Enter a world of ancient traditions blended with contemporary architecture, glittering temples and breath-taking scenery in captivating China.
World-renowned landmarks, a rich, diverse culture and enough TEFL jobs to employ an entire country (well, almost) – China’s got so much to offer, it’s practically calling out for explorers to come and visit.
If you decide to pack up and jet off to this epic destination, you’ll be greeted with a mixture of uber-modern metropolises, tons of glittering ancient temples and of course, the world-famous cuisine we all know and love. And let’s not forget, China’s got the highest demand for TEFL teachers of anywhere in the world, so you’ll never struggle to find work if you choose to teach there – it’s a TEFLer’s dream!
If you aren’t ready for a full-time TEFL job in China, but want a taster, you’re in luck! Our popular China Internship departs multiple times a year and includes everything from your TEFL training to accommodation included. Plus you don’t need a degree to enrol. See if it’s for you here!
£650-£2,400 per month
Cost of living
TEFL certificate needed
120 hours +
Main job types
Private language schools & public schools
Not ready for a full-time TEFL job? Download our free TEFL Internships guide
The essentials you’ll need to get a working ‘Z’ visa in China are a passport from either the UK, Ireland, the US, Canada, South Africa, Australia or New Zealand, a bachelor’s degree and either a TEFL certificate or a minimum of two years teaching experience. Although China’s got a high demand for English teachers, they’re also quite picky about who they employ.
Before you dive straight in and apply for a ‘Z’ visa, you’ll actually need a job offer and a contract from your employer to prove it. If you qualify to apply, you’ll also need a clean criminal record, a medical check, references and you’ll have to have all of your TEFL and degree certificates legalised (notarised) to show their legitimacy.
Unfortunately, non-degree holders won’t be able to apply for a ‘Z’ visa but if you’re willing to take the risk, it’s possible to find some under-the-table work due to schools being desperate for English teachers. But beware, this comes with the drawback that you may be arrested and deported for illegally working on a tourist visa.
The two main types of teaching work offered in China are in private language centres (academies) and public schools. Private academies are a growing industry, with more than a million new learners enrolling every year. So, it’s safe to say, you probably won’t struggle to find a teaching job in one. This type of role normally comes with steady work, decent salaries and great benefits like free accommodation or even an annual flight allowance.
Public school jobs involve teaching students from a primary school level up to high school level so the work can vary widely due to the different levels of English you’ll be working with. In general, you’ll be teaching all areas of English, including the four skills: speaking, listening, reading and writing.
With competitive salaries and a low cost of living, you’ll be able to live very comfortably while you’re TEFLing in China. A one-bedroom apartment in one of Shanghai’s suburbs will cost you around £400 and the metro is one of the cheapest in the world at about 40p a ticket. And if you fancy treating yourself to a slap-up meal, this will set you back around £3-£20 depending on the restaurant.
However, with many teaching contracts in China, often with accommodation that is provided by the school, you’ll be likely to have even more disposable income to spend on Peking duck and Tsingtao beer (and to save, of course).
As with most teaching work, the best place to look for TEFL jobs in China is online via TEFL jobs boards such as LoveTEFL Jobs. Although, it’s also possible to apply face-to-face if you arrive in China before you’ve secured a position. If you choose this method, you’ll need to arrive on a tourist visa and then, once you’ve received a job offer (fingers crossed), you can apply for a ‘Z’ visa.
The application process for both public and private school work will normally start with sending your application and CV to the employer, having a Skype or phone interview and then being given a job offer. Employers will often ask for a copy of your passport or any identification documents in advance to make sure you are who you say you are so don’t be alarmed if this happens – just do your research on the school before sending anything across.
Private language academies hire all year round in China so there’s never a bad time to start applying. However, the new school year begins in September so the best time to apply is around May/June when most academies will start reviewing applications. The same goes for public school jobs and it’s advisable not to start applying any sooner because the school won’t look at applications until 12 weeks before the term begins.
In general, public school work pays higher salaries than private academies; you can expect to earn anything from £900-£2,400 per month for a full-time position. Your salary depends on your level of experience, your qualifications, how many hours you work and whereabouts in China you are working. Plus, most public school teaching jobs will include accommodation, health insurance and even an annual flight allowance so you can hop on the plane to see your BFFs.
Teaching at a private language academy, you’ll earn around £650-£1,800 per month and if you’re lucky, you might even bag yourself a generous completion bonus at the end of your contract (hurray!) – as well as the same benefits as public school teachers.
Aside from the main two, you could also apply for teaching work at a private international school where you could be offered a high salary if you’ve got some good teaching experience and the correct qualifications. If you want to get some experience under your belt before you start applying for permanent work, check out our China TEFL Internship. You’ll get that valuable teaching practice, a support network and accommodation for your whole trip.
You could also try for some work at a university for less contracted hours and a different type of teaching job. Quite a lucrative area of TEFL is teaching business English to adults and there are jobs of this nature available in China – or you could tutor privately and/or online for some extra cash.
In a public school, you’ll work Monday to Friday from around 8am-6pm with a nice long lunch break so you can chow-down on plenty of delicious Chinese cuisine and maybe even squeeze in a cheeky nap! You won’t be teaching for the whole time you’re at school so the rest of your time will be spent planning lessons and fulfilling other teacher duties.
Be prepared that the class sizes in public schools will be large, especially in comparison to private academy classes. You can expect to be teaching anything from 30-50 students normally whereas private classes will be more around the 15-student mark. Don’t be put off by this though – you’ll find that the students are really keen to learn and well-behaved (for the most part).
Private academies will want you to work the busier times which tend to be weekday evenings and weekends as students tend to try and fit their learning in around school or work. Your contract will probably stipulate 40 hours a week but again, this won’t be 40 hours of teaching so you’ll have plenty of time to plan your lessons in between classes.
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