VIPKid is an online education platform where Chinese children can improve their English with the help of teachers from North America. It's a great side hustle opportunity if you have a passion for teaching and want to make some extra money on your computer in only a few hours a week.
- High Earning Potential
- No Lesson Planning
- Flexible Hours
- Lengthy Online Application
- Time Consuming Training
- Time Difference in Scheduling
There might be hundreds of ways to make money online, but let’s face it: there aren’t many ways to start earning a decent living wage straightaway.
Most of the lucrative options for online work require either a significant time investment while you build a foundation, or for you to already be a professional in that area.
As you’ve probably realized, teaching English online is one of the more viable options – if you speak English, you’re already halfway there! Why not cash in on a skill you were born with and probably take for granted every day?
VIPKid is up there with the most popular websites for teaching English and has a huge client base, so it’s one of the first places you should consider using.
If you’re hesitant about how the sign-up and teaching process works or want to know how much you can expect to earn on the site, keep reading.
What is VIPKid?
VIPKid is an online platform that connects North American teachers with Chinese children who want to improve their English.
The focus is on K-12 education, so all children on the site are aged between four and twelve years old – although many teachers have reported encountering children even younger.
The entire teaching process happens through screens, so you can work from anywhere in the world. Whether that’s at home with your kids or on a beach in Thailand.
That makes VIPKid a tempting choice for anyone who wants to start a side hustle or make some money to fuel that around-the-world trip.
Who Can Be a VIPKid Teacher?
Although teaching English online is one of the more accessible online jobs out there, there are still some restrictions.
VIPKid prides itself on providing high-quality teachers who must go through a rigorous application process – allegedly, only 10% of applicants are accepted into the platform.
VIPKid Teacher Requirements
- Must live in the US (except California) or Canada
- Some Teaching Experience
- Must have a Bachelor’s Degree
- Have access to a computer (with 4gb of ram) with a microphone and camera
- Have access to a stable internet connection (at least 20 Mbps)
As mentioned, VIPKid is aimed at teachers in North America. If you don’t live in the US or Canada, you’re not eligible to teach on VIPKid; this helps with consistency when it comes to the curriculum and accent. If you live in California, you’re also ruled out. Due to the new legislation regarding gig economy workers in the state, VIPKid has deemed it too complicated to accept new applications from anyone located there.
Geographic location isn’t the only requirement for the site. You’ll need some teaching experience, although VIPKid doesn’t make it completely clear how much.
If you think at first you have no teaching experience, take a step back and think about if you’ve ever worked with children in some capacity. Have you ever been a mentor or volunteered for a charity that helps children? Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box to prove what a great candidate you are – in fact, VIPKid encourages people to consider alternative forms of teaching, including homeschooling. Basically, they just want to ensure you’re able to communicate with the pupils.
There are a few technical requirements too. You won’t be able to complete the job without a computer, internet connection, microphone, and camera. The computer or laptop you use must have a RAM of at least 4GB, a stable internet connection of at least 20 Mbps, and an up-to-date operating system.
Do You Need A Degree To Work for VIPKid?
Finally, yes, you’ll need at least a Bachelor’s degree to work for VIPKid. This might seem unfair – we all know there are people without degrees who are more educated than those who have two.
However, you’ve got to remember that the Chinese parents using the service are putting their faith into VIPKid to find good teachers that will never be screened in person. Seemingly arbitrary requirements are a necessary evil.
What Is Teaching On VIPKid Like?
Now for some basic housekeeping. What is being a teacher on VIPKid actually like?
If a student wants to take a lesson with you for the first time, they’ll book on to a trial. These can be challenging since you’ll need to figure out their English level and adjust the lesson as you go, but practice makes perfect. It’s possible to cancel lessons in emergencies, but there are only six cancelations per contract, so it’s best to avoid doing so unless you really need to.
Classes are 30 minutes long each, of which 25 minutes is actual teaching time. Because all the content is already prepared for you, the work you need to do outside of lessons is minimal. However, you could occasionally come across a lack of clarity in the instructions, so you may need to use some initiative to make it up yourself. You might sometimes also have to add extra content to the end of the presentation for capable students, or choose extra elements for the classes, like props or fun activities.
Class material is available on the teacher’s portal 6-12 hours before every lesson for you to check out, and the lessons take place on VIPKid’s own platform.
Student Age Range
Although VIPKid has traditionally only accepted children who are five or older, they’ve recently started to accept children even younger – sometimes even two years old. As you’d expect, kids of this age can be difficult to control, and will sometimes get scared, nervous, or upset. Older children are less challenging.
One big plus is that the students normally behave well. They often have their parents with them, especially in earlier lessons, so be prepared for that.
If you want to find out, even more, you can check out VIPKid Facebook groups.
VIPKid Approach to Teaching and Learning
If you become a teacher on the site, you’ll be giving one-on-one lessons to pupils. The aim of the program is total immersion for the students, which is achieved using a flipped-classroom approach.
This means that, instead of lessons focusing on classwork and giving out homework at the end, students are proactive in taking control of their learning – they consume content before the class even takes place and have lessons focused primarily on a discussion.
That’s good news for you, the teacher: expect committed students who truly want to learn.
If you get accepted into the program, then VIPKid clearly deems you to have the makings of a good teacher, and you’ll also go through training before you’re given your first pupil. Nonetheless, many new teachers are anxious about messing things up.
VIPKid Tips for Being a Good Teacher:
- Have a rewards system in place and discipline students who don’t meet expectations
- Include interactive activities to aid learning
- Time the class properly and according to the ability of the pupils
- Maintain a good rapport with the pupils
- Have a good energy level suited to the activities
- Layout lesson objectives and complete them
How Much Does VIPKid Pay?
Met the requirements? The next thing you probably want to know is how much you can earn. The tagline of VIPKid is ‘earn up to $22 an hour.’ Let’s break that down.
All classes are 25 minutes long and bring in $7-9 an hour. Your rate will be determined by your performance in the interview, the information in your application, and your success on the job. If you have more experience and have proved your teaching chops consistently, expect to be earning the top rates.
You’ve probably noticed that this still doesn’t quite add up to $22 an hour. That’s because there are other incentives you can earn along the way.
- There’s a $2 bonus for lessons booked within 24 hours of their starting time, to compensate for the last-minute preparation needed.
- You can also get a $1 bonus for teaching more than 45 classes per month and a $0.50 bonus for teaching 30-44 classes – considering this bonus is added to every class you teach, the increase in pay is significant.
- Finally, there’s a $1 bonus for starting and finishing classes on time.
Sounds good, right? But bear in mind this only covers the time you spent actually teaching – the time you spend preparing for lessons isn’t reimbursed. Although you won’t need to plan your classes (VIPKid take care of all lesson materials), you will need to review everything on the teaching portal beforehand and check you’re ready. This can chip into your hourly rate.
You might also need to spend money on equipment or props for lessons, like puppets or a whiteboard. Some teachers report that VIPKid reimbursed them for the cost of these items, but the official line remains unclear.
If your pupil doesn’t show up, you’ll still get paid the full rate – but you’ll only get paid half rate if a trial student doesn’t show up.
When you get paid, the money will be deposited directly to your bank account once a month, between the 10th and the 15th.
How Many Hours Can You Work With VIPkid?
It’s all well and good getting paid up to $22 an hour, but it’s only meaningful if you get a significant number of hours on a regular basis. It’s recommended to schedule availability a month in advance to maximize the number of bookings you get.
Once you’re through the VIPKid application process, the number of hours you can work is up to you. However, there’s no guarantee that all the slots you put out there will be snapped up by clients.
Your likelihood of getting classes depends on the quality of your profile and your reputation. Once you have a few clients, it will be easier to get more, but until then, make sure your profile is filled out – adding a video is a great way to give it a personal touch.
VIPKid Peak Hours
Another barrier is the difference in time zones. Remember, China is in a very different time zone to North America – trying to schedule meetings when most people in the country are asleep is unlikely to be successful!
VIPKid recommends teachers to be available for at least 7.5 hours a week, which works out as 15 time slots. Popular times are (in Eastern time) early mornings on weekdays and 9pm-9am on weekends. These are generally considered to be anti-social hours, but it’s handy for anyone who plans to fit their teaching around a full-time job.
Although VIPKid no longer asks teachers to commit to a minimum number of hours every week – they used to – you’ll have to sign a contract that commits you to teach on the platform for at least six months.
It’s possible to take a few days off, even for an extended period, but you need to let VIPKid know at least two weeks in advance. The website is designed for users who are serious about teaching, so if you just want to dip your toes into the water of teaching, then you might want to look elsewhere.
The sign-up procedure for VIPKid is simple but time-consuming: there are five stages, which take up to four hours altogether. The process is designed to put off anyone who doesn’t have a genuine interest in using the platform. However, you’ll only be able to proceed on to the next stage if you manage to pass the stage before.
Provide Basic Information
After signing up with your email address, you’ll be taken to a screen to fill in some basic information about yourself. Thankfully, no cover letter or resume is required – you’ll just need to give your personal information and include any teaching experience you have.
You’ll then be prompted to answer some optional questions about your motivations for joining, your current working commitments, and when and how much you expect to work.
But don’t worry – even if you really have no experience at all, you stand a good chance of acceptance as long as you show some natural competency.
That’s where the next stage of the application process comes in: the interview, which takes the form of a demo lesson. If you have teaching experience, let it shine through; if you don’t, prove you’re still capable.
Once it’s been confirmed that you’ve progressed to this stage, you’ll be able to choose the date and time of your interview. You can enter the site up to an hour beforehand to familiarize yourself with the software and ensure all your equipment is working to guarantee a smooth process.
There are two options for how you go about your online lesson interview: you can either upload a video of you teaching for a recruiter to assess later, or answer questions and teach a demo with a live interviewer pretending to be a kid. It might sound daunting to pretend a fully grown adult is a child and teach them, but it can be easier to get into the role this way rather than talking to your screen. At the end of the day, the choice is yours.
Your performance in your interview affects your payment. You’ll be assessed according to your ability to explain activities to a beginner level student, extract complete answers from them, and demonstrate your ESL teaching skills.
Tips From VIPKid to Improve Your Chances of Excelling:
- Show good time management
- Look at your slides in advance
- Ensure a good background and lighting
Once you’ve finished, the interviewer who was previously acting as a child will immediately give you some feedback, and after the interview, you’ll receive an email letting you know your score, including your strengths and weaknesses.
VIPKid Online Training
If you pass the practice lesson stage, you have what it takes to become an online teacher. But that doesn’t mean you can start teaching right away. You’ll have to complete some online training first.
This is the longest part of the process and can take up to three hours. But once you’ve reached this part of the application, you’re already guaranteed your position, so it’s well worth it to start earning hundreds or even thousands a month. After completing the training, you’ll have to do a quiz to check you’ve really been watching the videos.
Once you’ve completed your training, you’ll complete a full-length lesson to another VIPKid teacher. This ensures you’ve taken everything from the training on board and are ready to teach real pupils. Provided this goes smoothly, you can progress to the last part of the process.
The final stage is purely procedural. You’ll sign your contract, upload your document, and the VIPKid team will carry out a background check. A six-month minimum commitment is required.
Is VIPKid a good job?
Defining a ‘good job’ is always going to be a personal, subjective question. How much money are you looking for? Do you value money, progression, or fulfillment more? However, if you’re looking for a remote job with guaranteed hours that gives you a decent income source, and you enjoy working with children, then VIPKid is probably going to be a great fit for you.
However, VIPKid has its issues, just as all companies do. Some teachers have complained there’s a lack of standardization when it comes to the rules due to conflicting information. Another prime problem is the difficulty of scheduling appointments that make sense for both the Northern American and the Chinese time zones.
Is VIPKid a legitimate company?
The world of making money online is fraught with scams and time wasters that aren’t as good as they sound, so it’s good to exercise caution – but VIPKid is completely legitimate.
The company started as a language school in China back in 2013, and has since grown to become a multibillion-dollar company and a leader in ESL education online. The numbers of people using it are incredible – there are around 100,000 teachers and 700,000 children. Can that many people be wrong?
Take some solace in the fact that Flexjobs named VIPKid third place in its annual list of ‘100 Top Companies with Remote Jobs in 2019’, while Glassdoor awarded VIPKid number nine in its list of the best places to work in 2020.
Alternatives to VIPKid
But the good news is that VIPKid isn’t the only online platform that lets you teach English online. Even if you’re not a college graduate or you’re not a resident of North America, you could still make money from teaching English online.
Preply is a hugely popular site that allows people from all over the world to teach a variety of subjects, although languages are one of the most popular options: there are currently more than 2500 English tutors on the site.
Although teaching experience is recommended, it isn’t a set requirement, and no certifications are needed either. You can set your own rates, but to get the highest pay, you need good reviews and experiences to back up your value.
Tute is another website that accepts tutors from all countries and backgrounds. However, if your experience and qualifications are minuscule, then you’ll end up with a lower wage.
Is VIPKid Worth It?
Teaching young kids online isn’t for everyone – some people would prefer to spend their mornings and evenings in bed, not singing the alphabet. But chances are, if you’re still reading this, you think it could be worth it for you.
VIPKid has seven times as many pupils as they do tutors, which means that if you’re accepted, you’re likely to end up getting a lot of work. There aren’t many platforms that let gig economy workers start earning such a high wage straight away, so it’s certainly a tempting opportunity for anybody who meets the requirements.
Unlike a lot of online work, teaching is understood and respected within the traditional sphere of work, so you can also use the experience to improve your CV or test out a different career. Who knows what opportunities teaching online could lead to or what doors it could open?