring.

The main reason for the video is so that their recruiters can make sure that you’re a native speaker and judge your ability to have a natural, friendly conversation.

What is the Cambly tutor teaching schedule?

Cambly is a ‘log-in-and-talk’ style platform. Teachers can simply log in whenever they want and make themselves available for calls to start teaching. There is no set schedule, and you don’t even have to schedule classes in advance. You’re in complete control of when you work.

Cambly operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can log in at 3 AM on a Sunday if you choose to, it’s entirely up to you. That being said, you have the best chance of getting calls at peak times in South America, the Middle East, and Asia. It’s also important to remember that you won’t necessarily get a call as soon as you log in. You’ll be put into a queue of tutors which students can choose from. Your call rate will depend on a lot of factors, including demand at the time you log on, and luck.

I’d probably suggest that you expect to be on a call (and getting paid) for around 50% of the time you spend logged in and available. I say this from my personal experience working on the Cambly platform. 

There are two exceptions to the log-in-and-talk system that you need to know about: Priority Hours and reservations.

Priority Hours

Priority Hours is a system that Cambly has introduced to incentivize more teachers to be available when demand is high. You can sign up to be active during these hours in advance. In return, you’ll be able to potentially receive more calls. Occasionally, Cambly offers a guaranteed-pay incentive. For example, they might guarantee to pay 15 minutes per hour at a minimum, regardless of the number of classes you teach.

When you sign up for Priority Hours, you can only cancel if you do so at least 12 hours in advance. If you cancel after this, you run the risk of incurring a penalty.

Reservations

Cambly tutors have the ability to open up reservation slots to create more of a stable schedule and get more teaching hours. When you open up reservation slots, students can book lessons with you in advance.

Understanding the Cambly tutor teaching platform

When you log in to your Cambly tutor account, the first thing you’ll need to do is start the automatic connection test. This will make sure your connection is up to scratch and your webcam and mic are both working. After that, on your dashboard, you can toggle your availability button to ‘visible’ to make yourself available for calls, or switch tabs to open up reservation slots or sign up for priority hours.

Below is a video that walks you through how to navigate these different tabs.

When the button is set to visible, a lesson request can come through at any time. When it does, all you have to do is accept it to be taken to the video chat interface. Cambly uses their own teaching interface, which puts your video feed and your student’s side by side. There is a text box in case you or your student wants to type something. Some students like to use this to make notes or to type something they struggle pronouncing.

You can also pull up lesson plans in advance of the lesson from Cambly’s archives if you choose to do so, but this isn’t necessary. Most students just want conversation practice, rather than formal tuition, so lesson plans aren’t usually required. When you’re ready to end the class, politely let your student know and click the button to end the lesson.

Cambly tutor reviews

To better understand what it’s like to work for Cambly, let’s hear what some existing Cambly tutors after say about the platform. 

Cambly has an overall review score on Glassdoor of ⅘ stars, which isn’t bad. I picked out a couple of reviews from there to provide a little more perspective; you can see them below.

Most of the reviews were positive, but negative comments did come up from time to time. Based on what I read, here are some of the main pros and cons that come in in Cambly tutor reviews.

Pros:

  • Very flexible scheduling
  • Low job requirements
  • Meet students from all over the world
  • Interesting conversations in lessons

Cons:

  • Lower pay than other platforms
  • Some students can be disrespectful
  • Little teacher support

Finally, here’s my two cents: I worked for Cambly for around 6 months a couple of years back, and I have a lot of positive things to say about the platform. I like the fact that they allow their tutors to work on their own terms, and I love the fact that they don’t have mandatory lesson plans and formats. The whole thing is a lot more ‘casual’ than other online teaching jobs, which was great for me, and for anyone that’s looking for a supplementary income but doesn’t want to make any employment commitments.

The best thing for me, though, is the fact that it’s a 24-hour platform. When you work for China-based ESL companies, you’re limited to Beijing hours. It can be tough to find a company that actually has lessons outside of those hours, and Cambly is an oasis in the desert in that regard.

Final Thoughts on Cambly

That completes this guide to teaching online with Cambly tutor. If it sounds like a company you’d like to work for, go ahead and apply right now, and you could be teaching within the month. If not, there are plenty of other online teaching opportunities out there, and we have similar guides for many of them, so make sure you check those out.

If you have any more questions, let us know in the comments. Good luck!

Other Resources

Matt Moran ESL Authority

Matt Moran

Matt is a writer, former ESL teacher, and founder of Remotely Working. When he’s not busy writing, you can probably find him sipping a flat white and planning his next adventure.

15 Comments

  1. Do you know if there’s a minimum age requirement to teach for Cambly? I’m 16 and in the US. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hi Kathy – good question but unfortunately we don’t have the answer, sorry! Have you asked Cambly?

      Reply
      • Can I use payoneer or Skrill or similar methods for payment or is PayPal the only option

        Reply
        • Hi Wasifa – you will need to check with Cambly on this.

          Reply
      • Hi! I just want to clarify, are tutors provided with lesson plans or at least some sort of guideline for lessons?

        Reply
  2. I applied and haven’t heard back from them 🙁

    Reply
  3. Hello, thanks for the article, though I am curious, can a non native speaker become a tutor with cambly?

    Reply
    • Hi Nasra, according to our research you need to be a native speaker in order to work for Cambly.

      Reply
  4. Hi there,

    Cambly has announced that they are on a hiring freeze at the moment. Do you recommend i send my application to them anyways for when they are operative again ( in the hiring sense), or should i wait until they announce they are hiring again? I don’t want my application to get disregarded or sent to the bottom of the pile, if you know what I mean….

    Thank you,
    Best regards
    Guille.

    Reply
    • Hi Gille – Id submit it now and then follow up regularly to see when the freeze is lifted – I might even resubmit it when they start hiring again just to cover all my bases.

      Reply
    • Hi there,

      On a reddit thread, a tutor posted an email from Cambly that they are taking on new tutors again, due to increase in student traffic. Great news!

      Regards,
      Tanya

      Reply
  5. What is the penalty for cancelling a priority class after 12 hours?

    Reply
  6. Cambly customer service is just about the worst customer service I have ever experienced. Somehow, my tutor account was totally deleted. I’m not even sure if I was fired or what, if anything, I did wrong. This month was my 3-year anniversary on Cambly. I had logged over 18,000 chats earning more than $47,000. As far as I knew everything was fine. I had about 3 weeks of Priority Hours booked and many reservations scheduled. I had a small and loyal following of regular students, many of whom I had known for years. It would have been nice to at least say goodbye. I guess I’ll never get that chance.

    Reply
  7. $10.20 is not the “average salary” as you have listed above. Tutors do not average that much. $10.20 is the maximum a tutor will make and its rare for a tutor to make that more than two hours in a row. If a tutor works a “priority hour”, they are paid for 15 minutes @ $0.17 per minute if they don’t receive any calls. Monday to Friday, a tutor is lucky if they are working a priority hour to get 15 minutes. The average is 5-15 minutes during a priority hour. Even if you are a seasoned veteran tutor having worked years you still will not average $10.20/hr because students come and go frequently. You will average $2.55/hr.

    Reply
  8. Hi is there a site I can go to that will show me how to navigate the cambly kid portal I am so new at this I don’ t even know how to get into the teacher portal

    Reply

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