As one of the more popular online English as a second language (ESL) providers, Cambly is an undisputed giant in the industry. In this Cambly review, we will explore the benefits and drawbacks of working with this leader in the ESL field.
Read on to find out about the Cambly application process, Cambly tutor requirements, how to become a Cambly tutor, and the pay rates that Cambly tutors earn.
Kevin Law and Sameer Shariff founded Cambly in 2012. Back then, online ESL education was still in its infancy. Since then – fueled by the transition to digital learning due to COVID-19 – the industry has exploded, with Cambly growing to become one of the most recognizable names in the industry.
Cambly is somewhat unique in that it allows students and teachers on its platform to instantaneously link up – no pre-scheduling required. Users can simply hop onto the site, connect with a teacher, and start learning.
You can learn more about the evolution of Cambly in this interview with Shariff.
What are the Requirements to Teach With Cambly?
As part of its more informal approach to online learning, Cambly’s requirements for teachers are less stringent than you might expect. Here they are:
Essentially, to qualify with Cambly, you must have a heartbeat, be legally eligible to work. and be a native English speaker from a native English-speaking nation. That’s really all there is to it – no transcripts, no background checks, no references required.
For the purposes of Cambly, “native speakers” are passport holders from the following countries:
- United States
- South Africa
- New Zealand
Applicants need not have any type of degree or accreditation to be accepted as a Cambly tutor. Whereas many other sites require teachers to have a four-year university degree or a TEFL certificate (or both), this is not the case with Cambly.
As such, Cambly is perfect for university students considering a future in ESL to gain valuable teaching experience or for potential teachers who just want to dip their toes into the digital waters to get a taste of the online ESL working experience.
Nonetheless, if you plan a future in ESL, earning an affordable, accredited 120 hour TEFL certification online is wise as it markedly increases your value in the eyes of hiring managers worldwide.
Get Certified to Teach Anywhere!
No previous teaching experience is required to work with Cambly.
The tech item checklist you will need to teach with Cambly includes*:
- Webcam (most laptops have built-in webcams in 2021, so you likely don’t need to buy one)
- Headset with microphone (again, most laptops already have microphones; however, to ensure the highest-quality audio possible, Cambly expects teachers to utilize inexpensive headsets)
- Good lighting
*It’s worth noting here that, for the benefit of the teaching experience, Cambly does not allow teachers to use cellphones or tablets. You must interface with the platform either with a laptop or a desktop.
Also, a steady, fast internet connection is crucial to creating a smooth experience for both teacher and learner.
What Is the Cambly Application Process Like?
If you’ve already invested time and energy into the application process for other online ESL sites, then you will understand and appreciate the simplicity of Cambly’s approach to recruiting new tutors.
Here is the step-by-step procedure.
Register on the Site (Free)
To get started, head over to the tutor sign-up page. You can expedite the process by using your Google, Facebook, or Apple account in the sign-up process.
Fill Out the Forms (Pretty Easy)
Compared to other ESL sites, the set of questions you must answer is relatively brief – your birth date, country of origin, reasons for interest in Cambly, and how you heard about the opportunity, past experiences, etc. – the standard questions you would expect on any job application form.
As outlined previously, two of the first factors that Cambly considers for prospective teachers are whether you have the necessary functional equipment (video and microphone) and whether your internet speed is up to snuff.
If you live in the United States, Canada, Western Europe, Australia, or New Zealand, you likely meet the basic connection speed requirements.
Create a 2-Minute Introductory Video
This video will serve as your introduction to potential students, so it’s important that you not only impress the Cambly hiring manager responsible for reviewing your application, but also your prospective students once you are hired.
A few pointers for creating a high-quality video here include:
- Speak slowly and annunciate clearly – remember that you are going to be teaching non-native learners.
- Smile and appear friendly.
- Utilize total physical response (TPR) – a proven ESL teaching technique in which you incorporate physical mimicking and body language for a more absorbing learning experience. Employing TPR is especially useful in digital English education as keeping students engaged in the online classroom can be more difficult to manage than in-person environments.
- Have fun – students can pick up your vibes and will respond accordingly.
Get more hot tips on how to make an exceptional intro video on Cambly’s Help Center.
Once you’ve filled out the application form in its entirety and uploaded your video, the Cambly team will review your application and make a decision about whether you are a good fit.
How Long Does the Entire Hiring Process Take From Start to Finish?
If you meet the requirements and upload a high-quality intro, you can expect to receive an invitation to join the team within a few days. Many teachers report being offered a position within as few as 12 hours of applying.
What Is the Teaching Experience at Cambly Like?
Now that we’ve covered the application process to join Cambly, let’s dive into the teaching experience – how to get students, the lesson formats, payment schedules, etc.
How Are Classes Assigned on Cambly?
Unlike other platforms that do the work of matching their students with tutors, Cambly allows its students (or their parents) to browse through the offerings and connect with the teacher that they are most interested in learning with (again, this is why acing your intro video is so important).
In terms of assigning work, the benefits of Cambly over other sites are:
- No need to try to actively recruit students
- Connect with students on a whim, anytime, 24/7 – for example, when you have unexpected downtime
- There is no minimum workload (teach as little or as much as you want)
The bottom line on scheduling is that Cambly is much more flexible than other sites.
What are the Cambly classes like?
Students have the option to set the duration of their lessons. Their list of options for lesson length include 15 minutes, 30 minutes, or one hour.
The lessons on offer for Cambly students are divided into subcategories by interest and purpose. These include:
- “Survival English” (intended primarily for tourists and recent immigrants to English-speaking countries)
- Preparing for exams
- Preparing for job interviews
- Business English
- Basic conversation
Students of all ages, skill levels, and nationalities can be found on Cambly – a welcome respite for many teachers coming from other platforms that frequently cater exclusively to Chinese children.If you are interested in teaching only children, you might consider the Cambly Kids program (at $12/hour, it is slightly higher-paying than the regular Cambly payment of $10.20 per hour).
What platform do Cambly teachers use?
One of the more convenient and frustration-neutralizing features of Cambly is its in-platform translation feature. When students can’t find the proper words in English, this enables them to quickly type any concerns into a text box which is then translated into English, and vice versa.
How much does Cambly pay?
The pay for Cambly teachers is rigid and inflexible – and also lower than the industry average. The pay rates are between $10.20/hour for regular classes and $12/hour for Cambly Kids.
- Regular Cambly classes: $10.20/hour
- Cambly Kids: $12/hour
The benefit, however, is that Cambly pays out every week via PayPal. Other online teaching companies usually pay out monthly (with some notorious for not paying on time).
Is being a Cambly tutor worth it?
The answer here depends on a number of factors:
- Your education level
- Your TEFL certification status
- Your prior teaching experience
- Expected pay
- What you hope to get out of your online teaching experience (see reviews in next section for insights)
The bottom line: if you don’t have a university degree, TEFL certification, or prior teaching experience, then Cambly may be worth it. If you have some or all of these qualifications, though, you can find much higher-paying ESL work online, especially if you’re open to teaching Chinese students online.
Cambly Reviews (From Real Teachers)
Obviously, not everyone is going to have a universally positive or negative experience with Cambly or any other online ESL platform. Therefore, when considering working for such a group, it’s wise to survey a healthy smattering of reviews from various sources.
Let’s dive into some positive and negative Cambly reviews from real teachers.
Positive Cambly Reviews
The flexible schedule, lack of required time commitment, and weekly payout via PayPal are oft-cited positives in reviews from Cambly teachers.
Negative Cambly Reviews
Aside from frequent complaints of poor customer service, the overwhelming preponderance of negative feedback from teachers relates to the low – or, as this Cambly teacher puts it, “abysmal” — pay.
Popular Online ESL Alternatives to Cambly
Here are a few other online ESL industry leaders you might want to consider if Cambly doesn’t suit your needs:
- Palfish. If you don’t have a degree but want to teach online English, Palfish may be the ideal alternative to Cambly. The pay ceiling is higher (up to $30/hour for experienced, credentialed teachers).
- Magic Ears. Magic Ears is a well-reviewed online teaching platform catering primarily to young Chinese learners. Applicants must have either a university degree or be “actively enrolled in a bachelor’s program.”
- UUABC. UUABC is an up-and-comper in the online ESL field. Like Magic Ears, applicants must have a university degree, however, to qualify. Check out our UUABC review.
For a full list of places to work, see our guide of the 25 Best Places To Teach English Online.
The Takeaway on Becoming a Cambly Tutor
Let’s conclude with a brief rundown of the relative benefits and drawbacks of working with Cambly compared to other online ESL platforms that we have explored above.
Cambly Teaching Experience Pros:
- Extremely flexible scheduling (classes available 24/7)
- No minimum time commitment each month
- Students come from a wide array of backgrounds (not just Chinese)
- No degree, previous experience, or TEFL certification required
Cambly Teaching Experience Cons:
- Pay for new teachers to the platform ($10.20) is well below the industry average of roughly $15/hour
- Competition for work can be tough during certain times (high student-to-teacher ratio)
- Frequent complaints of unresponsive management, account termination with no justification offered
Cambly Tutor FAQ
Is Cambly legit?
Yes! Cambly is a reputable online learning platform known for its flexible schedule for teachers. They pay teachers each week with PayPal and have hundreds of reviews from real teachers online.
How much do you make on Cambly?
The rates for regular classes are $10.20/hour and $12/hour for Cambly Kids. These rates are not flexible and are lower than the industry average.
How long does it take to get hired by Cambly?
Some teachers have been hired in as little as 12 hours after uploading their application materials. For most, expect the process to take 3-4 days from start to finish.
Is it easy to get hired at Cambly?
Yes! Cambly has significantly fewer requirements for teachers than other online platforms. As long as you are a native English speaker, you have a good chance of getting hired by Cambly.
Do you need a degree to work for Cambly?
Nope! There is no degree or TEFL requirements to work for Cambly. That said, we still recommend investing in an accredited 120-hour TEFL for progressing in your ESL career.
What’s the Cambly tutor age requirement?
You must be at least 18 years old to apply and teach for Cambly.