Best Teaching Abroad Jobs in China | 2023

Many teachers obtain TEFL qualifications specifically for teaching abroad in China as China is the only international destination that offers a wide range of options.  Not only in terms of job type and location but also in terms of cultural experiences.

In China, there are many ESL opportunities available for English-speaking teachers. Foreign teachers can choose to teach English at a private language training school, or you can teach different subjects at a public school, international school, or university! Not only will tutoring in China provide you with many different opportunities, but it will also provide you with extra cash to spend on travel or whatever else you wish to do. 

Getting to China from your home country is the most difficult part because after that you can easily travel to and from neighboring countries like Cambodia, Thailand, and Japan!

Opportunities for teaching English in China are some of the best in the global ESL market.  This is due to higher wages, lower cost of living, and higher demand for foreign teachers. Similar to opportunities in South Korea years ago, China is now the epicenter of teaching abroad.

Why Teach Abroad in China?

It’s a great career move

The future opportunities that will come your way when you live and work in China are numerous. Not only will you make great connections that may lead you on fun paths but your teaching assignment will highlight your ability to work outside of your comfort zone. 

Prove that you can live and work in a different culture and environment and that you can overcome teaching challenges no matter where you are, and employers will notice this. 

The assignment of Teaching English in China will look great on your CV and will open doors to your future career, no matter where else in the world you wish to go.

It will make you a better teacher

Yes, teaching in China will teach you communication skills that you did not know you needed before.  As we say often: If you can teach in China, as a foreigner, you can teach anywhere!  China teaches you to think sideways and act creatively, these are all valuable skills that you will cherish in the long run.

Your life will be full of cultural surprises

Even those who have lived and worked in China for years will witness learning something new about the local culture, every day. Life here is definitely not boring for an ex-pat teacher!  Nothing about life in China feels familiar, looks, smells, or sounds familiar, which is a huge attraction for those who crave a unique cultural experience.

You will make friends from all over the world

The expatriate communities in China are tightly interconnected, and no matter where you move to, you are bound to make many new international and local friends in no time. 

Expats tend to stick to each other and this is true regardless of where they come from or the type of work they do.  You will undoubtedly find yourself in a global and eclectic social group.

You will enjoy a wonderful standard of living

The best teaching jobs in China pay exceptionally well and, along with modest living costs, lead to an amazing standard of living for ESL teachers. The financial benefits of working here for a few years can be great, especially if you can keep the cost of living low. 

With reasonable accommodation costs (possibly with the support of your employer) and a competitive salary, you can save an adequate amount of money for teaching in China.

The cuisine is great

China may seem like a long way to go for great food, however, foodies beware: real Chinese food is not the same as you’ve tried it before and yes, it’s reason enough to live here! 

Regional differences are many and we bet you’ll soon become a foodie arrogant like every.single.expat.ever. Even if you don’t think local cuisine will become a big reason to love teaching in China, it will be!

You can travel easily and inexpensively across Asia

China is a great starting point for extensive trips across Asia and that’s a big lure for teachers who are bitten by the travel bug.  Bear in mind that China hides enough of its highlights on its own, as each county boasts impressive wildlife and a host of traditional villages you’ll love discovering. 

If you love to travel and love to explore new and exciting places, you will love the opportunities China has to offer.

How to Find a Teaching Job in China

You have to have the right qualifications

China requires a certain set of requirements from foreign teachers.  For the most part, all schools and educational institutions in the country adhere to these demands.  There are some exceptions and we’ll explain what they are below.

 The prerequisite for teaching English in China is a Z work visa. This is the only type of visa that allows you to legally teach in China. 

The main requirements for applying for a Z visa to teach English in China are as follows:

  • Bachelor’s degree in any subject
  • Recognized ESL qualifications
  • Two years of teaching experience
  • You will also need to be from one of the seven approved countries.  They are the USA, UK, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa
  • You must be between 18 and 55 years old (women) and 60 years old (men)
  • A clear criminal background check
  • You will also need to pass a medical exam but this is not important if you are fit and healthy.

Exceptions are sometimes made to Z visa requirements.  For example, you may not have been born in one of the Seven Approved Countries, but you may have moved there and were a native English speaker. 

You might be lucky and find a potential employer who thinks this is good enough. Also, high demand means that a particular school, in dire need of a teacher, may not insist on extensive prior teaching experience. 

This is especially true because the school runs a specific curriculum that you have to learn anyway.   

Despite the exemptions, having the correct qualifications will increase your chances of getting a great teaching job in China.  The more boxes you can check, the better the teaching function.

Find Out Which Teaching Job In China Is Right For You

There’s no point in wasting a month searching for kindergarten teaching jobs in China, only to realize that you don’t want to teach young children.  

Choosing the right ESL teaching jobs for you in China should be a priority, before doing anything else.  This way, you can dedicate all of your job search time to the right job.

Here are your options for teaching jobs in China.  Click each link to learn more about job descriptions, their pros and cons, and expected salaries:

  • Kindergarten jobs
  • University jobs
  • Public school jobs
  • International schools jobs
  • Online jobs
  • Training centers jobs

All that said, nothing lasts forever.  Getting a less desirable teaching job to get a foot in the door isn’t exactly a silly move.  In fact, this is what many teachers are doing for the first time!

There is a lot of diversity within the teaching scene in China.  Yes, you can teach English of course, but you can also teach mathematics, geography, or physical education in English at an international school. 

You can play games with two-year-olds in kindergarten, teach 60 students in a university lecture hall or give individual lessons in special language centers.

Since you’ve probably never done all of these things before … how do you know what works best for you?  There is a lot of room for maneuvering in your teaching career in China, so don’t limit your chances of getting a job by only considering one type of option. 

By thinking sideways, you can broaden your search and increase your chances of getting a teaching job in China.  Once there, it can also help you land a better job once you fulfill your contract.

Many foreigners stay in China for years to teach in different schools and different cities.  They find change invigorating!

Be persistent, committed, and patient

Navigating educational job boards can be overwhelming and confusing at first.  That’s why it is so important to discount the teaching job you are not interested in!

The competition is fierce in Tier 1 cities like Beijing and Shanghai.  By the time you put together a list, checked it twice, and finally settled on the job you’d like to apply for, it will most likely already be filled. 

It’s important not to lose focus, though: don’t get discouraged and have confidence that the right teaching job will come.

Be patient, grasshopper.  The time to teach in China will come, and when it does, you will be grateful for the time and commitment you put into your research.

Get the right job search timing

Finding a great teaching job in China is more than just a simple requirement. 

You also need to determine the right time for your job search.  The education system in China runs on two semesters:

  • Fall semester – begins early September (sometimes late August)
  • Spring Semester – which starts from February onwards

The key is to start your applications approximately 5 months before the start of each semester. Keep in mind that schools prefer to hire at the start of the school year (fall term).  The spring semester is actually the midway point for the school year. 

Exceptions occur, of course, especially with private foundations, some of which can be employed at any time of the year, depending on their needs. This early approach not only increases your chances of finding a job in China but also of finding a good job. 

With plenty of time, you can shop for the right job and you can negotiate a teaching contract in China without any pressure.

Take the time to study your teaching contract

It’s always exciting to receive an offer for a teaching job in China, but it’s important not to get carried away. 

Read the contract first and study it well before signing on the dotted line.  You will likely be committed to school for the 12 months of your life so you want to make sure the contract is as solid and good as you think. 

You will need to ensure that the contract contains everything you promised during your initial Skype interview.

What are the Best Teaching Jobs in China?

#1 Teaching Nomad

As a relative newcomer to the game, Teaching Nomad has climbed to the top of the list as one of the best ways to find teaching jobs in China. Teaching Nomad has an international presence and support network, and its geographical spread within China is wide. 

The opportunities Teaching Nomad provides include compensation at the higher end of the scale, while teachers can also choose to work less in order to have more time. 

What’s more, Teaching Nomad matches teachers of all subjects, including science and the arts, with some of the best schools in China.  Placements vary accordingly but are primarily for full academic years.

Location: Large cities across China, including Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Chengdu, and many more!

Time: throughout the year

  #2. English First

English First lives up to its name by being one of the first private international education programs. EF works with schools and companies around the world, and in China, its reach is no less impressive, with schools in more than 60 cities. 

Instructional positions include in-class and online environments with children, teens, and adults. Positions for positions are usually for a full year or longer, and EF encourages its mentors to navigate. 

In addition, EF provides its teachers with a number of benefits, including advance flights for many of its programs, salary advances, and the opportunity to sponsor EFL.

Location: More than 20 cities across China, including Shanghai, Beijing, Chengdu, and Xi’an

Time: throughout the year

Read: 20+ Best Gap Year Programs for Study Abroad Students in 2023

 #3. WorldTeach China Global Leadership Year

In line with its overarching mission of partnering with local entities to enable education, English language teaching jobs in China through WorldTeach work directly with the Hunan Provincial Ministry of Education to provide high-quality English as a foreign language teacher for schools not only in the province’s big cities but in cities which are spread in the hinterland of Hunan as a paid volunteer. 

Placements run from August through the end of the following academic year and include TEFL certification, in-country support, travel costs, and insurance, and schools always have at least two WorldTeach teachers.  Its nonprofit focus makes WorldTeach’s China Global Leadership Program one of the best ESL jobs in China for those who want to have the most impact.

  Location: cities and towns in Hunan Province

  When: annually, beginning in late July or early August

  #4. Flying English Shanghai

  Located in Huangpu, Shanghai, it’s really hard to be in the middle of the action than Flying English, an after-school English program for kids.  Being an after-school program, placements in Flying English are not limited to the school year.  Classes are small and consist of 4-6 children between 3 and 12 years old.  Flying English provides its teachers with in-house support and competitive fees.  If small classes and kids’ education interest you, see Flying English.

  Location: Shanghai

  Time: throughout the year

  #5. Top Notch ESL

  Headquartered in the capital city of Beijing and elsewhere in China, Top Notch ESL connects teachers with public schools, language centers, full-time home tutoring jobs, and kindergartens.  Top Notch ESL is among the best ESL jobs in China by its passionate graduates and has a reputation for making it so that teachers can focus on teaching rather than logistical hoops.  Obligations, especially for positions in schools, are for the entire school year.

  Location: Beijing

  Time: an academic year

  #6. LoPair Au Pair China

  Fully immersing in the Chinese culture and language is perhaps the best way to get to know China.  Although not a traditional educational function, LoPair matches each English-speaking pair to one Chinese family, giving the child (and the most common children) direct access to valuable English learning resources. 

Au pairs talk about how quickly their kids learn English, and many au pairs also go back to their time in China speaking Mandarin!  Placements are found with families in cities across China and range from several months to throughout the year.

  Place: Beijing, Shanghai, Sichuan Province, Guangdong Province, Shaanxi Province, Zhejiang Province, Jiangsu Province

 Time: throughout the year with placements ranging from 3 to 12 months

  #7. TEFL International Academy

  Not an educational program per se, TEFL International Academy, winner of the 2018 GoAbroad.com People’s Choice Award for international programs, offers current and prospective teachers a high-quality TEFL certification.  After completing a four-week course (which is offered in class all over the world as well as online), graduates can access job search guidelines at TEFL International Academy. 

With their individual help, the graduates will be able to find the best schools for teaching English in China.  Take your teaching career to the next level with English Language Teacher jobs in China with TEFL International Academy!

  Location: Classes online and around the world.  Placements can be all over China.

  Time: throughout the year


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