Magic Ears Vs. VIPKid — Which One Should You Choose?

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Magic Ears and Vipkid are two online ESL companies that provide immersive English language practice to children from China. New teachers may be undecided on which one to choose when they first start teaching online.

Which is best — Magic Ears vs. VIPKid?

The truth is, there is no “best” company.

Different online teaching companies suit different teachers. Teachers’ preferences, interests, and experiences might make them suited to one company more than another. This is why there is no one “best company.”

In this blog post, we will draw a comparison: VIPKid vs. Magic Ears.

Let’s breakdown what teachers can expect from these online ESL companies to help them decide which one is best for them.

Teach English Online

You may also be interested in: The Best English Teaching Companies in 2022.

VIPKid vs. Magic Ears: Company Background

A little background behind these growing online ESL establishments.

Magic Ears Logo

Magic Ears

Magic Ears is an online ESL company founded in 2016 by Lei Jin. They provide an immersive language learning experience to children in China. While small, there is still a growing demand for teachers.

Magic Ears operates a one-on-four system that enables teachers to teach up to four students in one class period. In compensation, Magic Ears is one of the most competitive out there, and they pay a higher than average pay rate in the ESL industry.

They are currently on a hiring spree and have even branched out to hire teachers from native English-speaking countries other than the US and Canada.

VIPKid Logo


VIPKid was one of the earliest leaders in this field. This education company was founded in 2013 by Cindy Mi. VIPKid continues to have a growing demand for teachers and reportedly teach over half a million students in 2018. 

VIPKid connects children in China with teachers from the US and Canada and operates one-on-one classes.

VIPKid is currently hiring and expanding to other native English speaking countries. In 2020, they adopted a new pay model, driven by incentives and a new fee structure, which saw many teachers’ salaries fall.

Magic Ears vs. VipKid Requirements

Are you eligible to work for Magic Ears or VIPKid? Find out here!

ESL Certificate

Both Magic Ears and VIPKid require their teachers to complete a course, such as a TEFL, TESOL, or CELTA, before teaching.

Some teachers would prefer to do the interview first before they get the teaching certificate.

However, receiving an ESL (English as a Second Language) certificate before going for the interview helps teachers achieve a higher starting base pay and increases a teachers likelihood of being hired. 

Therefore, applicants can expect to achieve a better result if they have an ESL certificate before applying.

I recommend teachers complete the International Open Academy TESOL course. This course has been completed by thousands of online teachers around the globe.

Steps to Course Completion

The certificate qualifies you to teach at any online ESL company and meets the Chinese government’s minimum requirements for a 120-hour ESL certificate. Teachers can quickly complete it in a few hours or short weekend.

This course is usually $119, but we have partnered with the International Open Academy to give it to you can get it for just $19 here. Please note: this discount is subject to change at any time.

VIPKid have their own free TEFL/TESOL course that you must complete before teaching there. If you have your own TEFL/TESOL certificate, you might be able to bypass this process.

Teaching Experience

Magic Ears requires teachers to have at least one year of “teaching” experience. VIPKid recommends teachers to have at least two years of experience.

This experience can be quite broad and can include other experiences working with kids, such as:

  • Volunteering
  • Mentoring
  • Babysitting, child-minding 
  • Coaching
  • Homeschooling 

It does not have to be strictly teaching in a classroom.

Minimum Hours

There is no minimum hour weekly commitment at Magic Ears or VIPKid. Teachers can set their schedule as they choose! Teachers can also close slots if they need to.

Hiring Criteria

Magic Ears hires teachers from the US and Canada. They state in their job description that they hire from native English-speaking countries, but it is unclear which countries, as my Irish application was automatically rejected. They also hire teachers from South Africa.

For years, VIPKid was only hiring from the US and Canada, but lately, they’ve started to expand into some other countries. Current teachers report that VIPKid is hiring from the UK, South Africa, and the Philippines.

Bachelor’s Degree

VIPKid accepts teachers with a bachelor’s degree (minimum) qualification. This can be a bachelor’s degree in any subject.

Magic Ears accepts teachers who have a bachelor’s degree or are pursuing one. This makes it an ideal gig for university students too.

Hire from California

VIPKid and Gogokid do not currently hire Californians because of the AB5 Assembly Bill. These laws prevent teachers from working as independent contractors for these companies.


Magic Ears vs. VIPKid: Pay

The pay varies between VIPKid and Magic Ears.

Base Pay

Magic Ears has a tier-based pay system based on teaching experience, qualifications, and interview performance. They pay up to $26 per hour to teachers in the US and Canada and offer up to $12 for South African teachers. 

Magic Ears base pay is between $8-$10 (USD) per 25-minute class before incentives. 

Teachers can move to a higher base rate if they have been teaching for a while at Magic Ears.

VIPKid offers teachers $7-$9 (USD) per 25-minute class before bonuses and incentives.

The base pay rate went down significantly in 2020, but more incentives are available to increase the hourly pay rate.

Incentive Structure

Both companies VIPKid and Magic Ears, offer incentives and bonuses for teachers.

Magic Ears offer bonuses that are easily achieved by entering and finishing the class on time and opening a certain amount of peak slots per month.

This will maximize the teachers’ hourly rate, and teachers can earn up to $26 per hour, which makes it one of the highest paying companies in the online ESL industry.

VIPKid offers an incentive payment based on the number of qualifying classes teachers have taught since joining VIPKid and the number of lessons they’ve taught in a month.

For example, for the 1st to 20th class, teachers are entitled to a 0.80c per class (or $1.60) per hour bonus. For the 21st to the 40th class, teachers are entitled to $1.20 per class (or $2.40) per hour and so forth. 

The incentive scheme is changing all the time, so there is no point overthinking it, as it is likely to change. Here is our take on incentive pay: VIPKid states that, in general, teachers earn between $14 and $22 per hour with incentives. If you work longer hours, you could receive more money.

Magic Ears vs. VIPKid: Hiring Process

Check out our VIPKid Review and Magic Ears review for further information to help you with your application and the hiring process.

Magic Ears

  1. Sign up on their website and enter your basic information
  2. Complete a recorded or live interview
  3. Teach a trial class with students
  4. Sign your contract
Magic Ears Hiring Process


  1. Sign up and create a teacher account with some necessary information about yourself
  2. Record a demo lesson
  3. Meet a teacher mentor to help you through the mock class
  4. Sign your contract
VIPkid Hiring Process

Magic Ears vs. VIPKid: Review

Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of each company as reported by current teachers.

Magic Ears

  • Good pay
  • Company books classes
  • Flexible hours
  • Requires a high amount of energy


  • Decent pay
  • Parents book classes
  • Flexible hours
  • Bookings are slow for new teachers.

Parents book classes on VIPKid. This means that the more popular teachers will generally get more bookings. New teachers may be at a disadvantage here as they have to get noticed by parents. Teachers should open timeslots at least a week in advance to receive bookings.

Magic Ears have company-booked classes and guarantee a certain number of bookings for their teachers. New teachers will receive fewer bookings at first but can progressively earn a higher booking rate.

Both companies offer very flexible hours and schedules which can be modified to suit the teachers’ needs.

The companies also offer good pay, about $20 or more if you work hard.


Teachers can apply to both companies as there are no minimum hours. Teachers can then gravitate towards their favorite company when they’ve gained enough experience.

The good thing about independent contract work is that teachers are not fixed to one company and can open slots in multiple companies.

Apply to Magic Ears

Apply to VIPKid

In Conclusion

That concludes out Magic Ears vs. VIPKid review.

Magic Ears and VIPKid are both online ESL companies, but they have different expectations for their teachers. 

VIPKid may offer a more relaxed one-on-one class but less pay. However, they may be a good starting point for a new teacher. Magic Ears require more energetic teachers to handle up to four children in an online ESL classroom, but they can see a more certain booking rate.

Which do you prefer– Magic Ears or VIPKid? Let me know!

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Caitriona Maria is an education writer and founder of TPR Teaching, crafting inspiring pieces that promote the importance of developing new skills. For 7 years, she has been committed to providing students with the best learning opportunities possible, both domestically and abroad. Dedicated to unlocking students' potential, Caitriona has taught English in several countries and continues to explore new cultures through her travels.

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