Teaching English online is arguably one of the most consistent and rewarding jobs for digital nomads, but how does one quality company set itself apart from a mediocre (or awful) one?
I’ll make it easy for you…
Over the last few years, VIPKID has consistently ranked as one of the top companies employing English teachers online.
Teaching English online grants you the ability to make a difference in students’ lives whilst earning an income and the freedom to work anywhere in the world. Anybody who has ever taught English as a foreign language will tell you how rewarding this job is.
Below, I cover how to get hired by VIPKID as an online English teacher, and everything you need to know about the VIPKID hiring process, including insider tips, needed qualifications, pay/salary, and much more!
If you are wanting to get a job with a badass, respected company leading the field of online English learning, this guide is your ticket!
Let’s get right to it…
Why Choose to be a VIPKID Teacher?
Landing a job as a VIBKID teacher is awesome for a variety of reasons.
What sets teaching English online apart from a program where you are physically in the classroom is—above all else—the freedom you have.
VIPKID lets you set your own schedule so that your job doesn’t feel like a regular 9-5 (which many of us backpackers try to avoid like the plague). Plus, you never have to design or produce your own lesson plans. Gone are the countless hours of midnight lesson planning (and the associated stress).
The staff at VIPKID arm you with everything you need to be prepared for your classes! Sweet deal.
The ability to be able to work from anywhere with a good internet connection, great pay, bonuses, and guaranteed 6-month contracts all play a part in making VIPKID one of the best employers for digital nomads seeking to teach English online.
To be a VIPKID teacher is to be a part of a well-supported community of people who are equally passionate about both the teachers’ and students’ experience.
Now, let’s take a closer look at VIPKID before we jump into the hiring process.
What the Hell is VIPKID?
The VIPKID teacher to student platform connects Chinese students with native English speaking teachers online. They have literally thousands of teachers scattered across the globe.
They provide an international learning experience to children in China between ages 4-12. Headquartered in Beijing, the company offers fully immersive one-on-one English language instruction provided online by highly qualified teachers.
The VIPKID curriculum is based on the U.S. Common Core State Standards and uses a flipped-classroom approach to foster creativity and critical thinking skills.
Before Applying to be a VIPKID Teacher
Before we dive into the interview phase and the hiring process for VIPKID, you should be aware of the qualifications needed in order to be considered for employment, pay/salary, and contract details. I’ll cover vital bits of information regarding what to expect as a VIPKID teacher.
VIPKID Teacher Qualifications
VIPKID is pretty specific about the type of individuals they hire. It is important to note that if you are NOT from the US or Canada then you are NOT eligible to be hired by VIPKID. Sorry if this applies to you…
Here are the qualities you need to apply for a job to teach English online with VIPKID:
- You must possess a 4-year Bachelors degree (in any field of study).
- Applicants MUST be from the USA or Canada.
- A TEFL certificate is encouraged (but not obligatory).
- Native English must be your first language.
How Much do VIPKID Teachers get Paid?
First things first. The money!!
How much you get paid is directly influenced by your initial performance as a teacher. Other things like student retention, finishing your classes, not missing scheduled classes, and the length of time you’ve worked with VIPKID will determine your pay rate (and evolving pay rate).
It is possible to earn up to $22/hour. In digital nomad economics, that’s pretty damn good if you are living somewhere cheap like South East Asia. In the world of English teaching (in China or anywhere) $22/hour is GREAT money.
As an independent contractor, your payment is calculated on a per-class basis (scheduled in 30-minute slots) and is composed of a minimum pay between $7-9 + incentives. Your minimum pay will be determined by your demo class performance (which means you should focus on doing a smashing job on your demo performance).
With VIPKID, everything is performance based. If you do a good job and they like how you teach, you will certainly reap the benefits.
Do Teachers at VIPKID get Offered Contracts?
Yes they do! VIPKID signs 6-month contracts with applicants who get through the entire hiring process.
Depending on what you’re looking for, a 6-month contract is a blessing for those who want a stable income.
Most other online language learning companies do not offer anything longer than a 3-month contract. Some do not offer a contract at all.
On the other hand, committing to a job that lasts 6 months is game over for some backpackers. It is important to keep in mind, however, that you can choose your own schedule and how frequently you work (within reason)! Also, given the fact that you can be a VIPKID teacher from anywhere in the world, you still really do have heaps of freedom and flexibility to do what you want to do in your personal life.
I say don’t be intimidated by the 6-month contract! A guaranteed online income is truly a blessing. If you have done any sort of digital nomad work before, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
VIPKID Teacher Time Off and Bonuses
So if you become a VIPKID teacher do you have to sell your soul in exchange for your unending loyalty and time for six months? Hell no.
VIPKID—whilst they would prefer you to work throughout your contract—does allow for time off given that you provide the company with at least a 2-week notice.
If you are sick or have an emergency that you need to attend, you must give them at least 24 hours to work with. A last-minute cancelation will result in VIPKID charging you for your absence. Fair enough. If a kid on the other end has paid for the lesson and you don’t show up to teach it, well, then that’s on you.
Bonuses in pay can be earned for things like completing your classes, working on holidays, and showing up on time to teach your lesson.
All VIPKID teachers are re-evaluated for a raise at the point of contract renewal (after six months).
How to get a Job Teaching English Online for VIPKID
So you’re still interested in being a VIPKID teacher, are you? Good! Get excited, because the fun is just beginning! In order to get hired as a VIPKID teacher, you’ll need to apply. The application process goes as follows:
- Sign up for the website using your email and personal information (name, etc).
- Short questionnaire/survey (5 minutes to complete, and be sure to be honest when filling this in).
- Wait a couple of days until VIPKID emails you back.
- Set up an interview slot using the VIPKID web interface.
- Either schedule a live interview/demo class or pre-record a demo class instead. Either way, you’ll need to rock this!
- Get hired, sign the contract, and start teaching! Or, if you didn’t get hired, you can re-apply and try again!
Want to discover other awesome companies hiring online English teachers? Check out my in-depth article about how to find a job teaching English online here.
VIPKID Teacher Interview and Demo Class
When the time for your interview/demo comes, you need to take it seriously. This is your moment to shine.
You will need to display how you can explain your activities to a foundation level student, elicit complete answers from the student, and demonstrate your ESL teaching skills and time management awareness.
Also, be prepared to use the slides as it is very obvious if you have never looked at them and, in most cases, it could result in a failed application process. More on the slides in just a minute.
This crucial stage in the hiring process—possibily the most important moment you will face during your time as a VIPKID teacher— will determine your fate as a VIPKID teacher and also your rate of pay.
Really though, you need not be freaked out by this process. If you are overly freaked out, you likely won’t do well. Remember this: it is ok to fail. You can always re-apply (which seems to be encouraged by VIPKID).
I believe they are intentionally quite picky during the hiring process for the purposes of attracting only those hungry enough to really want to become a VIPKID teacher.
VIPKID offers two different types of interviews at this stage as I mentioned before:
The Two Types of VIPKID Teacher Interviews
- Live video interview with VIPKID hiring staff is the first option. During this live interview, you will be asked to perform a demo class. The material for your demo class will be provided to you in the form of slides. Again, make sure you have the content of the slides down perfectly, to the point you’re dreaming about them.
- A pre-recorded demo class is the second option. Some people may prefer this method (as I do) as it gives you time to craft the perfect demo lesson free of mistakes. One downside to this method is that you may be prone to coming across unauthentic or overly rehearsed. At least at the beginning, you’ll never have a class go as smoothly as your pre-recorded demo class. If you go down this road, remember to be yourself and don’t re-record the damn thing 100 times. Let your inner teacher work some magic! Flow.
Top Tips for Crushing Your Interview and Demo Class
My biggest tip for the interview/demo class is to practice and be prepared to the best of your ability. They don’t require applicants to have experience teaching English, but you should still have a basic idea of what they are looking for in a good teacher.
You can log into the virtual classroom at least 1 hour before. Do that and get yourself familiar with the interface.
Crucially, make sure all of your computer equipment works. Test your microphone, speakers, and above all else, make sure that you have a rock-solid internet connection to work with. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot with a lousy wi-fi connection. If your internet goes out on you during an interview, you are fucked.
Position yourself for the interview in a place with good lighting. Make sure all of the areas in view of the person on the other side of the screen are relatively tidy. Wear a suit. Ha! Just making sure you are still paying attention…
Remember to speak clearly, annunciate your words, and pace yourself (not too slow, not too fast). Every move you make and every word you speak is judged on some level. That said, I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to be yourself.
You are not applying for a job on Wall Street. You are trying to become an online English teacher so that you can live the digital nomad life you’ve always wanted!! Don’t lose sight of your goal by overstressing and over thinking the interview.
Study the hell out of your slides, have a strong cup of coffee, and crush your interview! I believe in you, young online English teaching Jedi!
Review the Damn Slides!
Yes, your slides for your demo class! I may be repeating myself here but that is because the importance of studying the slides bears repeating.
The VIPKID staff member interviewing you will know if you don’t bother to learn your slides. They will know and they will not hire you. Simple as that.
Want to give yourself the best possible chance to become a VIPKID teacher? Study the hell out of your slides and show up to your interview ready to own it.
Get to Know the VIPKID Teacher Performance Indicators
Your interview will be judged on a variety of factors called performance indicators.
Most of the time your interviewer will not explicitly say what you’re judged on. Luckily, VIPKID makes it easy on potential teachers. They give you the whole list of performance indicators! Get to know these indicators so you can prepare accordingly. Again, crush your interview and things only get easier…
What’s it like to be a VIPKID Teacher?
Hurray, we have made it through the interview process! Now that wasn’t so bad, was it?
Now we get to look at the nitty-gritty of what it is actually like to be a VIPKID teacher living the digital nomad dream.
Actually getting into the virtual classroom with students is the best part of the job. As is the case with any new experience in life, there is a learning curve. You will make mistakes, but there will be moments of triumph.
The fact is, there are opportunities for you to learn and develop as a VIPKID teacher around every corner. As time marches on and you gain more confidence and experience, teaching English online feels less and less like a complicated job and more like just something you do naturally a few times a week.
Teaching a Class as a VIPKID Teacher
Good news! As I said earlier on, VIPKID teachers do not develop their own lesson plans. That doesn’t, however, mean that you can show up to class hungover and ill-prepared. All the same, VIPKID does make it easy on you.
The VIPKID curriculum team has already designed materials for every class. However, teachers must prepare for class by reviewing the class materials beforehand. Teachers may preview class materials in the classroom on the teacher portal 6-12 hours in advance.
Basically, you have plenty of time to get yourself organized. You will never be surprised or not know what you will be teaching.
I’d like to point out, it’s a huge relief to not have to prepare your own lesson plans because you have WAY more free time outside of your online classes. You still need to prepare, as you now know, but with a fraction of the effort that English teachers abroad have been facing for decades.
Note: all classes take place on an educational interface VIPKID has developed to facilitate one-on-one sessions.
Do VIPKID Teachers Need to Communicate with the Parents of Students?
No! And even if that was somehow asked of you, I am guessing that you don’t speak Mandarin or Cantonese!
Thankfully, VIPKID staff does all of the behind the scenes work with inquisitive parents. This is just one more burden lifted from your shoulders.
I think you are starting to see how different teaching English online is from a traditional classroom setting.
The energy that you have to spend figuring shit out on a daily basis is far, far less when you are working as a VIPKID teacher online!
No needy parents to deal with. No lesson planning. Is there actually any work? For sure! There is plenty of work that goes along with teaching—but that is the only type of work you have to contend with. All of the little extra stuff that typically drains teachers with life-force sucking intensity is simply not apart of the equation.
How Many Students does a VIPKID Teacher Work with at Once?
All VIPKID online classes are one-on-one.
I truly believe that the one-on-one model is best for students as well as teachers. When you only have one student’s needs to focus on, you can really make a breakthrough, and see growth and progress.
A majority of other online language learning platforms pair teachers with four or more students at once. Teaching one student at a time is a joy. You’ll see.
Do VIPKID Teachers Always have the Same Students?
At VIPKID there is a constant revolving door of students. In a perfect world, you would be paired with the same set of students for multiple classes. Sometimes your schedule works out that way, but basically, you will be teaching any student who books your class.
Students who have good chemistry with teachers keep coming back for more, so you do end up seeing many of the same faces, though to be honest, you never really know who will book your class until they do.
What is the Schedule of a VIPKID Teacher like?
When it comes to scheduling, VIPKID teachers do have quite a bit of flexibility.
Teachers must enter their weekly availability one month in advance. Teachers’ weekly schedules are sent out each Saturday at 10AM Beijing time. Classes can be booked during the week, no less than 24 hours in advance.
The more you are available, the more you can teach, and the more beer and yoga you can afford in Bali.
In order to maximize the number of classes scheduled, VIPKID recommends that you be available at least 7.5 hours (15-time slots per week at 30 minutes per time slot) during Beijing peak times.
The following hours tend to be the most requested time periods for VIPKID teachers (Beijing time): Monday-Friday 6-10pm, and Saturday-Sunday 9am–10pm.
They do not require teachers to work full shifts, but having availability during the times mentioned above could ensure a higher possibility of student bookings.
VIPKID sets no limit on how many hours a teacher teaches during peak and non-peak time. Teachers have 100% control over their schedule! Yay freedom!!
Final Thoughts on Becoming a VIPKID Teacher
Well guys, there you have it. We have reached the end of my guide to becoming a VIPKID teacher. You are now ready to apply to become a teacher yourself!
I hope you have found the information in this guide useful, and, above all else, I hope you use it to land your dream job working as a VIPKID teacher in the near future (or whenever is right for you).
Teaching English online is never an easy job. Remember, it IS a job—though for digital nomads and backpackers looking to earn a steady online income from wherever the hell they want, it is one sweet gig.
Of all of the ways to make money online, working as a VIPKID teacher is simply one of the most consistent and rewarding jobs you will ever find.
Discover your inner talents as a teacher. Make an impact on a kid’s life. Earn cash to keep the road reflecting in your sunglasses for a long, long time.
Whatever your motivation is, if you have enough of it (motivation that is) then I’m sure you will be successful in your endeavors as a VIPKID teacher and beyond.
Best of luck amigos!
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