What Is VIPKid?
If you’re an online ESL teacher or would like to become one and you haven’t been living under a rock for the past decade, you’ve likely heard of VIPKID. VIPKID is an online teaching company that uses its own platform and materials to provide English lessons to kids aged 3-14 in China.
Founded in 2013 and backed by more than $100,000,000 in investments from leading venture capital firms, VIPKID now boasts more than 500,000 registered students along side 30,000 teachers.
Despite the competition, VIPKID has grown rapidly in the last few years and doesn’t seem to have plans to stop recruiting teachers any time soon. Voted one of the top ten places to work in 2020, many are starting to wonder if they should jump on the VIPKID bandwagon themselves. If you’re one of them, read on to find out more about VIPKID’s requirements, hiring process, salary and more.
VIPKID delivers it’s lessons via a proprietary learning management system (LMS) and bases the curriculum on the US Common Core Standards. For teachers, this means that if you have experience teaching in the United States, the methodologies should be familiar.
VIPKID Requirements: What Do You Need?
VIPKID is admittedly strict when it comes to their teacher requirements – while you might see some of their competitors hiring blindly and without defined criteria, VIPKID has earned the reputation of being very thorough and hands-on with their screening process and has requirements for everything from a teacher’s experience to their technical equipment and internet speed.
Note: As of December 2019, VIPKID is no longer hiring teachers that live in California due to a recent bill that was passed there – you can read more about the details here.
- Bachelor’s degree – VIPKID is very strict when it comes to hiring and won’t consider applications coming from candidates who do not possess a Bachelor’s degree . If you are in the process of getting yours though and you just can’t wait to apply, you can always do so and then simply start teaching once you graduate.
- Native English speaker
- Experience – You should have at least two years of experience teaching kids but if you don’t have any formal experience, don’t sweat it, activities such as tutoring, volunteering and so on will still count.
- Eligibility to work in the U.S. or Canada – although you can work from wherever you want, you still need to be legally allowed to work in North America.
- TESOL certification – the Ministry of China now requires English teachers to be in possession of some type of ESL teaching certification. However, VIPKID now offers its own TESOL program which can be successfully completed in 10 hours or less.
- Background check – Even though it’s not listed together with the other requirements, bare in mind that before you start your teaching journey with VIPKID you’ll have to pass a background check, handled by a third party service. Now, various teachers and applicants report that it can take anywhere from hours to days to weeks while others state that you are still able to book classes without it. We definitely recommend asking your interviewer about this, but in the meantime here is what VIPKID says on their website:
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In addition to the requirements mentioned above, VIPKID also requires you to adhere to technology standards to ensure your classes are consistent – their tech requirements are broken out into device, system and browser.
- Desktop, Laptop, MAC, Surface – this is simply stating the types of computers with which the VIPKID platform will work.
- Use a headset with a microphone, stable output and input – your lessons will be much more clear with a dedicated headset (read: not just headphones with a mic) – we wrote an entire post about the best headset options here.
- HD External camera or HD integrated camera – if you have a modern computer you likely have a webcam – if not, check out our recs here.
Besides these somewhat basic devices, VIPKID also provides a list of “Must-have Teaching Tools” to improve the quality of your lessons (scroll to the bottom of the linked page to find it) — the list includes extra tools such as a ring light and a computer stand.
System and Browser Requirements
- Windows7 or above, MAC OS X 10.10 or above – to find out what system you are using, click here for Windows and click here for Mac.
- At Least 4GB RAM – to check your RAM click here for Windows and click here for Mac.
- The latest Flash version – which can be downloaded using this link.
- Intel Core i3 above CPU – to check your CPU click here for Windows and click here for Mac.
- Stable Internet Connection – at least 20 Mbps – you can use Speedtest to check your internet speed.
- Chrome 58 or above – for instructions to find out which Chrome version you have installed click here.
What does VIPKID pay?
Like many other online teaching companies out there, the VIPKID pay system is based on a variety of factors however, they advertise the ability to make between $14-$22/hr (keep in mind this is based on a 2 classes per hour model where you will make $7-$11 per 25-minute class).
According to Glassdoor, most of the reporting salaries are on the higher end of this range, with most teachers claiming to make around $20 an hour.
The base pay of all new VIPKID recruits will be determined after your demo lesson and will take into account both how much experience you have as well as how your demo class went.
How do you get to the higher end of the VIPKID pay spectrum?
The answer is bonuses and incentives – the VIPKID team does a great job of awarding their teachers – here are a few ways you can boost your pay:
- Show up on time and teach the entire class: $1 extra per class
- Teach more than 30 classes per month: $0.50 extra per class
- Teach more than 45 classes per month: $1 extra per class
- Short notice or fill-in classes (when another teacher doesn’t show up): $2 extra per class
- Student sign ups after a trial class: $5 per student
So, how much can you make?
Your personal VIPKID salary will depend on your teaching abilities and availability, but for the sake of discussion let’s look at an example.
Let’s assume your base salary is $9/class (or $18/hr) and you teach 50 classes per month – all of which you show up on time for. On top of that, 5 of your students are on a trial and signup after taking your class.
In this scenario, you’d make a $450 base salary ($9 x 50 classes), $50 on-time bonus ($1 x 50 classes), $50 bonus for teaching more than 45 classes in a month ($1 x 50 classes), and $25 enrollment bonus for the 5 students that signed up after taking your class ($5 per student). All of this adds up to $575 for teaching just 25 hours, or $23/hr – not bad, right?
Note: VIPKID pay and bonuses are always evolving, here is an image of the VIPKID pay section on their site taken in March 2018 for your reference.
VIPKID referral and affiliate programs
If the bonuses offered weren’t enough to convince you to apply, VIPKID has come up with another way to help you boost your monthly salary while at the same time incentivize you to promote the company: the referral and affiliate programs.
So let’s take a better look at what these programs are and how they can help you make a bit of extra cash each month.
How do these programs work?
If you’ve been watching YouTube videos about VIPKID, you might have noticed most, if not all, VIPKID teachers invite you to use their referral link/code or, most recently, their affiliate link.
The idea is this: if you’re a new applicant and decided to use one of these teacher’s links, you will get access to extra resources created by that very teacher as well as perhaps a bit of personal coaching to help you pass the interview. Every teacher has their own way of supporting you and coaching during the interview process, whether it be emails, phone calls, guides etc.
So now we know what you would get. But, why would they take on all this extra work in order to help new teachers? The short answer to this question is… money. That’s right, for every successful applicant who used their link, the teacher gets a pretty substantial bonus.
How much extra money can you make with the referral/affiliate program?
VIPKID has made some major changes to their referral program at the beginning of 2020 and has even introduced a whole new program, the affiliate program. So, let’s take a look at how much you can make with each so you can choose which one would be better for you if you decide to apply.
One of the biggest changes implemented in 2020 was getting rid of the “milestones”, so regardless of how many teachers you are able to recruit, this is what you can expect to make for every new teacher who uses your referral code:
- $10 for every applicant passing the demo class
- $100 for every applicant who teaches their first lesson
The affiliate program works a little bit differently – you get paid whenever an applicant who used your affiliate link signs their contract, which, if on the one hand means you don’t get anything for them passing their demo class, on the other hand, you won’t need to wait for them to get booked to get them money. The affiliate program works based on the following monthly milestones:
- 1 teacher – $50
- 2 teachers – $65
- 3-6 teachers – $80
- 7-10 teachers – $100
- 11-20 teachers – $120
- 21+ teachers – $130
Another great advantage of the affiliate program is the fact that you will get access to the applicants’ email addresses, which will make the coaching that much easier.
Here you can find more information on how to refer new teachers to VIPKID here.
Also, check out this video by Nancy Taylor for a very clear explanation of all the pros and cons of these two programs.
How do you get paid and do you need to pay taxes for VIPKID?
VIPKID pays their teachers through direct bank deposits between the 10th and the 15th of each month so you will need to submit your bank information in order to get paid.
Regarding VIPKID taxes, all teachers are classified as independent contractors and are responsible for reporting all wages and paying all of their own taxes. If you’re American you can read more on the IRS website – if you have a different nationality you can check out this guide, though it’s still written through the lens of being an American taxpayer.
If you want to know more about paying taxes with VIPKID, they have a pretty in-depth guide on their site that covers the topic in far more detail than I ever could:
The VIPKID Interview and Hiring Process
Like their bonuses and incentives, VIPKID continues to adjust and improve their hiring and interview process and has streamlined their interview process to ensure only the best candidates make it through – still, if you meet the requirements and can deliver during your interview, you should be fine!
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Let’s take a look at the general process once you apply on their site and then dive into each step in detail!
Step 1: Basic Information
This stage of the application process shouldn’t take you more than 5-10 minutes and once you’ve entered all the basic information required, a message will be displayed telling you whether you’ve made the first cut. If you have, great! Let’s move on.
Step 2: Demo Lesson
This is your chance to impress the VIPKID recruiters so make sure you are fully prepared before proceeding. At this stage, VIPKID will show you a table with the available times for an interview but before you go ahead and book a slot, let’s take a look at your options.
The demo lesson can either take place live in front of a VIPKID representative or via a recorded video that you create (your choice). If you choose the live option it will be on China time (just like your classes) and will follow a traditional interview format and include a short demo class.
Although there are some advantages to choosing the 30-minute interview, the biggest one probably being you can negotiate your pay, the 5-minute recorded demo option is hard to pass by, considering you can re-record it as many times as you need and you can complete it in your own time.
For both of these, you will have access to the slides for your demo class so you can prepare – you don’t have to knock their socks off but you should review and prepare (for example, props are optional but can make a huge impact).
Expect the interviewer to look for overall appearance, teaching style (make sure to use lots of TPR) and your ability to teach the lesson they provided. They will provide feedback and make the decision on whether or not you should move forward in the interview process.
Although VIPKID itself does a great job at providing you with videos to help you ace your demo class, you can find lots of incredibly useful demo class walk-throughs on YouTube as well.
Watch this video to get some great advice on how to pass your demo class with flying colors!
And then another one giving you specific tips on how to teach the Me, Myself and I slides.
Step 3: Mock Classes
By this point you will have received both feedback on your demo class and access to the VIPKID training assets and it’s time to put that information to work.
At this stage, aka the Certification Stage, you will be be asked to choose which levels you would like to get certified on in your mock class, your options being:
- Levels 2&3
- Levels 4&5
If you’re unsure, it might help you to know that most kids on the VIPKID platform are actually levels 2 and 3 so choosing that range might increase your chances of getting booked in the future. But don’t worry about it too much, you can always get certified on the other levels later on.
Once you’ve made your choice, you will be sent two separate lessons to prepare. Once you’ve practiced enough and feel confident, you can have your mock class with a mock class mentor based in China. At the end of this ‘pretend lesson’, you will be given feedback on how it went as well as some tips to improve.
If all goes well, you will be sent straight to sign your contract and will be able to begin teaching. However, it’s not unusual for new teachers to not pass their first mock class but don’t worry, you can retake it as many times as necessary so don’t stress about it too much and take it as an opportunity to learn and practice as much as you can.
Here is a video with an explanation of some of the most common mistakes new teachers make in their mock classes.
Step 4: Tesol Course (Not needed if you already have a teaching certificate)
As mentioned earlier, VIPKID now offers a mini TESOL course for teachers who don’t already possess an ESL teaching certification.
Although VIPKID claims it can be completed in around 10 hours, chances are that, with the right tips, it will take you even less!
You can read this article to find out more about the VIPKID TESOL course and quiz.
Step 5: Signing the Contract
VIPKID contracts are for 6 months and you will need to sign their documents and submit a few of your own. As of 2018 they are also running background checks on all teachers, so keep that in mind if you have any outstanding legal issues that might impact your application.
The process here usually takes 3-5 business days and after that you will need to create a profile on their system and keep an eye out for booked classes.
Congrats! You’re now a VIPKID teacher!
Want to hear from an actual VIPKID teacher? Then watch this video about what the hiring process looks like in 2020.
What should you do if you fail the VIPKID interview process?
There are a lot of people out there wondering what to do if they fail their interview so we felt it was worth addressing here. If you truly feel that you are a skilled teacher that was incorrectly judged during the process then you can try applying with a different email and start the process over.
However, if you are simply trying to game the system or don’t meet the teacher requirements, I’d say not to waste your time – you’ve read how comprehensive the process is and VIPKID has gotten very good at identifying and removing teachers that aren’t up to standards. If you don’t feel like you can deliver significantly better results than your previous effort (assuming you meet all the other requirements) then our advice is to pursue other opportunities.
What is it like teaching for VIPKID?
One of the greatest things about VIPKID is that although it does require a 6-month minimum commitment, it lets you choose how little or how much you want to work. One important thing to keep in mind, however, is that the company operates on Beijing time – so you will need to work around their schedule (for an example, Beijing is usually 12 hours ahead of New York).
They also operate 7 days a week so you have incredible flexibility with your schedule!
There are also time slots that are more popular than others – these are known as “Peak Times”. If you want to boost your bookings (and money), make sure to consult the VIPKID’s peak hours chart when opening your schedule.
VIPKID Cancellation Policy
VIPKID has a pretty strict cancellation policy for its teachers and breaks it down into two categories: Regular and Soft/Medium. Each type has different penalties ranging from monetary to contract termination after a set number.
- Regular Cancellations: Teachers are afforded 6 cancellations per contract and can expect their contact to be canceled after the 7th unless it’s a unique event. If you do not cancel within 24hours of your class you will be docked $2 per class; if you cancel within 2hours you will be docked $10; if you don’t show up at all you will be docked $10 per class in addition to another $10. One thing to note is that VIPKID groups their cancelations into groups of 3 classes, so if you cancel all 3 classes you only get marked for 1 cancelation out of the 6.
- Soft/Medium Cancellations: VIPKID understands that accidents happen and you can claim your cancelations as soft/medium if you’re sick, have a family emergency, etc. These are handled on a case by case basis but if successful will not count against your 6 available cancelations.
Student No Shows & Cancellations
Students can also be guilty of no-showing or canceling classes and it’s important to know what happens if they do it to you. First, you still get paid, but it’s only for 1/2 the full class amount (better than nothing, right?). Second, you still have to wait 15min if it’s a trial class or 25min if a normal class – the exception to this is if the ‘Firemen’ aka VIPKID support mark the class as ‘SNS’ or student no show – to check this you have to open the ‘classroom’ tab in a new browser.
Here is a nice video that tells you more about what happens when a teacher or a student needs to cancel a class.
VIPKID Reviews + Pros & Cons
The vast majority of teachers working for VIPKID seem really happy with their experience as the vast majority of the reviews of the company on Glassdoor show, with an impressive average score of 4.4 out of 5.
Here’s what VIPKID Teacher Laura said about the company:
”Before I signed up to teach with VIPKID, I thought this opportunity was too good to be true. Although I love this company and truly appreciate all that it has done for me, we all know that every company has its flaws.
Overall, I think it is awesome to work with VIPKID. The positive VIPKID reviews heavily outweigh the negative VIPKID reviews.”
All in all, working at VIPKID can prove to be an extremely rewarding experience, however, just like any other job, it does present a few downsides.
Here we’ve put together a short list of advantages and disadvantages of working for this company.
- Great platform for teachers
- Virtually zero lesson prep time
- Great flexibility when scheduling classes
- Pay above average compared to other online ESL companies
- Great bonuses and incentives
- Strict cancellation policy
- No minimum amount of hours guaranteed
- Some teachers complain about low booking
- Operates on Beijing time, which might mean having to work odd hours
- No benefits for teachers
A lot of this has already been covered above but here are some to-the-point answers to common VIPKID FAQs:
Can you teach for VIPKID without a degree?
No, all teachers must have at least a bachelor’s degree.
Can you teach for VIPKID with a criminal record?
No, VIPKID requires their teachers to pass a background check in order to get hired.
Do you need a TEFL to teach for VIPKID?
Yes, although you can opt for the 10-hour course offered by VIPKID itself.
To sum up, VIPKID seems like a great company overall. The flexibility it gives together with the amazing bonuses and incentives offered are hard to come by in the online teaching world so if you have a passion for teaching and enjoy working with kids, this might just be the job for you!
- My VIPKid Journey – a great blog from Teacher Erin who also has an awesome Youtube channel.
Greetings, Will I provide/need a background check for my country (USA) or for China? Thanks!
Usually, it’s your home country as well as where you lived for the past year if different.
Your background check is in the country you’re from= USA
VIPKID does the background check. You just have to agree to let them. Ezzy PEZZY!
Hi there! I just would like to know how much not having a TEFL certification could affect class bookings or pay. I will have an ESL certification through the North American Mission Board, however, I realize this is not equivalent. Does that count for anything? If you could please email me, that would be great! Thank you!
Hi Sydney – as long as you meet the other requirements it won’t matter too much – where it can help is negotiating on your starting salary but the ESL certificate can definitely be an asset there as well – good luck!
I’m still a little confused about the demo class during the live interview. I’d prefer to have a live interview, but am open to a recording as well. Would the demo be a sample of me teaching something of my choice with the kids that I currently work with, or is it a lesson provided by VIPKids that I will follow while teaching to the kids I work with? Please provide clarification. Thank you!
Hi Tina – I believe the demo will be just you on a recording (no kids) or you with the recruiter where they might play the part of the kids.
Thank you for all the information that you have provided. I know it takes a lot of your time to put together such a great website.
I just got invited to the teacher application process. I’m very excited but the timing isn’t that great because of Christmas and visiting family. BUT I could get the demo done if I needed to. Are the chances of getting hired better if I get the demo done ASAP? Or should I take my time and work on a fantastic demo?
Hi Mary – I dont believe there is a timeline for VIPKid but I wouldnt wait too long – they have hiring ebbs and flows where they need a lot of teachers sometimes and fewer at other times of the year.
Hi. What’s involved for background check VIPKid ? Do I submit something or does the VIPKid company do it all? How does it work?
Hi Evelyn – to the best of our knowledge everything is handled by VIPKid and you only have to provide personal info (likely your social security number, DOB, etc) in order for them to process everything.
Hi Emma, If I’ve been living in a different country other than USA and China and I’m a US citizen, how does the background check work?
Hi Syeda – we’re not sure about this – have you asked VIPKID?
Hi i’m so excited about teaching English to kids !!
I have been teaching English for nearly 3 years.
I’m in advanced level and i’m from Iran.
does it strictly require to be a native speaker ?
Yes, VIPKID is only for native speakers, sorry!
Hi Marziyeh. I have the same question 😔
I am very qualified to be a VIPKID teacher, but have a criminal charge pending deferral. Is there any information available for specific criteria for the hiring process during the background check? I was just denied to continue the application process after completing all of the other requirements. I have invested many long hours and now can’t continue because I failed the background check.
Hi Jill – Im not sure what the process is if you’ve failed the check. Id advise asking another VIPKid teacher (can find plenty on Youtube, Reddit, or Facebook) for advice as they may have a way to ask VIPKid admins about reapplying if your charge does get deferred.
Other than a criminal record, I am very qualified and have all of the necessary certificates/degrees and teaching experience. Is there still no chance of getting hired with a criminal record to your knowledge? I am very anxious to hear back from my final application.
Thank you very much for taking the time to put this article together. It is extremely helpful and I’m sure took time.
Hi Kelsey – if you have something that shows up on your record then I dont think you will be hired, sorry.
Hi, During the application process, do you have submit your documents (such as Bachelor’s Degree or ID – to ensure you are from North America, etc) or does this get done once you have gone through all the steps and are about to get hired. Thank you.
Is it safe to say that VIPkid is mostly part time? Is it possible to teach for VIPkid while holding a full time teaching job? Are art teachers encouraged to apply as they add a bit more creativity to the mix?
It can definitely be part-time as the prime hours are during US morning hours, though there are much longer periods on the weekend. As for art teachers having an advantage, we haven’t heard anything about that.
I currently hold a teaching certification for elementary grades K-6. I currently teach kindergarten. Two questions, will I need to have an ESL cert or the TEFL you are speaking of or is my teaching cert. and a masters degree good enough? Also if I’m currently a teacher is this something I could do on the side?
Hi Melanie – I believe your cert should be enough and if you can make the hours work then you can definitely do it on the side.
Hi is Vipkid hiring currently? Are there mentors to help with the process?
Hi Ana – unsure if they are hiring but you can always find a mentor on social media – look up application tips on Youtube and you should get a lot of options!