BrainMass is a company that hires virtual teaching assistants. They describe themselves as a community of graduate-level teachers, professionals, and students, so it's a little different than your usual online tutoring jobs.
What they do is provide immediate, direct academic assistance to college and university students who need it. Online TA's (teaching assistants) for BrainMass have access to student's submitted problems and essays.
Students purchase credits to use at BrainMass. Then, the TA solving the submitted academic questions/problems receives a percentage of the credit purchase price.
The company makes it clear that this is just an extra money opportunity.
How much does BrainMass pay?
Students using the services of BrainMass pay $3.90 in US dollars ($3.99 CAD) for each custom credit. The online TA's will, to start, receive 60 percent of each credit purchased for answers they submit. After 10 responses have been given, that amount goes up to 70 percent.
Every problem posted has a different credit value assigned to it, normally between 1 and 25. The number of credits assigned to each problem varies depending on difficulty and urgency.
You can also earn royalties. Every time you answer a question for a student, it goes into BrainMass' library of responses. Sometimes students use their credits to purchase these responses from the library, and if a response you gave is downloaded by a student, you'll get 25 percent of the revenue BrainMass receives for that response.
The response will always be in the library, so you can always potentially earn this ongoing revenue.
When are you paid?
BrainMass pays out via either check or Paypal on the 15th of each month if $50 has been accumulated. If $50 has not been accumulated, the pay rolls over to the next month. Please note that BrainMass is a Canadian company and the money is paid out in Canadian dollars.
However — you can still work for BrainMass as a TA regardless of where you live assuming you meet their requirements and they have a need for someone in your area of expertise. BrainMass is open worldwide.
What are the requirements to sign up?
You can apply to become an online teaching assistant for BrainMass if you are either enrolled in or have graduated from an accredited university and either have or are working toward a Master's or PhD.
How do you actually do the job?
I read through this, and it's actually very long and involved. But to summarize, it appears that if a student needs help in a specific department and you are registered with BrainMass as being qualified to help in that department, you (and all the other TA's in the field of study) will receive an email stating that this student needs help.
You can view the problem and, if you “grab it” fast enough, or “sign it out” as they call it, you can answer the problem. Everything is on a first-come first-serve basis. There are a lot more details on this here that you should probably read over.
Do you still get paid even if the student does not pick up your response?
This is taken from the BrainMass website:
The student must pick up the response you have created. If they do not pick up the solution, they will receive a number of email warnings, in accordance with our Non Payment Policy. After four warnings, the student's account will be suspended and any credits on hand will be allocated to the Online TA who provided the assistance.
So, as you can see, they have something in place to protect you in the event a student flakes out.
Feedback on BrainMass
I have not found a lot of information from people who are actually working for BrainMass as online TA's, but the company appears to be established and have been around since 2001. I did get an email from a reader several months ago who claimed to be using this site for extra money, which is why I had it bookmarked to look into further.
Here is a link to their BBB page where they have an A+ rating, although it does show two complaints, both of which have been resolved. Same with Rip Off Report, they have some complaints there, but they are from upset students, not workers. BrainMass has responded to these, fortunately. You can read these over if you wish (they are easily found online) and decide for yourself what you think about the company in general.
- BrainMass FAQ (Read this before applying, gives lots of detail!)
- The BrainMass Facebook page
- Apply here
If you're looking for more tutoring jobs from home, this is another legit company that is actively looking for online ESL tutors, paying over $14 hourly.