Submit CV
December 12th, 2019 David O Connor

Your Best Guide to Finding a GREAT Teaching Job in China

Teaching in China_finding-a-great-teaching-job

Finding a great teaching job in China is best tackled with military-style precision. First and foremost, you’ll need to know the basic eligibility criteria before you delve further into the complex world that evolves around ‘finding a teaching job in China’. You’ll discover that this is a world unto itself, made up of strict regulations, nuanced exceptions, legal loopholes and even shady dealings by unscrupulous agencies and teaching institutions.

Not only is there a hell of a lot of info to gather, but you’ll also need to follow a step-by-step approach if you hope to find, and secure, a great teaching job in this exhilarating country.

To save you a whole lot of time and heartache, we’ve gone and put ALL the info you need into one blog post.

You can thank us later 🙂

How to Find and SECURE a Great Teaching Job in China – Step by Step

Finding a teaching job in China isn’t the most difficult thing in the world. Securing a really good job with a reputable school or institution can be, however. Yet the starting point is always the same, given that China has set guidelines for teaching eligibility which all foreigners must meet to be even considered.

Here are the 16 steps you need to complete to find the teaching role in China you’ve been dreaming of:

1. Get a Bachelor’s Degree

China demands that all prospective teachers who want to teach in the country hold a Bachelor’s Degree. The good news is the degree doesn’t have to be teaching-specific. It can be in any field.

2. Secure your TEFL certification

If you want to find a TEFL teaching job in China, you’ll need to prove that you know what you’re doing, which is understandable. That’s where the TEFL certification comes in. Yes, there are a lot of online courses you can take; no, you don’t have to spend a fortune or take five years to complete. But it does need to be from their list of recognised and accredited institutions. Do note that if your Bachelor’s Degree is specifically in English literacy, you may be granted an exemption to this rule. It’s certainly worth asking.

Do note that you also have the option of gaining your TEFL in China. Internships in-situ are a lot more expensive and, of course, you’ll have to pay for flights and living expenses while you get qualified. But you will at least have an immersive cultural experience, and that’s got to count for something!

3. Gain practical teaching experience

Ideally, the Chinese authorities would like you to have at least 120 hours of practical teaching experience under your belt. However, this isn’t a super strict requirement: you may be bumped up the applicants’ list if you have it but you may still find a great job without it. That’s because many international schools and teaching institutions are happy to train new teachers. And, for certain jobs like those in kindergartens, enthusiasm and the love of being with kids trumps practical experience.

You can always swiftly learn how to finger paint, right?

4. Make sure you’re from a recognised, English-speaking country (ahem!)

Alright, you don’t need to change citizenship if you weren’t born in one of the seven countries China stipulates as being eligible, namely the UK, Ireland, US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. But, if you happened to have gained your degree in one, then you’re good to go. This is about the only exception made for this very specific requirement and it’s certainly worth knowing about.

5. Tick off most of the other eligibility requirements

China gets really picky when it comes to eligibility for potential teachers, but it’s great to know that there are (almost) as many exemptions as there are regulations. You don’t need to be a native speaker if you’re considered fluent enough and don’t have a strong accent. You can be younger (or older) than their age-bracket requirement if you find a school willing to sponsor you. And, if you’re a teacher in your home country, there are two main exemptions you can apply for: the native English speaker and the TEFL certification, which you won’t need to tick if you’re planning to teach a subject other than English. More on this next. You can learn all about these intricacies on our Am I eligible? page.

An important eligibility requirement is being able to present a clear Criminal Background Check from your home country, which should be easy enough to obtain – although the exact procedure is different in every country. It’s important to enquire about this procedure, in your specific case, way ahead of time. For US citizens, for example, obtaining what’s known as an FBI Identity History Summary Check is a time-consuming process which can take up to four months.

6. Understand that there’s more to teaching in China than ESL

Sounds weird, right? But it’s true. You can find a great teaching job in China that has nothing to do with teaching English as a second language. Chinese schools are aware that holding classes in English is a great way to improve their students’ language fluency. So, alongside ESL jobs, you can also search for jobs teaching maths, PE, science, geography and a host of other subjects. This can open up a whole new world for foreign teachers who aren’t TEFL-certified.

7. Choose your ideal destination before searching for a teaching job

For the great majority of educators, finding a good teaching job in China isn’t about simply looking for work. You’re likely craving a lifestyle change, a cultural exchange and a once-in-a-lifetime experience in a radically different foreign land. As such, where you end up working will have huge consequences on the overall success of your experience. Love the job but hate the city? That won’t work! China’s varied teaching world is split up into Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities and you’ll want to know a lot more about them before you commit to one. Differences between primary cities and secondary (or tertiary) ones can be extensive and include eligibility strictness, projected earnings, living costs and lifestyle options – the latter being quite a major point.

Maybe you dream of travelling extensively through Asia or getting back home as often as you can? Perhaps you crave the sensory overload of a megalopolis or prefer to come home to a quieter and smaller city? Or, as like many others, you might want to save as much as you can whilst enjoying this experience of a lifetime? Whatever the case, learn all about China’s best Teaching Destinations before moving forward.

Teach in China_finding-a-great-teaching-job

8. Start saving. Big time.

We’ll just sneak this step in here. Although, ideally, you should have started saving well before opening this page. China may well be known as a profitable destination for experienced teachers and, though correct in the long-term, you will be required to land with a hefty piggy-bank to get you through the first few months. Months, you ask? Months! No matter what kind of amazeballs remuneration package you secure, you will be out of pocket an estimated USD 5,000 at first. You’ll probably make that money back ten-fold, but you will need to fork it out initially. Our Teaching in China – Here’s What it Will Cost You post details all you need to know.

9. Decide which China teaching job is best suited to your skillset and desires

There’s a world of difference between teaching in a kindergarten and teaching at university, no matter where in the world you are. In China, the difference is an abyss. That’s why we urge applicants to learn all about ESL Teaching Jobs in China even if they have extensive experience teaching abroad. This country’s education system beats to its own drum: just because you’ve taught (and enjoyed teaching) in a public school before, it doesn’t mean teaching in a public school in China will suit you well. The options are very many. Find the right one for you.

Here’s a quick overview of the core differences between China’s teaching jobs:

  • Kindergarten jobs are usually better paid, easier to secure and easier to carry out (a great first timer’s option!)
  • Public schools don’t pay as much but don’t require weekend work (yey for freedom!)
  • Reputable international schools offer the best pay-packets but jobs are notoriously hard to secure
  • Training centres (and private language schools) run classes in the late afternoons, evenings and weekends (you get a lot more time off on weekdays)
  • University jobs usually involve far fewer teaching hours and are considered among the most rewarding (but you will have to be highly qualified to secure a position)
  • Online teaching jobs allow you to work from home and only come into teaching centres for a few hours a week (a great option for those who don’t want to commit to a school)

10. Start your online search for teaching jobs in China

We thought we’d never get here! After you’ve ticked off the nine above-mentioned steps, it’s time to get down to business. Hopefully, you will have decided by now where you want to teach and in which capacity. Now, it’s time to search for teaching jobs online. See our Jobs Board for the latest offers.

11. No luck? Revisit your #7 and #9 options

Your chances of successfully finding a great teaching job in China rest primarily with two options which can be changed, at any time: the kind of job you’re after and your destination of choice. Tier 1 jobs and cities are fervently fought-over, so if you’re not having any luck, it’s worth spreading your horizons a little. Perhaps there’s a great job going in a city just an hour away from Beijing and that can mean the difference between getting your foot in the teaching-door, and not. It’s also worth ‘scoring’ your job preferences as well so if your top pick isn’t yielding rewards, perhaps your second-favourite position might. This is just one of 5 Tips to Increase Your Chances of Getting a Teaching Job in China. Nothing is set in stone and no teaching contract lasts to infinity. Work out your priorities (ie. to teach in China) and be flexible enough to actually get you there!

12. Apply for teaching jobs

You will probably have found a few suitable jobs you may like to apply for and may now be wondering what on earth to do. Do you send an email? Skype call? Whatsapp them?!

First up, you should fill in the school’s job application form. In order not to waste time, you’ll be required to provide proof that you meet all the eligibility requirements. You may be asked to have all your documentation translated and verified and, once that’s done, the school/institute may ask you to do a Skype interview with them. Before your first interview, write down a list of pertinent questions to ask. These will probably relate to the role itself, what’s expected of you and what you can expect to receive in terms of pay and extras, like accommodation allowance. At China by Teaching, we can help you right up to about this point.

13. Scrutinise any job offer you receive

This is a very critical point. You must go over the offered job contract with a fine toothcomb, ensuring that remuneration and any extras are exactly as stipulated during your interview. *Some* schools are renowned for offering you the world at first and then backtracking, e.g. offering a flight reimbursement and them ‘forgetting’ to put in the contract, and so forth. Be brutal, detailed and never be afraid to get back to them with questions before signing on the dotted line. What if the contract doesn’t match what they offered? Give them a chance to redraft and, if they come up with some cockamamie excuse as to why it can’t be re-written, don’t walk, RUN.

14. Search EVERYTHING about the school

Funnily enough, teachers seem to be a lot more vocal about posting negative reviews online than they are about leaving positive ones. So do a thorough search of forums/blogs/review sites for specific mentions of your intended school. Failing that, ask for details of present teachers who may be open for a chat. Also, get the exact location, have a look at it on Google (does the school even exist or is it in the heart of some industrial zone?!) and, basically, familiarise yourself with the school and its ‘system’ before you commit to them.

Because, next step…

15. Do NOT get scammed

Look, we get that all of this is a scary proposition. You’re supposed to sign a year (or more) away to a place you’ve never seen, in a country that you may or may not have ever visited and virtually shake hands with people you’ve never met. Plus, this is a whole different culture you’re dealing with, which is scary enough in its own right.

But, in reality, you can minimize any risk by doing your homework (teaching pun totally intended) and knowing all the potential risks you run, even after you’ve arrived in China. The world-wide-web is full of horror stories, but also peppered with really great advice from those who’ve come before you – many detailing blatantly obvious red flags you should be on the lookout for. Find them. And join social media groups, where you’ll find a ton of useful tips.

16. Keep it all in perspective

Some teaching jobs advertised in China may be literally too good to be true. But it’s also fair to say that you can’t keep everybody happy. Maybe ‘grumpyposter123’ just didn’t like the school or the city. It doesn’t mean you won’t fall in love with the place.

If you use review sites like TripAdvisor to find a good restaurant or hotel, you’ll know when someone’s just venting for personal reasons. Rather than focus in on one or two poor reviews, try to get a more fair and balanced view of the school in question. Moreover, if you’re brand new to this job, have no experience whatsoever and the position you’re being offered doesn’t sound like ‘the teaching job of your dreams’ well…what do you expect? Keep it in perspective and keep your expectations in check: this is what will ultimately result in you finding a very good and very suitable teaching job in China.

We hope our 16-step guide to finding a teaching job in China has answered the multitude of questions that have been swirling in your head for a while. The great news is that you are now 16 steps closer to finding and securing a fantastic teaching position abroad. But there’s plenty more to come!

Read our guide to Getting the Right Teaching Visa for China and our 8 Tips to Know Before Teaching in China and, if you’d love some help from a bunch of experienced teachers who’ve navigated this complex web before just Submit Your CV and let us help get you TEACHING IN CHINA

David O Connor

David O Connor

David is China by Teaching’s chief contributor. When not offering sage advice about teaching in China, David is a headmaster of a Bilingual kindergarten in Beijing. David is a lover of craft beers, book clubs and super long road trips.

More Tips & Articles

All Articles

Teach English in China

Looking to teach in China?

Submit your CV and we will be in touch with the latest job offers.