Is VIPKid a Legit Company or Scam? (2020 Review)

It seems that as time goes on, more and more people are searching for new ways to work from home – and teachers are no exception.

In fact, there are lots of companies out there that are supposedly hiring teachers for online teaching gigs, like VIPKid. But there are a lot of scams out there, so you might be wondering:

Is VIPKid a legit company? VIPKid is an established online learning platform headquartered in Beijing where degree-holding, experienced teachers can work from home teaching Chinese students ESL via video chat. Teachers earn up to $22 per hour teaching 25-minute long lessons, earning incentives the more lessons they accrue.

Read on to find out more about VIPKid, how it works, their new pay structure, if it’s really worth it, and more!

What’s VIPKid About?

VIPKid is an online learning platform that connects native English-speaking teachers to Chinese students looking to learn English as a second language.

The children range in age from 3-14 years old and are taught via full immersion, so there’s no need for the teacher to know any Chinese.

There have been over 100,000 teachers and 700,000 students. They also hold over 5 million classes in one month.

There’s no minimum time commitment you have to make – you can work as little or as much as you want once you get hired.

How Much Can You Make?

VIPKid claims on their website that teachers can make $22 per hour, which seems to be achievable. However, the average teacher makes somewhere between $16-$22 per hour.

And how much you make does depend on how many bookings you get – the more classes you teach, the more money you’ll earn.

Each class is 25 minutes long, so the hourly rate is assuming you complete two lessons per hour.

VIPKid introduced a new pay structure in December 2019 which they’re currently in the process of rolling out. With it, there are two main ways you earn money:

  • Base pay
  • Incentives

Base Pay

The base pay is simple: you earn anywhere from $7-$9 per class, which already equates to $14-$18 per hour.

Your base pay rate will be determined during your hiring process, and a few things can affect it:

  • Level of experience
  • How well you performed on your interview/teaching demo

Most new teachers begin with a base rate of $7-$8 per class.

Incentives

Incentives are amounts paid on top of your base pay per class. The incentive structure is based on two things:

  • Your tier
  • Classes completed within a month
VIPKid Incentives chart

Your tier is basically the total number of classes you’ve completed since you’ve started with VIPKid, and it gets updated once a month. The more you’ve completed over the lifetime course, the higher your incentive will be.

The number of classes you’ve completed within a given month also affect your incentive – the more you complete, the more money you’ll get paid per class.

Incentives range from $0.80-$3.20 per class (or $1.60-$6.40 per hour).

Deductions

Along with your earnings, you can also face deductions for things like:

  • Cancellations (within 2 hours) or not showing up: No pay and $10 subtracted from your incentives
  • Cancellations (within 24 hours): No pay and $2 subtracted from your incentives
  • Trial student no-show or trial student IT issues: 50% pay and can leave after 15 minutes

They’re very strict about cancellations, but generally make exceptions for family emergencies, although you have to reach out and contact them and explain your situation.

How Does VIPKid Work?

Before you consider getting started with VIPKid, make sure you meet their three main application requirements:

  • Have the right to work in the U.S. or Canada
  • Hold a bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Have one year’s experience (minimum) working with/teaching kids

Any teaching qualifications aren’t required, but if you don’t have any, you’ll be required to take a TESOL (Teachers of English to Students of Other Languages) foundations course.

If you meet those requirements, then you can move on and apply. There are six simple steps to getting started with VIPKid:

  1. Sign up
  2. Complete a demo lesson
  3. Do a mock class
  4. Sign your contract
  5. Accept bookings
  6. Get teaching!

1. Sign up

You first have to sign up by creating an account and filling out a simple form. They’ll ask for information like:

  • Full name
  • Gender
  • Address & time zone
  • Highest level of education
  • Phone number
  • Languages you’re fluent in (English should be your first choice)
  • Experience with K-12 curriculum (this counts if you were ever a student)
  • Teaching experience (either formally or the equivalent with tutoring, mentoring, etc.)

You need one year’s minimum teaching experience, but it doesn’t have to be in a formal teaching setting.

2. Complete a demo lesson

Then you’ll have a demo lesson as an interview. You can either teach your interviewer (who will be pretending to be a child) or you can do a recorded version where you teach an imaginary student.

This is one of the key stages that determines what your base rate will be should you get hired, so it’s really important to nail this part!

3. Do a mock class

If you get to move on to the next step, then you’ll be doing a mock class with a current teacher.

This is less like an interview and more like training for you, helping you get prepared for teaching real classes.

There’s also less pressure at this stage, because most people do multiple mock classes.

4. Sign your contract

Once you’re done with that, then the last thing to do is sign your contract.

This will involve uploading any required documents, such as:

  • Your I.D.
  • Degree Certificate
  • Photo

You’ll also have to include a short bio and even a video introducing yourself. After all that, they’ll also perform a background check.

5. Accept bookings

To start accepting bookings, you go to the teacher portal, unlock (at the top right of the page), click on the time slot you want, and select “available.”

Once you’ve marked yourself as available for a specific day and time, parents have the ability to book you.

You can get booked up to two weeks in advance, and you can accept bookings up until one hour before the time begins (called the short notice option).

However, you do have the choice to not be available for short notice, and at that point you can only be booked until 24 hours before the class begins.

6. Get teaching!

If you’ve gotten hired, then you might be wondering what materials or props you need before you can actually get started.

Thankfully, with VIPKid, they don’t require you to have any, but there are a couple of things that are recommended:

  • Large white board, black board, or corkboard to put in the background
  • Printer so you can print out what you need for teaching (like flashcards)
  • Mini white board

If you’re teaching younger children, it might also be helpful to have a puppet or something with a moveable mouth to further aid you.

Who’s Behind VIPKid?

Cindy Mi is the young founder and CEO of VIPKid, which was founded back in 2013. She started the company out of a desire to make education more accessible after her own education system failed her as a teenager.

The company is not an American company, it is headquartered in Beijing, China. It’s a privately held company (so, it’s not publicly traded), and has a recent valuation of over $4.5 billion.

There have been rumors recently that the company is losing money and headed for bankruptcy, but those rumors are unfounded and have been vehemently denied by Mi and others.

The company is spending a lot of money, but it’s investing in its expansion. The company claims they’re nowhere close to bankruptcy.

Is VIPKid Worth It?

Since the application process takes a few weeks and requires a decent time investment up front, many people are wondering if it’s even worth it to join VIPKid – especially when other side gigs can get you up and running faster.

Not to mention the number of VIPKid horror stories and VIPKid warnings going around the internet might dissuade some people.

But actually, the company has lots of good reviews from teachers. Pretty much everyone has gotten paid what they had earned on time. Any exceptions seem to be one-off incidents.

Lots of teachers enjoy the flexibility of working from home on their own hours, citing it as a great way to earn extra income from the comfort of their own home.

However, there are complaints that the students and their parents can be (unintentionally) racist. This is mostly because the students and their families associate American with white skin.

This can lead to wrong and hurtful comments from the students, as well as it being more difficulty for people of color to get booked.

Some teachers complain that the company isn’t doing enough to try and mitigate the issue, although founder Cindy Mi has personally apologized to a teacher who had been the subject of hurtful comments.

Thankfully, most teachers who have had this experience have been able to turn it into another learning opportunity for the children, politely explaining to them why it’s wrong and hurtful.

What I Like

  • They don’t overstate how much you can earn
  • You can easily earn a part-time or full-time income depending on how much you work
  • There’s a good student-to-teacher ratio, so teachers can find ample work

What I Don’t Like

  • It’s harder for people of color to get booked by parents
  • The application process can take a few weeks

Conclusion

VIPKid is not a scam, it’s a legitimate and well-established company that employs tens of thousands of teachers and helps thousands of students better learn English.

Teachers can earn enough income for either a part-time or a full-time job – which some other legit side hustles can’t provide.

So, really it just depends on whether or not working from home is the right thing for you. Teaching at home to students who can’t speak your language is a lot different than teaching in a classroom. It ultimately depends on your personal wants and needs.

Read next: How I make over $10K p/m in passive online income (4-step formula)

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