Updated December 2019 to reflect the current recruitment process.
Teaching English online is becoming very popular. It’s a great way to move abroad without the stress of lining up a job first. You could even bounce around different countries until you find one you like, earning money along the way. Aside from traveling, it provides the opportunity to simply work from home.
More and more online teaching companies are popping up every day. How do you choose the best one? In this article, we go into detail about what it’s like to teach with VIPKID so you can decide if it’s a good fit for you. You’ll learn about the company, the job itself, the pros & cons, and the application process.
VIPKID is a Beijing-based online English teaching company, paving the way for online language learning. Started in 2013, it has grown exponentially over the past year. In January 2016, they had a few hundred teachers. Now, they have grown to have over 20,000 teachers and over 200,000 students, and they don’t plan to stop growing anytime soon. They have become so popular that many investors are lining up to chip in. Even Kobe Bryant has invested in the company!
VIPKID’s mission is to provide children in China an American elementary school education. Their one-on-one immersive program is based on the US’s Common Core State Standards curriculum. Children from the ages of 5-12 years old are able to have classes with a native English speaker without having to leave the comfort of their home. They use a flipped classroom method that has been proven to increase student’s understanding as well as foster critical thinking skills. As people who used to teach in China, we know critical thinking is rarely taught in Chinese schools.
VIPKID is becoming more and more popular. They have had write-ups by multiple news organizations. Read this article from Bloomberg Technology and this one from the South China Morning Post. They’ve even been ranked Forbes #1 work from home job in 2018. Furthermore, VIPKID is planning to expand into 100 countries over the next few years and they’ve announced 4 new product lines set to launch in the near future.
There has never been a better time to teach with VIPKID!
Ready to apply? Click this link.
- American or Canadian
- Bachelor’s Degree in anything
- One year of experience teaching or working with children
- A TEFL Certification will be required as of March 2019
Read more: The Best Online TEFL Courses
VIPKID requirements are minimal. Because their curriculum is based on the American Common Core State Standard, they only hire teachers with a North American accent. You don’t have to be based there, but you do have to submit a scan of your passport to prove you’re from there.
You must have a Bachelor’s Degree in any field and at least one year of experience teaching or working with children. This can include working at a daycare or summer camp and can even include babysitting. You also must be very high energy. It requires more effort to excite the students than teaching in a conventional classroom.
The pay is $7-9 USD per class with the potential to earn a $2 bonus per class. That makes the earning potential $11 per class.
Classes are 25 minutes each, scheduled in 30-minute time slots because you have to put in feedback for the parents when the class is finished. The extra 5 minutes gives you time to do this while the class is still fresh in your mind.
Your base pay is calculated based on your previous experience plus your interview and demo. They offered me $8 per class when I was hired. The company deposits your salary directly to your bank account by the 15th of each month.
Teachers whose bank has an ACH number can opt to receive bi-monthly payments.
Contracts are 6-months long. You have the ability to earn a $.50 raise after two contracts if you successfully complete the raise criteria.
Not the job for you? Find one that is in this post: The Best Online English Teaching Jobs.
You set your own schedule and the parents book the teachers. You will make a profile for yourself that has all your information plus a VIPKID teacher bio that you write and a video the parents can watch.
The company suggests you open up 15 time slots (7.5 hours) each week as this will provide more opportunities for parents to book your class. Previously this was a requirement but now they’ve changed the wording to say it’s a suggestion.
There is no limit to how many time slots you open up so you could potentially teach up to 50 classes every week!
Start your application process by clicking here!
VIPKID Peak Hours
The kids are school-age so VIPKID classes take place in the evenings and weekends. The VIPKID peak hours are the times when they have a demand for class. The VIPKID peak hours are 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm Beijing time every day and 9:00 am – 9:00 pm (all day) Saturday and Sunday.
Note – As of November 2019, students can no longer book class after 9:00 pm Beijing time unless they are outside of Mainland China or take a trial class.
Beijing time is 13 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time and 12 hours ahead during Daylight Savings Time. It’s important to note that China does not do Daylight Savings Time. When Daylight Savings Time ends in Noth America, your classes will start an hour earlier.
Here are the VIPKID hours look like in different time zones:
VIPKID hours in:
- EST 5:00 am – 8:00 am; EDT 6:00 am – 9:00 am
- CST 4:00 am – 7:00 am; CDT 5:00 am – 8:00 am
- MST 3:00 am – 6:00 am; MDT 4:00 am – 7:00 am
- PST 2:00 am – 5:00 am; PDT 3:00 am – 6:00 am
On the weekends and in July and August, you have the option to teach more hours. Many teachers based in the US go nocturnal during those times and teach through the night to maximize their earnings.
My favorite thing about VIPKID is that you can take this job on the road and change your VIPKID hours by moving to a different time zone.
European time zones are ideal if you want to do VIPKID hours in the middle of the day. Asian time zones are better if you want to teach at night.
Do you prefer morning hours? Chile, Argentina, and Brazil have the ideal time zone.
VIPKID PPT vs. Peak Hours
VIPKID’s classification of class times can be pretty confusing. PPT stands for “peak peak time.” Those are the hours they have the highest demand for classes from students. They are 7:00 pm-9:00 pm Beijing time. It’s 4 time slots on the teaching schedule.
VIPKID peak hours are inclusive of all the times that are in high demand, 6:00 pm – 10:00 pm. They will often reward teachers who open slots during the peak peak times (PPT) so it’s in your best interest to teach as many as you can.
What You’ll Need for Your Classes
- Computer (desktop or laptop) – I recommend the Lenovo Yoga 2-in-1 laptop. Writing on the slides is much easier thanks to the touchscreen. It’s portable and easy to travel with. Check the price on Amazon
- Headset – VIPKID recommends the Logitech H151; Check the price on Amazon
All you need to do the job is a computer, headset, webcam, and microphone. They can’t legally require you to do anything as we are independent contractors, but they will love it if you show up to your interview and mock classes wearing an orange shirt (their brand color) and a headset.
The company makes all the lessons as PowerPoint presentations – one of the many reasons why working for VIPKID is great. You don’t have to prepare any lessons yourself. You simply need to familiarize yourself with the PowerPoint slides.
VIPKID has designed its own teaching platform on their website. It’s a sophisticated video chat similar to Skype. There is a box to upload the PowerPoint lesson where it’s visible to both the teacher and student, two smaller boxes for the video so the teacher and student can see each other and a chat box where you can type messages to the student.
It looks like this:
The mouse turns into a pen allowing you to write on the slides. There are teacher directions on the bottom of each slide telling you exactly how to teach the content.
The most essential props to have are:
- Whiteboard with dry erase markers – Find the best price on Amazon
- Puppet or stuffed animal – a monkey is great because they often appear in the lessons. Check out this one; it’s cute and affordable.
- Rewards cards/game – this caterpillar token board is perfect
Having props makes the class more engaging. There is an internal reward system of giving stars but it’s more fun to show the student’s racecar zipping around the track every time they do something great.
When you’re ready to take your job with VIPKID on the road, make sure you have all the best tools in your teacher toolkit! Here are our recommendations for the best teaching supplies for the portable classroom.
Sound Good? Apply Here
Need more convincing? Keep reading for the pros and cons.
We believe that the pros seriously outweigh the cons when working for VIPKID, but Sasha and I want to give you an honest snapshot of all the ups and downs of the job. We came up with a pros and cons list to show you exactly what we enjoy and dislike about the job.
Pros of VIPKID
- Set your own schedule
- Flexible schedule
- Work from home (or the road)
- Travel without taking time off
- Supportive company
- Many options for support
- Easy and fun
- Great intro to the world of ESL
- Kids are adorable
The first reason VIPKID appeals to so many people is that it’s a flexible job you can do from anywhere you have an internet connection. We absolutely love the control we have over our schedule. It enables us to hunker down and teach more when we’re stationary and book fewer classes when we’re on the road or have visitors.
It’s also pretty awesome that you can do the job so long as you have space and an internet connection. In our first year, we worked from Bali, Las Vegas, Austin, and Mexico City, just to name a few places. When we are actually living somewhere, having a 5-second commute is amazing!
Another awesome thing about this job is being able to take time off to travel or do whatever else you want very easily. It’s very easy to schedule travel time around classes. For example, you could bust your butt one week, then take 4-5 days off to go on a short trip, then jump back into it.
This was great when we were traveling around South America. We were able to take a few days off to check out the Casa en el Agua off the coast of Colombia. Then we went to the Galapagos Islands for a week without having to ask permission from anyone. We just simply let our students know in their class feedback.
If you can’t accept 2-day weekends and only two weeks off per year, this job rocks!
One concern many people have when starting this job is support.
There were complaints from teachers in the company’s first two years but they’ve got a great support system in place now. They listen to their teachers. All the new support systems they’ve implemented over the past year were a result of teachers’ requests.
They’re usually quick to respond to issues by e-mail and the “firemen” (helpers during class) are always on point. In addition, there are multiple Facebook groups for teachers to get advice and ask questions.
VIPKID is a Well-Paying Job
Both of us average $22/hour thanks to the bonuses. Add in the potential for referral bonuses and all the other incentives they throw in, and it works out to be a pretty good deal.
Did we make more at some jobs in China? Sure.
We also had to spend hours crammed on the Beijing subway to get there, had to plan our own lessons, and had huge classrooms of kids to deal with. We’ll take the slight pay cut for the ease and flexibility of this job.
VIPKID is Easy and Fun
Speaking of ease, at the end of the day this is a pretty simple gig. Show up with your orange t-shirt on, load up the lesson, and spend 25 minutes cruising through it with one student. It seems like it was all a bad dream when we look back on the times we had to create our own PPT lessons to last 1.5 hours with a room full of lazy college kids.
Working for VIPKID is also fun. You get to bring in toys and other props, make silly voices, sing songs, and play games. Happy kids = happy parents = happy company. As a teacher, you play a big part in keeping that harmony.
The Students Are Great
We can’t talk about VIPKID without mentioning the stars of the show – the VIP kids themselves. One of the best parts about working for them is all the adorable little emperors and empresses you get to meet. Before long, you’ll start having regulars who book your class on a weekly basis. Soon you’ve got a whole crew of xiao peng you (little friends) who will brighten up even your darkest day.
Finally, working with VIPKID is a great intro to the ESL world. Many people are interested in taking an English teaching job in places like China or South Korea, but that’s a huge commitment. Before signing a year-long contract, going through all the red tape, and spending $1,000 or more on a flight, give it a try for six months with VIPKID. If it goes well and you like it, you’ll be better prepared for that first job and you’ll have experience on your resume to boot.
Now that you’ve read about how awesome it is, let’s get started on the application!
Cons of VIPKID
- Time (depending on where you live)
- Student cancellations / No Shows
- Strict Teacher Cancellation Policy
- Must be done at a specific time and place
- Extremely dependent on the internet
- Hours are not guaranteed
- Responsible for own taxes/insurance
- Can be tiring/repetitive
Life isn’t all rainbows and unicorns, and that’s the case working with VIPKID, too.
To begin with, the time difference can be pretty rough. For example, during the winter months, a teacher on Pacific Time will be facing peak teaching times of 2:00 am -6:00 am. Ouch. This is a deal-breaker for many potential teachers, and it’s totally understandable.
VIPKID Cancellation Policy for Students
Not surprisingly, the company wants to be as flexible as possible for parents and their kids.
Sadly for teachers, that means a lot of classes cancel at the last possible minute. If a parent cancels on you 25 hours before the class, there is no penalty and there’s a chance that that slot goes unbooked.
That being said, it’s now possible to have your class times booked inside of 24 hours. You get paid $2 extra for those short notice bookings, too!
On a similar note, trial classes often don’t show up at all. They only pay you half for that. This can be frustrating and is definitely something to consider. When it comes to teachers canceling classes, they’re a lot stricter.
This is a part-time job. That’s a very important thing to keep in mind. While we have heard of teachers who somehow manage to work 30-40 hours a week, the only way to do that is to either work every day or teach ten hours per day on the weekends.
Obtaining Full-Time Hours is Hard
If you’re in the US or Canada, there’s no way this can work out to be a full-time job at normal hours. You can become nocturnal and/or completely sacrifice your weekend, and even then you still won’t really get full-time hours.
Regardless of your hours, you’ll still be an independent contractor, which brings us to the next point.
You’re Responsible for Taxes and Insurance
As an independent contractor, you’re responsible for paying your own VIPKID taxes. That means you get the added joy of more tax work. If you’re American, you have to fill out a W-9 form.
If you will owe the IRS more than $1,000 at the end of the year, they expect you to make quarterly payments. No matter where you live in the world, you’ll still owe the 15.3% self-employment tax to Uncle Sam. Trust us – we tried to figure out a way around this and there isn’t one.
Disclaimer – We are not tax experts. Discuss your situation with an accountant.
As an independent contractor, you also don’t get any kind of insurance. Since we are digital nomads and spend most of our time outside of the US, we use and recommend SafetyWing.
They specialize in providing insurance for travelers and digital nomads at an affordable rate. Their plans cost $37 for 4 weeks if you’re not in the US and $68 if you are. Click here to check them out and get signed up. This won’t work for everyone, but it works for us at the moment.
VIPKID Cancellation Policy For Teachers
The VIPKID cancellation policy for teachers can seem like it’s a little strict. You’re only allowed 6 cancellations in a contract period. Your contract is terminated on the 7th offense unless it’s a catastrophic event (see below). One perk is that you can bundle three classes into one cancellation. For example, if you have 6 classes one day that you need to cancel, you will only be charged two cancellations.
If you cancel your classes more than 24 hours before the start time, VIPKID only charges you with a cancellation. Cancellation within 24 hours of the start time will result in VIPKID taking $2 per canceled class from your paycheck. If you cancel within 2 hours, they take $10 per canceled class from your paycheck.
If you oversleep or forget you have class and incur a teacher no show, you will be charged a cancellation and you’ll have $10 docked from your pay.
In my first contract, I had 5 cancellations, very close to the maximum. It was mostly due to my adjusting to teaching online while transitioning from living in Bali to being back in the US. I once had to cancel a full week of classes because I was so sick, I couldn’t speak because of a massively swollen gland in my throat. Thankfully, I was able to work it out with the company.
As long as you are honest, communicative, and can show proof of your issue, the company will do their best to work things out with you.
Soft and Medium Cancellations
Over the last few months, the VIPKID cancellation policy has changed a bit. They introduced new policies called “soft” and “medium” cancellations.
These cancellations do not pose a risk of your contract being terminated. They are only in cases of serious illness, disaster, birth, or death. The company will determine the type of cancellation on a case-by-case basis based on your particular circumstance and supporting evidence.
These new policies are further proof of how VIKID really listens to their teachers. Neither of these policies were in place when I first started teaching with them in May of 2016. They are constantly growing and changing in order to improve the experience for everyone.
Unlike other online jobs, you have to teach your classes at a specific time and place. Parents book the classes and expect teachers to be there. This usually isn’t a problem, but obviously, stuff comes up. Your internet cuts out, you get sick, etc. This isn’t a job you can just do when you feel like it. You have to set your schedule in advance and then stick to it.
This shouldn’t be a problem for most of our American and Canadian friends living in the cozy first-world bubble, but if you’re working with VIPKID from developing countries, this can be a concern. You need a reliable, relatively fast connection to avoid the dreaded “Teacher IT” and to make this job happen.
Unstable Hours At The Start
One thing lots of teachers complain about is the unpredictability of hours. This is especially true when you’re just starting out. Parents choose their own teachers for classes, primarily based on your profile and your reviews. If you don’t have any reviews, you might see a lot of empty time slots to start. During China’s biggest holiday – Chinese New Year – you’ll also see your hours slip substantially as they’re all traveling and visiting family.
Finally, the job can be quite tiring and repetitive. Sure, it seems super easy – you wake up, pour some coffee, sit down at your computer, and speak English for 25 minutes. Do this six times in a row, though, and you realize how draining it is. You’re teaching little kids and you need to keep them excited, which means being very active, smiley, and encouraging.
We’ll get a good night’s sleep and get up to do our three hours of teaching and then crawl back into bed immediately once finished. It can also be quite repetitive. Most of the students are in Level 2, which means you end up teaching those classes over and over. If we had $1 for every time we’ve said “The big pig is in the hut,” we could take a nice luxury vacation for a few weeks!
VIPKID Application Process
Here are all the steps in the VIPKID application process:
- 1: Click this link to go to their website and create your own login. Enter the code RACHE0006
- 2: Enter all your personal info and previous teaching experience. Be sure to type out all your relevant teaching experience in the space provided (this is very important!)
- 3: Do a live interview + 10-minute demo or record your demo and send it to VIPKID OR submit a Smart Demo in under 10 minutes using your smartphone.
- 4: Do the certification mock classes for ALL levels. This will help you get more bookings immediately.
- 5: Sign your contract.
- 6: Upload your documents.
Previously, your chances of getting hired by VIPKID depended on your mock class performance. That is no longer the case.
Now, if you pass the interview + demo, you are guaranteed a position and you can do the mock classes as many times as necessary to pass.
Manually Enter All Relevant Experience
It’s very important to enter all your relevant teaching experience when you input your personal information in step 2 because you’re not uploading your resume right off the bat.
Tip – if you choose the “12 months” option for teaching experience, your application will automatically be rejected.
If you pass that step, you will be invited to book an interview + demo which you can do live with a staff member at VIPKID HQ or you can record your demo and send it to VIPKID.
Prepare for your Interview + Demo
You have two options for this: a live interview+demo or the Smart Demo which can be done on your smartphone in under 10 minutes.
For the Smart Demo, you’ll first need to download the VIPKID Teacher app on your phone. Sign in and click “Pending” where it says “Demo pending.”
First, you read the information and watch a few short videos about VIPKID and the teaching techniques you need to use.
Then, you will take a five-question, multiple choice quiz. You get 90 seconds to complete each question. If you run out of time the quiz will start over but the questions will be different. So just keep trying!
Finally, you’ll record yourself teaching 1 lesson slide. There are 6 possible slides that will be randomly assigned. You’ll have two and a half minutes to record the video. It doesn’t have to be the full two and a half minutes and you can re-record if you don’t like your video on the first try.
Then you submit it! You should hear back from VIPKID within 24 hours.
Once you have scheduled your live interview, they will send you the necessary materials for your demo class. The interview is 30 minutes long with 10 minutes for the demo.
Do not go over the 10 minutes! That is a huge factor in deciding whether or not to offer you a job.
If you pass the interview, you will be directed to a Certification Center where you will choose which level you want to get certified for – beginner or intermediate. VIPKID curriculum has 6 total levels.
I strongly suggest getting certified for all levels because this will greatly increase your chances for bookings as soon as you open your schedule for bookings.
Levels 2 and 3 are beginner English students learning letters and simple greetings.
Levels 4 and 5 are intermediate English students who are a bit more advanced.
Level 6 and 7 are invite-only and you’ll have to teach a certain amount of classes before you can become certified for it.
Prepare for your Mock Classes
After you choose your preferred level, you will begin training for that level. You will be directed to a prep center where you can watch videos and get all the information you need.
You will book your mock class from within the prep center. It will be with a Mock Class Mentor – someone who has been teaching for VIPKID for a long time and understands what to look for in an applicant.
The mock class is 30 minutes long. You will go through an abbreviated version of a full class with the evaluator pretending to be a Chinese student. They will take notes on your performance.
VIPKID is not on a quest to find perfect teachers. The company is looking for teachers willing to accept constructive criticism and then implement the advice given to them.
Sign Your Contract
If you pass the mock class, you can either sign your contract, do your background check, and begin teaching OR you can go back to the Certification Center and train for the other level.
I highly recommend the latter option.
It’s best to have as many certifications as possible when you sign your contract. This will increase your chance of getting bookings more quickly.
Once you’ve passed the mock classes, you can sign your contract and begin getting booked by students of all levels.
If you don’t pass you can take the mock class again. If you fail a second time, you will be directed to a Support Center where you can get more information and watch your mock class to see where you went wrong.
I Can Help You Pass!
I created a self-paced, online course to help you cruise through the application process! Click here to read all about it.
I’ve been teaching for VIKID since May 2016. I’m very familiar with the teaching style and I know what they look for in the mock classes. I also taught English in China for 5 years so I have a lot of experience that I’m happy to share with you.
If you apply through my link or use my referral code, I am more than happy to offer you access for free.
Your chances of success are much higher if you practice with a seasoned vet and get useful feedback before heading into your mock class.
Once you have applied through my link by following the instruction above, click here to contact me to let me know and I’ll send over the instructions for enrolling.
At the end of the day, the pros seriously outweigh the cons. At least for us, having the flexibility and a job that pays $22/hour with the potential for bonuses makes it well worth dealing with the time difference and paying our own taxes.
After all, we originally wrote this post from Puerto Vallarta, went digital backpacking around South America, and now we’re enjoying the digital nomad lifestyle by alternating between slow travel and backpacking.
Working for VIPKID makes this all possible and we’re incredibly happy with our choice to do so.
Apply today! Quit dreaming about working remotely and having more freedom in your life, and just go for it.
We’ll buy the first round when you decide to join us on a beach somewhere.
What are you waiting for?! Apply now!
This post contains my personal referral link which will earn me a commission if you become an active teacher. You will have this same opportunity when you become a VIPKID teacher. As a way of saying thanks, Sasha and I will coach you through the full application process and answer any questions you may have!
This post may also contain affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, we will earn a commission at no extra cost to you! We are grateful for the support.