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Why would I want to teach English in China?

Many teachers gain TEFL qualifications specifically to teach abroad and China is the one international destination that offers the widest range of choice. Not only in terms of teaching job type and location but also in terms of cultural experiences.

It’s a great career move

The future opportunities that’ll come your way when you live and work in China are numerous. Not only will you make great contacts that could lead you down interesting paths but your teaching stint will highlight your ability to work outside your comfort zone. Prove that you can live and work in a different culture and environment, and that you can overcome teaching challenges no matter where you are, and employers will take note. A stint of English-teaching in China will look impressive on your résumé and is bound to open doors for your professional future, no matter where else, in the world, you wish to go.

Why would I want to teach English in China?

It will make you a better teacher

Yes, teaching in China will teach you communication skills you never knew you needed. As we often say: if you can teach in China, as a foreigner, you can teach anywhere! China teaches you to think laterally and work creatively and these are all valuable skills you’ll cherish in the long run.


Your life will be full of cultural surprises

Even those who’ve lived and worked in China for years will attest to learning something new about the local culture, every single day. Life here is certainly never dull for the expat teacher! Nothing about life in China feels, looks, smells or sounds familiar and that’s a massive draw for those who crave a unique cultural experience.


You’ll make friends from all over the world

Expat communities in China are tightly knit and, no matter where you move, you’re bound to make many new international and local friends in no time. Expats do tend to stick together and that’s true no matter where they come from or what kind of work they do. You’ll undoubtedly find yourself in a cosmopolitan and eclectic social group.


You’ll enjoy a fantastic standard of living

The best teaching jobs in China pay exceptionally well and, coupled with modest living costs, result in an amazing standard of living for ESL teachers. The financial benefits of working here for a few years can be great, especially if you can keep your living costs low. With reasonable accommodation costs (perhaps subsidised by your employer) and a competitive salary, you can save a decent amount of money teaching in China.


The cuisine is outstanding

China may seem like a long way to go for fantastic food but, foodies beware: real Chinese food is nothing like you’ve ever tried before and yes, it’s reason enough to come live here! Regional differences abound and we bet you’ll soon become a food snob like every.single.expat.ever. Even if you don’t think the local cuisine will become a huge reason why you’ll love teaching in China, it will be!


You can travel easily and affordably through Asia

China is a fantastic springboard for extensive travels through all of Asia and this is a huge enticement for teachers bitten by the travel bug. Mind you, China hides enough highlights of its own accord, with every province boasting fantastic wilderness and a host of traditional villages you’ll love discovering. If you’re travel-mad and love exploring new and exciting places, you’ll love the opportunities China will offer.

What are the requirements for teaching English in China?

The general guidelines for eligibility to teach in China are quite straightforward.

What are the requirements for teaching English in China?

To teach in China legally, you must:

Be a native English speaker from one of seven recognised countries

China wants its English teachers to be from one of seven, English-speaking countries: the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada and the USA. Yes, of course you can be a native English speaker and be from another country, but China only recognises citizens of these countries for English-teaching positions.

But here’s the great catch: if you have at least 2 years’ teaching experience in your home country, you can still apply for teaching jobs in China! You won’t be able to teach English BUT can pick from several other subjects, including maths, music, science, art, etc.

Be between the ages of 18 and 55 (female) or 60 (male)

The upper end of the age-limits are the retirement ages in China and, unfortunately, the government isn’t too keen on exemptions. If you are close to the maximum age (say, by a year) and really want to teach in China, it may still be worth applying for a job that you think you’d be perfectly suited to. Should the employer agree and be willing to sponsor your teaching contract, you may be in luck. This exemption is rare but not impossible.

Hold a Bachelor’s Degree, in any subject

Luckily, your bachelor’s degree does NOT need to be teaching or English-specific: as long as you have this tertiary education, you’re eligible to teach ESL (or anything else) in China. You will need to have this doc authenticated, along with other documents, and we’ll guide you through this process in the visa application section below.

Have recognised and accredited TEFL qualifications

A 120hr-TEFL certificate is enough to make you eligible to teach in China or, alternatively, 2 years’ worth of teaching experience. The University of Cambridge’s CELTA course is among the most respected but is also one of the most expensive. There are plenty of affordable online options if you don’t yet have TEFL qualification and, if you wish to teach English, having this will increase your chances of getting a well-paid job. Whatever course you choose, make sure your chosen course is accredited and accepted in China.

Have at least 2 years’ teaching experience, if you don’t have TEFL qualifications

As mentioned above, you’ll need to have 2 years’ teaching experience if you don’t have TEFL qualification but remember that you’ll be able to teach subjects other than English. Naturally, having both the qualifications and the experience will up your chances of nabbing that great teaching job.

You can learn more about the intricacies of teaching requirements for China, on our Eligibility page.

Teach English in China

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What are the salaries & extra perks for ESL teachers in China?

China is renowned as a high-pay teaching destination although the bottom line is that it very much depends on the specific school and destination you choose.

In China, you can earn between USD 1,5000 and USD 4,000 per month as an ESL teacher yet your chosen destination and your spending habits will determine how far that will stretch. As is the case in every country on earth: where and how you choose to live will ultimately determine just how much of your salary you’ll get to save up.

Teaching English in China

These are the four main aspects that determine teacher salaries in China:


The type of teaching job

Traditionally, the best-paid teaching jobs in China are in kindergartens and international schools. Whilst public schools and universities tend to offer the lowest pay.

Your salary in International Kindergartens and international schools can be buoyed considerably by Benefits. Throw in housing and flight allowance and the package can look mouth-watering. 


The school

Prominent and reputable schools entice the best ESL teachers with high salaries and a list of perks. Usually, these schools demand the highest qualifications but if you can dazzle them in your application, you can look forward to earning big. 

The best international schools in the most prominent locations pay the highest salaries of all – it’s here that you can expect to earn between 3,000 and 4,000 USD per month.


The city

The most popular teaching destinations (like Beijing and Shanghai) are home to the best schools, resulting in the highest teaching salaries in all of China. 

In these Tier 1 cities, as they’re known, you can expect to take home between 2,500 and 4,000 USD at a high-level teaching job in a very good school. In Tier 2 and 3 cities, however, that salary comes in between 2,000 and 2,500 USD.


Your experience & qualifications

When it comes to teaching experience and qualifications, the more the merrier! 

The best salaries are paid to teachers who have up-to-date qualifications and years of teaching experience under their belt. This is the best ammo you’ll have to negotiate higher pay.

The teaching jobs types in China

China’s education system is varied. The specific type of school you wish to work in will have its own unique teaching method, curriculum and teaching workload. All of these aspects will determine your own, personal, teaching experience.

Every teaching job type in China has its own pros and cons. Some require you to work long hours and partake in extra-curricular activities. Others only require you to teach evenings and weekends. And others offer a Mon-Fri, 9-5 type routine. And, of course, some teaching job types traditionally pay higher salaries than others.

The teaching job type you choose will determine many aspects of your life in China, so choose wisely

Every job has its pros and cons? You bet! Here’s a general overview of teaching job types in China and the yin and yang that sets them apart:

Teaching English in China

Kindergarten Teaching jobs

Kindergarten jobs are among the highest-paid teaching positions of all. They offering fantastic working conditions and a much lighter teaching workload.

The caveat is that you should have an inherent desire to work and spend a lot of time with children. If you do, you will love Chinese kindergartens. Not only are the kids here insanely endearing, but the work is fun, engaging, playful and essentially easy. 

You will have plenty of time off and will only teach one morning and one-afternoon session, Monday to Friday, with a long and leisurely lunch-break during the day

As long as you truly love working with children, this is an absolute dream job in China.

Read on: What it’s like to work as a Kindergarten Teacher in China?

Public school teaching jobs

On the opposite end of the pay-scale, public school jobs are some of the lowest-paid teaching jobs in China. On the flip side, they’re a fantastic option if you’re a newly qualified ESL teacher and just want to get some experience.

You won’t bring home a tremendous amount of money. BUT you will also enjoy a light workload, Mon-Fri schedule and still enjoy a lovely lifestyle given living costs in China are comparatively low.

Teaching in a public school will sharpen your skills, with their larger-than-usual class sizes. Yet expectation won’t be sky-high and you won’t find the job to be too demanding at all, so it really is perfect for newbie teachers. Public school jobs, in general, are fabulous springboards for more lucrative teaching jobs.

Read: What’s it’s like to work in Public School in China?

International schools Jobs

Like kindergartens, international school jobs pay the highest teaching salaries in China. The jobs are immensely demanding, however, and that’s why prominent schools employ only the most qualified and experienced teachers

Hard to get and impossible to give up, international school jobs are a massive career boost for ESL teachers. They can literally open the doors of the world for you. Yes, you will earn the big bucks but you will also have to work your toosh off for your pay-packet every month. 

Have experience working in an international school or with a particular international curriculum? You’re in the best position of all! 

Read on: What’s it like to work as an International School teach in China?

University school jobs

Chinese university students are like a breath of fresh air. A far cry from the timid, seemingly uncommunicative kids you meet in middle school.

At uni, they’ll be curious and open-minded – teaching at a university in China is a unique experience indeed. University jobs are rated among the most rewarding in China, even though the pay is not excellent. Unsurprisingly, this doesn’t deter teachers seeking an alternative teaching life here. As a university professor in China, you will enjoy a fantastic standing in your community and will be revered by students and parents alike. 

You will teach just a few hours a week yet may have to show up for the odd recruitment day here and there. Yes, you will be the biggest enticement! 

Read on: What it’s like to work at a university in China?

Training centres teaching jobs 

Training centres are the epitome ‘yin and yang’ of teaching job types in China. In many ways, they can be the most restrictive, as you will be teaching in the evenings and on weekends. They will, however, pay well and, when all is said and done, you will probably work fewer hours than in any other teaching job type

On the upside. You get every day off until about 4pm and can negotiate two consecutive days off During the week and create your own weekend. You can travel, explore, sightsee and take on other tasks. 

The ideal job for those who loathe the 9-5 routine and prefer to have their days free, private teaching institution jobs can be outstandingly rewarding. 

Insider info: What’s it like to work in training centres in China?

Online teaching jobs

After 2020, there isn’t a person on the planet who doesn’t understand the idea behind remote learning and, by consequence, remote online teaching. You can teach English online to Chinese students from the comfort, convenience and safety of your own country, or wherever you happened to bunker down during the COVID-19 pandemic.

China is considered the best for online English teaching because demand is at an all-time high. The undersupply of teachers in China has led to parents turning to online learning. Since you may not get a chance to travel to China to work (damn you COVID), this is your chance to get some experience teaching Chinese students from the comfort of your own home.

Insider info: Apply for Online Jobs