Aside from the fact that you are going to immerse yourself in a new culture and see things most of the people will never have a chance to see, you will also be able to make really good money working as a teacher in China. A teaching job can be really fun and often not too hard to do. It is worth to mention that you have to prepare yourself mentally and arm yourself with knowledge before you even consider moving to China. To help you with that we’ve decided to make this guide on How to find a teaching job in China.
1. Wechat app
First things first. Over 800 million people in China use wechat, that’s how important this app is and that’s why you simply need to have it. All agents in China use this app to communicate with potential teachers. Not to mention that they post new jobs on their wechat walls daily. After you download it, create an account. After you do that you may want to add few very useful groups that will help you in your job search. Here are few to start off with: englishteacher, expatexpress, pandaguidesofficial. Not only will these groups help you find a dream job but they will also keep you posted on happenings in China.
To be able to work legally as a teacher in China you, of course, need to have certain qualifications and certificates. First of all, you need to be a native speaker and have at least a Bachelor’s degree (any field) OR, you can be a non-native speaker who holds a Bachelor’s degree obtained in an English speaking country. You also have to be a certified teacher, meaning that you have to have TOEFL/TESOL certificate OR you have to have two years of teaching experience. You have to be older than 25.
3. What about non-native speakers
You can still find a teaching job in China even if you are a non-native speaker. As I mentioned in No.2, if you earned your degree in an English speaking country you are going to be treated as a native speaker. If you earned your degree elsewhere, things are going to be a bit different for you but if you are fluent in English, have neutral accent and have a Bachelor’s degree you don’t have to worry about finding a good job in China. China is a huge market always thirsty for more English teachers, therefore you’re good to go.
Salary in China, for a teaching job, can vary anywhere from 5000 RMB to 25 000 RMB (750 USD – 3700 USD) or more. Do have in mind that most of the job offers in China come with free apartment and annual bonus, often with airfare reimbursement too. You, of course, will not accept anything under 8000 RMB plus free apartment, annual bonus and max 20 teaching hours per week, and that goes for smaller cities/districts and non-native speakers. If you have all of the qualifications mentioned in No.2 but you are a non-native speaker, you shouldn’t accept anything under 10000 RMB plus free apartment and annual bonus, but you can easily stretch this to 13000 RMB or even 15000 RMB. If you have all of the qualifications mentioned in No.2 and you are a native speaker, you shouldn’t accept anything under 12000 RMB plus free apartment and annual bonus, but you can easily stretch this to 15000 RMB or even 20000 RMB. If you decide to teach subjects other than English language, I suggest not to accept anything under 15000 RMB for max 16 teaching hours per week plus free apartment and annual bonus. You can easily negotiate 20000 RMB or more (up to 30000 RMB) for teaching science and related subjects. Be confident during the interview and negotiate as much as needed. Apply for at least 10 jobs.
5. How much should you work?
While you search for a job, you will notice many adds with 25 teaching hours per week. Even though that doesn’t sound much you should keep few things in mind. First of all, a teaching hour is 60min. Second of all, breaks between the classes are unpaid. Public schools in China work like this: 8-8:40am, 8:50-9:30am, 40min break, 10:10-10:50am, 11-11:40am, 1hour and 20min break, 1pm-1:40pm, 1:50-2:30pm, 30min break, 3pm-3:40pm. So if you work only in public schools you will have 37 classes in a week, which comes up to 24,6 teaching hours. That means 7 classes/day from Monday to Friday, which means you would be at work from 8am until 3:40pm, that means you would actually spend 7 hours and 40 minutes at work, every day. That comes up to 38 hours in a week, which is a lot. Keep this in mind while you negotiate about the salary and everything else. And have in mind that during those breaks you won’t be able to do anything but spend money in coffee shops (if there will be any, usually overpriced), or you will simply stay in the school waiting for your next class to start. Have in mind that you also have to prepare for the classes (office hours) but if you are lucky enough your boss will give you lesson plans and lessons created in power point (but some preparation is still needed).
If you work in a kindergarten things are a bit different. You would probably start at 8am and work until 11:30am, then you would have lunch together with kids. Kids then go to sleep (around noon) and usually wake up around 2pm. That means you would have 2 hours break. If you live far away from the kindergarten, you’re screwed. The kindergartens usually work until 4 or 5 pm and that’s when you go home. You are also going to have some office hours to prepare lessons and flashcards.
Things are different if you work in a training center. First of all, your days off are Monday and Tuesday. You would most likely have classes in the afternoon during the weekdays and whole day on Saturday and Sunday. You, of course, would have office hours too. Your schedule depends on the school you work for.
Please have in mind that sometimes you’ll be working in more than one location. It depends on the company you work for. So it can easily happen that you get a job in a company that will send you to work in more than one school/kindergarten. It’s worth to mention that commute in China is everything but pleasant.