You may have heard about VIPKID before. This flexible hours, can teach from anywhere platform, and $14-$22 hour pay sounds like it’s too good to be true, but after 30 days, I have to say that I am still on cloud nine with VIPKID. Like all jobs, not everything about working for VIPKID is peaches and cream, but I want to give you my fresh insider perspective on the company.
I ABSOLUTELY LOVE TEACHING ONE-ON-ONE CLASSES: It is so much easier to help a student improve when you have a solid 25 minutes with them, one to three times a week. There are many advantages to teaching a classroom of students. Students can engage in pair work, group work, and give peer-to-peer feedback, but I think that teaching a group of students in an online classroom would be more difficult. I could easily see a student getting lost in the crowd.
The other aspect I like is that VIPKID lets the parents choose their student’s teacher. This means that after 30 days, I have gathered a solid group of students who book my class regularly. I love this because I am able to develop a relationship with my regular students. Some of them even send “gifts” which are online cards with adorable messages like, “You are the best, most interesting teacher I have ever had! Thank you for your warmth and guidance all along. I love you!” AWWWW! This sort of consistency also means that I can really guide and impact their VIPKID English education.
BOOKINGS HAVE BEEN PRETTY EASY TO FILL: Now VIPKID’s booking method is a hot topic in online ESL, because some teachers think this system is unfair to new or inexperienced teachers. But my experience has been quite positive in getting bookings. I met my first regular on day six. Today, I have around 13 regulars who book my class one to three times a week, around 12 regulars who book my class one to three times a month, and 43 parents “following” me and my class schedule.
In terms of getting slots filled, let me provide you with my statistics on the percentage of booked open slots:
- Week 1: 29%
- Week 2: 71%
- Week 3: 79%
- Week 4: 52% (this week was exam week/vacation in China and Hong Kong)
- Week 5 (the week of writing this article): 88%
I don’t know if these numbers would make you happy, but I’m feeling peachy. So, if you are a new teacher, just hang in there and make sure your classes are great! If you still struggle to get bookings and regular students after a couple of months, perhaps it’s time to re-access your teaching skills and work to improve your classes.
VIPKID GIVES YOU MANY ACHIEVABLE GOALS: I really like that there are “badges” for reaching different milestones and that you can work towards getting different kinds of certifications. They have TEFL certifications, class level 1-7 certifications, and supplementary class certifications. I know it’s silly, but I feel accomplished whenever I get a new badge on my teacher’s profile.
VIPKID even offers other positions outside of teaching ESL, such as becoming a mock mentor or brand ambassador. These positions are not available until you teach 1000 classes, so I, who taught about 150 in my first 35 days, still have a way to go. But, I like knowing that there is room for advancement. That being said, I have heard that these positions are difficult to get because VIPKID has about 40,000 teachers, but I’ll let you know my experience when I get there.
THE MONEY: I get paid $8 per class as my base pay and I always get an extra $2 per class for showing up on time and teaching at least 45 classes a month. I have a Master’s degree, so I actually don’t think $20 an hour is all that great, but I do think that $20 an hour is pretty darn good for how easy this job is. I can teach my classes from anywhere in the world, they are only 25 minutes long, I don’t have to answer to a supervisor, and I control my own schedule. I started my position at VIPKID halfway through December, so my first paycheck was only for 2 weeks and I made $775. As of today (35 days), I have made about $1800. If you consider that I hardly taught any classes my first 9 days, that seems pretty OK to me.
In addition to your base pay and normal incentives, you can get an extra $2 per class if the class is booked within 24 hours. In my first month that happened 21 times. So that was an extra $42! You also receive an extra $5 if a trial student you taught signs up for VIPKID after your class. This happened once for me. Lastly, VIPKID gives you $100 per successful referral. This aspect is awesome, but to be honest recruiting teachers is a lot of work and I’m starting to wonder if the $100 is worth it. Speaking of, please sign up with my referral code: MARIA0415. I promise to help you and answer all of your questions.
VIPKID will also give you a $.50 raise per class every 12 months or every 2 contracts, if your contract is renewed and you meet the following criteria:
- You taught at least 1200 classes (4 points)
- You only had 2 teacher no shows or less (2 points)
- You cancelled only .6% of classes or less (2 points)
- You finished more than 600 PPT (the most popular class times) classes (2 points)
- You have at least at 25% five apple feedback rating (2 points)
Teachers whose base pay is $8 or less only need to score 10/12 points, but teachers whose base pay is higher than $8 need to score all 12 points
THE FREEDOM: I love working from home, choosing my hours, and not answering to anyone. I wake up in the morning and all I do to get ready for class is brush my teeth, wash my face, and change my pajama shirt. I save money on transportation and I save time on getting ready for work. After I finish my classes, I’m home and comfortable. I am relaxing at home for now, but this is a job I plan to continue when I move to Australia on a work and holiday visa this summer/fall. It’s ideal for traveling around the world without depleting your income.
YOU MAY HAVE TO WAKE UP REALLY EARLY: I started this job when I moved back to the United States (central time zone) to catch up with family for a few months and that means that my classes start hella early. The popular bookings start from 4am and end at 8am and the most popular bookings are in the 5am to 7am bubble, Monday to Thursday. 7pm to 7am is also very popular for classes on Friday and Saturday. (These hours are subject to change after daylights saving, because China does not have daylights saving)
I teach 5am to 8am Monday through Friday, 6:30pm to 9pm Sunday through Thursday, and Friday nights from 6:30pm to either 9pm or sometimes even 2am, Saturday. The hours suck, but I will say I have gotten used to waking up very early. It is kind of nice to have the whole day open, but I have to admit, I spend a good portion of the morning relaxing and blogging at home. Regardless, I am really looking forward to moving to Australia this year where the time difference is only 3 hours.
INFORMATION IS SOMETIMES HARD TO FIND: I really dislike that I often have to google search or use the VIPKID social media platform (The Hutong) for answers to my questions. For example, I still can’t find written information on how long I need to wait for trial students who don’t show up. I have learned from other VIPKID teachers that it’s 15 minutes or earlier if the Firemen mark your class as a “Student No Show”. But, it feels like a lot of information isn’t easy to find. A lot of teachers end up asking their questions in our Facebook group instead of searching through the support page.
In addition, you don’t get to talk to someone directly to resolve issues. You have to send in “tickets” and this is annoying. You also have to screenshot everything to provide proof for your tickets. It’s a pain to have to do this during class just in case the platform or VIPKID makes an error. I haven’t any serious problems yet, but the horror stories of VIPKID saying you weren’t in class when you were, or blaming you for IT problems a student is actually having has got me screen capturing everything!
THE CANCELLATION POLICY IS STRICT: I haven’t had any issues with this either, and I hope to never have any cancellations. But, VIPKID takes cancellations very seriously and it can cost you money. If you don’t show up for a class, you have to pay VIPKID $10. If you cancel within two hours of class, you have to pay VIPKID $10. If you cancel between 3 and 24 hours, you have to pay $2 per class. If you cancel before 24 hours, you don’t have to pay, but VIPKID only allows you to have 6 cancellations per 6 month contract. This is a bit confusing because 1, 2, or 3 cancelled classes in a day counts as 1 cancellation. 4 or more cancelled classes in a day counts as 2 cancellations. So the most cancellations you can get is 2 per day.
I think this can add a lot of stress to teachers who are parents or often have emergencies. I personally worry about tornado season. Like what on earth am I supposed to do if a Tornado knocks out my power and internet? According to the VIPKID chart, if they consider the disaster to be a soft cancellation, I am not responsible, I do not have to pay them money, and they won’t fire me. But if it is a medium cancellation, they won’t fire me, but I still have to pay them the money per class. WHAAT? It’s a tornado! As to what constitutes a soft cancellation in this scenario, VIPKID’s policy is:
“Serious events are those out of your control, and reasonably result in the inability to teach class. If such events occur, VIPKID will consider the cancellations as “Soft Cancellations” if supporting documents can be provided”.
Let’s just hope it doesn’t ever happen.
BOTH GOOD & BAD:
YOU ARE AN INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR: This means that you don’t get any benefits and are responsible for your own health insurance, retirement, etc. This also means that you have to save part of your paycheck each month to pay both income tax and independent contractor taxes. I take out 30% of my paycheck for taxes because I am cautious, and I would rather have extra at the end of the year then not. The flip side is that you don’t have a boss per say and VIPKID doesn’t micromanage you. I have yet to receive any overstepping communications from them and I like that it’s my show all the way. You can also deduct a lot of things as an independent contractor and that can really help with your taxes.
THE VIPKID TEACHER’S PORTAL IS GREAT, BUT ANNOYING AT TIMES: I actually find the teaching portal to be pretty easy to use. I love the new classrooms and I like being able to see my stats, payment, bookings, certifications, and upcoming classes easily. I do find that teaching online can be really frustrating when the system runs slow or their is a bad internet connection. This hasn’t happened too many times, but when a student’s or a teacher’s video/audio cuts out during class it can really ruin the flow of a class.
THE HUTONG AND TOKENS: VIPKID has its own social media platform, called the Hutong. I like the Hutong because there are many little challenges you can do to earn tokens. These challenges consist of commenting on Hutong social media posts, reading short paragraphs or watching short videos and answering questions. I really like the interesting cultural challenges, but I strongly dislike the ones where you have to comment on a post because they haven’t worked out all the kinks yet and the tokens are not always immediately updated to my account. That frustrates me.
With tokens, you can “purchase” things, such as VIPKID props and merchandise. There are also raffles for items like gifts cards and cash. The only items I feel like are worth my tokens are the actual gift cards you can get for Target and Amazon. But these items take a lot of tokens. For example a $20 amazon gift card costs 1000 tokens, $50 gift card is 2500. After 35 days, I had 715 tokens in my VIPKID teacher portal and 414 in the Hutong. So, I have made an extra $20 without really doing much. Yay! More money!
One thing I don’t understand is why these tokens are located in different locations, and I find it frustrating that I have to transfer my tokens from the Hutong to the teacher portal in order to “buy” my gift cards. The Hutong tokens come from challenges and the teacher portal tokens come from promotions, getting 5 apple feedback, and other random things as far as I can tell. It wouldn’t be more than an annoyance, but there is a limited number of transfers and items available for all VIPKID teachers per month. I haven’t tried to buy anything yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the actual money items like gift cards sellout quickly.
TRIAL CLASSES: Trial classes are great because they fill up your empty slots and you have the chance to get an extra $5 if the student signs up. The down side is that if a trial student does not show up for class, which happens about 50% of the time for me, you only get half of your base pay for that class. If it was booked, “Short Notice”, you still get the extra $2 and you get your normal incentives, but it kinda sucks to get paid only half of your base pay.
Trial students also get 3 free trial classes, which makes me think that most students only sign up after their third trial class. I have only had one third trial class so far and that is my only trial student that has signed up for VIPKID. Is this because I suck at trials? I don’t think so. What happens is is that teachers do not get the $5 if the student signs up after another teacher’s trial class. So say you teach the first trial class, another teaches the second, and another the third. The student signs up after the third class. This means that only the third teacher gets the $5.
It makes me question how VIPKID determines who gets to teach the third trial class. I realize that students may sign up after the first or second class, but I wish VIPKID was transparent about these statistics and how they assign the trial classes. I know that trial students have the option of booking their own trial class or letting VIPKID do it for them, but I want to know how VIPKID determine which teacher gets which trial class. More money, please.
Anyhow, I hope this very long and full of information review of VIPKID will help you decide if you’d like to apply to become a VIPKID teacher. Overall, I am happy with the job so far. I really think it is easy money, but I came in with 5+ years of ESL experience. If you have more questions, do not hesitate to shoot me a comment or email. And if you’d like me to help you become a successful applicant and teacher, please use my referral code: MARIA0415.
You can also apply here:
Ta-ta for now!