I’ve been working for VIPKID since April 2016 as an online ESL instructor to Chinese kids. I am on my second contract and at this point I have a decent grasp of the pros and cons working for this company. Spoiler alert: there will be more pros than cons.
- The kiddos. These kids are coolest, smartest, most motivated children you will meet. The boys and girls range from ages 4-12 years old. It is so fascinating to spend 25 minutes (the length of one class) peering into their lives. Education is highly valued in China and these students are never not doing homework. As an online instructor you will encounter total beginners and six year-old geniuses who are reading at 5th grade level and above.
- Work from anywhere (caveat: anywhere with decent internet connection). As of this post, there are around 5,000 ESL teachers currently teaching from their homes, apartments, Airbnbs, (dare I mention hostels) all around the world? So if you’re a wanderer this is a huge perk. I could write all day about the continents, countries and time zones these teachers live in. This is also a great gig if you’re just looking to work from home. There are many stay-at-home moms that have continued their career in education because of this as well. Many teachers use VIPKID as a travel hack to earn the US dollar while living in countries with a weaker currency.
- Money, dinero, plata, moolah, CA$H. I am currently being paid 20$/hr. Each class is 25-28 minutes long so VIPKID pays 10$/28 minutes of teaching. Think about your other part time job options- do they pay 20$/hr? Can you do them in your living room with pajamas on?
- Lessons are already planned. Okay, if you’re a teacher in the real life B&M setting, you probably have to write weekly or daily lesson plans. Go ahead and read that again: Lessons are already planned. PowerPoint style lessons contain teacher instructions written at the bottom. It is recommended that teachers look through the slides before teaching the lesson, but once you’ve taught for a few weeks you’ve seen the slides don’t need to meticulously review them before starting each class.
- The community. While you may be home alone, you’re certainly not. There are 5,000 other teachers working with you. There are VIPKID Facebook groups, Skype chats and the company forums. Teachers discuss everything: best teaching practices, travel hacks and intense polarizing political views (just kidding).
- Part time work that fits in with your schedule. As a teacher, you set your own schedule. It is required that you open at least 7.5 hours (15 individual classes) within China’s peak teaching hours (6am-10am weekdays and 8pm-10am weekends EST). Teachers can also teach other hours outside the peak times as long as it coincides with the Chinese children schedules (they can’t take lessons while they sleep). Don’t worry, teachers get used to the time zone difference (12 hours), its like chatting with baby geniuses from the future.
- Incentives and VIPKID staff. The super cool people over there in the Beijing offices really support their teachers. They offer professional development, provide feedback to your lessons and offer all kinds of monetized incentives. They give bonuses for teachers who teach a lot of classes and offer extra money for teachers who work during holidays.
- The job is fun. Being silly is encouraged. The kids feed off of the energy of their teachers. This company is on the forefront of Ed-tech and ESL learning (even Kobe Bryant invested). It’s a noble cause, teachers are bettering the lives of children through language and cultural exchange.
- The early bird gets the worm. Not a morning person? This job may not be for you. Peak teaching hours in EST time zone are 6am-10am. Make sure you drink coffee. It can be tough just getting up early, let alone having to act animated for children who are looking forward to having a fun English lesson. If you’re not a morning person, there are also peak hours on the weekends, starting at 8pm until 10am in the morning on Fridays and Saturdays. So essentially there are not standard daytime hours for those in EST. This obviously depends on where you live. Someone in Spain would have normal working hours for VIPKID based on their time zone, for example.
- No benefits, yet. This company is growing exponentially, but as of right now they do not offer any sort of health insurance or company investment opportunities, after all it’s a part time tutoring position. They do allow you to take two weeks off (unpaid) per six month contract. Keep in mind however that teachers may work 7.5 hours minimum one week and max out in hours the next week.
- Part time work. As mentioned, this is not a full time position in the traditional sense. However there are 46 hours of available peak-teaching hours (mornings and all night over the weekend, EST). Not to mention there are also off-peak hours that can be booked as well. With the flexibility, this job works well around a regular full time job. There are teachers who are traveling the world working full time. I’ve seen many teachers in the forums who maximize their bookings and make a full time wage-especially if they live somewhere with a weaker currency but by definition this is part time work. There is no cap or limitation. Some teachers have a parent/student following sufficient enough for a full time wage.
- Punctuality is crucial. This really shouldn’t be a con; I mean we should all be punctual all the time right? As a teacher, you have to open up teacher slots up to four weeks ahead of time. However, parents can only book you two weeks ahead of time, so you can make adjustments to your third and fourth weeks at any time. Once your class is booked, canceling is not a great option for teachers. Teachers in their first contract get six cancellations. This means that they can cancel a class, notifying the company with over twenty four hours notice, six times per six month contract. If you exceed this number than VIPKID maintains the right to terminate your contract – doesn’t mean they will, but they can, especially if these cancellations are a result of the teacher simply not showing up.
Most of the cons I’ve mentioned aren’t real negatives. I enjoy this job, its flexibility, community and compensation. It is totally worth it. If you have an English related degree and some teaching experience, especially with English Language Learners (ELLs) then apply through my recruitment page. Feel free to email with any questions concerning the job or interview process at firstname.lastname@example.org.