As a disclaimer, my experience probably doesn’t reflect that of EVERYONE whose ever taught online English lessons, but I want to point out that for the most part, teaching platforms based in China are very similar in terms of the way they function and what they expect of teachers.
So, like many of you, I had to pursue online employment due to a lack of good opportunities in my area. I got hired on about two years ago, so this was well before COVID, but nonetheless, employment opportunities weren’t good in my area. I just moved to a new town, so my connections were down the drain, and I was pretty desperate to make some money to help with rent, groceries, etc., and I really needed to get SOMETHING. When I thought that I might be working through my last years of college unemployed, I discovered QKids, a Chinese platform for English teachers. Well, working for QKids has certainly not been ideal, but I know a ton of people out there are looking into this specific line of work due to COVID, so I wanted to weigh in on some of the facts about working for these companies. If you feel like I missed anything, feel free to comment below. Don’t want to read the whole article? That’s cool too. Just read the summary/TLDR section.
What’s the pay really like?
Honestly? It’s not phenomenal, but it isn’t bad. Before COVID, I had two jobs, one working as a tutor in the local elementary school, and the other was my online teaching position with QKids. Initially, I thought that I would try and just work for QKids, because on the website, it says you make up to $20 an hour– typical statements made by Chinese companies in this industry, but it’s not that simple. In order to make $20 an hour, you need to get every possible bonus, which is doable. Even then, however, some teachers don’t get very many hours. Some claim to get 30 hours a week, but I only average about 8 hours a week through them. After the first few months of working for them, I saw that I wasn’t realistically going to pay my bills working for QKids, so that’s when I got my second job. TLDR? Even with the bonuses, you’re making more like $18 an hour. Without bonuses, it’s closer to $14 an hour, and that’s all before taxes.
What’s the schedule like?
This is my main problem with the job. The schedule can be problematic, unless you really enjoy waking up extremely early. With QKids, you work in 30 minute timeslots. Between each time slot you work, there’s 10 minutes of unpaid downtime. I use this time to go fix coffee or a snack. Right now, there looks to be a total of 47 time slots, and assuming you’re getting all of the bonuses, it would be $10 per time slot, or $470 a week. The schedules fluctuate on a seasonal basis, but as of the time of this posting, it looks like the earliest time slot you can start at is 4:50AM Eastern time. Your last lesson would end at 8:00AM Eastern time if you worked all the morning slots, This means that there are 5 slots each morning. There are also evening slots on Fridays and Saturdays. The evening is my absolute favorite time to work, because I don’t have to wake up, and I’m not usually doing anything on Friday and Saturday nights. There are 6 evening slots on Friday and on Saturday. If you worked all of them, you would start your first lesson at 5:30 PM Eastern time, and your last lesson would end at 9:20 Eastern time. Since I’m a little busier throughout the week, I mostly work on weekends, and I work 16 lessons a week. Sometimes I pick up more if I need the extra cash, though.
How much can I expect to earn monthly?
If you worked every single timeslot in a 30-day month, you would be able make around $1,630. That is if you worked 7 days a week, every timeslot, and didn’t miss a single one. Where I live, I can make a pretty decent living on far less than $1,630 a month, but of course, there are some places where $1,630 won’t even cover rent. So, I would say when thinking about this position, make sure you’re considering the cost of living for your area.
Is the job fun/enjoyable?
I really love working with children. It brightens my day to see smiling faces, and really smart young learners. If you like working with kiddos, you’ll probably really like that aspect of this job. As far as the coaching team that you’ll be in contact with, they do a pretty good job at supporting you and making you feel valued as well. When I’m teaching, it’s a lot of fun, especially with more advanced students that you can have a wide variety of conversations with, outside of just the curriculum. That being said, the early, early mornings do detract from me enjoying it as much, and it’s frustrating when I check my schedule and see that I’m not fully booked sometimes. Although lately I’ve been fully booked.
What are the qualifications?
Qkids, and most companies based in China will require a bachelor’s degree. Fortunately, it doesn’t matter what degree you have, whether it’s in education, business, or whatever. Most companies simply want you to have that college background, although some companies might specifically want you to have an education degree. In addition to your bachelor’s degree, you will need to get a TEFL/TESOL certification through taking a 120-hour class. Lots of these courses can be taken online, and if given time, can be completed in a couple of days, depending on how much time you dedicate to it. In my experience, I have completed some courses in a few hours, some courses take a few days. It depends on which course you’re taking. I personally recommend International Open Academy’s TESOL course, which you can purchase for $19 here (Affiliate link). If International Open Academy’s course doesn’t seem right for you, that’s fine. There are others out there, such as Arizona State University’s TEFL course. In any case, don’t spend more than $100 on one of these courses if you’re only planning on teaching online. Yes, the more expensive courses will be better, but you don’t need to take a great course in order to work this type of job. Once you have your BA and TEFL/TESOL, you’re pretty much good to go. If your interview and trial lessons go well, you’ll be hired on. If you decide to teach abroad someday, you will probably want to pursue more advanced credentials outside the scope of this blog.
Do they hire non-native speakers?
Simply put? No. However, if you’re really fluent in English, you could probably pass as a native speaker.
Do they hire people outside the U.S.?
Qkids only hires people in the U.S. or Canada, but I know there are companies which will hire outside these regions, such as VIPKid, who hires Europeans. Most of these companies have really similar guidelines, but there are a few that will hire outside the U.S.
Teaching English from home has been a decently fun position, but it doesn’t always meet all of the expectations that the companies lay out for you, just like any other job. Namely, the salary isn’t incredible, like they would make you think. The hours are no fun, but it feels really good to help these kids learn, and it’s super fun to talk to them. If you’re looking for a way to pay bills, I don’t recommend you make this job your sole source of income. However, if you’ve already got a job and you’re looking to make extra beer money, or if you’re a college student who already has a BA and is looking for part time work, this is a pretty decent gig. Feel free to ask questions below if you want my referral link or need to know more or whatever, and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can!
Finally, if you do decide to apply to work for QKids, you can use my referral link here, or use the code FMXAMD. That way, they know I sent you! Also, here’s the link to the International Open Academy TESOL course, just in case you missed it! (Affiliate link)
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