IS VIPKID A PYRAMID SCHEME?

When you first hear about VIPKid, there might be a part of you that is listening for the catch. It might sound a little bit too good to be true. You might even be wondering: “Is VIPKId a pyramid scheme or something?” I mean….there ARE a lot of teachers who seem eager to find referrals.

Today, I wanted to give you a quick introduction to VIPKid and to address some of the common concerns that I’ve heard from people that I’ve helped get hired.

Consider this VIPKid 101!

I want you to get real with me for a second.  What is your gut reaction when a friend or family member tells you about their latest way to make a quick buck? Do you inwardly cringe?  Hold your pocketbook a little tighter?  Wish them the best?  Secretly wish you could join them?  Skeptical?

If you’re reading this, you might be feeling a combination of these emotions. I assume that you’re checking out this post because you’ve recently heard about VIPKid.

You might be feeling optimistic that this will be perfect for your family, but you’re worried it could be a scam. Read on as I address the most common concerns that I hear from my referrals:

WHAT IS VIPKID?

VIPKid is a company based in China that provides an English language curriculum to children from preschool to teen.  The children have access to online videos, workbooks, and one-on-one lessons with a native English speaker (like me!).

WHAT DO YOU TEACH?

The lessons are 25 minutes long and are presented in a series of slides that are prepared by the company.  These lessons take place in an online “classroom” through video chat.  (Yes…that means you teach from home…in your pajama pants.)

The children go through various units that talk about things ranging from animals, to birthdays, to geology.  In every lesson, there is usually a phonics skill, math skill, social studies or science concept, and grammar lesson.  All a teacher has to do is briefly review the lesson before class, prepare any props that are necessary to further emphasize the concepts, and then go through the lesson with the child, extending with conversation and correcting pronunciation as needed.

WHEN DO YOU TEACH?

In theory, you could teach during any daytime hour in China (starting at about 6pm my time and going overnight until 7am the following morning.) However, there are “peak times” when most students book their lessons. For my time zone (Pacific), this is 3am to 7am, which is late evening in China.

HOW MUCH DO THEY PAY?

The pay with VIPKid is “per lesson.”

When you are hired, they will assign you a base pay rate of $7-9 per class based on your experience and your performance on the interview/demo lesson. (For the record, I have not heard of someone earning $9 right out of the gate. But they do give raises.)

From the base pay, there are additional incentives that are provided: $1 per lesson for completing the class, and $1 per lesson once you teach 45 lessons or more in a month. Both of these things are pretty much a given once you are established with the company, so even though my “base pay” is $8, I essentially make $10 per class ($20 an hour).

In addition to the incentives, there are other ways to increase base pay. VIPKid provides an extra $2 per lesson if the class is booked within 24 hours of the lesson start time (“short notice” class). They also pay teachers an extra $5 for trial classes if the student signs up with VIPKid after taking their class.

VIPKid also offers periodic incentives for different things, particularly for opening more time slots.

An important note: You are considered an independent contractor when you work with VIPKid. They do not withhold any money for taxes. You are responsible, as a self-employed contractor, to set money aside for tax time.

HOW DO YOU GET PAID?

This is one of the things that makes potential teachers the most nervous. How does the pay work out with this company on the other side of the world??

It’s actually not a big deal at all.

You can opt to get paid once or twice a month via direct deposit. The deposit comes from the US office in San Francisco, so there are no issues with international deposits or wire transfers. Just a straightforward direct deposit like you would have for any employer.

AREN’T THERE TONS OF COMPANIES LIKE THIS?

Yes! There are TONS of ESL companies based in China. It is a huge market! I chose VIPKid for a few reasons.

First, VIPKid has been rated by Forbes as the number one remote company to work for. Number one!

Second, they are different from other companies because they allow parents to choose the teacher for each lesson. While this can be stressful for a new teacher trying to get established, it is awesome to be able to develop relationships with regular students and their families. This is something that doesn’t happen when companies randomly assign the classes to their pool of teachers.

Third, they just seem to be going up, up, UP! They are constantly refining and improving their curriculum and other features of the company to make it more user-friendly. They have received a TON of investments recently and all signs point to continued growth.

IS VIPKID A PYRAMID SCHEME?

Unfortunately, VIPKid might come across as a bit of a pyramid scheme or (since pyramid schemes are illegal) some sort of multi-level marketing company. This is SO far from the truth!

Basically, VIPKid is growing at such a rapid pace that they need a huge pool of teachers to support the demand in China. As a result, they have a referral program that many teachers use to supplement their VIPKid income. You will see teachers flashing their referral links in blog posts, YouTube videos, social media posts, etc.

This frequent sharing of referral links reads a little bit like a MLM company, when in reality it’s just a lot of teachers who are excited to help other people get hired with a company that has been so beneficial to THEM.

Helping new teachers get through the hiring process takes WORK, so that is one of the main reasons why the company compensates their teachers for referring. In fact, referring teachers gamble their time in a way because they do not receive compensation for simply getting someone to apply; the referral fee is only paid after the new teacher has gone through the ENTIRE hiring process and actually teaches his/her first class.

Once the new teacher is hired and begins teaching, the referring teacher receives the one-time compensation and that is the end of it. They don’t receive a “cut” or “points” based on their recruit’s future performance. It’s literally just compensation for taking the time to help a recruit through the hiring process.

If you hadn’t guessed already…I am a referring teacher. But I’m not your typical referring teacher. dIf you want to read about my “style” when it comes to referring other teachers to VIPKid, head on over to this page and see what support I can offer YOU. (The link opens in a new tab, so you won’t lose your spot here…)

WHAT IS REQUIRED TO BECOME A TEACHER?

Here is the exciting part!  This is all you need in order to meet the VIPKid qualifications:

  • A Bachelor’s degree in anything
  • At least one year experience teaching children (this does NOT have to be traditional brick-and-mortar school teaching experience. This could be Sunday School, home school, parenting, volunteer work, etc.)
  • Ability to pass a background check
  • Qualified to work in North America (This just pertains to being legally able to work in the US or Canada. You can live anywhere and work for VIPKid.)
  • Reliable computer and internet

THIS SOUNDS AWESOME! HOW DO I APPLY?

The application process can seem pretty daunting, but I can help you get through it quickly and without spending unnecessary money!  Just sign up with me as your referring teacher and I’ll walk you through it step-by-step.

In the meantime, I will give you an overview of what’s involved and then, if you list me as your referring teacher, I will answer any of your additional questions. 

Here is what the application process looks like:

  • Initial Application – This is a quick screening application that will provide an automated response to let you know if you meet minimum requirements.  After you do this, you will be ready to set up an appointment for an interview or recorded demo lesson.
  • Demo Lesson – The next step is either a two-minute or five-minute demo lesson (depending on which method you choose).  This lesson is a factor in the determination of your base pay, but it’s mostly just for the company to make sure you’re not a robot or something crazy like that. They just want to see a competent adult face behind the name!
  • Tutorial and Test – Before you move on, they will have you watch some tutorial videos about the lesson platform and take a test.  It is a breeze.
  • Mock Certification Lesson – If you pass the demo lesson and test, they will ask you to set up a mock lesson with a Mock Class Mentor (an experienced VIPKid teacher).  This will be a longer lesson than the demo lesson.  You will get to choose what level you would like to teach for this lesson and this will be the level you will be certified to teach once you’re hired. It is possible for you to get hired after this first mock lesson.
  • Additional Mock Lessons – If you show promise as a teacher but they want you to fine tune a few things before they hire you, they might ask you to do an additional mock lesson. Many, many, MANY people have to do two (or more!) mock lessons, so don’t be discouraged if you do as well!
  • TESOL (In some cases) – If you have not completed a teacher certification program in the past (such as if your teaching experience was from informal life experience), you will complete VIPKid’s proprietary TESOL certification program prior to signing your contract.
  • Paperwork – After the mock lesson stage, you will be asked to either reapply after a certain amount of time or you will be hired!  If you are hired, you will be asked to provide documentation of your education and sign a consent for background check. There are a few additional housekeeping items you will need to take care of, but then you’re ready to open slots and start teaching!

So there you have it! VIPKid 101.

If money is tight and you want to get up and running with VIPKid as quickly as possible, you definitely want to save time on the application process. I can help with this! Head over to this page to read more about how I can help you through the application process.