Thinking of teaching English abroad and immersing yourself in a unique, diverse culture with a fascinating history? With seemingly hundreds of places to teach abroad, how will you ever choose the best place to go?
We’ve got just the country for you! China doesn’t just happen to be the most populated country in the world – it’s also home to the biggest population of English language learners in the world.
It shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that China is consistently one of the most popular places to teach English abroad – with an estimated 300 million people learning English today, China is the fastest growing market for ESL teachers abroad.
China is a great location for English teachers of all abilities – there’s something for everyone. For those of you who are seriously considering teaching English in China for the first time, keep reading to find out more on how much you can earn, what the requirements are, where you can find work and what you need to get a visa.
What types of English teaching jobs are available in China?
There are several teaching options for English teachers in China. Public schools, private language schools, ESL schools, international schools and universities – these are just some of the places English teachers in China can expect to find work.
Where are the most jobs teaching English in China?
You can land a teaching job virtually anywhere in China – given the country’s sheer size, the demand for teachers is huge. That said, China is a diverse place, so when it comes to researching teaching locations, it can be a challenge to narrow down the best spot for you.
Cities like Beijing and Shanghai tend to be the most popular spots for English teachers, as they’re modern, offer the highest salaries and have thriving expat communities. On the flipside, competition for jobs is higher.
Don’t rule out lesser-known cities like Hangzhou, Nanjing, Xi’an and Chengdu: China has over 160 cities with a population of a million people or more so the demand for English teachers is high everywhere.
Do I need a degree to teach English in China?
A lot of recent college graduates are attracted to teaching English in China as a way to see the world and pay off some student debt. In general, you will need to have a Bachelor’s degree to qualify for English teaching jobs in China. What you’ve majored in isn’t a deal breaker – but China does take its reputation for education excellence seriously, so you won’t be granted a work visa to teach English in China without getting that degree under your belt first.
To land a English teaching job at an international school, college or university, you’ll need to have an advanced degree in the education field. These teaching positions are highly coveted by expat teachers in China, so the requirements are accordingly much stricter.
Do I need a TEFL qualification to teach English in China?
There’s no doubt about it: having a TEFL certificate greatly increases your job prospects in China. The demand for TEFL-qualified teachers in China is booming and at most schools in China, English teachers will need to have a TEFL certificate with, at minimum, 120 hours of study.
There are TEFL certification options that offer additional specialist modules in teaching English to Mandarin speakers, like this one from the University of Toronto TEFL Online. These specializations don’t just give new teachers insight into preparing to teach native Mandarin speakers – they can also set you apart as a strong candidate for teaching jobs in China.
A quick side note on TEFL accreditation: The market for TEFL courses is large and growing and there’s no central accrediting body for TEFL. This means anyone can set up a TEFL course. That’s why we recommend researching a reputable course provider with international recognition – such as a university with expertise in the field of foreign language teaching.
Do I need to have teaching experience to teach English in China?
While the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs (SAFEA) stipulates that applicants should have two years of teaching experience, each province in China has its own regulations. The Chinese government is working to tighten this requirement up, however, so it really depends where you want to teach – but many schools in top-tier cities will only hire someone with a teaching background.
What are the visa requirements to teach English in China?
Your school will need to apply for a Z visa on your behalf. A Z visa can only be issued in your home country or in Hong Kong – and can only be granted if your school is accredited to employ foreigners.
You’ll also need to be certified as a “foreign expert” and only your employer can obtain this certification. After being granted a Z visa, you’ll then need to apply for the following two documents within 30 days of your arrival in China: a residence and work permit. Usually, employers will walk you through this process. You’ll be asked for proof of a university degree, your passport from an English-speaking country and your TEFL or TESOL certificate with a minimum of 120 hours.
What’s the best way to find English teaching work in China?
Going through a teacher recruitment agency is, by far, the easiest way to get hired to teach English in China. Make sure the agency you choose only works with reputable, well established schools. Beware of agencies that charge teachers a fee for placement: legitimate companies won’t do this!
When is the best time of year to look for English teaching jobs in China?
Schools in China generally run on a system of two terms per year: fall (which begins in late August) and spring (starting in late February). Hiring schools usually post vacancies around four months in advance, so teachers should aim to get their applications in for teaching positions starting around April or November.
How much money can I make teaching English in China?
While salaries are lower than other parts of Asia, China has a comparatively lower cost of living, so teachers can expect to live quite comfortably teaching English in China. Teaching salaries in China are progressively on the rise, so for teachers who budget carefully, there are opportunities to save up for travelling – or even to build a nest egg to take home at the end of your contract.
Teaching salaries do tend to vary quite a bit, depending on where you’re teaching as well as your teaching experience and credentials. As a general rule, salaries in the bigger cities tend to run higher than in smaller towns or rural areas. English teachers can earn in the range of 10,000 – 13,000 RMB ($1,500 – 2,000 USD) a month.
How many hours a week will I be teaching in a job in China?
A teacher working in a private school in China can expect to work around 8 hours per day, Monday to Friday. Public school teachers usually work around 22 hours a week.
What kind of benefits do English teachers in China get?
In addition to your salary, many schools in China offer perks like airfare reimbursement, free housing, vacation, bonuses, sick pay, health insurance – even Mandarin lessons for newcomers!
China is a great place to score a fun, rewarding – and well-paying – job teaching English abroad.
Looking for more advice? Check out this free guide to teaching abroad created by the University of Toronto TEFL Online and written with the help of hiring experts and former teachers abroad. Interested in teaching English in China? Teach Away is currently placing English teachers in schools across China through its new Explore Program. You only need a Bachelor’s degree to apply – TEFL training will be provided for successful candidates.
Christie Van Tol