Working in China


These days, more and more teachers are travelling overseas to teach English in China and it’s not difficult to see why!

Not only are the wages high and the cost of living low, but the demand for foreign teachers is increasing constantly and the opportunities made available to them are considered some of the best in the ESL market globally.

Whether you’re a newly qualified teacher or experienced professional, there are suitable positions available across the entire country in some of the most exciting cities in the world. We can sort everything out for you, from helping you gain the qualifications you need to arrange your re-location package.

So, if you’re considering a job in China, but you don’t where to start, we’ve answered all your questions below!

What’s in it for me?

Well, where do we start! Firstly, the demand for English teachers is huge! Chinese children are expected to learn English from a young age and rather than recruit Chinese teachers, most schools in China prefer to recruit native speakers.

This makes you highly sought after and with that comes a competitive salary, housing, health insurance, flights and many other perks which are usually guaranteed when you secure a job in China and it doesn’t stop there.

You will be immersed in a completely unique culture, meet people from all over the world and indulge in an experience that will stay with you for a lifetime. You will also be greatly appreciated as you will be seen as a commodity, which is always a great feeling!

China is also like no other place on this Earth. Where else do you get crumbling temples, surrounded by the latest technology!? You literally get the best of both worlds as depending on where you visit, one moment it can feel like you’ve gone back in time and the next it’s as if you’ve skipped a few years into the future!

The food is an attraction in itself and you won’t struggle to find dishes that you would choose at your favourite local restaurant here, including Sweet and Sour Pork and Peking Duck, in many establishments.

For the more adventurous in you, there’s always Snake Soup or Scorpions on a stick, but don’t blame us if they’re not to your taste!

Travel and transport are also cheap and plentiful (trains and planes) so you can spend your free time exploring within the mainland, visiting places like Beijing or Xi’an or even go further and travel to neighbouring countries like Cambodia, Thailand or Japan!

China’s cities have a lot of individual character and different parts of the country can provide totally different experiences in regard to culture, language and teaching experience, so as long as you specify exactly what you’re looking for in terms of location and lifestyle, you’re sure to be placed in a position that’s perfectly suited to you.

What kind of positions are available?

There’s work for every kind of teacher in China! For educators seeking something long-term, it is the perfect location as the education market is growing every day and the salaries are rising. Many schools prefer to hire teachers who can commit to a 1-2-year contract; even NQT’s are encouraged to apply as long as they take the role and responsibilities seriously and are reliable and prepared to work hard.

If you’re looking for something more flexible there’s freelance and hourly lessons and even online teaching!

Opportunities are available in Early Years Foundation settings, nurseries (kindergarten) primary school, high school, college and universities; whatever your experience and qualifications, we can secure you a rewarding position.

Sounds amazing! So where can I teach in China?

Cities in China are informally grouped into three tiers depending on their stage of development. The cities recognised as tier one are Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen and Guangzho. These cities are more westernised and there will be an abundance of restaurants and establishments that you are used to seeing in your home town, including McDonalds and Starbucks.

Schools in these cities tend to have a huge international reputation and salaries are usually higher, so certain credentials will be required for employment. Private language schools also will want to hire people who have received a certain degree of professional level training.

Remember though, it’s not all about the big cities as salaries may be higher but the cost of living is also considerably higher than the tier two or three cities like Chengdu and Xi’an.

You will also get the full experience in the tier two and three cities as you will have limited access to your usual home comforts and imported goods and be surrounded by more locals and less English speakers.

Although, it really doesn’t matter where you live as China has over 170 cities with great public transport systems, meaning you can go just about anywhere for anything and no matter the tier, you’ll always be put in touch with a community of English-speakers for support and still receive all the wonderful perks that China has to offer its overseas employees!

To view all our current vacancies in China and see what criteria is required to apply, click here.

I’ve heard a lot of people mention TEFL, what’s that?

 TEFL” is the acronym for Teaching English as a Foreign Language, or simply, English language instruction for non-native speakers.

 Also known as:

  • Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)
  • English Language Teaching (ELT)
  • ESL (English as a Second Language).

These fields represent some of the fastest growing educational disciplines in the world and as a result of this growth, thousands of excellent opportunities to teach English globally are presented on a daily basis.

To Teach English as a Foreign Language in a foreign country a TEFL Certification is typically required as schools and language institutes want to hire teachers who have received proper training.

You don’t necessarily need to possess a degree in education, prior teaching experience, or even a degree to get paid to teach English abroad if you hold a professional-level TEFL certification, but it must meet certain standards established by leading bodies in the field.

These standards include:

  • At least 100 hours of coursework;
  • At least 6-20 hours of observed ESL teaching in a real classroom with a non-native English speaker;
  • An accredited curriculum from a recognised, independent organisation within the field;
  • Instruction provided by a qualified instructor (who has an equivalent to a Master Degree in TESOL or related field).

All International TEFL Academy TEFL certification courses meet and often exceed these standards including our partner, UltimaHub.

The online training provider has a wide variety of highly practical, high-quality, online TEFL courses and certification options which not only assist current and new candidates to gain the qualifications they need to teach internationally, but also ensure you have the knowledge required for a teaching role overseas.

Candidates that are registered with The Education Network receive a generous discount on online training courses through our partnership with UltimateHub. Come and see for yourself!

Do I need a TEFL certificate to teach in China?

Not necessarily, again it all depends on the employer! If you’re looking for teaching jobs in the second and third tier cities you may be able to secure a job as an ESL teacher based on other qualities, such as relevant work experience.

Some employers will even pay for your TEFL course but we recommend that you complete your training beforehand to ensure you’re offered the salary you deserve prior to securing your placement.

But I don’t speak Chinese!

Don’t worry, the best way to learn it, is to live it! You’ll pick up the basics during your time teaching. Just like your pupils will learn English from you, you will learn so much from them and if you’re really worried, you could always start learning the language now.

You’ll get by either way as there are many resources to ease the language barrier and smooth the transition process.

Get a phrase book! - have made it easier by selecting what they believe are the Top 5 Mandarin Phrase Guide Books. The website itself is very useful so be sure to have a browse once you’ve decided on your guide!

Download a free translation app - iTranslate, Waygo and Google Translate are some of the most popular free App’s available for Android and IOS users.

Use your intuition - Body language and facial expressions are easy to read. Just smile, gesture, relax and you will be fine, a lot of things are universal after all!

Familiarise yourself with etiquette beforehand -  Chinese hand signals are different to Western ones, as is the general etiquette, and what is and isn’t considered good manners.

For example, did you know you should never write things in red ink as it symbolises protest or severe criticism? This is good to remember when marking your pupils’ work. Here are some more do’s and don’ts to consider.

Order food from picture menus - Many establishments cater to tourists by providing picture menus that you can order from, but if you want to be 100% sure on what you’re ordering, you can always refer to the Waygo app mentioned above.

Important information - Be sure to have all your important information such as home address, place of work etc written in Chinese in your diary and phone should you require it for taxis/public transport or if you get lost.

Will a teaching salary be enough to live off?
Absolutely! In China your money will go much further than it would in the UK, especially if you’re offered housing in your contract which is usually a given.

After you’ve paid your bills and got the shopping in, you can sight-see, save, pay off outstanding debs at home, enjoy the night life, have dinner with friends and so much more!

This is just one of the many reasons teachers are packing up to educate overseas. You will have more money to yourself which means your quality of life will be far greater and you’ll have a better work life balance.

Your job won’t take over your life and you will have more time for yourself and to achieve personal goals.

What can I expect from the schools? 
Depending on your experience and the type of role you’re after you could gain a position in a public school, kindergarten, dedicated ESL academy, an ESL school or even a Chinese university or college.

The type of work and hours expected of you will differ depending on the education establishment you’re placed in. Academies may sometimes require you to work on weekends but in return they’ll usually give you flexible days where you don’t have to start until the afternoon!

ESL schools tend to pay better than public schools, and offer education to all ages, meaning you could find yourself teaching nursery kids or even teaching formal English to business professionals.

The size of classes also differs greatly. In an academy you might find yourself teaching lots of classes to small groups of learners. In public schools, your classes will be large (around 40 students) and your timetable will be similar to what you’re used to with about 25 lessons a week between the hours of eight and four.

If you’re educated to a degree level, you will be able to teach English to undergraduate and graduate students in a university or private school where salaries and facilities are usually better.

Lastly, hear from one of our very own teachers why they believe you should teach in China with us…

“The Education Network are a great group of people. The person who worked with me was knowledgeable and kind. She helped me to find a great job at a great school. I wouldn't have found my job without her. She helped me with all my questions and checked in with me regularly afterward which was hugely helpful. I really liked the service and the personal touches were really great.  Many thanks to The Education Network. -- Robert, in Shanghai placed in British Kindergarten”

For further information about working in China, visa requirements and how to gain a TEFL certificate please email