Ranked #1 by FlexJobs in Forbes‘ 2018 "Top 100 Remote Work Companies Report," VIPKid is a Chinese company that contracts with Americans to teach online English classes to children. If you have a Bachelor's degree and teaching experience working with children, you are eligible to apply.
The Good, the Bad, the Ugly
Here's the truth: when teachers recruit other teachers to contract with VIPKid, they get a bonus. When you do an internet search, you will find helpful videos with tips, information, and facts, but you will also find some over-selling to get you to sign up. You will even discover some click-bait videos with titles such as "Why I quit VIPKid" or "The Down-Side of VIPKid." When you watch the videos, it's really just a promotion. I've contracted with VIPKid for over three years and have not felt comfortable recommending the job . . . until now. I was bothered by some of the company's practices, and could not--in good faith--recruit other people. In the past couple of years, VIPKid has taken huge steps to improve, and I can now confidently recommend this gig! But, I will give you the honest low-down on the good, the bad, and the ugly. And that's no click-bait!
I'm Ready. Let's Go!
First, I will share that bonus with you. I'll give you half. And I'll still help you through the process. The bonus varies from $50-$100. The catch is that the bonus is not paid out until you teach your first class, and it can take some time to get booked. But every dollar counts, right? Especially when you are spending some money to make more money!
HOW DO I SIGN UP? You have to click on my link and you have to use my referral code or bye-bye bonus. I will not be able to see your contact information, so you will need to give that to me by contacting me. Click here to sign up with VIPkid:
Referral Code: KAREN0071
IT'S EASY. Sure, there's a learning curve, like most things, but honestly, the job is easy. There's no lesson planning, no grading, and no parent conferences! You log in to their platform, jump into the classroom, a PowerPoint with the curriculum loads, the student arrives, and you're off!
FLEXIBILITY. This is the positive side of a double-sided coin. You will be an independent contractor, which is great for flexibility. If you are a brick and mortar teacher, you can do this part-time. If you are a stay-at-home mom, you can do it while your kids sleep. Retired? You'll love it. If you travel around the world, you can teach from your hotel room. Have headphones, will travel!
IT'S REWARDING. Like with all teaching, you will feel fulfilled much of the time. Not all of the time, because sometimes kids can be pills. But, most of the time, seeing them progress feels good. I have started with kids as young as three and watching them develop from just repeating everything--even my sighs and verbal non-fluencies--to having a complete conversation with me is really remarkable. I have taught some kiddos for a few years and I have really grown to adore them. I have enjoyed learning about China, its culture, and the way my students live their lives. These kids are awesome and I have developed bonds. Parents have been really great too.
PAY. The pay is probably better than you can get working other part-time jobs, like at Barnes & Noble, which is why I'm putting this in "The Good." But it's less than you'll make as a full-time teacher. You'll make $14 - $22 an hour. I make between $2000-$2500 a month working five days a week.
Chinese Culture. VIPKid is based in China, and sometimes there is a culture clash. For example, they have policies that change a lot and sometimes you can't keep up with the changes nor do you even know what the true policies are. They have a vision, but the implementation of policies and procedures is confusing and random. Teachers have been penalized for hiccuping too much, looking down too much, and other ridiculous things, and the company will side with the parents. This has not happened to me, and I do not think it is wide-spread. Also, the Chinese government has been changing regulations and this has implications for teachers. Be careful if you want to do this gig as your only income. It can be done, but there is risk. I always keep the mindset that I could lose this income anytime.
INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR: This is the downside to the flexibility coin. You will be an independent contractor, but honestly, you are not always treated as one when the company overreaches in its control over you. This is a complicated issue. You will not have benefits, vacation, sick-leave, etc. You have to pay the employment side of taxes as a self-employed individual. I recommend you do more research in this area. I like being an independent contractor and don't want that to change. It's the gig-economy, right?
COMMUNICATION. This company has horrible communication. You will not be able to communicate to a native English speaker, you will get answers to your emails that make no sense, and people are starting to rely on the native English speakers on the company's Facebook page to get answers to questions and problems. This is their greatest area of weakness and it drives me nuts.
TECHNOLOGY. You have to use their app to teach. It won't work on a Chromebook, but it will on an Apple or Windows computer. You have to have high-speed internet and a good system. Tech problems on your end will negatively affect your ability to get booked and possibly your contract. You have to have a stable and reliable connection. Sometimes things go wrong and you will get a Teacher IT problem and that statistic is broadcasted for 30 days to the parents who book classes.
PARENT FEEDBACK. You have to be good at what you do, get good reviews by the parents, and then you will have success. Sometimes people get negative reviews that are unfair. The company will "invalidate" the feedback, but it is still there for other parents to read, which is why this is in the "ugly" section of my review. This has not been a problem for me, so I think if you have good teaching practices, connect with the kids, and hold high standards, you will be fine.
THE HOURS. You are teaching kids in China, and they are in a different time zone! You can't teach them when they are asleep and you can teach them when they are in school. So you are stuck with nighttime hours if you live in the U.S. Maybe I'm old, but the hours really affect me and I think this is the greatest downside to this side hustle. The hours mean I have to go to bed early and miss out on what my family is doing in the evening hours. I feel tired a lot. Okay, always. I live in the Mountain time zone, so I teach from 3-7 am. It's not easy.