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I’ve been teaching with VIPKID since February 2017, and I put together this VIPKID review to share my personal experience and honest opinion for people who are considering applying.
When I tell people that I teach English as a second language (ESL) online with VIPKID, I get a lot of questions —
What’s it like? Who do you teach for? How do you get paid? How much do you get paid?
I love teaching with VIPKID, and I genuinely believe it can be a great opportunity for many people. That’s why I want to share with you my experience and how I made over $10,000 teaching part-time with VIPKID in 2017.
Who is VIPKID?
Let’s just go ahead and get this one out of the way: VIPKID is not a scam; it is a legitimate company that pays. I would know – I’m a teacher!
VIPKID is an online education company – the leading online education company – for children in China. It was founded in 2013 with a mission to provide Chinese children with the American elementary school education.
The VIPKID curriculum is aligned with the U.S. common core standards and utilizes a flipped classroom approach. This means students study at home and do work before class so class time can be used for fun exercises and discussion.
Since its inception, VIPKID has won numerous awards, such as the US-China Entrepreneurship Leader Award in 2014, Shengjing Top 21 Global Innovation Award in 2015, and various others. VIPKID also became the official provider of the TOEFL Primary assessment in China in April 2016.
So there you have it. It’s legit. ✔
What are the requirements to teach with VIPKID?
I had absolutely no teaching experience (other than tutoring in high school, if that counts) before teaching with VIPKID. I may have been offered the lowest base pay of $7.00 per 25-minute class, but I still make $14 per hour when I teach!
Formally, here is what’s required to become a VIPKID teacher:
- K12 classroom experience in the US or Canada (meaning you attended school in either of these places, not necessarily taught, though that does help)
- Bachelor’s degree in any field (mine is finance 🤑 )
- A desktop or laptop with fast Internet connection and audio/video capability
A minimum of 7.5 hours available per week during Beijing peak times (below)As of 2017, there is no longer a minimum number of hours required to teach with VIPKID!
VIPKID Peak Hours Chart:
As long as you have a friendly face (or can at least fake a nice smile), can teach a fun and interactive class, and meet the above criteria, you qualify to teach for VIPKID!
However, meeting the criteria does not mean it’s a good fit for you.
Who is VIPKID for?
I’m not going to lie to you and say VIPKID is for everyone, because I truly believe it isn’t. But if you love working with kids and the ideas of working from home or making money online appeal to you, then you could be a great candidate!
VIPKID teachers come from all sorts of different backgrounds. We’re world travelers, stay-at-home moms, fledgling entrepreneurs supplementing our income (that’s me!), and people who just prefer to work from home.
But if you ask me, most VIPKID teachers probably have a few things in common. They:
- Love working with children
- Are passionate about education
- Like to (or can) be silly
I don’t know why anyone would apply to be a teacher if they didn’t love working with kids, but nevertheless, some people do.
Teaching, even online, requires a lot of energy and commitment. The early mornings or late, late nights (depending on your time zone) can be rough, but loving what you do and enjoying your time with the students makes it worth it.
Not to mention the flexibility is a huuuuge bonus!
Being goofy is an absolute necessity as a VIPKID teacher; it just comes with the territory. I have done and said some absolutely ridiculous things to get the attention of a four-year-old. In my experience, you have to be comfortable being silly to be successful when you’re teaching young students!
What is the VIPKID application process like?
There is a 6-step application process to become a teacher with VIPKID. Don’t let that deter you – it’s not as bad as it sounds! The process goes like this:
Step 1: Application – All you have to do to apply is create an account, complete a short application, and submit your resume.
I’ve heard that VIPKID is very selective about the resumes they approve, but mine got approved almost immediately and, as I mentioned earlier, I had no previous teaching experience.
However, just like with any other job application, your resume should be clean, polished, and professional before you submit it. If you do have previous teaching experience, be sure to list it!
Step 2: VIPKID Interview – The interview is crucial because this is where your base pay is determined.
Once your resume has been submitted, you’ll get access to the next step in your VIPKID account, which will include a short lesson you’ll need to prepare for your interview.
There are two options for interviewing with VIPKID: 1) Schedule a 30-minute video interview/demo lesson with a VIPKID recruiter, or 2) Record your interview and send it in for evaluation.
Step 3: Teaching Materials – After the interview comes some training.
If you pass the interview, the next step is an introduction to VIPKID. Here you’ll watch several videos about VIPKID’s technology, standards, and teaching curriculum.
Step 4: Mock Class(es) – This, in my opinion, is the toughest part of the interview.
At this step, you’ll get to meet with an experienced VIPKID teacher and practice teaching a full-length class. You’ll receive teaching materials beforehand and have plenty of time to prepare, which you’ll definitely want to do!
(Your mock teacher determines whether or not you get the job!)
I’m not going to lie — this part is a little awkward. At least it was for me. However, it was super helpful and encouraging to speak with a teacher who had been in my shoes and could answer all my questions about what I should expect.
Step 5: Contract and Marketing Materials – Whew, glad that’s over! After the mock classes, you’re pretty much in!
All that’s left here is to review and sign your contract and add your marketing materials to the teacher portal.
Marketing materials include a short teacher bio and a 15-second video. These are very important because they’re the first impression parents and students get of you before enrolling (or not enrolling…) in your class.
Step 6: Book Classes and Teach! – You made it!
Sign into your teacher portal, select your availability, and start teaching!
For me, this entire process took less than a week. I was teaching within 8 days of submitting my application!
How will I know what to do? What if I have questions!?
VIPKID teachers are technically independent contractors (which means you have to pay your own taxes). This is easy enough to do — just type “how to pay freelancer taxes” into Google and you’ll figure it out pretty quickly.
The company has done a great job connecting teachers since I started. In 2017, they opened up the Hutong, which is a community where teachers can ask questions, participate in challenges, and complete various activities for rewards. Rewards range from a VIPKID swag (T-shirts, Dino dolls, mugs, etc.) to a trip to China.
The Hutong is basically VIPKID’s way of connecting teachers to facilitate a greater sense of community. It serves its purpose well — teachers love the Hutong (myself included)!
How will I know if I’m doing well?
Everyone likes to be told they’re doing a good job from time to time. It boosts morale and makes the job feel more enjoyable and worthwhile.
In 2017, VIPKID made parent feedback available to teachers, so now you can see what parents and students have to say about your classes. I have enjoyed this new feature immensely!
Every morning when I wake up to teach, the first thing I do is refresh my feedback page to see how I’ve done on my most recent classes. A little obsessive, maybe, but I love reading the comments!
Here is some of the coolest feedback I’ve received so far:
Have I mentioned that I love my students? 👩🏻🏫❤
As you can see, the VIPKID curriculum works, and both children and parents love it.
What is a typical VIPKID class like?
Classes last 25-28 minutes, with 25 minutes being the absolute minimum. The remaining 2-5 minutes is used to leave feedback on the student’s performance.
Each class varies depending on the student’s level, which is why it’s good to review the PowerPoints 24 hours or so before teaching, at least in the beginning.
This shouldn’t take more than a couple minutes per PowerPoint. Now that I’ve been teaching for a while and feel comfortable with the material and exercises, I usually only do this for classes I haven’t taught before.
Because VIPKID uses the flipped classroom approach, the student should have studied the material they’ll review with you in class before class. That way, you can spend your time on discussion, correcting pronunciation or misunderstandings, and completing the fun, interactive exercises!
There are two main types of classes with VIPKID: Master Classes and Trial Classes.
Master classes are for students who have already signed up with VIPKID. Trial classes, on the other hand, are set up by the VIPKID sales team and are for prospective students.
While both are obviously important, it’s extra important to make a good impression in trial classes, because you are likely the first VIPKID face the parent and student are seeing. You also get a small referral if the student signs up after the trial class (more on this later).
Straight up – what are the pros and cons?
Pros and cons vary depending on who you ask. The ones I’ve listed here are my personal opinion, along with some feedback I’ve heard from other teachers on the Interwebs.
- Teach amazing children and feel like part of community
- Set your own schedule
- Good pay and incentives
- The freedom to travel and work
- Takes a lot of energy (you have to love children)
- Some teachers have had difficulty booking classes (I haven’t had this problem.)
- Hours can be difficult (i.e. early mornings or late nights)
- Only pays once per month
For me, the benefits far outweigh the costs. The VIPKID community is an awesome one, and I love waking up every morning to smiling faces and knowing I’m becoming an important part of my students’ lives.
It was really difficult for me to adjust to the early mornings (I teach from 7-9am now, but I used to teach from 5-9am), but now that I’m used to it, it doesn’t bother me.
I’ve also never had difficulty booking classes. As long as you put some effort into your marketing materials (bio and 15-second video), then you shouldn’t have trouble getting students.
Will I teach the same students?
I think the answer for this one also varies from teacher to teacher. If you’re teaching regularly and students enjoy your class, then you’ll likely build a student base that will want to attend your class on a regular basis.
I started getting repeat students about two weeks after I began teaching with VIPKID. Now I have about ten regular students who try to book my class every week or every other week (see below), and I’m getting new ones all the time!
What if I have to cancel class or technology is out to ruin my life?
Ah, technology. The love and the hate (but mostly love). VIPKID understands that things pop up from time to time that prevent you from attending a previously scheduled class, whether it’s sickness, a power outage, or some other unforeseen circumstance.
Any time you cancel a class, you will not be paid for that class time. This makes sense because you didn’t teach anyone. Teachers are normally allowed six cancellations per six-month contract.
However, VIPKID has become more lenient on this since I began teaching. They now allow legitimate doctors’ notes to excuse teachers who cancel a class due to sickness. You still don’t get paid, but it doesn’t count against you either.
It’s important to keep in mind that when a teacher cancels class, the student often is not able to find a substitute in time due to the high demand for VIPKID teachers. For this reason, and to maintain parent and student trust, VIPKID discourages teachers from canceling class unless it is absolutely necessary.
I’ve only experienced technical difficulties a few times since I started teaching in February 2017. Once, I wasn’t able to sign into a classroom, so I messaged the Firemen (VIPKID tech support) and received a response immediately.
I was never able to sign into that classroom, so the class had to be canceled. However, VIPKID was aware of the situation and trying to help me resolve it within seconds.
The next day, I received an email saying that several other teachers had the same problem and that they would be paying me for the class after all since it seemed to be a system error.
What tools will I need?
Good news, teacher-to-be — you don’t need much! VIPKID asks that you use reward systems to show the children they are doing well and make the class more fun and interactive. They provide several rewards for you, but you’re also welcome to make your own — be creative!
Here’s what’s in my teacher toolbox:
- Clip on light: It’s usually still dark in the morning when I wake up to teach (time difference, woo!), so I snap this bad boy onto my laptop to give me a little extra light. It’s adjustable and you can choose the brightness level and white or yellow light.
- Headphones with a mic: These headphones are super comfortable! I started out using a pair from Best Buy that didn’t cover my whole ear and I found that my ears would get really sore after a few classes. These work a lot better!
- Super adorable hand puppet: Hand puppets make lower-level classes go much more smoothly. And I love that this one is cute and colorful and made of reclaimed wool.
- VIPKID rewards systems: I switch it up between velcro rewards (fish, flowers, animals, etc.) and the free ManyCam software. Some teachers get super fancy with their rewards, but I like to keep it simple. It’s about the interaction, not the bling!
- World Map: While not necessarily a requirement, it’s been really fun having a map as my backdrop. Sometimes I’ll have conversations with them about where they live in China and I love blowing their little minds when I tell them it’s night there and morning at my house!
- Small whiteboard: I picked mine up at the dollar store and it works just fine!
- Some props: Again, the dollar store is your best friend. I use flashcards, some stuffed animals, and a few other fun little things (glasses, magnifying glass, that type of thing).
That’s it! So you see, you don’t need much to get started; you can always build up your arsenal over time, or be like me and keep it simple.
Show me the money! How much does VIPKID pay?
Finally, the answer everyone has been waiting for: how much money can you actually make teaching with VIPKID?
This one is a little number heavy, so stick with me.
VIPKID pays a base rate of $7-$9 per 25-minute class, which translates to $14-$18 per hour. There are a couple of factors that determine your base pay:
- Your previous teaching experience, and
- Your performance on your interview and demo class.
You will always get your base pay for a master class, even if the student cancels and you never actually teach it. However, canceled trial classes result in a 50% pay deduction. For me, that means $3.50 rather than $7.
You will likely have more trial classes when you are first starting out. Because trial classes are more likely to be canceled than master classes, your hourly pay will not be as good in the beginning, but will increase over time as you attract more regular students and build a following.
In addition to base pay, there are two regular monthly incentives:
- Participation Incentive: $1 extra for each class taught just for showing up on time
- Finished Classes Incentive: $0.50 extra per class for teaching 30-44 classes per month, or $1 extra per class for teaching >45 classes per month
- <24 Hour Booking Incentive: $2 for booking classes within 24 hours of class time
I always receive both of these incentives. Therefore, my base pay is $18 per hour (($7 + $1 + $1) x 2).
In addition to the two regular monthly incentives, there are also additional incentives:
- $5 per trial class conversion
- Tiered incentive for referring other VIPKID teachers
- Varying monthly incentives
An example of #3 would be the “Feedback Incentive” where teachers were given an additional $50-$100 for receiving the most 5-apple reviews (we use apples for parent feedback instead of stars).
The incentives are usually pretty easy to achieve. I got the full $100 for the feedback incentive and have received $200+ in monthly incentives just for teaching like normal and receiving positive feedback.
Because I’m a visual and number person, let me just give you a breakdown of a couple months of my pay.
February 2017 was my first month teaching. I taught 41 trial classes and 47 master classes. (This breakdown is not shown in the teacher portal; I had to count them.)
I had 17 student no-shows, most of which were trial classes. For these, I was paid $3.50 per class ($5.50 if it was booked within 24 hours of class time) rather than my regular base pay of $7 per class.
Five of my trial classes signed up for VIPKID in the month of February, and several more that I taught in February signed up in March, which means that pay was included in March’s payout.
I received both the Finished Classes and Participation incentives ($88 each).
My total pay for February was $786.50. Divided by 88 classes and multiplied by two classes per hour, that’s $17.88 per hour before taxes.
In March, I taught 207 classes and only had 10 student no-shows (4.8%, down from 25% in February). Of all of these, 19 were trial classes and 188 were master classes (9.2%, down from 46.6% in February).
Four of my trial classes signed up with VIPKID, and I referred one teacher. There was an extra referral incentive of $25 in the month of February, so I received $75 for this teacher referral rather than the usual $50.
I also received the Participation and Finished Classes incentives ($207 each) and $100 for being in the top tier of the 5-apple review incentive.
My total pay for March was $2,041. Divided by 207 classes and multiplied by two classes per hour, that’s $19.72 per hour before taxes. That’s more than a 10% increase from my first month to my second.
UPDATE: After my first couple months teaching I slowed waaaaay down. (I had just left my full-time job and was starting a business/looking for ways to make money online.) I didn’t teach ANY classes in November of December, and my I made over $10,000 teaching part-time with VIPKID in 2017.
Not bad for having the lowest base pay offered.
My Honest VIPKID Review
Honestly, I love VIPKID. I started teaching right after I left my full-time job, and it allowed me to make money traveling and support myself while building my financial coaching business. Overall, I couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity, and it came at just the right time.
If you’re a parent, teacher, traveler, or just someone who wants to make money working from home, then I highly recommend you apply for VIPKID.
The worst that can happen is you don’t enjoy it, so you work for a while and then stop opening class times and let your contract expire. Then you tried something and know it’s not for you. 🤷🏻♀️
This post went longer than I intended, but I hope I answered all your questions about teaching with VIPKID. If not, feel free to leave a comment below.
I’m a financial coach and author + owner of Goodbye to Broke. I love all things personal finance, money management, and healthy living. And I talk to my dog way too much, if we’re being honest.