In December 2016, I was sitting on a hostel bed in Granada, Spain, across from my friend, Heather. The conversation turned to finances–a topic hardly taboo among auxiliares de conversación.
Image Credit: Tax Credits (Image Overlay: Backpacking Brunette)
I wasn’t strapped for cash, but my recent decision not to renew for a third year in Spain had me thinking about the future. I needed to start saving money for my next venture. But, how?
It was important to me to retain the freedom to travel. I needed a flexible gig. The previous year, I’d upped my income by taking on more private classes but had run myself ragged commuting all over the city. I needed something close to home–something I could potentially keep doing once I was back in the States.
Heather, bless her little heart, had the answer: VIPKID.
What is VIPKID?
Founded in 2013 and headquartered in Beijing, China, VIPKID is an online education company. VIPKID offers an American education experience to Chinese students aged 4 to 12.
I teach English as a second language to children living in China through an online videoconferencing platform devised by the company. It’s similar to Skype. The students have varying levels in English. For some children, I’m their first contact with an English teacher. Others are nearly fluent speakers.
Every class is one-on-one and lasts 25 minutes. I utilize prepared lesson plans designed by VIPKID and implemented based on the student’s level. Just so this is clear: I don’t do any lesson planning!
The lessons are fully immersive (you don’t need to speak Chinese) and were designed according to the U.S.’s Common Core State Standards.
Who can apply?
VIPKID employs more than 20,000 teachers and has over 100,000 students. Are you seeing dollar signs yet?!
Potential teachers must meet the following qualifications:
- Be a native English speaker from North America.
- Have any Bachelor’s degree.
- Individuals with an associates for early childhood education are also eligible.
- Have some teaching experience.
- Formal teaching experience is not required. Motherhood, babysitting and camp counseling all count.
- Have a reliable internet connection with audio/video capabilities.
- Have a passport.
- A scan of the first page of the passport as well as a college transcript or diploma must be submitted during the application process.
Image Credit: Charels Yamut
How much can I make?
Depending on your teaching experience and performance during the application process, you will make between $7-9 per class. Since you teach in 25-minute segments, you can make $14-22 an hour including bonuses.
If you teach at least 45 classes per month (22.5 hours), you receive an extra $1 for every class you teach. For every class you’re on time to and teach according to schedule, you receive an extra $1 as well. So, if you earn all the bonuses (which is not hard to do), you’ll earn $18-22 per hour.
You can also earn extra money when a student signs up after you teach a trial lesson and for accepting class bookings within 24 hours.
Teachers are paid between the 10th and 15th of every month for the previous month’s work. The money is direct deposited into your American bank account.
How can I apply?
To be perfectly honest, VIPKID has a very rigorous application process. But, hey, if it was easy, everyone would do it!
First, you need to create a login using an email address. In making your account, you need to upload your resume. This screens applicants for basic requirements and teaching experience.
Second, you will be invited to schedule either a 30-minute session with a VIPKID recruiter or record a demo lesson. In either case, this is your opportunity to showcase your teaching abilities using material provided in advance. Generally, only those reapplying are asked to record a demo lesson. First-time applicants interview with a recruiter.
Third, you have three days to watch a mountain of training videos regarding the company’s technology, standards and curriculum. Take this part seriously, and don’t try to watch all the videos in one sitting! This is the bulk of your training and how much you’re able to take in will be vital to your success in the mock classes.
Fourth, you have six days to complete two mock classes. The mock classes are similar to the initial interview in that the interviewer (this time an actual VIPKID teacher) acts like a student. You will be asked to practice teach a full-length class. This is hands down the most difficult part of the application process.
Preparing with someone who has successfully passed the mock classes is invaluable. I’m more than happy to guide your through the process. You can email me at ealexiswittman (at) gmail dot com.
Last, once you’ve passed both mock classes, you’ll sign your contract and upload your documents (passport photo page and proof of a Bachelor’s degree). Prior to opening yourself up to bookings, you will also need upload a profile picture and make a short (very short) introduction video. Take care because this will be your students (and, more importantly, their parents) first impression of you.
Once you’re hired
It’s time to start teaching! VIPKID provides videos (yes, more videos) to help familiarize you with the booking process. The company asks that you provide a month’s worth of availability. However, there is plenty of time to make adjustments. Students are able to begin booking classes every Monday for the following week.
VIPKID’s teaching hours are based on Beijing Time. The most popular times, or peak times, are Monday through Friday from 6 – 10 p.m. as well as Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. – 10 p.m. You will need to calculate those hours in accordance with your own timezone prior to setting your availability.
Get ready for early mornings! Currently, I teach Monday through Friday from 6 – 10 a.m. (EST). At the moment, I’m not willing to get up any earlier, but if I was, there would be lots of opportunities to teach and make money! Occasionally, I will teach Friday or Saturday night from 9 p.m. – 2 a.m.
Why I love working for VIPKID
At first, VIPKID sounded too good to be true. I thought Heather had been scammed. However, with no other promising options on the horizon, I thought it wouldn’t hurt to check it out.
It didn’t take long to recognize VIPKID’s legitimacy. Even basketball legend Kobe Bryant is an investor! With serious backers, the company has grown exponentially.
I went through the hiring process at the end of December 2016. Due to traveling, I didn’t teach my first class until February, but once I did, I was hooked!
VIPKID has been everything I was looking for and more. When I was living in Spain, it helped me supplement my pay as an auxiliar without sacrificing travel time. I was able to save money, and the flexible scheduling allowed me to take three consecutive weeks off to travel!
Now that I’m back in the U.S., I’m teaching 25 hours per week and loving every minute of it. The work is fun and fulfilling! Just today, I taught my 745th class with VIPKID. I feel so fortunate to work for such an innovative company. Furthermore, VIPKID genuinely cares about their teachers. All my questions and concerns are met with timely and thoughtful responses. I don’t just feel like part of a team. I feel like part of a family.
So, what are you waiting for? If you’re looking for a flexible, fun way to make money, look no further than VIPKID! Click here for my referral link. Don’t hesitate to email me or leave a comment here with any question or concern.
Good luck, and happy teaching!
Are you interested in working for VIPKID? Do you work for another online ESL company? Let me know in the comments below!