In the last year or so, the online ESL industry has really taken off, and as such, many more companies are opening up to fill the demand for Chinese students looking to learn English online.
Until recently, big players such as VIPKID and DaDa were the go-to choice, but as the demand for online English teachers is growing, more and more teachers and students are looking to the lesser-known companies for opportunities.
In this article, we'll be comparing the well-known company – VIPKID, with First Future, a company which seems to be rising in popularity.
Most people interested in teaching online will have already heard about VIPKID, but for those that haven't, they're essentially the most established companies you can work for. They offer fair pay rates and flexible working hours. The only real problem is that they only hire teachers with North American accents.
First Future, on the other hand, employs teachers from any native English speaking company, which makes it a great alternative for English speakers with different accents.
On the surface, it seems that this is the main difference between the two companies but there are in fact a lot of details that set them apart. In this article, we'll compare all the important details such as pay rates, policies and class bookings so that you can decide which company would be right for you. Starting with…
Hiring Policy [VIPKID vs First Future]
Due to recent law changes surrounding online teaching in China most teaching companies will be very clear about their teacher requirements and hiring policies. For these two companies, there requirements are quite similar, with a couple of key differences. Let’s take a look at the policy for each company
In order to teach for VIPKID, teacher must
- Be a Native English speaker with North American accent
- Be a Citizen of the US or Canada
- Hold a BA Degree in any subject
- Have One year’s teaching or tutoring experience
- Hold a TEFL certificate (preferred).
Unfortunately, VIPKID’s policy regarding accents means that many native English speaking teachers aren’t able to work for the company.
First Future Requirements
First Future however, do allow native speakers without a North American accent to teach for them. To teach for First Future teachers must:
Stand-by Time Pay [VIPKID vs First Future]
Stand-by pay is something many teachers are interested in when they’re searching for teaching companies. Essentially, stand-by pay refers to whether or not you will be paid if you don’t have a class during your contracted hours. Some companies offer this but it depends on their contract policy.
VIPKID Stand-by Policy
In terms of flexibility, VIPKID is quite good, in that you don’t have a specific contract, and you can open hours whenever you like. For this reason, if you don’t have a class booked, you don’t get paid. If you do have a class booked and your student doesn’t show, you’ll get paid the full amount
First Future Stand-by Policy
First future is very similar in this way. They have two types of classes, flexi classes, and bought out classes. You can open slots for flexi classes whenever you like, but if you aren’t booked you won't be paid. With bought-out classes, a student opts to book your lessons in a block, so you can guarantee your pay in these times.
Cancellation Policy [VIPKID vs First Future]
As with any job, you may find that you need to cancel classes at the last minute. In these scenarios, it's important to know about the companies cancellation policies, as teachers can sometimes incur fines for cancelling. Below are the cancellation policies for First Future and VIPKID
VIPKID Cancellation Policy
VIPKID is quite strict when it comes to cancellations. If you cancel 24 hours in advance, you won’t be charged. However, cancellation within 24 hours of the class results in a $2 fine. If you cancel within 2 hours of the class , that fine becomes $10.
They also track your cancellations, and more than 6 in a 6 month period can lead to contract termination
First Future Cancellation Policy
First Future don't actually list their cancellation policy on their website, and after trawling the internet for teacher comments, I wasn't able to find any concrete information.This could be because they don’t have a policy, or because they don’t charge people for cancelling.Even so, if you decide to apply for First Future be sure to check with them before signing your contract.
Hiring Process [VIPKID vs First Future]
In order to get hired for online teaching companies, you’ll often be asked to interview via Skype, and possibly complete a mock class. It varies between companies. First let's look at the VIPKID hiring process
VIPKID Hiring Process
Step 1: Apply via VIPKID website
Step 2: Have an interview, record an interview or do a fastpass coaching day.
Step 3: Complete a mock class on the teacher portal. If you pass, you can complete more to become a higher level to attract more bookings
Step 5: Start teaching.
For First Future, the process is slightly different
First Future Hiring Process
Step 1: Fill out CV Form
Step 2: Record 30-40 second introduction video
Step 3: Send email and wait
After this point, it’s unclear what happens, but it’s likely that you will be contacted by one of the staff at First Future, to continue the hiring process, get hired and start teaching.
Pay [VIPKID vs First Future]
Now for the all important part, the pay…
VIPKID Pay Rate
VIPKID will offer a pay rate during the hiring process and this will be based on your experience and mock class performance. The hourly rate ranges between $15 to $22.
First Future Pay Rate
WIth First Future, the pay starts at $14 per hour, but you can also be offered bonuses, that could potentially add $5 per hour to your rate.
There are three different bonus types:
- Per class taught: $0-$1.5 USD/class (25 minutes)
- Weekend Incentive: $0.5 USD/class (25minutes)
- Group Class Incentive: $1 USD/class.
Class Bookings [VIPKID vs First Future]
VIPKID Class Bookings
Class booking with VIPKID is very flexible and you can choose when you want to teach and for how long. You can open class slots up to 30 days in advance, to give yourself the best chance of getting booked by students
First Future Class Bookings
According to the First Future website, the company aims to give teachers a fixed schedule of bought-out hours, that they can then supplement with flexi hours. They are currently only employing people that can work 10 or more hours per work, so it seems as though the company are confident that schedules will get filled often.
With both companies, you’ll get the bulk of your bookings on evenings (Beijing time) and weekends as this is the peak time for children taking part in supplementary lesson
VIPKID vs First Future… Final Thoughts!
On the whole, the two companies are very similar. Although VIPKID is more well-known and has a better reputation, it seems to offer less stability than First Future in terms of class bookings. When it comes to pay, there is potential to earn a little more from First Future, if you could combine all the bonuses to up the pay rate.
Overall, First Future provides a valid alternative for anyone that finds themselves unable to meet the requirements of VIPKID. So what are you waiting for? Get started on your online teaching career, by using the links below!