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Okpanda Review: Low Pay but Room for Professional Growth

Okpanda connects adult learners (primarily Japanese) with English instructors around the world. The company boasts over one million students and while it’s impossible to verify, there do seem to be a lot of adult students learning English using Okpanda

In this Okpanda review, we will dive into the details of working for Okpanda, including the requirements for candidates, salary, and reviews from real-life teachers who have taught on the platform regarding their experiences (including the pros and cons).

What Are the Requirements to Work for Okpanda?

First off, let’s explore the (notably lenient) Okpanda tutor requirements to see if you might qualify to work with the company.

General Requirements

Okpanda lists several general requirements on its application page, many of which are relatively vague and light on specifics. They include:

  • “Excellent spoken and written English”
  • Enthusiasm for teaching
  • Reliability and punctuality

Interestingly, Okpanda claims on its page concerning teachers that, of all the candidates who submit applications, “only the top 1 percent are hired before undergoing a thorough training.”

Of course, this figure is impossible to verify, but it does speak to the image that Okpanda seeks to craft in terms of connecting its clients with the “best of the best.”

The bottom line on general requirements:

  • No degree required
  • No certification required
  • Open to non-native speakers (“Great English skills” are a requirement but not necessarily native-speaker status)

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Teaching Experience Requirements

You do not need prior teaching experience to get hired by Okpanda.

At the bottom of the company’s recruitment page, in the section on requirements for teachers, almost as a footnote, the company lists “ESL/EFL teaching experience, preferably in an online environment” as a “bonus” qualification, indicating it is not a hard requirement.

Similar language is found in its various job ads on social media, like this one on Facebook:

Technical Requirements

Unlike other platforms, Okpanda does not specify a minimum required internet speed to qualify. However, 25 Mbps is considered the baseline connection speed to support video conferencing.

Check your own internet speed for free here.

You will definitely need either a laptop or a desktop (no cell phones or tablets) and a headset with microphone (available on the web for $50 or less, or at your local retailer for similar prices).

Okpanda Salary

Okpanda’s pay is really the source of the majority of negative feedback from teachers who have worked on the platform (see below for reviews and details).

There are two different teaching formats with unique corresponding pay rates:

  • Video lessons: 3.5-$10 USD per 25-minute session. This translates to roughly $7-$20 USD/hour.
  • Audio lessons: $1.5-$4 USD per 25-minute session. This translates to roughly $3-$8 USD/hour.

Of course, there is a wide disparity between $3 and $10 per class. The pay that teachers earn depends on:

  • Experience
  • Language skills
  • Teaching qualifications

What’s the Okpanda Application Process Like?

Here is the basic Okpanda application process broken down into steps:

  1. Visit the application page
  2. Sign up for Indeed Assessments (the screening tool used by Okpanda)
  3. Answer the questions provided, which include availability, a hardware test to check your equipment, past experiences, reasons for interest in the company, etc.
  4. Get interviewed via Skype with a “Team Lead”
  5. If successful in the interview, receive a job offer within 24 hours
  6. Attend a series of virtual trainings and “onboardings”
  7. Start teaching

What’s It Like Teaching for Okpanda?

The lessons are 25 minutes each, conducted on Okpanda’s own proprietary platform (similar in terms of user experience and aesthetics to Google Hangouts) using its own curricula.

For the interface between teacher and student, Okpanda uses its own app available on Google Play. It has a built-in text feature, so you can also send written messages and/or emojis through the app as necessary.

The scheduling works a little differently on Okpanda than on many other online ESL platforms. To make the experience as convenient as possible for its students, Okpanda books classes 30 minutes in advance, the idea being that busy learners (who, again, are often working professionals) can log on whenever they have free time to fit their lessons into their often-hectic schedules.

Okpanda Reviews from Teachers

As with any employer, different workers have varying levels of satisfaction with their working arrangements. Okpanda is no exception, so let’s take a look at both the good and the bad in terms of reviews from real-life teachers.

*Pro-tip for browsing ESL jobs: Okpanda does offer a “What Our Teachers Are Saying” section on its own website. Ignore that; it’s curated propaganda. Look for neutral reviews from third-party providers for the real down-low.  

On popular employment review site Glassdoor, Okpanda has a not-so-hot 2.6/5-star rating, with only 34% of respondents agreeing they would recommend working for the company to a friend.

Positive Okpanda Reviews

Many of the positive reviews on the web focus on the helpful nature of the staff that teachers interact with most (the “Team Leads”) and the convenience of the learning platform (all materials and lesson plans are provided with minimal pre-lesson planning required from teachers)

Negative Okpanda Reviews

As we alluded to previously, the major complaint from teachers is the relatively low pay compared to the online ESL industry average of around $15/hour.

The second most common complaint centers on the onerous onboarding process, which requires taking and passing a gauntlet of quizzes and assessments that many teachers feel is not commensurate with the pay.

Okpanda Tutoring Alternatives

If your heart is set on teaching Japanese students online, you do have options to explore beyond Okpanda. Read reviews for popular Okpanda alternatives:

Okpanda FAQs

Let’s run down the most frequently asked questions regarding working with Okpanda.

Do applicants need a TEFL Certificate to qualify for Okpanda?

Teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) certification is a common requirement in the ESL field, for both online and in-person schools.

If you haven’t gotten your TEFL yet, the good news is that OKpanda does not require teachers to have a TEFL certificate.

However, if you plan to teach English for an extended period of time, earning an
accredited, recognized TEFL certificate is a wise investment as it makes you a more attractive candidate in nearly every context. 

Does Okpanda require teachers to have a bachelor’s degree?

No. You do not need any form of higher education to teach with Okpanda, although if you are degreeless, you can expect to earn less than you would if you had such an accreditation.

Does Okpanda hire non-native speakers?

Yes. Okpanda does not require applicants to be native speakers but rather to have (amorphously defined) “great English skills,” meaning you can let your imagination run wild when you are asked if you speak English fluently.

Never sell yourself short. In the context of getting hired to teach English, the answer to “do you have ‘great English skills'”? is always “yes.”

The takeaway here, in the specific case of Okpanda and more broadly in the entire ESL interview game, is to bring confidence to the table. If you exude the requisite self-assuredness that your English is proficient enough to become a professional ESL teacher, you are going to impress your hiring manager and, in all likelihood, land the job that you want.

The Bottom Line on Teaching English With Okpanda

Working for Okpanda, although one of the lesser-known companies devoted to Teaching English Online to Japanese Students. might be worth pursuing if you have limited teaching experience, do not have a degree, or are not a native speaker because you can “get your foot in the door” and leverage your experience for a more lucrative position with another company in the future.

However, if you have higher qualifications or experience, you are better off looking to greener pastures – Okpanda is okay for entry-level ESL work but there is limited room for professional growth and the pay is not up to snuff when compared to industry leaders.

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Okpanda doesn't require a TEFL

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