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90% of the emails I receive are questions and concerns about teaching abroad in China.
I get it. Accepting a job in China is a scary proposition. It’s hard to know if you’re getting a good deal, or if your school is scamming you. If you’ve never been to China before, things can be even more stressful.
Is this a good salary for Beijing? Should I believe the reviews online that say it’s a scam? How do I know if I’m making the right decision??!!
Trust me, I’ve been there.
My Teach Abroad Experience
For the last five years, I’ve been living in China, teaching and working in many different capacities.
I had a full-time job at a Chinese public high school as an oral English teacher. I’ve worked part-time jobs at agencies teaching children. I’ve had tutoring jobs with pre-schoolers, I taught Business English to Chinese businessmen. I even spent two years working as a college counselor in China!
In all of my time living, working and teaching in China, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get a great job here, and have an incredible experience at the same time. I’ve developed this blog as a China lifestyle resource, and I’ve even become a Go Overseas Teach Abroad expert in the process.
The Qualifications for Teaching in China
Firstly, let’s quickly go over the qualifications you’ll need to legally teach abroad in China.
In order to obtain a work visa, you’ll need to be a passport holder from one of the seven approved countries: USA, Canada, UK, Ireland, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand.
You’ll also need an authenticated Bachelor’s Degree, a TEFL Certificate, and a clean criminal background check. Some schools and cities will also require a few years of teaching or work experience in addition to all of these requirements.
For the best jobs, you’ll need qualifications, but many companies and schools are willing to let you work on student or tourist visas, or they’ll get you a business visa, which is technically illegal to work on. Then you’ll have to leave the country every few months.
I know plenty of people working in China without a bachelor’s degree or that aren’t native speakers and it’s definitely possible. However, it’s best to have as many of the requirements as you can. So, if you don’t have a bachelor’s degree or you aren’t a native speaker, I highly suggest getting yourself a TEFL to show that you’re qualified.
Heads Up: I have a special deal with MyTEFL, where my readers can get 35% off with the code ASIAADV!
Public, Private, or Language Academy?
Next, you need to decide where you want to work: a language academy, private school, or public school. International private schools tend to have the best jobs, but they also have stricter requirements. Some may even require you to be certified to teach in your home country!
Public schools and language academies usually expect the same qualifications. However, the jobs themselves are very different.
At a public school, you’ll most likely be working Monday-Friday from 8 am- 4 pm, teaching large class sizes of 30-50 students. While at a language academy, you’ll work evenings and weekends teaching smaller class sizes.
Public schools tend to have a bit more vacation time since they follow the school schedule, while a language academy typically follows the national office holidays and may give you some additional vacation days to use throughout the year.
Neither one is a better option than the other. It’s all about personal preference!
How To Pick a School in China
What does your ideal day look like? Do you want to spend your afternoons playing with little kids at a kindergarten? Do you want to teach an organized oral English class to high school students? What about tutoring kids for the SAT in the evenings?
Think about the age range of the students you want to teach and your ideal schedule. This will help you find a job that might work for you.
Also, be sure to think about what location you might like. Do you want to be in a big city like Beijing or Shanghai? Do you want to teach in a small town where you’re the only foreigner? Do you hate cold weather?
Keep in mind that most private schools in places like Beijing and Shanghai are not actually in the city. These schools tend to be located in the suburbs, while language academies and public schools are usually in the city. However, this isn’t always true, so be sure to look up the location of the school before you agree to anything.
How to Find a Job On The Ground in China
One of the biggest benefits of “just showing up” is that you’ll be much less likely to be screwed over because you can visit a school in person and decide for yourself if it’s a good fit for you.
Any salaried teaching job should cover your housing, and usually, they will either give you an apartment, or a housing stipend. If you’re on the ground, you can check and see how much your housing stipend affords you. For example, if you have a housing stipend of 3,000 RMB in Beijing, you’ll definitely need some roommates. In Ningbo, 3,000 RMB is more than enough to get your own, nice studio apartment.
The benefit of being in China while applying for jobs is that you can make connections and find a good recruiter who will set you up with a decent school. You might also have friends who know of a position, and you’ll be able to get a job that way.
While in China, you can also search for jobs online. For example, I found my college counseling job online while I was already in China. I could’ve easily gotten that job in America and it would have been fine, but living in China, I had the opportunity to visit my company’s Ningbo office before I decided to move to Beijing.
How to Find a Job Online Teaching in China
If you’re not comfortable just showing up in China, or you need a free flight to be able to afford the move, finding a job online is your best option. However, it can be tricky to know where to look.
How do you know if the jobs are real, or if the company is good??
Over the past few years, I’ve made it my mission to find the best teach abroad jobs in China. Living and working in China for the past five years, I’ve made a ton of connections with some amazing schools.
Feel free to use me as your “friend on the ground” in China. Trust me, I know what to look for.
An Awesome Resource for Finding Jobs – Career China
I’ve been searching for the absolute best website for finding jobs in China, and one of my favorites is definitely Career China.
Not only does Career China have a ton of great jobs at both public schools and language academies, but they also have some very great high-level positions. You can find jobs working as a college counselor, head teacher, or at an international school.
Career China also employes some excellent recruiters, so after you submit a resume and a quick video introduction, they will work with you to find an excellent school!
Even if you work with me to find a position, I also highly suggest applying on their site. It’s absolutely free so you have nothing to lose!
Work With Me in the Teach Abroad Squad
I know it can be really stressful to find an awesome high paying job in China that’s not a scam. My first year teaching abroad in China was kind of a disaster, and I really want to make sure that this doesn’t happen to you (or anyone else).
While I no longer do job placements for everyone that emails me (I honestly couldn’t keep up with all the emails!!), I now do job placement counseling and consulting for members of my Teach Abroad Squad course and community!
In addition to an extremely comprehensive online course and a private Facebook Group, Teach Abroad Squad members can work directly with me to find the job of their dreams in China. I have an extensive job board of positions that have been vetted by me, and I also review contracts to make sure that you’re getting a good deal. I help members decide between schools, negotiate their contracts for better benefits and a higher salary, and more!
If you’re really interested in Teach Abroad Squad, the best way to know when we’re open is by getting on my email list (seriously, if you’re at all interested in teaching abroad in China, you NEED to be getting emails from me), or hopping on a live webinar training.
How Not to Get Scammed Teaching Abroad in China
I’m sure many of you are worried about being taken advantage of. It can be scary to move across the world for a job, and oftentimes you feel like you have no power.
I had no idea my school was in the middle of nowhere until I was dropped off on a highway surrounded by factories, and I can tell you first-hand you do not want to be in that situation.
Be sure to do your research on a school before you sign anything. Google for reviews, ask for the exact address and scan through your contract with a fine-toothed comb before you sign anything. You can even ask to speak with a current teacher!
Get Your Free Teach Abroad Guide
If you’re at all interested in teaching abroad in China and want to learn more, I highly suggest grabbing my Free teach abroad guide: 10 Steps to Landing a High Paying Job in China. This guide is a proven 10-step system to find an incredible job you love and rock your first year in China!
In this guide, I’ll teach you how to find the good schools and avoid scams, how to create a killer intro video, and how to negotiate your contract for a better deal. I’ll also give you the ultimate visa checklist, as well as a list of 8 things you need to do before you move to China!
Any Questions About Teaching Abroad in China?
Before you go, I have just one thing I want from you:
What is your biggest challenge when it comes to teaching abroad? What keeps you up at night? What questions do you need answering?
I’m always checking back for new questions and comments, so if you write to me below, I’ll be sure to get back to you ASAP!
This post was originally published in March 2016, and updated in July 2019