The ESL industry has been growing rapidly over the last few years. There are now dozens – if not hundreds – of online English teaching platforms out there that collectively employ thousands of online teachers.
However, I’d estimate that just a handful of these companies employ 80% of the online teacher workforce. These ‘titans of industry’ truly dominate the ESL market. We’ll be comparing two of them today.
The two companies we’ll be comparing are SayABC and VIPKID…
…two names that many online ESL teachers will have heard of already.
VIPKID was the first real mainstream ESL platform to gain any traction and is still probably the most famous.
SayABC is a newer company but is also one of the fastest growing education platforms thanks to solid marketing, backing from tier-one investors in China, and fair employment policies.
SayABC are also owned by VIPKid…which creates a very interesting comparison. Why would VIPKid need to create an alternative online teaching opportunity?
Let’s start with some common ground that these two companies share by looking at some general pros and cons.
Pros of Working for SayABC and VIPKID
- You can work from home – in your pajamas if you like!
- Potential to earn up to and over $20 per hour
- Lessons are planned for you
- Minimal admin time (little assessment, preparation, etc)
- You can learn about other cultures
Cons of Working for SayABC and VIPKID
- Working from home can be socially isolating
- You may be working during unsociable hours
- Your paycheck may vary depending on bookings
- Technical problems can be frustrating
These pros and cons are similar across all the different ESL platforms and companies. They should give you a good idea of whether or not this job is right for you.
If you think it is, read on and I’ll dive into the main differences between SayABC and VIPKID!
Hiring Policy [SayABC vs VIPKID]
SayABC and VIPKID have similar hiring policies, but there are a few important differences that I’ll talk about below…
Here are the main SayABC job requirements:
– Bachelor degree
-Native level of English from USA, Canada, UK, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand and South Africa
-Meet at least one of the following requirements:
- Minimum two years teaching experience
- A bachelor’s degree related to education
- A teaching qualification certificate, such as PGCE
- TESOL, TEFL, CELTA, etc
Ok, now let’s see how VIPKID compares. Here are the main VIPKID job requirements:
- Speak English natively with a North American accent
- Must be a citizen of the US or Canada
- BA Degree in any subject
- One year’s teaching or tutoring experience
VIPKID also prefer a TEFL certificate but don’t require it.
As you can see, the main differences here are that SayABC's education requirements are slightly more strict, however VIPKID specifically only hire North American and Canadian teachers, which is frustrating if you’re from elsewhere.
Stand-by Time Pay [SayABC vs VIPKID]
Stand-by time pay refers to pay that you receive when you AREN’T teaching during your contract hours (for example, if the platform hasn’t assigned you any classes). It’s something a lot of teachers consider really important, so let’s see how SayABC and VIPKID compare when it comes to standby time pay.
SayABC Stand-by Policy
SayABC doesn’t pay their teachers for standby time. This is kind of a bummer, but it’s not a huge deal as your schedule is likely to be full the vast majority of the time.
Many SayABC teachers report an 80%+ booking rate, so you should probably expect to be paid for at least 4/5ths of your contracted hours.
VIPKID Stand-by Policy
VIPKID has a similar stand-by policy to SayABC. They also don’t pay teachers for standby time when their schedule isn’t full.
However, the exception to this is when the teacher is on standby because of student cancellations. If a period has been booked, but the student cancels or doesn’t turn up (it happens a lot), you’ll be paid.
For major course classes, you get full-pay for student cancellations. For trial classes, you get half-pay.
Cancellation Policy [SayABC vs VIPKID]
The cancellation policy refers to how the ESL company deals with teacher class cancellations and absences. It’s another aspect of employment that is really important to many ESL teachers, so let’s see how SayABC and VIPKID compare.
SayABC Cancellation Policy
In my opinion, SayABC the best cancellation policy out of all the ESL platforms out there.
They have a no cancellation penalties policy, which means they never deduct anything from your paycheck because of cancellations. As long as you notify them over Skype and email, they’ll reassign your classes to another teacher.
This is very fair compared to most other companies, as it’s common practice to financially penalize teachers for cancellations.
It’s worth mentioning that you will lose your punctuality bonus if you cancel classes, but I guess that’s to be expected.
VIPKID Cancellation Policy
VIPKID’s cancellation policy is a little more strict.
The good news is that they don’t charge you any financial penalties if you give them 24 hours notice.
The bad news is that they do deduct $2 if you fail to give them 24 hours notice, and $10 if you cancel within 2 hours. They’ll also end your contract if you cancel 6 classes or more within a 6 month period.
Hiring Process [SayABC vs VIPKID]
SayABC Hiring Process
SayABC’s hiring process is fairly quick and straightforward. It takes around 1 to 2 weeks to get up and running and start teaching once you’ve sent your application. Here’s what the process looks like:
Step 1: Sign up online
Step 2: Have a half-hour interview including a short demo class (you can also opt to self-record this in advance)
Step 3: Complete a 1-hour training session with a mentor
Step 4: Complete a mock class with 4 real students
Step 5: Fill in some paperwork and start teaching
VIPKID Hiring Process
VIPKID’s process is very thorough and involves a lot of training, which is both a good and a bad thing, I guess. Here’s how it looks:
Step 1: Apply online
Step 2: Have an interview (you can choose from different options including a live interview, recorded interview, express interview). You can also skip the interview and do a fast-pass coaching day instead.
Step 3: You can now enter the training portal and complete a mock class. You have to pass this mock class but it can be retaken as many times as need be. You can also do more mock classes to reach different ‘levels’ and potentially get more bookings.
Step 4: Complete mandatory TESOL training or quiz. You may be able to skip this if you have an ESL certificate)
Step 5: Start teaching.
Check out Nancy Taylor's tips for passing your VIPKID interview:
Pay [SayABC vs VIPKID]
Ok, moving onto the juicy stuff… let’s look at the pay
SayABC Pay Rate
SayABC really knocks it out of the park when it comes to pay scales. They offer one of the most generous remuneration packages out there.
They pay $15 per 40-minute class, plus a $6 per lesson performance bonus (so $21 total). That’s per 40 minutes, so the actual hourly base rate (without the bonus) is $28.50 per hour. Not bad.
You can also get a nice $8 bonus per converted student for every trial class that you teach.
VIPKID Pay Rate
VIPKID pay a little less. Their official pay range is $14 to $18 per hour, depending on what you’re offered. That’s based on a pay range of $7 to $9 per half hour class. You can also get extra bonuses for attendance and punctuation.
Class Bookings [SayABC vs VIPKID]
SayABC Class Bookings
SayABC class bookings work based on a fixed schedule. You choose the periods you’d like to work at the start of your contract and the system fills your schedule with bookings. You’ll be teaching classes of four students for three-month periods at a time.
Lesson plans are pre-made and are much higher quality than other platforms. The lessons are based on the ‘Our World’ levels by National Geographic and focus on teaching English alongside global values.
VIPKID Class Bookings
One of the best things about VIPKID for me is how flexible the platform is. They don’t offer fixed schedules, which is great if you’re looking for something flexible but less great if you’re looking for a stable contract.
You choose the days and hours you want to work and open up your schedule 30 days in advance. You stand the best chance of getting bookings during Beijing peak hours (weekday evenings and weekends).
SayABC vs VIPKID… Final Thoughts!
That about covers it for SayABC vs VIPKID! Have you decided which platform looks like the best option for you? If so, you can apply directly right now through the links below: