Since August, I’ve been working as an ESL teacher through VIPKid and I wanted to give it some time before providing my two cents on it as a part-time income stream. For anyone who doesn’t know what VIPKid is, it’s an online teaching and education platform where teachers (independent contractors) can get certified and then start teaching English to kids online.
I’ll start off by taking you through some of the pros and cons that I encountered in my first 5 months with VIPKid.
It’s flexible. You have complete flexibility to teach as much or as little as you’d like to. This was the most attractive to me when I started because you can open time slots at your convenience or block off days or weeks as needed.
It’s easy to get started. To qualify as a teacher with VIPKid, you have to have a Bachelor’s degree and no teaching experience is required. If you have any prior experience teaching kids (I don’t), it’s just a bonus. The process to get started as I remember it was submitting your application online, followed by submitting a recorded demo on my phone (2 minutes) and then completing some online training followed by a mock class. Once I got through all of that, I signed a 6-month contract and completed a background check in order to start teaching online. They also make it easy to teach the classes by providing the entire curriculum and there is almost no preparation required for any classes.
You can do it anywhere. As I was getting started with VIPKid I was also thinking about other applications it could have for future travel, like what if I wanted to travel for an extended period of time but still have a part-time job I could take with me wherever I went?
The more you teach, the more you earn. This is a pro and a con- if this is a full-time job for you, you have the opportunity to make more money because VIPKid pays on a tiered system ie. the first 20 classes you earn as an example $8 USD, but for classes 20-40 you’d earn a higher rate, and so on.
Early mornings. If you’re a morning person, this might be the right job for you! Peak times (when students will book classes) are EARLY, 5:00AM to 8:00AM November to March and 6:00AM to 9:00AM March to November (EST). The first few months were manageable, I didn’t mind getting up super early and it kickstarted my workday. However, during busy periods at my actual job, teaching in the mornings and then going into really long workdays (or nights) was rough.
Building a roster of students. I’d heard that it was tough to get your first few bookings and get recurring students but my first month was good; I booked 10 classes which is more than I’d anticipated and got a few students who became regulars. But that’s where it stopped- since beginning, I’ve averaged about 10-15 classes per month (classes are 25 minutes) and my pay has worked out to be $21/hour CAD depending on the exchange rate from USD to CAD, because VIPKid pays in USD. This was partially on me though- I’m part time and so most days I’d only open limited availability from 6 or 6:30am to 8:00am. There have been the odd days where I’ve booked 3-4 classes in a row but my mornings are rarely booked solid.
So, is VIPKid worth it as a part-time gig? For me, no. Doing this part time, I’ve only earned $100-$150 a month in extra income AND there’s a lot of inconvenience in doing it part time. As an example, there have been many days where I’d only get one booking which meant I was getting up at 5:30am to teach at 6:00am for 25 minutes and then go back to bed or start my workday at an ungodly hour.
I also just don’t feel like it’s the right side job for me- the kind of energy that teaching for VIPKid demands to keep kids engaged is a lot, but I will say the fact that they’re cute helps.
All in all, this wasn’t the right fit for me but it was an interesting experience! I should also note that on the other end of the spectrum, I have friends and colleagues who have done ESL online teaching through VIPKid or other online platforms for years, really enjoy it and do pretty well with it. I hope that this post was somewhat helpful and feel free to leave any questions you have!