In this Magic Ears vs VIPKid matchup, we’ll compare and contrast these two leading online ESL platforms, explore their relative advantages and drawbacks, and offer tips to teachers weighing their options.
Here, we’ll sort out the respective features of two respected industry giants, VIPKid and Magic Ears. In the end, you will have a clearer idea of which best suits your needs and interests.
Up to $26
Up to $18
Magic Ears is a highly rated ESL platform that primarily delivers instruction to Chinese students ages 4-12. The company has a 3.4/5-star rating from real-life current and former teachers on the employment review website Glassdoor.
Magic Ears Pros:
- Flexible scheduling
- One of the highest pay rates/pay ceilings for teachers in the online ESL industry
- Possibility of teaching without a bachelor’s degree (if you are currently enrolled in college)
- More thorough feedback on teaching compared to VIPKid
Magic Ears Cons:
- Strict attendance and timeliness requirements
- Slightly less well-reviewed by former teachers compared to VIPKid
In 2020, popular workplace review website Glassdoor ranked VIPKid the #9 best place to work in the U.S. – across all sectors of the economy. The company currently has a 4/5-star rating on the site.
- Very highly reviewed by current and former employees
- Streamlined application process compared to Magic Ears
- Intuitive application/teaching platform
- Fewer teaching demos required
- Less flexible scheduling compared to Magic Ears (but still flexible compared to the industry standards)
- Less opportunity to increase salary/lower pay ceiling
Face to Face Matchup: VIPKid vs Magic Ears
Let’s dive into a face-to-face matchup of the key features of each company and their respective benefits and drawbacks.
Qualifications and Hiring Process
Teachers interested in working with Magic Ears create accounts through the main page of the website and supply the necessary information standard on any job application.
To qualify for a position with Magic Ears, per the company’s policies, candidates must:
- Be a native speaker from the US or Canada
- Be TEFL-certified
- Hold a bachelor’s degree OR be currently enrolled in college
- Have a stable, reliable, fast internet connection
- Have a minimum CPU I5 4th Generation processor and at least 4gb of memory
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Once you create an account with a valid email address and fill in the application info, you will then have the option to either record a 3-5 minute teaching demonstration (“demo” in the industry) OR offer a 5-8 minute live demo, followed by a 10-15-minute “trial demo” (the final one). If you make it through successfully, the company will perform a background check and draw up the contract.
The technical requirements and personal qualifications to work for VIPKid are similar to Magic Ears’, although a bit tougher. For example, VIPKid “recommends” 2 years of teaching experience for candidates. Read our full guide on the VIPKid Requirements. If you’re interested, we have a more detailed guide on the VIPKid hiring process.
On the other hand, the application and VIPKid interview process is easier:
- Create an account
- Record and upload just one demo
- Teach a mock class with a “mentor” (another teacher on the platform)
- Sign contract
In totality, Magic Ears has slightly less rigorous standards in terms of requirements for potential teachers.
Magic Ears and VIPKid determine the hourly pay for employees based on several factors, the two primary ones being:
- Personal qualifications/credentials
- Previous teaching experience
Teachers working with Magic Ears earn performance bonuses and increases over time – incentives which VIPKid does offer not to the same extent.
What You CAN Earn
Up to $26/hour
This is for long-term teachers who pass performance requirements
Up to $24/hour
With raises and incentives, earning potential increases
The bottom line on the Magic Ears pay rate is $12 per hour at the bottom of the scale (entry-level with minimum qualifications) and up to $26 per hour for longer-term teachers who meet or surpass performance requirements.
The base pay for VIPKid teachers is $14-$18 per hour. At the end of the 6-month contract, the company may increase the rate by $0.50 per 25-minute class. We have a more detailed guide on VIPKid Pay updated for 2023.
Both companies pay either through direct deposit or through PayPal.
Magic Ears has a higher pay ceiling and clearer incentive/promotion structure, so it wins here.
Hours and Schedule
The hours and scheduling of Magic Ears and VIPKid are quite similar. You can read our detailed guide on VIPKid Hours for more on whadt these schedules look like based on your US time zone!
Both operate on a 25-minute lesson model. Rather than allowing students (or, more often, their parents) to select specific teachers, students instead enroll in generic classes which Magic Ears and VIPKid then assign teachers to at their own discretions.
Magic Ears previously required teachers on its platform to teach a minimum number of hours to remain in good standing, but they have since dispensed with that requirement – meaning teachers can now teach as much or as little as they like.
Because the vast majority of Magic Ears students are enrolled full-time in Chinese schools, the company does have what it calls “peak hours” (the early evening in China) during which it heavily encourages teachers to be available. These “peak hours” are:
- 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on weekdays
- 9:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. on weekends
Keep in mind that these times are listed according to the Beijing, China timezone (GMT+8) which is 12 hours ahead of US eastern time and 9 hours ahead of the West Coast. These “peak hours” can obviously create issues for night owls in the US/non-morning people, so it’s something to keep in mind when teaching Asian students online.
Here’s a helpful chart for VIPKid peak hours according to your US time zone!
VIPKid has similar scheduling processes and peak hours from 6pm-9pm Beijing Time. And, like Magic Ears, there is no minimum or maximum time commitment.
If these schedules don’t seem to work out for you, you can still consider these other 21 companies to Teach English Online to Chinese students.
Magic Ears and VIPKid utilize their own standardized curricula on their own platforms, saving teachers mental energy and precious time.
Basically, there is little preparation required beyond a few minutes of looking at the lesson material, creating a timeframe for the various activities in the lesson, and preparing for any issues that might pop up.
Magic Ears requires teachers to be online at least 3 minutes before the start of a scheduled class and must stay for the duration of the class (which are divided into 25-minute blocks) – with potential financial penalties attached.
VIPKid conducts its classes on its proprietary application available on Google Play and the Apple Store. All classroom business is conducted through the app, placing everything you need to do in a central location like check your bookings, open time slots, see your students and feedback, and more. For this reason, VIPKid wins out.
Reviews From Other Teachers
As mentioned at the outset, Magic Ears has a respectable 3.4/5-star rating on Glassdoor from teachers who have worked with the company.
The generally positive feedback from teachers working for Magic Ears includes:
- The relatively high pay
- Schedule flexibility
- The incentivized pay structure
The most common negative complaints revolve around two issues: the time zone difference that encourages teachers to be online during “peak hours” in the early morning and effective classroom management:
“For west coast teachers, the time difference can be challenging. 1/2a.m. to 5a.m.. Also, little assistance from company when there is a completely uncooperative student. In a 25 minute class there is little an online teacher can do to handle a disrespectful student.”
However, it’s important to remember that these issues are not unique to Magic Ears or VIPKid; rather, they are the inevitable consequence of digital instruction to students halfway around the world.
Current and former VIPKid teachers give similar reviews to those of Magic Ears teachers. The company surprised many industry analysts when it ranked #9 on Glassdoor’s Top 10 Best Places to Work in 2020, though, clinching victory in this category.
Here is a smattering of Magic Ears vs VIPKid standout features that will further inform your decision.
In its quest to attract top talent in the ESL field, Magic Ears has a generous compensation package for teachers and affiliates who refer their colleagues/peers to the site. The process works like this:
- Register on the site (through the same portal for job applicants)
- Receive a “referral code” from Magic Ears
- Promote Magic Ears on your social media or other means to recruit peers
The per-recruit bonus increases as an affiliate or teacher refers more potential teachers to Magic Ears, so it’s possible to make a decent amount of income if you can convince multiple teachers to sign up using your referral code.
VIPKid has a very similar referral program using the same model that relies on teaching and affiliates sharing codes across social media. However, VIPKid offers slightly more per successful referral than its rival ($100).
Both Magic Ears and VIPKid fully train new team members. Experience at each looks impressive on a resume – especially when you commit to completing the 6-month contract (or multiple contracts).
Magic Ears, in addition to being an online platform for ESL education, also offers its own fully accredited 120-hour TESOL (Teaching English as a Second Language) certification through “Magic Ears University.”
Magic Ears offers 6-month contracts for teachers. At the end of each period, the results of a performance assessment determine whether a teacher will be welcomed back as well as what pay increase the company is willing to offer.
VIPKid also offers incremental pay increases of $0.50 per 25-minute class, although they are much less generous in these gestures than Magic Ears.
Magic Ears vs VIPKid Bottom Line
Both Magic Ears and VIPKid are highly respected companies in the online ESL industry. However, given the differences we’ve covered here, you might have a preference for one or the other based on your individual circumstances and expectations.
Work with Magic Ears if:
- You are currently enrolled in college and want to get a head start in the ESL field
- You want to consistently increase your take-home pay
- You desire more feedback to hone your teaching skills
- You want more scheduling flexibility
Work with VIPKid if:
- You would like to work at one of the best-reviewed ESL sites in the world
- You prioritize the quality of the teaching platform
- You want bigger bonuses for referring your ESL peers
- You want a faster application process (just one demo)
See more places to teach English online in our 25 Places to Teach English Online in 2023.
You don’t need to be limited to Magic Ears or VIPKid if you are looking to teach English online. This is a rapidly growing industry and there are tons of companies looking to hire native English speakers. Have a peek at our list of the 14 Best Places for Teaching English Online to Japanese Students or these 15 Companies to Teach English Online to Korean Students.