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A few months ago, Amanda and I quit our corporate jobs and moved to Chiang Mai, Thailand. We’ll be living here for 3 months before moving on to Taiwan. Ever since we made the decision to move abroad and become location independent, we always seem to get one question: what do you do for money?! The answer is that, while we spent the year before we left building our own business ( that’s another story for another post), the majority of our income at the moment comes from teaching English to Chinese students online with VIPKID. Teaching part-time allows us to continue living remotely and still have time (and money) to build our business. Now that we’ve been teaching with VIPKID for a little over 2 months, here’s our VIPKID review up to this point.
What is VIPKID?
VIPKID is an online education platform where students in China learn English with an instructor via webcam. The students on VIPKID range from 4-12 years old. Students generally attend class in the evening, after going to their regular school. So, for teachers in North America, this means your teaching will be done in the early morning hours during the week. The weekends are a little more spread out when some students instead sign up for a morning class. This means that if you’re in North America and your student books you for their Sunday morning class, you’ll be teaching on Saturday night.
How Much Does VIPKID Pay?
VIPKID pays on a per-class basis and offers several incentives as a way to make more money. These incentives can be based on things like performance or even just showing up to class on time. VIPKID’s base pay varies from person to person and ranges from $7-$9 per 25 minute class. This is dependant on things like experience and your mock interview results. Most people we’ve spoken to seem to have started at $8 per class. Add in things like bonuses for things like completing a certain number of classes or being on time and that jumps to $10 per class. So, VIPKID pay ranges from $18-$22 USD/hr. Amanda and I personally make $20/hr.
The Application Process
There are 5 steps in the application process.
Fill Out Application: The first of these steps in the process is super simple. You’ll fill out your resume, which is a form you just need to fill in. You can get started HERE. They’re just looking for things like your education info and teaching experience to make sure you meet the basic requirements. A bachelor’s degree is required.
TIP: This page will ask you to list your teaching experience in years. This includes any experience working with/teaching children. Again, we were not teachers. I used my experience coaching youth football for a few years. I’ve also heard of women who used their nannying/child care experience.
Recorded Interview: The next step is a 1 on 1 interview or recorded lesson. Amanda and I were sent an invite for a recorded lesson. I’m not sure how they decide which you’ll be required to do.
Watch Video Series: After the interview, you’ll be sent an Introduction to Teaching with VIPKID. These are a series of videos you’ll need to watch to become familiar with VIPKID standards and curriculum.
Teach a Mock Class: This one’s interesting. You’ll have to teach a mock class 1 on 1 with a VIPKID teacher. Sound simple enough, right? I forgot to mention that the fully grown adult on the other end of your interview will be pretending to be a 5 year old student while you teach. They’ll break character halfway through and provide you with feedback, so it does get a little less awkward. Depending on how your mock goes, you may need to do 1 or 2. If they require a second one, they’re looking for you to implement the feedback from the first!
Sign Contract: Almost there! Sign your 6 month contract, upload your degree and any certifications and pass a background check.
Get Hired: Congrats! You can now open your slots and wait for students to book you!
Sounds easy enough right? You can get started HERE.
Teaching for VIPKID
Flexibility – This is probably the most obvious one. Teaching for VIPKID allows us to teach when and, more importantly, wherever we want. As long as you have a strong internet connection, you can make money from anywhere. There are no minimum requirements for classes so your schedule is up to you. NOTE: There is a $1 per class bonus if you teach 45+ classes/month. So if you want to make an extra $100/month, teach 100 classes.
They Provide the Material – Not having to make a curriculum eliminates the need for any prep work and saves your most valuable asset: time. You teach off slides that are already created for you. You can review the material before class but there are directions under each slide.
The Students! – Because you’re working with children, you will get the occasionally disinterested or distracted student. But in our experience, the students are generally really great. They pay attention, work hard, and many are genuinely super excited to learn and practice English with a native speaker. You’ll also develop your regular students who continue to book you. It’s really awesome to get to know these students and watch them progress.
Bonus For Digital Nomads and Expats: The Pay – This isn’t so much about the pay rate as it is about the pay when you’re living abroad. VIPKID provides a great opportunity to get paid in USD while living in a place where the cost of living is considerably lower than home.
The Not So Good
Not Always Reliable – While our bookings are generally steady, nothing is guaranteed. As a VIPKID teacher, you still have to wait for students to book your class. Because of this, planning/budgeting for the month is a little hard because things like Chinese Holidays and low bookings really affect you. Note: there are also things like student no shows that can affect your payment. If a student doesn’t show up for class, you are required to sit there for the full 25 minutes (15 minutes for a trial class) but will only receive half payment for the class.
Takes Time to Build Up Steady Bookings – This is sort of piggybacking off of the last point but when you’re a new teacher with VIPKID, it can take awhile to get booked. This will improve with time, but you should still expect to have a slow first month.
Communication / Resolving Issues – VIPKID is a huge company and for most of its teachers, they’re located in a completely different country. The company is also growing ridiculously quickly, with over 40,000 teachers and 300,000 students. This all makes for some potentially frustrating moments when looking for clarification or assistance.
The Final Verdict
Up to this point, we’ve really enjoyed our time teaching with VIPKID. It has come with a few moments of frustration and confusion, but is a definitely a net positive overall. We work part time and have enough money to live comfortably here in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The extra time we get by only working part time allows us to focus on our other business ventures as well. If are interested in signing up to teach for VIPKID, you can reach out to us or sign up HERE.
We are a couple that travels the world full time while running our own online businesses. We want to be your one stop shop for a location independent lifestyle full of travel inspiration and useful tools and knowledge to grow your own online business.