VIPKID is an online platform that connects North American teachers and tutors with students around the world for one-on-one English lessons. With flexible hours and good rates, VIPKID is an intriguing way to earn supplemental income. While not for everyone, it might be for you.
For many teachers and other young professionals, a single full-time job may not be enough to satisfy the little extras in life that go a long way towards fulfillment. However, getting a second job is not always feasible due to time constraints, a lack of flexibility, or simply exhaustion after a long day at work.
Thankfully, the spread of technology alongside growing global interconnectedness means that exciting new remote work options are more available than ever before. One such niche, e-teaching, offers a terrific opportunity for those individuals seeking to earn a few extra dollars. Highlighted by a Fast Company as among the “Most Innovative Companies”, VIPKID is a platform that provides prospective teachers with the ability to choose their teaching schedule without having to sacrifice other income streams.
The service is ideal for professionals who are seeking:
- A work-from-home scenario that makes financial sense
- A straightforward and low-stress supplemental income stream
- A flexible way to earn money while still retaining autonomy
- A source of income that can work well with a traveling life style
While very advantageous, especially for teachers seeking to monetize their skills outside the classroom, the model isn’t ideal for everyone. We had a chance to speak with one of VIPKID’s top teachers to learn more about the company.
What exactly is VIPKID?
VIPKID is an ESL teaching platform for children between the ages of four and 12.
The company connects Chinese students to tutors from around the world for short one-on-one lessons focused around developing better English language skills. The company was founded in 2013, and now includes teachers from across the globe. Its platform is compliant with Common Core Standards for the US and requires applicants to have prior teaching experience.
Teachers can sign up for the service by completing the application process and start teaching as soon as they’re accepted. VIPKID allows teachers to set the hours they prefer to teach before matching them with students who can request specific time slots. VIPKID offers a pay rate that is derived from performance as well as a base rate determined for each teacher following the initial interview process.
How can I apply for VIPKID
The initial application to be a VIPKID teacher is one of the more rigorous processes required by a freelancer service.
VIPKID is concerned with offering its students the best quality lessons possible, something that shines through in their students-first approach. As such, the application process requires several steps and although potential hires are not required to have teaching-specific degrees, they do need prior experience in education.
To get started, VIPKID asks that applicants fulfill the following requirements:
- A Bachelor’s degree (it doesn’t have to be in an education-specific field)
- At least some experience teaching in K-12 in the US or Canada (there’s no minimum component)
- Availability to sign a minimum six-month work contract which can be renewed
1. Fill out application
If you meet these requirements, the first step is to fill out a quick application on the company’s website and send them your CV.
2. Online meeting with a recruiter and small test
After filling out the application, you will be invited for a 30-minute session to meet with a VIPKID recruiter, where you’ll be expected to simulate a lesson with the recruiter. Your interview will be a large factor in determining your base pay rate per lesson, so it’s always useful to go in as prepared as possible. You’ll also be asked to undergo a short test to verify your credentials.
3. Full lesson with VIPKID teacher
Once you finish with the initial online meeting with the recruiter, the next step will be to prepare and then practice teaching a full lesson with a VIPKID teacher.
4. Sign a contract and provide additional documentation
If you qualify move ahead, you’ll be asked to sign your initial contract, provide additional documentation, and then pass a background check. The application is quite rigorous; VIPKIDS accepts only 10 percent of its applicants, a sign that they constantly look for the most talented candidates.
What is it like working for VIPKID ?
By and large, VIPKID is considered a great employer by its teachers, and that’s supported by online communities of teachers.
One of the biggest positives highlighted by the platform’s teachers is the flexibility it provides. VIPKID teachers can choose their availability for time slots and can select as many or as few as they like. “For me this is a much better situation because I can work while my kids sleep, and I don’t have to leave home,” said Amy, a teacher at VIPKID, in an interview for Money Under 30. “In-person tutoring would likely require me to get childcare.”
One small area of concern for some prospective teachers might be timing. Because the children being taught are in China, scheduling could mean being prepared to teach during hours normally considered ‘off’.
Another positive attribute touted by teachers is how the lesson model works. There is little prep work involved considering most lessons are pre-planned and teachers simply have to follow them. Per Amy, “The PowerPoints are very helpful. Occasionally I will need to add content to the end of a lesson if a student is advanced and knows the material well already…Many of the courses follow the same format and overlap some in content. I keep all my standard props nearby and use them as needed.”
An area that may complicate matters for some are the technical requirements. These may put off some teachers who are constantly on the go. The company requires the following for lessons:
- A laptop or desktop computer (mobile devices aren’t powerful enough)
- An operating system newer than Windows 7 or Mac OS 10.8x
- An Intel Core i3 processor or better, at least 4GB of ram, and the most recent version of Flash
- An internet connection of at least 20 Mbps
- A computer camera
- A good headset with a microphone
Many of these requirements are easy to meet with a current generation computer. But, internet connections vary significantly from location to location, meaning that traveling teachers may require some advanced logistics.
How do teachers get paid?
Teachers who are accepted by VIPKID can earn between $14 and $22 per hour. But know that each lesson is only 30 minutes long. Pay rates are determined by the base pay which is established following your initial interview, as well as incentives for starting lessons on time and bonuses based on the number of lessons completed monthly.
In addition to the variable pay scale, teachers are paid directly for the lessons they teach.
The single biggest benefit VIPKID presents for teachers seeking tutoring opportunities is maximum flexibility. There is no minimum (or maximum) requirement relating to how many lessons must be taught per day, week, or month.
Instead, users are incentivized to teach more with additional bonuses. These average the number of completed lessons per month. For instance, teachers receive a bump in payment if they teach more than 45 lessons every month and if they start lessons promptly.
Payouts happen monthly, and generally occur during the middle of the month.
There are areas where the company is improving
No job is perfect, though critiques leveled at VIPKID are fairly minimal.
Standardization of information
One big area where the company can improve is standardizing the information it provides to its teachers. The company has a full library of pre-made lessons that are well-liked by teachers. However, some have reported receiving conflicting answers when querying VIPKID.
“There are many discussions by teachers in the Facebook groups about what we can and can’t do,” said Amy. “Teachers send in support tickets to ask but often receive conflicting answers. There would be a lot less confusion if all the ‘rules’ would be consolidated in one document as an official statement from the company.”
Another area that may be less than optimal for some prospective VIPKID applicants is scheduling. As we mentioned, students are exclusively based in China. Although teachers can work from anywhere in the world, the ‘peak’ hours for students are generally in the afternoons. This means some teachers may need to wake up or work at uncommon hours early in the morning or past midnight.
Teaching for VIPKIDS: Pros and Cons
|Very high earnings potential||Lengthy application process|
|Flexible work hours||Non-standardized of information for teachers|
|Pre-planned, standardized lessons||Long-distance scheduling|
VIPKID presents a fantastic way for young teachers and professionals to supplement their income or partially fund their own globetrotting adventures. With flexible scheduling and pay rates that can reach as high as $22 per hour, the platform delivers a way to maintain freedom and work as much as you like despite some minor room for improvements.
In keeping with the freelancer economy model, VIPKID empowers you to generate extra income, work from home, and even see the world without having to worry where your next paycheck is arriving from.