When you go to China, you can expect your teaching salary to provide a comfortable life for you. The norm for salaries now is $1,500-$2,500 a month. We have even seen some positions paying $3,000 and above. Your return airfare, housing, and health insurance are all covered by your school, so you’ll also be able to save up for the future (or for travel). Contract completion bonuses and travel allowances are becoming common as well. Most teaching jobs in China are with a private school – either a large chain like Disney English and English First, or individual private schools. Student ages range from preschool up to adults and good job descriptions detail the makeup of the student body. As a foreign teacher, you will be teaching English – other subjects are rare, with the exception of some university-level and international school positions for experienced professional educators. Teaching hours are very reasonable and are frequently capped at 20-25 a week. Your contract will be for 1 or 2 years, with definite prospects of renewal and raises. It’s rare to come teach in China for 6 months or less, as just about every school requires at least a 12-month commitment due to the paperwork and logistics required to host a teacher.
Teaching work is predominantly concentrated in urban areas, but that doesn’t mean your choices are limited to Shanghai and Beijing. Did you know China now has over 160 cities with a population of a million or more? There’s an opportunity to live and work in virtually any corner of the country and to see its regional and ethnic diversity for yourself. We have had recent jobs in over 30 cities in China – from megapolises like Chongqing, Tianjin, Guangzhou and Chengdu to smaller, more exotic locations such as Sanya (an island beach town in the South), Wuhai in beautiful Yunnan province, and European-influenced Dalian in the north with its ski resorts and hot springs. With such a breadth of possible choices, it’s best to do some research on provinces and cities to find the best balance of cost of living, salary, and quality of life. Reports from other expats, cost of living comparisons, and even air quality indexes are available online and can help you decide among cities. Hong Kong and Macau also have frequent openings for teachers - both maintain close ties and easy access to mainland China.
Prospective teachers should know that the ESL industry in China is growing very quickly, with little in the way of regulation. This means school quality varies and it can feel a bit like the Wild West when trying to choose a reputable school. That’s where a good recruiter becomes your best partner. Here at Footprints Recruiting, we do a solid screening of every school before we work with it or recommend it to our teachers. That process includes speaking to past teachers about their experiences to make sure there are no red flags. We look out for our teachers and want you to know that it’s easy to get burned when trying to go your own route. It also puts you in a gray zone legally (see visa info below).