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Tutoring English Online with VIPKID

Though it only tends to hire TEFL teachers from North America, VIPKid has popularity worldwide. So, how does it stay so successful?

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If you’re a TEFL teacher based in North America, looking to connect with learners of English in a gamified, very modern context, VIPKid might just be exactly what you’re looking for.

That may sound niche, in and of itself. However, the story of VIPKid is a very interesting and lucrative one. Using the latest in educational and gaming technology, VIPKid is a truly immersive experience for teachers and learners alike. What’s more, the company is very selective about the teachers they hire, especially in terms of qualifications and experience. So that means if you are hired, you’re of immense quality in the online TEFL sphere, while students benefit massively.

With a focus on flexibility, teachers and students alike have variety and choice in terms of when and where they’re giving or taking lessons. Teachers on VIPKid also have access to AI-driven learning directives, as well as video playback, interactive whiteboards, instant messaging, and a user-friendly interface.

It all sounds ideal, of course, and for anyone eligible to work for VIPKid, these innovative learning solutions and features seem fantastic. However, how easy is it to actually qualify for a role at VIPKid? Do the reviews reflect the sales pitch? What are salaries like, and is it all it’s cracked up to be?

Let’s explore one of the newest disruptors in the TEFL scene.

VIPKid: An Overview

Founded in 2013, the growth of VIPKid has been utterly rapid. The brainchild of Cindy Mi, Jessie Chen, and Victor Zhang, VIPKid started with the aim of connecting young English learners from China with teachers from North America. A simple enough concept, but after significant rounds of funding, VIPKid became able to provide a genuinely innovative service.

Through gamification, early adoption of AI, and utilizing online tools like video playback and instant messaging, VIPKid became a go-to resource for Chinese kids who wanted to learn English. Like some other English-learning platforms, the focus - in terms of employment - has been on hiring TEFL talent specifically from North America. 

With highly personalized lessons and a focus on one-to-one learning, it was little surprise in 2018, when VIPKid announced they had a whopping 60,000 teachers on their service, teaching over 500,000 students. Unlike services like Open English, which puts together classes of students, VIPKid has always been more about individual learning and progression.

The last few years, however, have brought about challenges for the platform. In 2021, China banned “curriculum-based tutoring for profit”, as well as foreign teachers being employed by Chinese businesses. This, of course, had an impact on VIPKid, which now serves learners outside of China, but employs Chinese teachers for learners based in the country.

What are the requirements to teach with VIPKid? 

Compared to other online teaching platforms, VIPKid expects a great amount from applicants. We’ll dive into specific requirements to teach on the platform, but as a rough guide, know that you need to be highly qualified and have a decent level of experience even to be considered. So what are the VIPKid requirements?

Bachelor's degree 

To tutor through VIPKid, you’ll need a four-year bachelor’s degree. This degree can be in any field or subject. Of course, you’ll need a scanned copy of your degree certificate if you’re successful in applying for a role.

If you don’t have a degree but want to teach English online, don’t be disheartened! There are plenty of great places where you can teach English online without a degree.

TEFL certification 

You’ll also need a high-quality TEFL certificate from an accredited provider. The industry standard is 120 hours of TEFL training, and qualifications such as Level 5 Diplomas are encouraged. In every English teaching job, TESOL certification/TEFL certification matters!

It may speed you along the VIPKid application process if you have an advanced TEFL certificate, specifically a qualification that deals with teaching young learners

Native/non-native 

While you don’t need to necessarily be a native English speaker to start teaching English through VIPKid, you will need to demonstrate proficiency in English to a university standard to be considered. Your English proficiency must also be demonstrated through an American or Canadian testing system.

Experience

Crucially, you will need prior teaching experience to be considered for English teaching work on VIPKid. In the words of the company: “We recommend that you have at least two years of experience in teaching, tutoring, coaching or mentoring.”

Clearly, experience in teaching English, specifically teaching English online, will help a great deal.

Lacking experience? Discover how to teach English without experience.

Work authorization in the US or Canada 

To work for VIPKid, you must have authorization to work in the United States of America or Canada. These are the only regions outside of China where VIPKid offers jobs.

If you’re from elsewhere, but want to teach English online and hold a TESOL certificate, check out this guide on top online teaching companies.

Background Check 

To work for VIPKid, you must pass a background check, including a criminal record check, which can be done through the United States Department of State or Canada’s Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

VIPKid Job Description

As an English teacher working for VIPKid, you’ll be expected to provide engaging, nourishing lessons for English language learners aged 4-12. When you teach English, the focus must be on vocabulary, conversation, and immersion, using both VIPKid’s software and a curriculum that’s designed partially using artificial intelligence. A curriculum is assigned to each student through machine learning.

Why does VIPKid only hire from North America? It’s much to do with cultural immersion, which is another big part of your job description. No matter where learners are from, they want to learn about other cultures, specifically North America, so it’s important to put cultural exchange at the heart of your lessons. 

Fostering positive relationships and boosting vocabulary is the name of the game. With lessons only lasting 25 minutes, you’ve got to pack a lot into lessons, but with no planning involved and machine learning to help you, you don’t have to worry too much about admin or lesson plans. Sign in, meet with students, and put all your energy and enthusiasm into teaching!

Download our teaching English online guide

How much can you earn teaching English with VIPKid?

There’s a lot to enjoy about VIPKid’s approach and ethos, from its attitude to lesson planning, to its overall approach to technology in education. But a crucial question for TEFL teachers is this: how well does VIPKid pay?

You’ll be paid hourly, but remember that classes are only 25 minutes long. Typically, VIPKid teachers charge $7-$9 per class when you begin teaching, meaning that a typical hourly salary is $14-18. This is before bonuses and incentives, which VIPKid describes thusly: “From teaching more classes to referrals, there are lots of opportunities to earn extra. In general, with incentives, a teacher can earn the equivalent of $14-22 per hour with VIPKid.”

Essentially, the more you teach and the more often you refer other teachers or students to the service, the more you can earn.

Payment can be sent directly to your bank account, either on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis. As you’ll be taken on as a freelance worker, VIPKid bears no tax responsibilities, so you’ll need to compile your own tax returns quarterly or annually, depending on your circumstances.

Compared to other teaching English online jobs, yes the VIPKid requirements are tougher to meet, but the pay rates are favorable.

The application process for VIPKid 

Now we know the requirements to teach English online with VIPKid, and what kind of work you’ll be expected to do, the next stage is applying!

How does an ESL teacher go about doing that, though? What are the steps, and what should be considered before you start? Let’s dive in!

How do I apply?

The first step is to set up an ESL teacher profile on VIPKid. Here, you’ll have to provide some basic information, including details about how you meet the outlined teacher requirements. From there, you’ll need to record yourself performing a demo lesson. Don’t worry, the platform will tell you exactly how to do it, and you can record and upload on VIPKid directly. 

What to consider before you start 

There are plenty of things you’ll need to consider before you get started teaching English on VIPKid. Some are universal when it comes to online education, and others are specific to the platform. What are they?

  • Time: What can you commit to on VIPKid? There’s no schedule or mandated hours on the platform, so that’ll be very much up to you. If you want to make a living from teaching, though, you’ll need discipline. That's true whether it's VIPKid tutoring or working anywhere in the ESL world.
  • Tech: You’ll need a headset, of course, as well as a working microphone, a webcam, and a (relatively) new computer with software updates. One important thing here: don’t use Google products! Using Google hardware, Chrome et al is not permitted. All the technical requirements you’ll need to meet are detailed here.
  • Internet connection: This is so important that it needs its own bullet point. A stable, reliable internet connection is an absolute must.
  • Innovation: Yes, VIPKid will provide a curriculum and ESL teaching materials, but does that mean you can’t inject your own creativity and inspiration into lessons? Absolutely not. Bring ideas and plenty of them. 
  • Tax: You’ll be responsible for paying taxes on your income, so make sure you have the infrastructure to do so. Any freelancer should have at least one accountant friend!
  • 6-month contract: So there isn’t a minimum or maximum number of hours, but you will sign an initial 6-month contract.

Interview process 

There isn’t an interview process in the traditional sense, but if your demo lesson passes muster, expect a one-to-one meeting with a teacher mentor, who’ll help you to deliver a mock class. This class will be recorded, and you’ll get the feedback you need to be an online English teaching supremo.

Provided all of this goes well, you’ll be offered a contract by VIPKid, and you can start living the online English teaching lifestyle!

Pros and Cons of VIPKid

While VIPKid certainly has an enticing offering for TEFL teachers based in North America, there are pros and cons to every online teaching company and platform. So, let’s take a look at the strengths and weaknesses of VIPKid.

Pros

  • Flexibility: With no minimum or maximum number of teaching hours, VIPKid could hardly be more flexible for ESL teachers.
  • Competitive pay: Compared to most other online teaching companies, the rates of pay at VIPKid are favorable. Add in referral bonuses and incentives, and it’s even more attractive. 
  • Set curriculum: Using modern approaches and technologies, VIPKid designs a curriculum for each student that’s tailored to their learning needs. For any teacher, that’s amazing.
  • Gamification and modern technology: VIPKid, along with the likes of Novakid, are using AI and gamification to boost learning outcomes. This is cutting-edge stuff, and it’s an excellent experience for modern teachers. 
  • Global reach: With VIPKid expanding to teach students outside of China, you can make an impact globally!
  • Infrastructure and development: Through this platform, you can meet excellent teacher mentors, use innovative software to sharpen your skills and connect with highly qualified teachers from around North America.

Cons

  • Geographic limitations: Due to tax laws, you can’t work for VIPKid if you live in California, Washington State, or New York. Also, clearly, you can’t work for the company if you’re from outside of North America - needlessly limiting, given the number of English speakers around the world!
  • “Peak hours” availability: Sure, there’s no set number of hours, but if you’re not available for peak hours of business, then it’s unlikely you’ll be taken on.
  • Competition: Despite the strict requirements and limits in terms of geography, VIPKid still has a very high number of teachers on its platform. Having enough lessons to make a living could be a struggle, initially.
  • Self-employment restrictions: Being self-employed can mean a lot of working sorting out tax payments for the year, or even for the quarter. That can be very time-consuming.
  • Prefers native English speakers: This is clearly a drawback - VIPKid only hires TEFL teachers from English-speaking countries in North America. If you have a TEFL certificate, have lived in English speaking countries most of your life, and can prove you have the level of proficiency required to start teaching English, you might be able to find work with VIPKid, but it's certainly more difficult for non-native English speakers.

VIPKID Teacher Reviews

As TEFL teaching platforms go, VIPKid is one of the best-reviewed out there. Glassdoor named it as one of the top 10 companies to work for in North America and ranked the company 3rd overall in Canada back in 2020. Several teachers have described working for VIPKid as “the best job I ever had”, and its current-day Glassdoor reviews still hold up. 75% of former employees would recommend working for the company, and approval of CEO Cindy Mi is sky-high.

On Indeed, VIPKid is ranked 3.8 out of 5, with high levels of day-to-day happiness and purpose. Many reviews say the work is stress-free, fun and flexible, but there are some reviews that state that availability and classes have dwindled over recent years - this is possibly due to restrictions around ESL tutoring in China

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Q. How much do you get paid at VIPKid 2023?

    Typically, VIPKid teachers charge $7-$9 per class at first, meaning that a typical hourly salary is $14-18.

  • Q. Is VIPKid still hiring teachers?

    Yes! VIPKid hires teachers all year round.

  • Q. Do you need a degree to teach with VIPKid?

    Yes, you’ll need a four-year bachelor’s degree to teach with VIPKid, as well as a TEFL certificate and two years of experience in teaching.

  • Q. Do you have to be American to teach with VIPKid?

    You have to be North American - i.e., a citizen of the United States of America or Canada - to be considered. Also, candidates from California, Washington, or New York won’t be considered due to tax legislation.