What: VIPKID pays fluent English speakers to teach English online to Chinese students

Expected pay: $14 – $22 per hour

Husl $core: $$$$

Where: National

Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree;
  • high speed internet connection;
  • computer with an HD camera or web cam;
  • a resume;
  • pass interviews and other employee screening

Review:

Hundreds of teachers have reviewed VIPKID on both Indeed.com and Glassdoor and the reviews are overwhelmingly positive, noting that base pay starts at $7 – $9 per half-hour (depending on your credentials) and can be increased through a series of bonuses, allowing teachers to earn as much as $22 per hour.

The catch? Classes are taught after dinner in Beijing, China, which puts them in the middle of the night for many people in the U.S.. If you live in Los Angeles, for instance, the peak weekday hours are between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. The hours aren’t quite as tough if you’re on the East Coast, however. And this job may be just the ticket for parents who want to spend days with their own kids and don’t mind working at odd hours during the night.

Complaints

The only substantial complaints about the company appear to be about technology and cancellations, which get you fined $10 per cancellation and can ultimately cause you to lose your position.

Teachers are also not guaranteed work. They’re chosen by the students and the students may be bigoted. African American teachers complain that they’re less likely to be chosen than white males.

Unlike normal teaching positions, you get very little additional pay for advanced degrees. And, you apparently are more popular as a teacher if you act silly while teaching in your orange VIPKID t-shirt. The bottom line: This can be an attractive opportunity, but perhaps, not for everyone. We’ve included an unusually large sample of reviews to help you evaluate whether this side hustle suits you.

Recommendations

You also may want to consider Magic Ears and QKids, which offer the same jobs, without the claims of bias, or Wyzant for high-paying tutoring positions.

What their teachers say:

“I have been with the company over a year. I love everything about it. It is a great job. The hours can be a challenge. As an independent contractor there aren’t any benefits, but the job itself and the company is an excellent work from home teaching position. I am very, very pleased.”

“I was skeptical at first because it looked like a scam but I tried it anyway. It’s a time consuming interview process but if you practice and follow all directions it’s easy. I passed and have been teaching for 3 months now, I love it!! I get to stay home and make money. I have to wake up earlier than I would like but I’ve gotten used to it. Everyone is very supportive and I enjoy ‘going to’ work ! The children are adorable and so eager to learn it makes waking up early or staying up late manageable 🙂 Their cancellation policy is very strict however you’re in charge of your own schedule so just don’t sign up for what you can’t handle.”

“This is truly one of the best jobs i have ever had. throw on my orange shirt and walk down to my home office (while the rest of the family sleeps} and teach sweet, loving children across the world. So you may have to wake up earlier then you may want to…but it is so worth it to be done by 10am. You make your hours…open up time slots that the parents can book for their children. Check it out….cant beat it.”

“I am on the East Coast so the best hours to teach are 5-9 am (winter) and 6-10am (summer) and on weekends. I love that I set my own schedule so I can take off a day if I need to take my children to a dr. appt or similar. I work about 10-12 hours/week and make about $950-1000/month. There are lots of incentives/bonuses available. I do not qualify for all of them, but that’s OK b/c I’m already getting paid $20+/hour. Sometimes I do not receive timely communication from the company but there is a Facebook webpage where 2500+ teachers participate so I often get my answers there. The company is 12-14 hours ahead of me so usually questions get answered overnight while I am sleeping. The kids are so fun! I learn about Chinese culture while they learn English. It is not perfect but I am home for my family and making a decent wage.”

“It is competitive and difficult to get hired (this isn’t necessarily a con, you want them to be picky and selective about who their teachers are… it makes sense), only about 10% of applicants get hired. Depending on your time zone, you may have to wake up at odd hours in order to get booked. Upon being hired, it takes some time for your schedule to fill up. Orange shirt required (not that big of a deal but I look bad in orange.)”

1. Wonderful StudentsI had the opportunity to share my passion of the English language with many children who were (mostly) eager to work hard and learn. I never would have imagined that it was possible to form such a strong bond with kids who live half a world away. You don’t have to deal with nightmare traffic if you live in a large city. If you are a parent, you can stay home. It is possible to earn up to a $2 bonus per class at the end of the month depending on your attendance record and the number of classes taught. There are various other incentives that change from month to month; these can help you earn extra money on top of your base pay. There is a company-run forum (Freshdesk) in which teachers strongly support each other and answer each other’s questions. Working solely online can make one feel isolated, but this feature provided a sense of community. Various workshops are available for teachers looking to strengthen their abilities or enhance their classrooms. But….Cancelling a class for ANY reason is highly frowned upon by the company. Exceeding the allotted number of cancellations (roughly three working days per six-month contract) can result in termination with no consideration for a teacher’s overall rating and attendance record. So many loyal teachers fear losing their jobs and are experiencing undue stress simply because illness, IT issues, and other emergencies have caused them to exceed the meager number of allotted cancellations. It is well-known that China has persistent internet issues. If you as a company are not going to acknowledge this fact, then at least hire more IT staff to support the growing number of teachers and students. This will especially cut down on the number of classes that are haphazardly labeled as “Teacher IT Problems.”

“Every teacher is allotted the same number of cancellations whether they teach 15 or 70+ classes per week.The teacher has three minutes to enter the virtual classroom. Failure to do so (even if network issues delay classroom entrance) will automatically result in a “Teacher No-Show” and a $10 deduction from that month’s wages. Before there were 15,000+ teachers, the platform typically ran well. However, during the last six months (as of July 2017), the sheer number of students and teachers logging on at once has bogged the system down significantly. I upgraded my equipment THREE times over the course of a year and changed phone companies to invest in a backup hotspot, but many issues persisted (including flickering cameras, sound lag, and echoing/feedback). While the support staff were generally helpful, they were inundated with requests for assistance and were sometimes quick to label the class as a “Teacher IT Problem” rather than take the time to resolve the issues. This practice was particularly troublesome because teachers are not paid for classes with this label.

 “They have a VERY strict cancellation policy. The flexibility in your schedule is there initially, but you have to open your schedule booking 2 weeks in advance, so if an emergency comes up, it is nearly impossible to cancel or miss a day without severe penalties, and potential job loss. The penalty includes docking pay, and you get mysteriously ‘shut out’ from the bookings, so you cannot be seen by parents on the portal. They do not communicate this, nor tell you when and IF you will be opened up again. SO you enter this weird zone of silent ‘punishment’ from China with no response (other than scripted automated, with language and time lag barriers) waiting for the issue to ‘resolve.’ It can be a weather outage, internet issue, inability to log in due to their rapid expansion and overtaxed network, or a broken leg – all are treated the same. If you work 80 classes a week (40 hours, full time) or 10 classes a week (5 hours) you get the same amount of cancellations before you are locked out and terminated. Communication is poor, fireman (IT help) are very subjective in how they label classes (Teacher IT are VERY common mislabels, and you get are penalized when the issue was on student end) Parents are always right, and some of them are VERY overbearing, and sit in and interrupt he lesson, using poor English at that. It was MUCH better in 2016 before their rapid expansion, now -it is turn and burn, and they seem to care little for outcomes, and less for teaching staff. The system is overwhelmed, and communication/policies are poor.

“VERY little support -you will find more support/answers on fb teacher groups.”

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