You can get paid to teach English online? When I first learned about the VIPKid program, I was really excited. It has always been a dream of mine to have a job that allows me to be wherever I want to be in the world. However, I waited a while to apply because I wanted to do proper research and make sure that it’s not a scam. Eventually, I did feel comfortable enough to apply. Now, I’ve been working with VIPKid for a couple of years and I can happily report that this company is 100% legit. This job has been everything that I hoped for. Teaching English online is a wonderful way to earn extra income while still having enough time to pursue other interests and goals. For me, it means freedom to travel and work on my blog. In this article, I will share all the information you need to know about becoming an online English teacher with VIPKid. Keep reading to find out whether this is a potential new path for you. Make sure to download my VIPKid application tips PDF at the end!
This article may contain affiliate links, which means, at no extra cost to you, I may earn a commission if you make a purchase. Thanks for supporting!
What is VIPKid?
VIPKid, or VIPKID, is an online teaching and education company founded in 2013. It is based in Beijing, China, but recently opened a US headquarter in San Francisco. The company focuses on pairing native English speakers from America and Canada with Chinese children from age 4 to 12. The platform uses video chat for the tutor and student to communicate on a one on one basis. VIPKid has revolutionized the way students in China study English. Currently, the company has 70,000+ contracted teachers and 600,000+ students.
What qualifications do you need to teach English online with VIPKid?
In order to apply for VIPKid, here are the main requirements:
- You must have a bachelor’s degree or higher.
- You must be eligible to work in the U.S. or Canada. Sorry UK and Australian citizens! VIPKid focus on teaching the American accent, so the company is not open to hiring outside of North America. I know. Terribly unfair.
- You must have at least 1 year of teaching experience. I talked about my experience working in Japan as an English teacher. If you don’t have classroom experience, highlight any relevant work that can qualify as teaching. This can include homeschooling, tutoring, coaching, mentoring, or other life experiences.
Lastly, while teaching credentials like TEFL are not required, they do give you an advantage in the hiring process. Check out this post for the best online TEFL courses you can take. Once you are hired, you can also study and earn the VIPKid-TESOL Certificate of Completion for free.
Do I need to know Chinese to teach with VIPKid?
One of the most common questions is whether you need to know Mandarin to be a VIPKid teacher. The answer is no. Phew, You can breathe easy now. VIPKid is all about having a fully immersive classroom experience. Teachers are encouraged to learn some Mandarin and get to know Chinese culture. However, it is purely for your benefits and not a necessity for the job.
(For me, I am a Chinese Canadian and I am fluent in Chinese. Ironically, I pretend I don’t speak Chinese while I am in the classroom. Why? Because I don’t want to entice the students to become too comfortable and give up speaking in English with me. A little complicated…I know.)
What equipment do you need to teach English online with VIPKid?
To teach English online with VIPKid, you need:
- A computer
- A headset with microphone
- Fast internet speed
- An educational backdrop in a brightly lit environment
That’s it. It’s no wonder why VIPKid is named one of the Top 100 Remote Work Companies by Forbes. Pretty much every morning, I roll out of bed 10 minutes before class is supposed to start, throw on a real shirt (not even bothered to change out of my PJ bottoms), stretch, turn on my laptop and start working.
I highly recommend taking some time to get your office set up properly in the beginning as a professional environment will go a long way in getting good ratings and rebooking from your students. I have had several different backgrounds for my virtual classroom. All it takes is a little DIY. It is important to make sure that your room is brightly lit, free from noise, and the internet speed is strong. I suggest buying an ethernet cable. It totally saved my life from crappy WIFI connections.
Also, there is no official uniform for the job, but it is encouraged for VIPKid teachers to wear orange as it is the company color.
What kind of hours do you work to teach English online with VIPKid?
As a contract online English teacher, you get to decide your own hours of work. I love love love this so much! There is an online scheduler where you can open time slots for when you are available to teach. From there, students can book you for the times that you’ve indicated. Each slot is half an hour long.
VIPKid’s popular class hours are 6 PM to 10 PM Beijing time on weeknights, and 9 AM to 10 PM Beijing time on weekends. These are the times that kids are at home from school. Since I live in Toronto, I have a 12 hours time difference with China. This means I get up before 6 AM to teach on most days. I am quite an early bird so I got used to this schedule quickly.
For those who are not morning people, coffee is your friend. 😛
Currently, I teach about 15 hours per week, with the classes spread out between weekday mornings and weekend nights. I know some teachers who pull all-nighters to teach on the weekends. Tempted by the extra dough, I had tried to do this as well. But after awhile, I could not deal with how tired I felt staying up at night. Whether you choose to do night classes is up to you. But remember: always prioritize your health first. The money is not worth the burnout.
Psst, if working on North America time is killing you, why not go somewhere else? You can literally teach from anywhere. Check out this article on the best digital nomad destinations around the world. Personally, I would love to live in Bali for awhile. It has zero time zone difference with China, so I can teach the kids at night and have all the free time in the day to explore. Hmm sounding better and better to me by the second. Let me go scheme this plan some more…
How much can you get paid to teach English online with VIPKid
Some DIY Dino Dollars I made as rewards for my students. Don’t worry. Teachers get paid real money.
Finally, the question you are burning to ask. How good is the money teaching with VIPKid?
Update: VIPKid made a fee structural change as of August 2020. The updated fee structure is a combination of your base rate pay + an incentive determined by the number of classes you taught, both cumulative and monthly.
Your base rate is determined based on your qualifications and interview when you get hired. So make sure to show off everything you’ve got during the application process. More tips on that later.
The base rate per class ranges from $7.5- $10.5 USD. Remember I mentioned earlier that a class is half an hour long (Actually, 25 minutes to be precise). So in hourly rate terms, you can get $15- $21 USD per hour.
Then, you have the incentive pay which varies. Teachers have the ability to increase their incentive payment by teaching more classes. The more classes a teacher teaches per month and the total amount of classes taught through all contracts, the more money a teacher makes each month on the VIPKid platform. Here is a look at the precise numbers:
Let’s get more clear with an example:
You are a new VIPKid hire who had negotiated a base rate pay of $8.5. For your first month, you taught 100 class. That means for your base pay: you earned $850. With your hours worked, you would fall under Tier 2 in the chart (80-199 Lifetime classes taught) and the 91st-130th class column. Your incentive payment works out to be $1.9 x100 classes, which equals $190. Your total earnings for the month is $850 + $190 = $1040
As your number of lifetime classes taught increases, you will also move up the tiers and earn more for your incentive.
There are several other ways you can earn money with VIPKid.
1. Trial classes
Trial classes are for new potential students who come to VIPKid for a free first-time experience. You have a mission to show them why they should learn English with VIPKid. Don’t worry, there are no sales involved. All you got to do is to teach a fabulous fun energetic class, as you normally would. If the student enjoys the lesson and decides to sign up for VIPKid, you are rewarded with a $5 bonus for the class.
I get this bonus often and there is no better feeling of validation than knowing that some kid loved your teaching so much that they signed up come back for more.
2. Seasonal bonus
Because the demand for classes are especially high during certain times of the year, like during holidays in China, VIPKid sometimes offer incentives for teachers to open up more peak time slots during the week. A recent example:
* Receive $8 if you open 20 to 44 PPT slots.
* Receive $25 if you open 45 to 63 PPT slots.
* Receive $35 if you open 64 or more PPT slots.
(PPT stands for Peak Peak Time, AKA the busiest hours for class bookings)
Note: you will likely not end up teaching all of these classes. You just have to open up the schedule to qualify for the rewards. VIPKid run these incentives all the time. I absolutely love it when I can pocket $100-$150 extra per month without doing additional work. Mwuhahaha!
3. Referral Bonus
VIPKid is always looking for more good teachers. The market for English learning is only growing bigger. As the company gets more and more students, there is a shortage of educators! If you tell people you know about VIPKid, and they end up applying and getting hired, guess what? You get paid a referral bonus as a thank you. The even more amazing thing is: you can get a bonus on top of your bonus. Say what? While making one successful referral will get you $100, making three successful referrals will get you $100 in addition. The milestone rewards continue at $200 bonus for 5 referrals, $500 bonus for 10 referrals, and so on.
Having said this, if you do apply for VIPKid, I would really appreciate it if you sign up via my referral link here. I am happy to coach you through the application process. Feel free to reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
As you can see, there are many opportunities to earn with VIPKid. What you get out of it is what you put into it. I currently make about $1,200-$1,600 a month teaching whenever I can between my travels. My goal moving forward is to book more classes now that I have a portable background (which I’ve recently DIYed) and found a way to have reliable WIFI all the time (Highly recommend Skyroam, the best pocket WIFI that works in 130+ countries). Eventually, I would love to become a VIPKid mentor who helps new teachers develop their education skills (Yes, this is another stream of income you can get into).
A more detailed look into the VIPKid education program
VIPKid has fully developed curriculum for students of each level. For the teachers, there is no lesson planning needed. Every class is already laid out in a deck of powerpoint slides. Your job is to show up and walk the students through the content in a fun and engaging way. On each slide, there are tips for you about how to teach in the footnotes. Teachers are encouraged to look over the slides prior to the class. But to be honest, I only flip through the deck quickly 5 minutes before teaching these days. For native English speakers, the information is most of the time quite intuitive.
In every unit, there are 12 lessons surrounding a theme topic. The student study vocabulary, grammar, and phonics, all the while being exposed to knowledge in social sciences and math. At the end of the unit, the student must present a project and complete an assessment testing everything that they have learned.
You may be nervously thinking: Wow, sounds like a lot. How can I teach little Chinese kids all this without speaking their language? You’d be surprised how many ways there are to communicate an idea beyond verbally. VIPKid is very big on TPR: Total Physical Response. AKA body language. I love acting for my kids. It makes them laugh and keeps them engaged. Props are another great tool in the classroom. Some of the best props I have are:
- Whiteboard. For writing and drawing.
- Character cutouts. For demonstrating conversation.
- Fake money. For rewarding the students when they do a good job.
VIPKid offers many workshops for advancing your skills as an educator. As well, I find the teacher’s community on Facebook very helpful.
The downsides of VIPKid
Having mentioned so many good points, I want to summarize some of the disadvantages of being English teachers with VIPKid.
1. It can take awhile to get a consistent amount of bookings
This is similar to a freelance job. There is no guaranteed salary. You get paid based on how often you are able to get booked. Starting out as a new teacher can be slow. However, with time and good work, you will eventually build many regular students. My biggest advice is to work on your teacher’s profile. Make an inviting short video that shows the parents what a lesson with you is like. Like Uber or Airbnb, there is a review system. Once you finish a class, parents can rate you from 1 to 5 apples. The more 5 apple reviews you have, the more appealing you will look to future students.
Also, VIPKid has different levels for students of varying abilities. You can increase your chances of being booked by getting certified to teach more levels. I currently teach level 2, level 3, level 4, and trial classes. I plan to apply for level 5 soon so I can tap into a brand new pool of students.
2. Reliance on technology
Comparing to traditional face to face tutoring, teaching online has its pros and cons. Overall, the ability to communicate remotely is great. However, when you encounter technical or internet issues, the whole system falls apart. I’ve taught terrible classes where either the student or I had poor WIFI connection. We would spend a lot of energy refreshing the page, contacting support, and saying “hello hello” back and forth. It felt like a waste of time on both sides. Not to mention, if your lesson breaks up too often due to issues on your end, the class will be marked as “Teacher IT Problem” and you won’t be paid for that class. (If it was a student IT problem, you will still be paid) I cannot emphasize enough, having stable internet is key!
3. No employee benefits
All teachers who work for VIPKid are considered contractors. There are no employee benefits such as insurance or retirement saving plans like in a normal corporate company. No dental coverage. No massages. Nada. For those coming from a full time job, this can seem like a big disadvantage. What can I say, this is the tradeoff for freedom, people. On the upside, you can have vacation time whenever you want. Personally, I take the latter any day. 😛
3. Managing your schedule
With VIPKid, you are responsible for keeping track of your own schedule. If for whatever reason, you had to cancel a class or fail to show up for a class, it goes on your record. The maximum number of missed appointments currently allowed per contract period is six. Any more than that, you are at risk of being terminated. In addition, there are pay deductions that come with these missed appointments (Example: -$10 for a teacher no show)
Having said that, the company does take into account emergencies. In exceptional circumstances, such as illness, VIPKid allows teachers to apply for a “Soft” or “Medium” missed appointment with no pay deduction.
I admit, I had accidentally missed morning classes before, simply because I forgot to set my alarm. It felt terrible to know that I let my student down. Now, I am much more conscientious about checking my schedule and setting double alarm clocks. Stay organized and you’ll be golden.
4. Student No Shows
Actually, this is not such a bad thing. When a student doesn’t show up during a regular class, you still get compensated for your time. I usually just read a book or do my own thing on the computer while I wait to see if the kid ends up coming. If they don’t show? No worries. I got full pay for doing no work. However, a trial class is a bit different. When a student doesn’t end up coming for a trial class, which happens often since it’s a free class for them, your pay is cut in half for that time slot. Sure, you are free to leave the classroom early after 15 minutes of waiting, but this is still a little annoying when you came expecting being paid for the whole class.
Is being an online ESL teacher with VIPKid for you?
I’ve shared all my honest opinions about teaching English with VIPKid in this article. I hope it was helpful. If you are still on the fence about whether VIPKid is for you, refer to this quick handy thought list I made:
VIPKid is for you if
- You long for freedom to work where you want when you want
- You love interacting with kids
- You are interested in education (Even better if you are passionate about it!)
- You are able to work during mornings and weekend nights (Assuming you are based in North America)
VIPKid is not for you if
- You dislike kids
- You are shy to communicate
- You need a 100% stable salary
- You can’t have a job without benefits
- You have poor organization and time management skills
The VIPKid application process + Tips
Ready for online English teaching life? Head to my referral link for VIPKid and apply! Here is a breakdown of the application process.
1. Application form
Fill out the form that asks for your basic information, qualifications, etc.
2. Interview or self-recorded demo
Once you pass stage one, you have the option of either scheduling a live interview or a self-recorded demonstration. This is to assess your teachability and personality. You are asked to teach a lesson for about 10 minutes. The lesson slides will be provided to you so you can prepare ahead of time. The current lesson for all applicants is My Feelings (not to be confused with that Drake song 😉 ). For the live interview, you meet a VIPKid mentor who will act as a little Chinese kid as you conduct your mock lesson. For the self-recorded demo, you record a video pretending that you are teaching a student when you are actually talking to air. Both options are pretty silly in their own ways, so choose your poison. Psst make sure to download my VIPKid application tips below for advice on how to ace the interview.
3. Certification stage
Woot! You’ve passed the interview! We are almost there. The third step is to become certified for whatever level students you want to teach. Most students are in levels 2 or 3, so it’s recommended to start with these levels. Once you have gained some experience with VIPKid, you can move on to teach levels 4, 5, or 6, for the more advanced students. The certification process involves going through some reading and video materials about the VIPKid teaching style and methods to teach the specific level. In the end, you will schedule a mock class with a mentor. Similar to the step 2 interview, you will teach a class to your interviewer, who will assess your teaching abilities and give you feedback. If you do not pass the mock class on the first try, you can do it again.
4. Contract and set up your profile
Finally, the contract signing stage! After a clear background check, which VIPKid will conduct, you will be officially offered the job. At this time, you are asked to set up your teacher’s profile, upload proof of your diploma, write a little bio, include some photos & a short video (for marketing yourself), and you are done! Congratulations! You are a VIPKid teacher! You will now have access to the teacher’s portal, where you can open the schedule for teaching classes, find workshops and resources, check your payments, and so much more.
Again, if you are interested in applying for VIPKid, I would appreciate it if you sign up via my referral link. Already in the process of applying? You can still add my code VIOLA0002 If you have any questions at all about VIPKid, feel free to send me an email at email@example.com.
VIPKid Interview Pro Tips PDF
Nervous about your interview? I got you. Enter your email address below to get my VIPKid Interview Pro Tips PDF download link in your inbox. This 2-page check list includes all the advice you need to pass with flying colors. By signing up, you will also opt into The Blessing Bucket monthly newsletter.
Good luck on your VIPKid journey!
VIPKid Vs Outschool
Don’t feel like teaching English? I also teach on a different online education platform called Outschool where you can teach whatever you want. Check out my article here.
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