Important Note: VIPKid is not currently accepting teachers considering the Chinese aren’t allowing foreign tutors currently. Learn more about the China ban and explore other tutoring jobs. Here’s more…
I worked for VIPKid for over 4 years. I taught a total of 1,376 students throughout China during that time, and I developed close relationships with several of them. I had regular students who would appear on my computer screen every Monday and Wednesday at the same time without fail.
I greeted new faces on a daily basis, and I watched children go from new readers, learning the words for clothing items, to students who could discuss the planets in our solar system in a language that they did not hear at home.
It was rewarding – both personally and financially – and I planned to continue to teach for as long as I could.
New VIPKid Policies
In the summer of 2021, China announced that it had some new educational policies. This included forbidding students from taking tutoring classes on weekends or during school breaks.
This policy was ostensibly put into place to ease the burden on Chinese students.
I had witnessed these burdens firsthand – students who had spent eight hours at school and then came to my digital classroom for a half-hour English lesson after a math lesson and before a violin lesson.
The pressure to be academically superior is deeply felt in China from a young age. This resulted in those tiny faces falling asleep or crying while trying to conjugate verbs.
I was excited for the students that I had built relationships with to get back a part of their childhood, even if it meant fewer classes that I would be able to teach.
However, the other part of the new education policy prohibited companies from hiring foreign teachers based outside the country.
There were several online educational companies that closed overnight. VIPKid was able to broker a deal with the government, though, that allowed its teachers to continue to teach children who had already purchased tutoring packages through October 31.
The week of Halloween, I slowly said goodbye to the kids I had been teaching for years. It was hard and sad.
VIPKid is actively trying to open other markets throughout the world to give its teachers a place to teach. The global platform is reaching students all over the world, there are certifications that teachers can get to teach adults, and the BookNook program connects teachers with students in more rural classrooms in the U.S.
They are actively working to establish themselves in South Korea and they have just opened a new market opening in Saudi Arabia. Despite all this, there isn’t the demand that was created by students in China, and most teachers have left the platform.
As for me, I just signed my 10th contract with the company for my one remaining student. She was able to circumvent the restrictions because, despite being ethnically and culturally Chinese, she was born in Australia and isn’t a Chinese citizen.
I met her shortly before her 5th birthday. She’s 10 now. I’ve watched her grow up! We have a relationship that is important to me and getting to spend an hour with her once a week is something I look forward to.
But I’m holding even this very loosely because all these changes have made me aware that nothing lasts forever.
Full VIPKid Review
When I first considered working for VIPKid I had so many questions. How much would I really make? Could I really do this?
Now that I have more than two years of experience teaching for VIPKid I have most of the answers, and I’m here to share them all with you.
Let’s start with the basics:
- VIPKid provides a flexible work-from-home teaching job that pays well.
- You can set your own work hours and you can make up to $22 an hour.
- VIPKid has a straightforward application process for those with a bachelor’s degree and the right equipment.
- VIPKid also provides all of the lesson plans for each individual student on their learning level.
How I Started Working for VIPKid
Just a few summers ago, I decided that our 50-year-old house needed French doors to replace the sliding ones that lead out to our patio. After shopping and crunching the numbers, it was clear they were not in the budget. That was the moment I decided I needed to get a job.
Prior to this point, my sole occupation had been homeschooling mom, dedicating all of my free time to educating our two children. I knew I needed something I could do before or after I spent time reviewing past participles and teaching the quadratic equation to my two middle schoolers.
Finding a Flexible Part-Time Job
I reached out to a friend who mentioned that she had begun to teach English classes online. Within three weeks, I applied, interviewed, and started a job with VIPKid. I restarted a career in education that I thought I walked away from forever when I made the decision to be a stay-at-home mom.
The first month I taught 26 classes and made $253 dollars. It felt amazing to contribute financially to my family after relying solely on my husband’s income for so long. The next month I made over $1400. Making twenty dollars per hour was more than I had made in years.
I was flabbergasted that something I loved so much could be done from my home while wearing pajama pants! Teachers are paid between $7-$11 per class. Classes are 25 minutes long, so VIPKid advertises that teachers can make $14-$22 per hour based on teaching two classes per hour.
In the past two and a half years, I have met almost 900 children in China ready to learn English. Some of them have been my student only once, others have come to me for over one hundred classes. I have celebrated birthdays, watched videos of dance recitals, and listened as they played a quick song for me on the Hulusi.
I have grown fond of their sweet faces, and they are the reason I continue to teach for VIPKid. Glassdoor has named the company one of the Top 10 Best Places to Work in the U.S. and Canada. For me, it is the kids that make it the perfect job.
What are the VIPKid Work Requirements?
1. Bachelor’s Degree
Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree, but it does not have to be a degree in English or education. Of course, having an educational background and a teaching certification is a huge bonus. The fact that I had been a teacher in public schools easily qualified me, but my sister who has a degree in commercial music was also hired.
2. Experience with Children
Applicants must have two years of experience working with children. This does not necessarily have to be in a classroom setting. Camp counselors, Sunday school teachers, and nannies all have experience working with children. VIPKid is a company looking to hire people with a heart for children.
If you have never managed a group of children or think the silliness of kids is a waste of time, this is probably not the job for you. Online teachers see nose-pickers, criers, shy kids, and defiant ones. It is imperative that you are prepared to handle the individual personalities that come into your virtual classroom.
3. Work Eligibility
Applicants need to be eligible to work in the USA or Canada. VIPKid is looking for teachers to teach English, but more specifically they are looking for teachers with a North American accent.
Applicants should have a computer with high-speed internet access. Although you can teach from an iPad, it is suggested that a desktop or laptop plugged directly into a router is best. (Chromebooks are not supported on the VIPKID platform.) Teachers also need an HD camera and a headset with a microphone.
This is an online job, and teachers only have 25 minutes with each student. Having to stop for technical issues should not be a regular occurrence. And, while not required, I always recommend teachers use a ring light so that they are well illuminated and easily seen. I have also loved having a writing pad with a stylus because I find writing on the screen difficult with a mouse.
What is the VIPKID Application Process?
VIPKID’s application simply checks that the applicant meets all the requirements necessary to become a teacher. For instance, if an applicant says that he or she has no experience with children, that person will be automatically eliminated. Otherwise, applicants will move along to the next step.
2. Demo Class/Interview
Once an application is accepted, applicants will be asked to do a demo class. Teachers review six slides from a VIPKID lesson and take a short quiz. Then, there are two options – applicants can submit a pre-recorded video teaching the slides, or they can set up a live interview with a person on the hiring team in China.
When I interviewed, I opted for a live interview because I liked the idea of having someone who could answer my questions about the position. On the other hand, submitting a video can be advantageous because applicants can make sure to send in the very best example of what they can do in the classroom. There’s no way to do a second take if nerves get the best of an interviewee in a live meeting.
3. Mock Class
This is the most important part of the hiring process. After the application is accepted and the initial demo class has been approved, prospective teachers are asked to teach a 25-minute lesson with a Mentor Teacher.
Applicants will be given a fully developed lesson plan geared toward a student who is a beginning learner, usually between the ages of four and six. Mentor Teachers are looking for people who come prepared to teach the lesson, use lots of props, have a great total physical response (TPR), and use very little incidental language.
Props are important to VIPKID classes, especially at the lower levels. These do not have to be fancy or expensive (flashcards, stuffed animals, a whiteboard). TPR is another key facet that Mentor Teachers are looking for. Think about body language that might be used to express a message to someone who does not speak the same language – everything from waving for “hello” to a hand shading the eyes to indicate “look” are examples of TPR.
Lessons should have high energy and very few “Um, okays…”. Mentor Teachers will give feedback on how to improve and make suggestions for future classes. Applicants may be asked to teach more than one mock class before they are hired, which is very common.
4. TESOL Certification
If new hires do not already have TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) certification, VIPKID offers a course that teachers can take. The Chinese Ministry of Education recently required that all teachers be certified to teach a foreign language, but VIPKID’s course meets this requirement and takes less than 10 hours to complete.
5. Contract and Background Check
Once they are hired, all new VIPKID teachers are required to go through a background check and sign a contract, which is renewed every six months. (If certain criteria are met, a raise is offered every 12 months.)
6. Teacher Profile
New teachers will also be asked to upload a profile photo and video so parents in China can see the teachers they are considering. At this point, the only thing left for a new teacher to do is open classes and wait for their first student!
How Much Does VIPKID Pay?
Teachers are paid between $7-$11 per class. Because classes are 25 minutes long, VIPKID advertises that teachers can make $14-$22 per hour based on teaching two classes per hour. There are several incentives that end up netting teachers even more than their base pay:
- Show up on time and teach the entire class – $1 extra per class
- Teach more than 45 classes per month – $1 extra per class
- Book short notice classes (within 24 hours of teaching) – $2 extra
- New student signs up after a trial class – $5 extra
- Recruit new teachers – variable
Teachers can choose to be paid monthly, biweekly, or weekly. Their salary will be deposited directly into their bank account according to the schedule they have arranged.
Teachers who need to cancel classes should know that this can count against them. Six cancellations are allowed per contract. If a scheduled class is canceled within 24 hours, the teacher is docked $2. If it is canceled within 2 hours, a teacher will lose $10. An additional $10 is deducted from the paycheck if teachers simply do not show up for a class.
Of course, VIPKID understands that unexpected events happen, so if teachers can provide a doctor’s note cancellations might be forgiven.
Students can be guilty of not showing up for classes, too. If that is the case, teachers are asked to remain in the classroom for the entire 25 minutes. If a student cancels within 24 hours of the class time, teachers do not even need to enter the classroom. In both cases, teachers are given full pay.
Pros and Cons of VIPKID
VIPKID Lesson Plans
When asked about the best part of working for VIPKID, two things immediately come to mind. First, I love not having to create lesson plans. With VIPKID, I log on to my teacher portal to see that a student has booked me for a Level 3, Unit 2 class about “The Clothes I Wear.” I have access to all the premade slides, I review them, and go.
There is no scope and sequence, no overall planning. I am simply responsible for anything I might need to make that particular lesson come to life – “This is a hat,” goes over much easier when I am donning a ridiculous headpiece.
Many people have asked me how much Chinese I know. The answer is none. Well, that is not exactly true – I have learned how to say hello, “Ni hao!” VIPKID is an English immersion program. Teachers are only expected to speak English in class. Students are also put into the program based on ability. Very new learners start in the VIPKID version of Pre-K, where they hear songs, repeat words, and learn letters.
More advanced students can continue with VIPKID into their teenage years where they can be taught about changes in the state of matter, how to use adverbs to describe a place, and how people celebrate Ramadan. VIPKID teachers begin with certifications for two of the eight levels, but they can gain certification for additional levels and supplemental classes as they go.
Second, I love the ability to set my own hours. It is tricky teaching children in China because the time difference between China and the East Coast of the United States is twelve hours. This means that the peak time to teach is between 7 and 9 a.m. But, for a teacher on the West Coast, those hours are 4 to 6 a.m. It can be a challenge, but I love it. I am finished with 3-4 hours of work by the time my family is starting their day, but I don’t have to work if I don’t want to.
When I’m already awake and looking nice, I might as well make $30 before we leave for church. But on my son’s birthday, I want to celebrate him all day so I leave my classes for that date closed. If there is an important event or a trip that we are saving for, I might schedule myself to work overnight on the weekends. But if I want to take that vacation, I can do that just as easily. This job is made for flexibility.
Cons of VIPKID
For me, the cons of working for VIPKID are financial in nature. I think that my base pay is great, but I know that I could be making so much more if I could recruit other teachers. The demand for English teachers in China is huge, so VIPKID is always looking for qualified teachers. Current teachers who refer an applicant who gets hired get a bonus of $100. I don’t feel like I recruit well, but I am happy to talk to anyone about my job.
The other downside of working for VIPKID is being an independent contractor. It was hard for me to figure out that first year how much of my paycheck needed to be set aside for taxes. I wish I had done more research about this when I began, but instead, I learned the hard way.
Of course, everybody’s tax situation is different, and many people are more informed than I was going in. This is not a problem inherent with this company, just a new challenge that I had to figure out as I went along.
It was obvious after a few classes that I was going to bond with some of the students I met from across the world. I have become friends with several of their mothers on social media. Now I can watch videos of their drum competitions or karate matches. I have sent birthday gifts and New Year’s gifts to some of my regular students. In return, I have received postcards, letters, and a box of decorations for Spring Festival.
Additionally, through VIPKID, I have been able to learn and share about the cultural differences between the two countries. This is a time that our world is obsessed with the things that divide us. However, I get to spend twenty-five minutes teaching, talking to, and laughing with a face that the twenty-four-hour news cycle would have me believe is the “other”.
I had no idea about the community of teachers that I would be embraced by. It is surprising that there is community in a job that is, by its very nature, isolating. I have benefited from dedicated Instagram feeds (I’m @TeacherRobinRM), Facebook groups for every type of VIPKID Teacher, and teacher meetups.
Teachers are encouraged to meet up with other local teachers for face to face gatherings. VIPKID sponsors these events by sending swag. Teachers love that VIPKID mascot, Dino, and would do just about anything to get their hands on a stuffed version that they can use in the classroom.
The real takeaway of these meetups is the support that comes with talking to people who understand what it is like to wake up at the crack of dawn to teach kids on the other side of the world. In these places, teachers can get advice, encouragement, and tips for teaching.
VIPKID also hosts conferences in various places throughout the United States. Journey is a one-day gathering of VIPKID corporate leaders (from the headquarters in Beijing and San Francisco) and 500 teachers from all over the country. Teachers clad in VIPKID orange are given the opportunity to attend workshops, gain insights into the company, and hear the vision for the future from the CEO, Cindy Mi.
At the last conference in Washington, DC, I was selected to be a speaker. I had the honor of teaching a workshop to new teachers about classroom organization. It was a fantastic opportunity to share what I had learned and offer some tips that I was given at the beginning of my journey.
At the Journey Conference, I met my closest teacher friend, Amy. Amy has become a friend who I excitedly drive an hour to meet for lunch. The idea that work I do alone in my basement has led to such a dear friendship is the most surprising part of this job.
Final Thoughts on VIPKID
Working for VIPKID has been more rewarding than I ever expected. Honestly, I just wanted a bigger role in my family’s finances, but I also found joy and purpose in a job I love. I am blessed by and grateful for the opportunity of being an online English teacher.
Have you ever considered becoming a teacher with VIPKID? Share your experience in the comments below.
Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash