Looking to make a few extra bucks? Since I’m staying at home with my kid (soon to be kids) these days, I was looking around for something I could do from home that didn’t involve me selling stuff to my friends on Facebook. Anyway, for the last three months I’ve been working for a company called VIPKID. Basically, it is a Chinese company that hires native English speakers to teach English online to children in China. I had some initial doubts about it and for some reason thought the program might be a little “janky,” but I was totally wrong. It’s a great company, a great part-time job that pays well, AND it allows me to make my own schedule. Here’s a quick rundown:
The company is looking for native English speakers who have a Bachelor’s degree and have some teaching experience. You are hired for 6 month contracts and are reviewed for renewal after each 6 month period. Depending on your ability and credentials, you can make anywhere from $14-$22 an hour. The idea is simple: you create a weekly schedule for the times you want to teach. Classes are 25 minutes long and you are required to open up 15 time slots (7.5 hours) per week. The peak hours for the Chinese students are in the evenings (6pm-10pm Beijing time) and weekends, which means mornings (5am-9am EST) and weekends for us. The classes are one-on-one and the lesson is already prepared for you. The students are ages 4-12 and have varying levels of English ability. It’s a great deal if you can get yourself out of bed in the morning.
What I love about VIPKID:
- The kids are great. For the most part they are well-behaved, engaged, and smart. I actually have a lot of fun teaching. The kids love their classes and the parents are usually sitting off to the side to make sure the child is doing well. The program is clearly a big deal because they have over 80,000 active students and continue to add more students every week. I teach many trial classes per week for potential students and get a bonus if they do sign up!
- The pay is great for a minimal amount of work. Yes, you have to be energetic and get yourself some props (ie. puppets, small whiteboard, etc.), but you get paid $10 to teach a lesson you didn’t prepare for 25 minutes. I’m making about $20 an hour and I’m still surprised they pay me that much.
- The schedule is great. I’m not a morning person, but I’m learning to be. I love that I get up and teach for several hours and that I’m done by 8:30 AM. I have the rest of the day to be with Mariah and do what I need to do. I also love that I can set my schedule. I take off the days I want and just make sure I always hit my minimum of 7.5 hours a week.
- The company is great. They are super supportive and have a nice online community for their 9,000 teachers. You can submit tickets for any difficulties or questions you have and they quickly respond. They have tons of incentives and ways to make bonus money and even fly their top teachers to China every year.
Cons (they aren’t really cons…just things to consider):
- It takes a few weeks to “build your business.” Obviously, the better you are, the more students will sign up for your classes and the better feedback you’ll receive from parents. It took me several weeks to get things moving, but now, every open space I have fills up quickly when my openings are posted.
- You have to have a reliable internet connection. When we had a horrible storm this week, my internet went out and I missed a class. Obviously I didn’t get paid for that class. Even though it was out of my control, the company needs reliability for obvious reasons, so the most reliable teachers get the most students and those teacher who have a lot of IT issues or miss class generally don’t last long.
Overall, I think VIPKID is a great program and I am impressed by how happy the teachers and students are. I totally recommend it because it is fun, easy, and really flexible.
Why am I telling you all this? Well for one, I get a $75 bonus for any successful referrals I make during the month of March. And secondly, I am really thankful for this job and I’m guessing some of my friends would love it and benefit from it as well!