Teach English in China

Salaries

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Kirsten Colquhoun
February 28, 2024

Table Of Content

Other benefits available
Where teachers earn the most
China cost of living
Saving as a TEFL teacher
How to start teaching

Teaching English in China is a massive industry. You’ll find teachers from all over the world teaching English as a foreign language in China. Keen? The obvious question is: 

How much can I earn teaching English in China?

On average, a native English-speaking teacher with a Bachelor’s degree and a TEFL certification can expect to earn a monthly salary of around ¥9,000 – ¥35,000 ($1,200 – $5,000) teaching English in China. 

Of course, this varies according to the job, and experience and qualifications of the teacher.

In China, TEFL teachers can find jobs in:

  1. Kindergartens
  2. Public schools
  3. Private or international schools
  4. English training centres, or language schools/academies.

Teachers at kindergartens typically earn about ¥16,000 – ¥25,000 ($2,300 – $3,500).

At a public school, you can expect to earn between ¥9,000 and ¥20,000 ($1,200 – $2,900).

Jobs at  private or international schools pay around ¥20,000 – ¥30,000 ($2,700 – $4,300).

English training centres pay ¥12,000 – ¥25,000 ($1,600 – $3,500).

Teaching English online you can earn RMB 80 – 120/hour ($10 – $15).

In addition to salary, what other benefits may be available?

With teaching jobs in China, benefits vary significantly depending on the type of institution you choose to work for.

If you opt for public schools, while offering lower salaries, you can expect free accommodation or housing allowances, regular working hours (9-5), public holidays off (though not always paid), health insurance, and even free lunches on school days.

Private and international schools offer higher salaries for ESL teachers, but the expectations from both students and parents can be demanding. These schools often provide contract completion bonuses, flight reimbursements, health insurance, free accommodation or housing allowances, paid legal holidays, and 50% pay during school holidays. 

Teaching at universities in China demands higher qualifications and experience, but it comes with generous benefits like free accommodation or housing allowances, fewer teaching hours, a flight allowance, health insurance, and a substantial 12-week paid holiday. 

Teaching online or privately offers no employee benefits. The lure of online teaching or private students is that you can set your own hours and rate and teach as much or as little as you want.

Where in China do teachers earn the most?

China is divided into first, second, and third-tier cities. First-tier cities are the largest and most developed. Second-tier cities are still large cities, but smaller and less developed than first-tier cities. Third-tier cities are the more remote, under-developed cities. 

Examples:

  • First-tier cities: Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen
  • Second-tier cities: Chengdu, Hangzhou, Xi’an, Nanjing
  • Third-tier cities: Huzhou, Yangzhou, Guilin, Zhuzhuo

Teaching salaries in Tier 1 cities are generally higher than in Tier 2 or Tier 3 cities. A kindergarten teacher in Shanghai, for example, can earn ¥25,000 ($3,500) a month. But with teaching jobs in China, it’s important to bear in mind the entire salary package.

A teaching position in a Tier 3 city may not be as high, but the benefits might be better (to entice teachers). Plus, the cost of living in that city will be lower, meaning the opportunity to save is more.

How much is the cost of living in China?

Generally speaking, first-tier cities are more expensive than second-tier cities, which are more expensive than third-tier cities.

The most expensive cities in China (in 2023) are:

  1. Shanghai
  2. Shenzhen
  3. Beijing
  4. Sanya
  5. Hangzhou

Accommodation varies greatly between cities and within cities. It’s likely you’ll live in a one-bedroom apartment. Apartments in the city centre are noticeably more expensive than those on the outskirts of the city, and apartments in Tier 1 cities are the most expensive.

For example, a shared apartment in Beijing or Shanghai (Tier 1) can cost you between ¥2,500 – ¥3,000 ($350 – $420). Or between ¥5,000 ($700) and ¥6,000 ($850) for your own one-bedroom apartment. 

In comparison, a one-bedroom apartment in Hangzhou (Tier 2) costs from ¥1,500 – ¥3,000 ($210 – $420).

While monthly rental can cost you anywhere from ¥2,000 – ¥10,000 ($275 – $1,400)a month (depending on how fancy you want to be), bear in mind that your accommodation is often provided by your school. If not, you should be given a housing allowance.

Besides accommodation, monthly costs of living in China range from ¥3,000 – ¥4,500 ($400 – $555).

Food in China is affordable. Supermarkets offer cheap food items, but eating street food or at local restaurants is cost-effective too. 

When it comes to entertainment, you can choose to live it up and spend the big bucks or you can be more low-key and rather save your money.

Is it possible to save in China as a teacher?

It’s absolutely possible to save money as a TEFL teacher in China. But of course, how much you save depends on your salary, living expenses and lifestyle choices.

Our top tips for saving money in China as a teacher:

  • Read your contract carefully. When evaluating your salary, don’t just focus on the cash. Consider the benefits you’ll receive to accurately estimate your savings potential. And don’t forget about the cost of living.
  • Live on the edge…of the city. Apartments in the city centre are a lot more expensive than those a bit further out. Of course, this won’t be a consideration if your employer is providing your accommodation or giving you a housing allowance.
  • Go local. Eating out and entertainment can be pricey in China, if you are living like a tourist. Opt for the small, family-run restaurants to save your cents. Avoid imported foods like wine and cheese. Switch to beer and dim sum and your wallet will thank you. 
  • Find private students. Teaching private students is a great way to earn some extra cash.
  • Be smart with travelling. Travelling within China is relatively inexpensive. BUT prices can increase dramatically during holidays, especially Chinese New Year. If you want to save money, use that time to explore your city and save your travels for another time of year.

How to start teaching English in China

There is no better time to start teaching English in China than TODAY! Students are many, jobs are abundant and there’s no time like the present.

But before you pack your bags, sign up for a TEFL course to make sure you are fully prepared for the classroom. A TEFL course with The TEFL Academy teaches you everything you need to know about teaching English as a foreign language. 

Find the job of your dreams and get applying! A TEFL qualification from The TEFL Academy is a solid way to put your best foot forward when applying for teaching jobs in China.

Table Of Content

Teaching English in China is a massive industry. You’ll find teachers from all over the world teaching English as a foreign language in China. Keen? The obvious question is: 

How much can I earn teaching English in China?

On average, a native English-speaking teacher with a Bachelor’s degree and a TEFL certification can expect to earn a monthly salary of around ¥9,000 – ¥35,000 ($1,200 – $5,000) teaching English in China. 

Of course, this varies according to the job, and experience and qualifications of the teacher.

In China, TEFL teachers can find jobs in:

  1. Kindergartens
  2. Public schools
  3. Private or international schools
  4. English training centres, or language schools/academies.

Teachers at kindergartens typically earn about ¥16,000 – ¥25,000 ($2,300 – $3,500).

At a public school, you can expect to earn between ¥9,000 and ¥20,000 ($1,200 – $2,900).

Jobs at  private or international schools pay around ¥20,000 – ¥30,000 ($2,700 – $4,300).

English training centres pay ¥12,000 – ¥25,000 ($1,600 – $3,500).

Teaching English online you can earn RMB 80 – 120/hour ($10 – $15).

In addition to salary, what other benefits may be available?

With teaching jobs in China, benefits vary significantly depending on the type of institution you choose to work for.

If you opt for public schools, while offering lower salaries, you can expect free accommodation or housing allowances, regular working hours (9-5), public holidays off (though not always paid), health insurance, and even free lunches on school days.

Private and international schools offer higher salaries for ESL teachers, but the expectations from both students and parents can be demanding. These schools often provide contract completion bonuses, flight reimbursements, health insurance, free accommodation or housing allowances, paid legal holidays, and 50% pay during school holidays. 

Teaching at universities in China demands higher qualifications and experience, but it comes with generous benefits like free accommodation or housing allowances, fewer teaching hours, a flight allowance, health insurance, and a substantial 12-week paid holiday. 

Teaching online or privately offers no employee benefits. The lure of online teaching or private students is that you can set your own hours and rate and teach as much or as little as you want.

Where in China do teachers earn the most?

China is divided into first, second, and third-tier cities. First-tier cities are the largest and most developed. Second-tier cities are still large cities, but smaller and less developed than first-tier cities. Third-tier cities are the more remote, under-developed cities. 

Examples:

  • First-tier cities: Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen
  • Second-tier cities: Chengdu, Hangzhou, Xi’an, Nanjing
  • Third-tier cities: Huzhou, Yangzhou, Guilin, Zhuzhuo

Teaching salaries in Tier 1 cities are generally higher than in Tier 2 or Tier 3 cities. A kindergarten teacher in Shanghai, for example, can earn ¥25,000 ($3,500) a month. But with teaching jobs in China, it’s important to bear in mind the entire salary package.

A teaching position in a Tier 3 city may not be as high, but the benefits might be better (to entice teachers). Plus, the cost of living in that city will be lower, meaning the opportunity to save is more.

How much is the cost of living in China?

Generally speaking, first-tier cities are more expensive than second-tier cities, which are more expensive than third-tier cities.

The most expensive cities in China (in 2023) are:

  1. Shanghai
  2. Shenzhen
  3. Beijing
  4. Sanya
  5. Hangzhou

Accommodation varies greatly between cities and within cities. It’s likely you’ll live in a one-bedroom apartment. Apartments in the city centre are noticeably more expensive than those on the outskirts of the city, and apartments in Tier 1 cities are the most expensive.

For example, a shared apartment in Beijing or Shanghai (Tier 1) can cost you between ¥2,500 – ¥3,000 ($350 – $420). Or between ¥5,000 ($700) and ¥6,000 ($850) for your own one-bedroom apartment. 

In comparison, a one-bedroom apartment in Hangzhou (Tier 2) costs from ¥1,500 – ¥3,000 ($210 – $420).

While monthly rental can cost you anywhere from ¥2,000 – ¥10,000 ($275 – $1,400)a month (depending on how fancy you want to be), bear in mind that your accommodation is often provided by your school. If not, you should be given a housing allowance.

Besides accommodation, monthly costs of living in China range from ¥3,000 – ¥4,500 ($400 – $555).

Food in China is affordable. Supermarkets offer cheap food items, but eating street food or at local restaurants is cost-effective too. 

When it comes to entertainment, you can choose to live it up and spend the big bucks or you can be more low-key and rather save your money.

Is it possible to save in China as a teacher?

It’s absolutely possible to save money as a TEFL teacher in China. But of course, how much you save depends on your salary, living expenses and lifestyle choices.

Our top tips for saving money in China as a teacher:

  • Read your contract carefully. When evaluating your salary, don’t just focus on the cash. Consider the benefits you’ll receive to accurately estimate your savings potential. And don’t forget about the cost of living.
  • Live on the edge…of the city. Apartments in the city centre are a lot more expensive than those a bit further out. Of course, this won’t be a consideration if your employer is providing your accommodation or giving you a housing allowance.
  • Go local. Eating out and entertainment can be pricey in China, if you are living like a tourist. Opt for the small, family-run restaurants to save your cents. Avoid imported foods like wine and cheese. Switch to beer and dim sum and your wallet will thank you. 
  • Find private students. Teaching private students is a great way to earn some extra cash.
  • Be smart with travelling. Travelling within China is relatively inexpensive. BUT prices can increase dramatically during holidays, especially Chinese New Year. If you want to save money, use that time to explore your city and save your travels for another time of year.

How to start teaching English in China

There is no better time to start teaching English in China than TODAY! Students are many, jobs are abundant and there’s no time like the present.

But before you pack your bags, sign up for a TEFL course to make sure you are fully prepared for the classroom. A TEFL course with The TEFL Academy teaches you everything you need to know about teaching English as a foreign language. 

Find the job of your dreams and get applying! A TEFL qualification from The TEFL Academy is a solid way to put your best foot forward when applying for teaching jobs in China.

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