How to Find a Job Teaching in China

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This is the question I get most often.

I get it. It’s a scary proposition, accepting a job to teach in China. 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.

How to Teach Abroad in China

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My Teach Abroad Experience

For the last four 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, and I taught Business English to Chinese businessmen. I’ve even spent the last year and a half 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.

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UNNC graduation

Do you have a degree?

Are You Qualified?

To get a visa in China, you’ll need to be a native speaker with a Bachelor’s degree and a few years’ experience or a TEFL certificate. For cities like Beijing, they’ll expect both a TEFL certificate and experience.

While some schools are strict about the requirements, many schools are not. There are honestly just not enough teachers to meet the high demand in China. 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!

teach abroad China coworkers

My coworkers at the ESL school last year

Public, Private, or Language Academy?

Firstly, 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, language academies are much more likely to allow you to work part-time, and less popular language academies may hire a non-native speaker or someone without a college degree.

I’ve personally worked part-time teaching kids at a language school, doing private tutoring for kids, and at a company teaching business English. None of them ever asked for my TEFL or cared about my visa.

If you want to work full-time, both a language academy and public/private schools are good options.

teach English China

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 art in English to elementary school students? 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.

teach abroad China

Hanging out with coworkers in my new office!

Find a Job Online or Just Show Up?

Okay, now that you have a general idea of what you want, it’s time to actually find your school. There are two ways of doing this: find a job online or just show up. Most people prefer to find a job online before they go, but if you’re comfortable, getting a job on the ground can be a great option for you as well!

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college counselor China

Making mooncakes with my students!

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 current 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.

Teach Abroad TEFL

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??

Well, I’ve actually been searching for the best way to find jobs online, so that I can have a specific recommendation for you all. After extensive research and even an hour-long Skype call, I’ve found three places you should look.

Beijing high school debate

Want to be a debate coach in China?

CRS Education – For High-Level Jobs

Like I said before, this is actually where I found my current college counseling job. If you’re looking for a very high-quality, well-paid job in China, Singapore, the UAE and more, this is the website you should use. They advertise for private international schools and quality education companies.

CRS is the best place to find a job if you already have teaching experience or a teaching certificate from your home country. You can also look here for jobs as a college counselor, guidance counselor, debate coach, drama teacher, academic director, principal and more.

Once you apply for a job, CRS will interview you and hand-select the applicants they send to the position for an additional interview. If they like you, they’ll also keep in touch and let you know about similar jobs that open up.

The only downside to CRS is that they have all sorts of education-related jobs, many of which want you to have prior experience. If you’re a few months out I suggest subscribing to their emails about new job postings and see if anything pops up that you like.

public school china

Working at Wuxiang Primary School

Teach Abroad Network – Look For Jobs on Your Own

For a more proactive approach, I suggest the Teach Abroad Network.

I was in the midst of getting bombarded by teach abroad advice emails when I heard from James, the founder of TAN. James used to work as a recruiter in South Korea and started TAN as a way for prospective teachers to feel comfortable finding jobs online. Currently, TAN is a database open to anyone and once you set up a profile you’ll be able to look at the schools available.

So how is TAN different from any other resource? Well TAN encourages both teachers and schools to share extra information. For example, schools have the opportunity to upload a wealth of information from photos of the campus, to detailed location information, to videos from foreign staff. Past teachers can even leave honest reviews.

Prospective teachers are also able to not only upload a resume and photos but past lesson plans and video introductions as well.  Not only can a school see your personality and verify your English ability, it’s also a perfect opportunity for non-native speakers to prove their fluency.

While TAN is still fairly new, there are already plenty of jobs on the site for you to choose from. They have positions not just in China but also in South Korea, Vietnam and more. I really suggest you join the TAN community if you want to sift through schools online yourself.

CACS Enreach

Halloween with my students

Let Me Find You a Job!

Living in China, I have a ton of friends who teach abroad and connections within the education industry. I’m able to verify which schools are great, and which ones are scams, mainly because I know the people who work ther personally.

If you need some help finding a job in China, send me a quick email and I’ll let you know what I have available. I’m also in the process of creating a job board, and I’ll be sure to let you know once it’s finished!

Want to stay updated on teaching positions in China? Join my Teach Abroad Squad, and I’ll be sure to keep you updated whenever a really great position comes along. You’ll also have access to my free Teach Abroad in China mini course!

Join the Teach Abroad Squad!

teaching english china

My Chinese coworkers

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.

Don’t repeat my mistakes!

Ask for pictures and a description of the location before you arrive. Don’t sign anything with the school until you see your conditions in person. Don’t be afraid to get up and walk away if things aren’t to your liking. Just because you flew halfway around the world doesn’t mean you have to work for the school that hired you, especially if they haven’t paid for anything yet. You can always find a job on the ground, so don’t be scared to get up and leave if you don’t like what you see.

There are plenty of great positions in China, so don’t get stuck with one of the bad ones.

ESL Teacher China

My students on Sports Day

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 answered?

Take the Survey!

About Richelle

Expat, traveler, and spicy food lover, I've spent the last few years living in China and traveling around Asia. In my spare time I enjoy salsa dancing, exploring night markets and stuffing my face with street food.

24 comments on “How to Find a Job Teaching in China

  1. Hello! Really useful post! I am thinking about eventually teaching abroad, maybe not China, but somewhere I haven’t decided yet. Your post definitely re-ignited that curiosity in me of what it would be like to be a teacher somewhere else :) I will probably take the TEFL course at one point this year.

  2. Teaching English in China has been on the cards for a while to pursue our dream of traveling but its a scary move from a good and stable career. Your post has answered quite a few unanswered questions and concerns of ours. Thank you for a great post!

    • I’m so glad my post helped you! Coming straight from graduation I didn’t quite have a stable career to give up, but I completely know how you feel. Currently I work as a college counselor but I know in the next year or so, I’m going to put it aside to work for myself. It seems so scary to give up a stable paycheck and free housing and health insurance!

  3. I’d have no problem just showing up and conducting my own search, but if I want to work at a university wouldn’t I have to return to the U.S. to get an apostille of my degree and transcript?

    When is the best time to show up and look for university or public/private school jobs? When does the school year begin?

    • I’m not exactly sure about university jobs, but usually they want your original diploma, so you should just bring it with you from home. You might consider checking with a few universities before leaving. I think most universities tend to be very reputable, so you should feel comfortable applying from abroad, but if you want to head to China I’d consider doing it now-ish. The school year starts right at the beginning of September (possibly the very end of August).

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  11. Teaching english in China has always been a bit in the back of my mind and this is a great post inspiring bme to maybe make this idea a bit more concrete in the future.

  12. Hello Richelle!
    Your post has been of s much help as I am on my search for good teaching job positions in China. I see you mentioned great sources as of where the look but is there any way you could help me out finding a good one?

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