China’s English-language education industry is absolutely booming, and schools of all types are constantly hiring. If you’re a qualified teacher, China is a seller’s market – there simply aren’t enough teachers to fill all the vacancies.
Not all teaching jobs are the same and the pay, benefits, and requirements can vary quite a bit between schools. Today we’re going to talk about the different types of schools that hire foreign teachers to give you a better idea of what sort of job you should be looking for based on your qualifications, experience, and expectations.
Teaching positions in China generally fall into one of these categories:
1. Private Language Centers
2. Preschools and Kindergartens
3. Public Schools and Foreign Language Schools
4. International Schools
Most first-year foreign English teachers in China teach at these schools. These schools are strictly focused on English language learning and operate during the evenings and weekends. Positions at training centers are easy to come by and easily secured due to the fact that these extra classes are important to Chinese parents and occur during all parts of the year. Schools in this category include many large chains like English First, Sesame Street English, and New Oriental. Each company has its own methods, curriculum, and training, so preparation for teachers is usually minimal. Students at these schools are generally between the ages of 3 and 16.
The students at these schools are 18 months to 6 years old. Teaching kindergarten or preschool English is a very common position for foreign workers in China’s major cities. Teachers at these schools generally enjoy a well-supported work environment, as they have several Chinese aides helping them in the classroom. The schools often provide great resources and materials for their teachers as well. Class sizes are almost always less than 20 and classes are rarely more than 40 minutes in duration.
Public schools (particularly in bigger cities) are excellent job options. The salary is great in comparison to the workload, paid time off is bountiful, and teachers are often given a great deal of autonomy in their learning environments. Since Chinese schools are often very competitive, and some public schools require a rigorous application process to achieve admittance, the students are diligent, well-behaved, and enjoyable to teach. You may have up to 60 students in your classroom, jobs in this category will sometimes require a graduate degree or a teaching license.
These positions are the most coveted teaching jobs in China. Students who attend these schools are generally from affluent families. The cost of tuition is quite high and the application process is difficult. This means that compensation is often very high and tuition for the dependents of teachers is either free or at a discount. These jobs will often require a teaching license and graduate degree. These schools operate on a two semester schedule and each subject is taught in English. Usually, these schools will require teachers to sign a two-year contract. These schools generally follow the IB/PYP/AP curriculum, and teachers with IB/PYP/AP experience are given preference in the hiring process. In general, career teachers with education degrees and a few years’ experience work at international schools, but fresh education graduates with no teaching experience beyond internships and practicums are hired straight out of university.
University positions can vary widely in their minimum qualifications, job descriptions, and compensation. Most foreign teachers hired at a university will teach the required English classes for a variety of majors. Entry-level university teachers generally teach oral English. Salaries are lower than most, ranging between 4,000 and 10,000 RMB/ Month (dependent on experience and location), but teachers enjoy a considerable amount of paid time off (winter and summer break) and the workload is comparably low (~20 hours or less per week). The curriculum is often not provided, and the teacher must create their own lessons and materials. Universities are often the best choice for older, more seasoned teachers, as this is generally what the universities are seeking in a candidate.
Renowned universities located in the largest cities in China are much different. Schools like these will offer a higher salary, but will require candidates to have an advanced degree or a wealth of pertinent teaching experience.
If you're interested in teaching in China, check our all of our available teaching positions at China Jobs Daily here.