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Teach English in China

English teachers in China work in a wide variety of institutions, including Kindergartens, Boarding Schools, Public Schools, Summer and Winter Camps, Business English Teaching, Private Language Institutions, University Departments, Private Teaching and Tutoring. The English language market is growing fast, and many new positions are becoming available. Native English speakers have also found work in a variety of industries, such as media, educational services, and sales positions.

Many teachers have enjoyed their teaching experience in China; others have encountered some problems. Teachers should be careful when looking for a teaching job in China on their own because contracts might change once the teacher arrives. For this reason, Prospects Asia carefully screens its partners to ensure teachers are in a safe and comfortable teaching environment.

Teachers should keep in mind that salaries in Mainland China are lower than in Hong Kong and Macau, but the cost of living is much lower as well, teachers' salary goes a long way.

Please keep in mind that things will not necessarily run as smoothly as they would in a western culture. You will without a doubt have to make compromises and adjustments.

Cities in Mainland China

Beijing (Peking) Shanghai Nanjing (Nanking) Zhuhai Liuzhou GuangZhou

Flag National Emblem Map

The candidate must be English native speaker, and should have:

  • a bachelor’s degree or higher;
  • TEFL / TESL Certified or Professionally Trained;
  • no criminal record;
  • good mental and physical health.

Basic Benefits of Teaching Jobs In China

The teaching contract is between the candidate and the hiring school. A typical package would usually include the following:

Monthly salary 6,000-13,000 RMB (approximately $1-2,000 USD) based on qualifications/experience
Airfare round trip airfare (economy class)
Free accommodation or Monthly housing allowance (approximately $500 USD)
Medical insurance, transport allowance for work, bonuses and travel allowance
Working Hours 40 hours/week, 5 days a week
Paid public and school holidays
Airport pick-up and orientation arranged by employer

* Salary is negotiable, dependent upon the responsibilities and relevant work experience.
* The Chinese school year runs from September to January, and then March to June. Christmas is not an official holiday in China, so most schools remain open. Major public holidays usually last seven days at a time, and the winter holiday including Chinese New Year lasts about a month.

In addition to the school's employment package, Prospects Asia also provides the supports below:

  • VISA application;
  • Emergency contact in China (including Hong Kong and Macau) during the contract period.

Employment VISAs in Mainland China

ChinaWorking legally in Mainland China requires a “Z” Visa from a Chinese embassy or consulate. The Z visa is the only valid work visa. Sponsorship from an employer is needed in order to obtain a Z visa. Z visas are typically valid for one year, and may be renewed in China with appropriate application materials.

Some foreigners accept part-time employment or private classes on non-Z visas can result in severe penalties, including imprisonment, fines of up to 500 RMB a day for overstaying a visa, or deportation.

The Z visa is available in both single-entry and multiple-entry forms. It is the employee’s responsibility to understand local laws and obey them.

Residence Permits

In addition to a valid passport and visa, all prospective teachers must obtain a Residency Permit within thirty days of their entry into China. It is illegal to teach in China without both the Z visa and a valid Resident Permit. Employers will provide assistance in obtaining this document.

Early Termination

Contracts should always include an acceptable early termination clause. If a contract is terminated early and the employee wants to work at another school in China, a “Letter of Release” from the previous school will be required. This letter allows the next school to officially register the teacher; without it one cannot work legally at a new institution. Due to the complex of change employers process, further questions should be addressed to the local Public Security Bureau when in China, or to the Chinese Embassies or consulates if not in China.


China is a very large country, featuring several different climate zones and a sharp urban/rural divide. Consequently, teaching experiences will vary.

China’s major cities all host large populations of foreigners; however if you choose to work in a smaller city or in the provinces, foreigners may still be regarded as a curiosity. Do not expect to encounter the same standard of living, particularly when working outside of the major cities. Having realistic expectations and a flexible attitude will help prepare you for the stress that can accompany living and working in a different culture.

China’s major cities, Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou, offer a more cosmopolitan experience. While they can be crowded, and pollution is a problem, western food and amenities tend to be easily accessible, there are a number of establishments which cater to foreign clientele, and the health care available in these cities is the best in China. Those interested in teaching English in a business environment, or planning to look for a substantial number of private pupils should consider focusing on these cities. Many find that the transition for foreigners living abroad is easiest in these cities.

Teaching outside of the major cities, either in a provincial city or in a small town in the provinces, provides a very different experience. In China, a city of one million people can be quite provincial and might not have a modern infrastructure, western food and amenities, or adequate healthcare. Also, in areas that are far from urban centers, there will be fewer people who speak English. Non-Chinese speakers may want to find out if someone at the school speaks both Chinese and English and can provide assistance. Nevertheless, teaching in these areas provides the teacher with a view of the “real China” that may escape those who remain in the major cities. For those who enjoy challenges and adventure, teaching in these areas can be a great option.