VIPKid mentions have been making the rounds on personal finances websites, parenting blogs, and work from home sites for a little while now, and that’s because it’s a profitable side hustle that VIPKid teachers really love talking about.
And here’s why…
- You don’t have to be a teacher to teach with VIPKid
- It pays up $22/hour
- The job is rewarding
- You can work it outside of a 9-5 job
Overall, it hits some important boxes in terms of side hustle potential, but I’m going to break it all down so you can see if working for VIPKid is right for you.
What is VIPKid?
VIPKid is an online teaching platform that offers immersive one-on-one instruction focusing solely on teaching English to Chinese and Korean students aged 4-12. The company itself is based out of Beijing, but has offices in San Francisco.
They currently have around 65,000 teachers working with more than 500,000 students.
The company hires teachers and pairs them with students via video chat for 25 minute long lessons. They pay between $14-$22 per hour (more on this in a minute).
Why do I keep hearing about VIPKid?
Like I said at the very beginning of this VIPKid review, the teachers working with them are pretty happy with their experience overall. Parents are working it during the late hours after their kids go to bed. Some teachers fit in an hour with VIPKid before they go off to their day job.
I know a number of my readers already teach through VIPKid, but the first time I heard about it was through a friend I used to work with. His wife was also a teacher who taught through VIPKid outside of her normal teaching job, and she loved it. Oh, and they had two young children at the time too!
One of the biggest shocks to her was that she didn’t need to create her own lesson plan, and if you’re a teacher, you know how time-consuming that can be.
You can read the interview I did with her at VIPKid Review: Can You Actually Make $14-$22 per hour Teaching Online?
One of the other reasons you’re probably reading about it so much is that teachers are incentivized to refer to others.
Does that mean VIPKid is a scam or an MLM? No, not at all. You are paid a one time bonus for referrals. There’s also a growing need for online English teachers. If the market were already saturated, then that might change things a little bit, but it’s not at all.
Who can work as a VIPKid teacher?
To teach for VIPKid, you will need to have a bachelor’s degree, but it doesn’t have to be in teaching or English. You also don’t need to be a teacher to work with VIPKid. All they ask is that you have experience working with kids, which can be:
- Babysitting or nannying
- Having children of your own
- Experience working at a summer camp
- Doing volunteer work with kids
How do you apply to work with VIPKid
Even though the application process isn’t difficult, it’s probably one of the most complicated parts of working with VIPKid.
Here’s what it entails:
- Filling out an online application
- Do a one-on-one or recorded interview so that recruiters can analyze your teaching skills
- Watch a series of videos to learn about teaching through VIPKid
- Teach a mock class with one of their instructors
- Submit documents, do a background check, and sign your contract
Signing your VIPKid contract
This might be a surprising fact about working with VIPKid, but you do need to sign a 6-month contract before you can start working. You can work as much or as little as you’d like during that period, but you can’t miss too many pre-scheduled lessons.
Also, if you are planning a vacation or some other kind of break during your contract, you will need to give VIPKid at least two week’s notice.
If you enjoy working for VIPKid, you can always renew your contract for another six months. They take parent and student feedback, as well as the number of lessons taught into consideration when renewing your contract.
Getting paid by VIPKid
$14 per hour, or $7 per 30 minutes, is the base pay for VIPKid teachers, and your pay increases by credentials, experience, and ability to finish scheduled classes. The lessons you teach are 25 minutes long, but you are also getting paid for the five minutes it might take to set up and record notes after a lesson. You are paid once a month via direct deposit.
Being ESL certified or having your masters degree, while not required, can boost your per hour pay.
But what about taxes?
You are technically working for VIPKid as an independent contractor, and when it comes to tax time, they give you a 1099 form. VIPKid doesn’t take any taxes out of your paycheck, so you may want to pay estimated quarterly taxes – this is very important for any side hustle.
You can read more about this at How to Handle Taxes for Your Side Hustle, which covers:
- Dates for paying estimated quarterly income taxes
- How much to set aside for taxes
- How to claim expenses
- Tips for making tax time a little less painful
The hours you can teach with VIPKid
One of the reasons VIPKid works well outside of normal business hours is because of the 12 hour time difference. There are peak hours that are best for teaching on VIPKid, and that’s:
- Monday through Friday 6pm-10pm in Beijing or 5-9am EST
- Saturday through Sunday 9am-10pm in Beijing or 8pm-9am EST
Those are just the peak hours. You can try to schedule lessons outside of those hours, but you’ll open yourself up to more opportunities if you can work within those windows of time.
Scheduling lessons with VIPKid
After you are hired on with VIPKid, you’ll need to create a profile that is listed on the Parent Portal. You’ll write a short bio about yourself, post a couple of pictures, and record a video greeting.
This is also where parents will see your availability, and you are asked to enter your weekly availability around a month in advance.
After you have worked with a few kids and gotten some good reviews, you might find that certain parents want to keep booking with you. They can mark you as a “favorite,” which can help them find you again when they want to book more lessons.
The equipment you need to work with VIPKid
You probably have most of the equipment already, and here is the complete list of things you need to teach English online with VIPKid:
- A laptop, desktop, Mac, or Surface-style computer
- Minimum of Windows 7 or MacOS 10.x
- Minimum of 4GB RAM
- An HD external or integrated camera
- Headset with microphone
- Stable internet connection of at least 20Mpbs, but ethernet is recommended
- Latest version of Flash
- At least Chrome 51 or Firefox 47
That list might look pretty long, but if you have a fairly new laptop or desktop computer, the only thing you’ll probably need to buy is the headset. If any of your software is out of date, you can download that for free – this is something you should do anyway to protect yourself from viruses or other online threats.
What it’s actually like to teach with VIPKid
One of the things that surprise most people about VIPKid is that you don’t actually have to do any of your own lesson planning. VIPKid takes care of all of that and bases their curriculum off of the Common Core State Standards (you might be familiar with this if you are a teacher in the U.S.).
Having been a teacher, I can only imagine how much time this saves.
The actual teaching part can take a little bit of time to get used to because it’s online, with both you and the student wearing headsets. The kids themselves are really well behaved and engaged in the lessons. The biggest complaint from teachers about behavior is that kids sometimes get distracted… so pretty normal kid stuff.
VIPKid gives you a PowerPoint lesson to work through. Remember, though, this is one-on-one, and you can use props and rewards… whatever it takes to motivate the kids you work with and to make it fun for the both of you.
Biggest complaints of working with VIPKid
The reality is that most people are really happy with their experience teaching through VIPKid. But no job is perfect…
The peak hours are hard to work within
When you start to think about a 12 hour time difference, it pretty much flips your day. You’ll have to work when you want to sleep, go out, or get ready for work. I know that might sound hard, and it can be, but if you are side hustling to meet some financial goal, use that goal to motivate you.
The system can be a little slow
As I went through some reviews, I noticed several people complaining about the systems used for booking. It wasn’t an across the board complaint, but some teachers said it was occasionally difficult to cancel lessons and schedule them.
Communication with parents can sometimes be difficult
Some teachers have said that it can be difficult to understand parent reviews due to translation issues.
The teacher acceptance rate is fairly low
VIPKid hires new teachers at rates as low as 5-10%, which was asked about in an interview with CEO Cindy Mi. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, it just means they are really trying their hardest to keep certain standards when it comes to who teaches these kids. I mean that’s what you’d want for your kids, right?
For the best chance of being accepted, you’ll need to do well in your interview and mock lesson, and you can do that by:
- Keeping small talk to a minimum
- Speaking in a lively and engaging tone
- Reviewing the material thoroughly before interviewing
My final word – Is VIPKid a scam?
I’ve already addressed this at the top of my VIPKid review, but it’s important enough to bring up again. And NO, VIPKid isn’t a scam.
It’s a 100% legitimate job opportunity, and they have partnered with well-known companies and organizations like National Geographic and Lexile Learning. They’ve even made it to Fast Company’s list of the 50 Most Innovative Companies.
Where it can feel scammy is the complaint that some teachers can get a little pushy when telling others about VIPKid. Remember, there is an incentive to bring in new recruits, but that doesn’t mean they’re an MLM. The low acceptance rate among teachers says that alone.
Teaching is a rewarding profession, whether that’s in a traditional classroom or via the internet. If that’s something you enjoy and see how VIPKid is helping you earn some additional income, then of course, you’d want to tell people about it.