how do I get a job in China?
The popularity of China as a destination for English language teachers has steadily increased in recent years, and it is now right at the top of the list with an estimated 100,000 foreign teachers working in the country each year. As a result of an extraordinary economic boom, Chinese parents are more willing than ever to spend thousands of dollars on their children’s English education to give them the best chance of success in the future. With over 300 million people learning English across the country, China’s insatiable demand for English language teachers looks set to continue.
As there are often more job opportunities than there are teachers to fill them, schools are willing to offer very good salaries and other benefits to attract teachers. Salaries vary depending on the type of school and its location but you can expect to earn between US $1000 and $2500 per month. You may also be offered some attractive extras such as free accommodation, paid airfares and an end of contract bonus. As the cost of living is relatively low you should be able to live comfortably and also save a considerable amount during your stay.
The largest job market is a network of private language schools that can be found in every part of the country. There are also plenty of opportunities to be found in public schools, kindergartens, boarding schools, universities and international schools. However, in order to qualify for a visa that allows you to work legally you will need to meet certain criteria. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree and two years teaching experience, plus a TEFL certificate of at least 120 hours if you plan to work in a private school. It is worth remembering that each province has its own set of rules and these can change regularly so we recommend you check the latest regulations before you book your plane ticket.
As China is so vast you also need to decide which areas you would prefer to work in. The cities of Beijing and Shanghai have long been popular with foreigners as they offer the best salaries and a high level of facilities. However, the cost of living has risen sharply in recent years and rapid expansion means that navigating your way through these mega-cities can often be a daunting task. The good news is there are plenty of smaller cities with thriving job markets and lower levels of development where you can live comfortably and enjoy a more authentic Chinese experience.
The majority of teachers have a job organized in China before they leave their home country. A quick online search will reveal dozens of recruitment agencies offering to make all the necessary arrangements for you. Whilst many of these are genuine there are inevitably some that are less than reputable so it is vital that you do as much research as possible before signing a contract. One solution to avoid potential problems is to apply direct to individual schools. An online search for language schools will reveal a large number of potential employers that you can email with a cover letter and your CV/resume. If you are already in the country you will have a distinct advantage as you can visit schools and speak to current teachers before you agree to anything. Whatever approach you take, with plenty of research and a little hard work you are sure to enjoy a fantastic adventure teaching English in China.