If you’ve ever considered an online teaching or tutoring job, chances are you’ve come across VIPKid. It’s one of the most well-known ESL tutoring companies, but it’s had some major changes in the last year or so. Here’s what you need to know about VIPKid jobs now, including what they pay, who you’ll teach, and more.
What is VIPKid?
VIPKid is an online ESL teaching program with headquarters in Beijing, China. According to the VIPKid website, “The curriculum uses a flipped-classroom approach to foster creativity and critical thinking skills.” All classes are held one-on-one and conducted online using VIPKid’s curriculum. There’s no lesson planning required, and there are no tests or homework for teachers to grade.
For years, VIPKid hired qualified teachers in the United States and Canada to tutor children living in China via their online portal. Business was thriving, and many teachers made some extra cash (or even a good living) helping Chinese kids learn to speak English. But all that changed in 2021.
Is VIPKid still in business?
In July 2021, China announced new regulations surrounding online tutoring in all subjects. In addition to a slew of other restrictions, the government rules prohibited “overseas education courses.” Companies are no longer allowed to hire foreign teachers to instruct children in any subject. (Learn more about those changes and their possible rationales here.)
Overnight, thousands of VIPKid jobs were suddenly eliminated. The company could no longer hire teachers from the United States and Canada to instruct Chinese kids online. Within a few months, though, the company had pivoted to change up its focus to a wider global market. Foreign teachers can also still offer online instruction to Chinese adults.
So, yes, VIPKid is still in business, and it now calls itself VIPKid Global. But available VIPKid jobs are fewer than they were before, and it’s a lot harder to land an available slot. That being said, the company can still be a good choice for earning some extra cash.
How do you apply for VIPKid jobs?
Source: VIPKid Curriculum
To apply, you need a bachelor’s degree and at least 2 years of teaching, tutoring, coaching, or mentoring experience. You’ll also need a strong internet connection and a qualifying computer or tablet with a good webcam. (VIPKid does not support Linux or Chrome OS, so you can’t use a Chromebook. See all technical requirements here.)
Note: Due to Assembly Bill 5 of the California Labor Law signed into effect in 2020, VIPKid no longer hires residents of California.
There are several steps to the VIPKid application process. First, you fill in the online application form. After that, you record a demo lesson on your own time and submit it for evaluation. The curriculum is very structured, so the company needs to see that you can teach their curriculum in the way they designed it while still employing appropriate ESL and classroom techniques. After the interview, they give you a bunch of videos on the VIPKid technology, standards, and curriculum. Then you’ll prepare for a full-length mock class with a teacher-mentor. Start the application process here.
Best advice to nail the mock lesson?
Many teachers say the hardest part about the mock lesson is nailing the timing—not ending too early or too late—and figuring out how to extend a lesson for a student that wasn’t challenged enough. You should be animated yet talk slowly. Some teachers suggest approaching it like you’re auditioning for Sesame Street. Vary your energy as you work through the slides so that it’s not consistent and keeps the student engaged.
Many teachers also suggest limiting any “extra talk.” You have to be clear and precise from the start as you only have approximately 25 minutes per class. Feel free to use lots of TPR (total physical response), repetition, and props. And while there are a lot of YouTube videos out there with mock interview examples, be careful: Only watch videos from the official VIPKid YouTube channel.
What does VIPKid pay?
VIPKid pay rates start at $7 per 25-minute class with an incentive based on classes taught. For your first 20 classes, you are paid 80 cents per class. From classes 21 to 40, it’s slightly more, and it increases from there. You reach a tier based on the number of lifetime classes taught. VIPKid has an option for weekly, biweekly, or monthly pay, via direct deposit.
Will I need to sign a contract?
Yes, VIPKid asks you to commit to six months of work at a time. At the end of six months, your contract may or may not be renewed depending on feedback from students and parents as well as the number of classes you taught.
What do I do about taxes when working for an international company?
VIPKid treats its employees as independent contractors, so you will receive a 1099 with all of your earnings reported. No taxes are withheld by VIPKid. Depending on your financial situation, this may mean you will need to file quarterly estimated taxes, so be sure to set money aside. Teacher Lucy A. suggests, “Keep track of every random possibly business-related expense. Set aside about 30 percent of your gross income from the gig so you can pay the taxes next spring.”
What is it like to teach for VIPKid?
Many real teachers have shared their experiences in the WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook. They’re generally positive, with many teachers finding it a useful and fairly easy way to make a little extra money. Teacher Chey H. says, “I enjoy it. The students are sweet, it’s easy, and it’s flexible.” Behavior issues are very rare. The biggest complaint is the kids can appear distracted, like in any online classroom.
How do students find you?
There’s a “parent portal” where you write a short introduction bio, upload a few pictures of yourself, and add a brief greeting video. VIPKid has a suggested script for the video, but some people get fancy and edit theirs with music and effects. Not that creative? Don’t worry. It’s only 15 seconds long and doesn’t seem to make a difference!
On your VIPKid profile, parents can rate you and provide feedback that others can see. Parents can also follow particular teachers, which allows them to mark teachers as “favorites” and make it easier to find certain teachers when they’re booking. Parents can book up to two weeks in advance on a rolling basis starting each Monday at noon (Beijing time).
What are the VIPKid hours like?
The hours for VIPKid jobs make it one of the toughest parts. With many students located in Asian countries, there can be a pretty big time difference. Many teachers take on an early morning load that starts around 4:30 a.m. and includes weekends. Teacher Renee H. says, “I’m CST and teach 5-6:30 a.m. M-F and 5-7 a.m. Sunday mornings. Friday and Saturday evenings are also ‘hot’ times. I find it worth my time.”
On the plus side, those hours won’t interfere with your regular work schedule in the United States or Canada.
Some teachers only do it during the summer months to offset their income. You make your schedule, however, and there are no minimum or maximum hourly requirements.
How do you prep for your classes?
VIPKid has their own curriculum, which you’re required to follow. You’ll be provided with a PowerPoint lesson to work through with each student, depending on their level. You’ll both wear headsets and see each other on camera. You can interact and write on the presentation. You can also add in as many props/rewards as you would like—and many teachers warn that the time goes very fast!
Teacher Lynn D. says, “I like it because it’s early in the morning and I have the rest of my day free. The lessons are already made. I don’t have to do much if any prep. Everyone is different though. Some teachers spend a lot of time prepping.”