How to land English Teaching Jobs in China. 

China is a land of exciting opportunity: a confluence of ancient culture and modern skyscrapers, a place where a city of 1 million is considered a “small town,” and a place where you can begin a life changing adventure. Whether you want to learn a new language, experience a new culture, or launch an international career, figuring out what steps to take can be difficult. It’s a daunting prospect to apply for a new job. For many, looking for English teaching jobs in China will be something completely new. 

The beautiful thing about the Internet is that there is a lot of information available. The downside: sometimes there’s too much information. Whether its conflicting reports, or the information you are finding is simply outdated. It can be difficult to figure out how to go about teaching in China and fully understanding how to get an English teaching job, or even to know the difference between a quality teaching job and a teaching job scam – which, unfortunately, is not unheard of.

This list of frequently asked questions (FAQ) on how to get an English teaching job in China has been assembled as a primer on teaching in China – and hopefully clears up some questions and common pitfalls that people may have when thinking about teaching in China.

What is the difference between TESOL, TEFL, and ESL?

Are TESOL, TEFL, and ESL the same thing?

These are all acronyms related to English-education.

  • TESOL: Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages
  • TEFL: Teaching English as a Foreign Language
  • ESL: English as a Second Language

When it comes to teaching jobs in China, these terms will all be used interchangeably. The context in which you might see them more specifically is “TEFL” is used to refer to a TEFL Certificate – which is a course that ‘certifies’ you to teach English, whereas ESL is generally used to denote a position, i.e., “ESL Instructor.”

What is the salary of an English teacher in China?

“What is the of salary of a teacher in China?”

It’s a question every aspiring English teacher asks. The answer is that it depends. Entry level jobs can expect anywhere from $1500 – $2500 per month, depending on what experience you have, but you can easily earn $3500+ as you gain experience.

Is it better to teach English online or in a classroom?

Ultimately, you will need to decide what you are looking to get out of teaching English. If you are someone who enjoys the classroom and personal contact with students, as well as job security, then the classroom may be a better option. On the other hand, if you’re looking for the freedom to travel China as well, then online English teaching jobs would give you much more freedom as you could – internet permitting – travel China whilst teaching English online.

travel and teach English in china

Will I earn more money teaching English online or in a classroom?

Online education is a rising industry in China, and there are lots of companies out there that will pay you anywhere from $10-25USD/hour to teach English online (hours may vary). At the higher end, this is on par with the same amount of money you can earn teaching English in a classroom in China, with the caveat being that teaching online does not guarantee you any number of hours or job security like a fixed contract would. We generally see entry-level jobs starting at ¥14,000-17,000 ($2,000-2,500USD) per month, going to ¥25,000 ($3,500USD) and beyond as you gain experience and credentials. So, if you are lucky enough to get a steady stream of online English teaching gigs I would say the income can be similar to what you earn in a classroom, but it may be better to approach this as something to do part-time to supplement your income.

What are the requirements to teach English in China?

  • A Bachelor’s degree. Not necessarily in teaching or English.
  • Two years of postgraduate work experience.
  • An English teaching certification, e.g. TEFL (120+ hours). Some entry-level jobs will allow a 100-hour certificate, but 1st-tier cities require at least 120-hours of TEFL training. You can find out more about China’s tier city system here.
  • A clear national Criminal Background Check.
  • A clean statement of health from your doctor in your home country. You will also have to do a second health check in China.

Do I get paid more to teach if I have a degree?

By law, in order to be sponsored on a Z-visa (work permit), you must have a bachelor’s degree (in any subject). You will get paid more if you have an education-related qualification such as a BEd, MEd, or PGCE. 

Do I need teaching experience to become an English teacher in China?

There are several entry-level teaching opportunities that allow you to teach English in China with no experience. If you have a degree in Education or a related area, your starting salaries will almost certainly be higher. If you don’t have a degree, it doesn’t mean you can’t teach, but it does mean that you’re more likely to start on a lower salary and also that you may need to apply for a different visa. Some cities require people with less than 2 years of work experience post-graduation to have a 120-hour TEFL certificate, which can be obtained easily online.

What are the best places to teach English in China?

The best place to teach English in China is of course very subjective. What we can provide is a list of the most popular places to find English Teaching Jobs in China.

  • Beijing
  • Yangzhou
  • Harbin
  • Guilin
  • Shanghai
  • Chengdu
  • Xi’an

Need some travel inspiration? Check our post: 8 Photos That Will Make You Want to Travel China

Travel and teach English in China

How many hours do I have to work as an English teacher in China? 

This depends and is something that you should always address in the interview. Some schools and training centers have a complete set of materials and a comprehensive curriculum, making life significantly easier. Generally, schools will require you to teach 15-25 hours per week, with the rest of your time being office hours where you may be expected to handle administrative duties which could including anything from grading to lesson planning or even meeting prospective students.

How much tax do I pay as an English teacher in China?

A lot of schools will specify your salary as pre or post-tax and will be happy to calculate it for you if it is not initially listed. Income taxes in China are generally fairly low (the effective rate will be around ~10% or less for starting teachers).  Here is a useful tax calculator, so you can work out accurately how much tax you will pay as a foreign English teacher in China.

Where’s the best place to do an English teaching course? 

I can’t endorse any particular course when it comes to TEFL but, in general, the government wants to see a 120-hour certificate that covers various modules related to teaching English. If the class is online only, exercise caution as both cost and quality can vary significantly. Some schools may offer to sponsor a Chinese-based TEFL that is run by the Chinese government (SAFEA). If you are looking to teach in an international school, it generally helps to have an education certification or degree. Some of these may be completed online with an in-class teaching component.

How can I find English teaching jobs in China?

There are lots of websites specifically dedicated to English teaching jobs in China. You can also signup for Travel gig and browse some of our English teaching travel jobs

Some teaching positions request fees to secure my job position, is this a scam?

You should never pay fees for a teaching position, especially if they are asking for payment over a service like Western Union. If someone requests payment to secure a teaching position, there is a good chance that this is a scam. Don’t send them money, and keep looking for another job.

This is a guest post from Bryan at Pacific Bridge, a Suzhou, China-based education company that helps people find quality teaching jobs in China.

Do employers include employment perks like travel and accommodation?

This, again, will depend on what type of teaching job you are applying for. Experienced jobs are much more likely to have employment perks and may include things like free flights, housing, bonuses, airport pickup, Z visa and more.

We hope this post has helped answer some of your questions on moving and getting a teaching job in China. Teaching English is a great way to work and travel, and China is one of the most amazing and rewarding destinations to experience the lifestyle. If you have any other questions on teaching English in China which were not answered in this post, please leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you. 


This post was written in partnership Bryan at Pacific Bridge, a Suzhou, China-based education company that helps people find quality teaching jobs in China.

Leave a Reply

  1. Avatar
    Sheila Murphey

    Can you explain why having a degree is so important to get a teaching job in China? I struggle to understand this?!
    Thank you!

    1. Avatar
      admin Listing Owner

      Hi Shelia,

      It’s not the case for all jobs, but it is true that it’s easier to get a teaching job in China with a degree. There are two main reasons for this:

      1) The Z-Visa work/sponsorship restrictions legally requires you to have a degree. There may be other visa options… But:
      2) This visa is the visa with which most schools and universities hire on.

      There are still lots of teaching opportunities for people without degrees, but they’ll just be a bit harder to find, and you’d have to get a different visa.

      Hope this helps!