Want money? Same, yall. Shoot. With the teaching assistant salary I’m on, my wallet opens up with a cartoonish cloud of white smoke. Poof. And it echoes like a cave, so, poof (poof).
If I’m ever going to write about a country other than France or America on here, I’ll need a little something extra to afford the plane tickets. That means it’s time for a digital side hustle, which for me is online teaching.
Here’s the information I gathered to decide for whom to work without getting scammed. Don’t get scammed. The internet’s wild.
Disclaimer: if you hate kids or teaching or both, this might not be the post for you, but never fear–we have plenty of other articles to inspire you! Better yet, contribute your own. The internet is big enough for both of us.
Three companies stood out to me when I got to googling: SayABC, DaDa, and VIPKid. All three are based in China, which means teaching on Chinese time (typically 6-9 PM Beijing time, though it varies), and most require a bachelor’s degree, experience with kids, and a TESOL certificate, which you can get online. You don’t have to speak Chinese.
They also provide their own lesson plans and materials, which means less to prepare at home. There are tons of other companies as well, some of which I’ll shout out at the end if you’d like to check them out. I’d also highly recommend perusing the Travel and Teach Online Facebook group to hear personal accounts from employees of companies across the internet.
SayABC is the company I ended up working for, and have been for about a month and a half now. So let’s start with them, shall we?
With SayABC, you teach 40-minute classes with up to four students at a time. What made me pick them was the flexibility in the scheduling, as you can set your schedule a week at a time, although if you are able to set a schedule 6 to 14 weeks in advance, you’re more likely to be given students. Other companies, like DaDa, ask you to provide a minimum number of hours that you commit to work every week, and they deduct from your salary if you cancel too often. SayABC offers incentives for perfect attendance instead of fines for absences, although, like any job, your position could be on the line if you don’t show up for work.
You’re paid a flat $15 per class, plus $4 per session if you don’t miss any, plus a few other incentives for converting trial students or being available to teach last minute. However, SayABC does have the most stringent technology requirements, so you’ll need strong wifi – at least 20mbps – a newish computer, and a bit of other equipment.
If I put every single detail about every single company in this article, it’d be 20 pages long, so instead I’ll give you some links for further information: this video to understand pay & booking classes, this whole channel for application and interview tips, and the Facebook group I mentioned above for reviews of the company.
You can apply here, using code ETBAI5 if you don’t mind. (Yup, that’s a referral code. You don’t have to use it, but I’d be happy to help you through the process if you use it and DM me questions. Not sponsored. Though I wish it were.)
DaDa was actually the first company I heard of, and the first company I applied to. It wasn’t until they left me hanging for a month after my interview that I started checking out other companies and landed on SayABC. However, plenty of people earn their living all over the world with DaDa, so it’s worth mentioning even if I had a less than stellar experience.
As I mentioned above, starting with DaDa you’ll have to provide 2 days a week, every week when you’re available to teach, and after a few classes, you’ll have the option to increase your hours if you choose. If you miss more than 2 classes a month, they deduct a percentage of your salary. The plus side is that they offer standby pay, which means that if no classes are scheduled during your set teaching hours, you’ll still get paid half your salary as long as you sit in front of your computer in case they need a substitute. While you miss out on flexibility, you can count on a more dependable income. With SayABC, for example, if you don’t get booked you don’t get paid.
Classes are typically 30 minutes long with just one student at a time, and pay varies from 110-130 RMB per hour, depending on your qualifications and how you do on the demo class during their application process. DaDa is also less stringent with their tech requirements, so you can get away with weaker wifi and an older computer.
Other resources I used to research DaDa include this blog for info and teaching materials, this youtube channel for updates and interview tips, and reviews from the Facebook group I mentioned above. Apply here if you’re interested. (Not a referral link. Not sponsored. Someone please sponsor me?)
VIPKid is the one company out of these three that I did not apply for, but it’s one of the biggest online teaching platforms out there. The reason I didn’t apply is that, contrary to DaDa and SayABC, VIPKid does not automatically schedule classes on behalf of the parents. Instead, it’s on the parents to book you, and like SayABC, there’s no standby pay. This means you risk little to no bookings if the parents don’t find you, meaning little to no pay when you first start out.
However, there are more teaching hours available than DaDa and VIPKid, which you can change weekly, and it has some great bonuses, up to $22/hour. When it comes to flexibility, VIPKid is certainly the strongest, but it might be at the risk of dependable income. Anecdotally, one of my fellow teaching assistants works for VIPKid and loves it, so who knows? It’s only open to native English speakers with North American Accents, so, Americans and Canadians.
There are plenty more companies I’ve heard a bit about, but not enough to highlight. Still, they could be right for you. Verbling lets you teach adults, make your own lessons, and set your own rate; however, you’ll have to make a profile that attracts students. ESLRok is an online job posting site that you can peruse for a variety of jobs depending on their requirements, but I don’t know much more of it than that. ITutorGroup includes a series of smaller platforms for students learning math, English, or Chines in a couple of different countries. Naativ is a brand new American company, offering $20+ per hour and immediate payment, although there are few reviews as of yet.
Got questions? Got recommendations? Let me know in the comments!
Happy Travels, y’all!