Teach English in Hong Kong

a world of opportunities

Join a global community of over 200,000 TEFL teachers working throughout the world! Enrol me!

Kirsten Colquhoun
June 7, 2024

Contents

Why teach English
Teaching requirements
Teaching jobs
How to get a job
Average salary
Common benefits
Cost of living
Saving in Hong Kong
Life and culture

Are you looking to change things up a bit and experience a fusion of East and West? If you’re keen on encountering mouthwatering Asian cuisine, enjoying mesmerising skylines and harbour views, or immersing yourself in a large variety of cultural festivals, then Hong Kong is the place for you.

Hong Kong’s decades-long interaction with western culture makes it easy to experience Chinese culture but have the familiarity of English nearby. This is the perfect place for you to have your Asian adventure and earn a healthy salary.

Not convinced? Let’s explore what makes teaching English in Hong Kong so special. We’ll look at what you need to know about teaching requirements, teaching salaries, the cost of living, and what it is really like living in this large Asian city.

Why teach English in Hong Kong?

Improving their English ability is a major priority for citizens in Hong Kong. Throughout Hong Kong, English is taught from a young age. As a TEFL teacher you can find teaching jobs ranging from teaching young children to students at university. As English is now one of Hong Kong’s official languages, the demand for TEFL teachers is increasing. 

Besides the abundance of teaching opportunities, there are other reasons teaching English in Hong Kong is the best idea you’ve had all week:

  • A healthy work life balance. Work weeks in Hong Kong are usually only between 25 – 30 hours a week. In your free time you can take the tram up Victoria’s Peak, visit the Big Buddha on Lantau Island or do some tai chi in the park.  
  • Good salaries and benefits. Teachers are well paid in Hong Kong and can expect great benefits like a housing allowance, flight reimbursements and paid holidays. Contracts are usually for two years which gives you a great sense of security. Schools in Hong Kong usually provide teachers with end-of- contract bonuses and assistance with getting work visas.
  • Endless travel opportunities. Hong Kong’s location makes it ideal to travel to China or the rest of East Asia. Hong Kong is just a hop, skip and a jump away from Taiwan, the Philippines, Thailand, South Korea, Japan, and Bali. Yes please!

What will I need to qualify to teach in Hong Kong?

There is a lot of competition for teaching jobs in Hong Kong. Teachers with more experience are preferred above new teachers. In reality Hong Kong will be better suited for qualified teachers than for young graduates that want to do a bit of teaching to travel.

Degree requirements

You need a Bachelor’s degree to teach English in Hong Kong. Your degree does not have to be in English or Education, any field will do.

Universities may require a Master’s degree or a PGCE. These jobs are very well-paid and popular with experienced TEFL teachers, so competition is stiff.

TEFL requirements

Hong Kong requires you to have a minimum of a 120-hour TEFL certification to teach English. The TEFL Academy is the perfect place for you to get qualified and the first step to find that perfect job in Hong Kong.

If you’re serious about your teaching career and are considering teaching long-term, we recommend taking our Level 5 168-hour Combined TEFL Course to give your CV the extra edge when it comes to job applications.

Employers in Hong Kong prefer TEFL teachers with at least two years of teaching experience. 

Visa requirements

To work legally in Hong Kong you need a Z visa. This visa is very similar to the Z visa that you need to work in China. To apply for a Z Visa in Hong Kong, you need an offer of employment from your school or employer.

Schools in Hong Kong will assist you with a large part of the Z Visa application. There are however a few things that you have to do in your home country before you travel to Hong Kong.  

You need to send your potential employer the following documents:

  • Copy of your passport
  • Authenticated copy of your Bachelor’s degree
  • Proof of teaching experience (references, recommendation letters)
  • Police clearance certificate
  • Copy of teaching certificate

After providing them with these documents, they will then get you an invitation and Foreign Expat Certificate that you need to process the visa. Once you receive this you can go to a Chinese Embassy or Consulate in your home country and process the visa. 

Financial start-up costs

Start-up costs are the basic costs you need to survive from when you arrive in Hong Kong until you receive your first paycheque. It is important to have between HK$ 15,500 – HK$23,000 ($2,000 – $3,000 USD) available to set yourself up in Hong Kong. Below is a breakdown of costs you might incur to start off in Hong Kong:

  • Accommodation: First month’s rent and security deposit.
  • TEFL certification: A TEFL course can cost between $100 and $500, depending on the length and level of the course and the course provider. 
  • Document fees: Any costs related to certifying and notarising your degree and TEFL certificate.
  • Flight ticket: Variable. 
  • Visa application: The cost of an Z visa is subject to your home country. You can expect to pay between $90 and $140.
  • Living expenses: You will need one month’s worth of start-up capital of about HK$ 8,000 ($1, 000 USD).

Types of teaching jobs in Hong Kong

Because of the variety of different types of teaching jobs available in Hong Kong, it’s important to research each one carefully to make sure that it is the right fit for you. 

In Hong Kong, you can teach at private language schools, public schools, private schools, international schools, universities and privately.

Private language schools

The majority of TEFL/ESL positions in Hong Kong are available at private language schools. Students range from young children learning English to adults wanting to learn Business English. At these schools you will focus on exam preparation, conversational English or Business English. Teaching hours are mostly in the afternoons and evenings or on weekends.

Public Schools

In public schools you will teach English as a foreign language to either primary or secondary students

The best way to find a job in a public school is through the Hong Kong government program known as the Native-speaking English Teacher (NET) Scheme

The NET Scheme places teachers in local schools to improve the proficiency of Young Learners.  NET teachers assist teachers in their placement for two years. Teachers on the NET Scheme are paid well and provided with a monthly housing allowance. To qualify, teachers need to have a Bachelor’s degree, a recognised TEFL qualification and preferably teaching experience, though that’s not essential.

International schools

In Hong Kong there are a lot of International schools where the children of expats attend school. They follow an American or British curriculum. At an international school teachers are wanted for a variety of different subjects like Maths, Biology and others. International schools offer great salaries with good benefits, but they require qualified teachers (an Education degree) with lots of experience.

Universities

There are some positions available to teach English at universities in Hong Kong. You must however have the correct qualifications and have prepared for an academic career. These positions are very prestigious and offer very good salaries and benefits.

Private tutoring

Opportunities for private tutoring are abundant in Hong Kong. Private lessons often involve extra exam preparation for high school or university students, extra lessons for Young Learners, or conversational lessons for adults.

How to get a job teaching English in Hong Kong

  • Schools in Hong Kong prefer teachers with advanced degrees, a teaching qualification from your home country, TEFL certificates (TEFL, TESOL, CELTA), as well as real world teaching experience.
  • Make sure your TEFL CV is in tip top shape by doing a Level 5 168-hour TEFL course with The TEFL Academy.
  • Have a teaching demonstration prepared. A demo video is a great way to show the school you know what you are doing.
  • Third-party organisations can assist you with finding a job in Hong Kong, especially if you are looking at a job through the NET Scheme.
  • Dress formally. If your interview is on camera, make sure you look the part to make a good first impression.

What is the average salary in Hong Kong?

Teachers in Hong Kong are paid well. The average monthly salary for a teacher ranges between HK$ 23,000 – HK$63,000 ($3,000 – $8,000). TEFL teachers can charge HK$150 – HK$500 ($20 – $65) an hour for private lessons.

If you are a newly qualified or relatively inexperienced teacher, you can expect your salary to be on the lower end of the scale. If you have a high quality TEFL certificate, you can expect a higher salary. And if you have a teaching degree or an advanced degree, a TEFL qualification and teaching experience, you can pick and choose whichever job you want!

Remember that the cost of living, especially rent, is high in Hong Kong, so it will make a big difference to your salary if accommodation or a housing allowance is provided.

What are common benefits in Hong Kong?

In Hong Kong a lot of jobs include the following benefits:

  • Free accommodation or a generous housing allowance
  • End-of-contract bonus
  • Airfare
  • Health care
  • Visa costs

What’s the cost of living in Hong Kong?

Hong Kong is an expensive city. If you wanted to, you could easily blow your very generous teaching salary on eating out at fancy restaurants and shopping at designer boutiques. But if you’re smart, it’s quite possible to live well and save money at the same time.

Accommodation

  • One-bedroom apartment in city centre: HK$ 18,000 ($2,300)
  • One-bedroom apartment outside city centre: HK$ 12,000 ($1,500)

Utilities

  • Electricity, water, and gas: HK$ 1,500 ($200)

Food and groceries

  • Monthly shop: HK$ 2,300 ($300)
  • Meal at an inexpensive restaurant: HK$ 55 ($7)

Transport

  • One-way bus ticket: HK$ 10 ($1.20)
  • A monthly pass:  HK$500 ($65)

Internet

  • Unlimited:  HK$200 ($25)

Entertainment

  • Gym, cinema, clubbing: HK 1,500 – HK$ 2,300 ($200 – $300)

On average, the monthly cost of living for one person living in Hong Kong is around HK$ 8,000 ($1,000). Of course it can be much higher than this if you lead an opulent life, but you can also live quite frugally and save money. Whatever floats your boat!

Is it possible to save as a TEFL teacher in Hong Kong?

As in most countries, if and how much you can save every month depends on your motivation and your lifestyle. If your main aim for teaching in Hong Kong is to save money to pay off your student loan back home, you can happily save between HK$ 3,000 – HK $ 4,500 ($400 $600) a month after expenses. 

On the other hand, if you’d rather experience the high life in Hong Kong, eating out at fancy restaurants and going away on holidays, the amount you’ll be able to save will be much less.

What's it like to live and work in Hong Kong?

When it comes to culture, Hong Kong may surprise you.

  • Hong Kong is often referred to as “China lite”. As a British colony until 1997, but now a Special Administrative Region of China, Hong Kong is a melting pot of east and west. Teachers should expect to experience slight culture shock when traveling to Hong Kong, but not as much as countries like, say, Japan or South Korea. 
  • People in Hong Kong speak Cantonese, which is quite different from the Mandarin Chinese of the mainland. English is actually an official language of Hong Kong, spoken by about 50% of the population.
  • Teachers in Hong Kong are well-respected. Teachers should dress in semi-formal business attire. Students are generally well-behaved and motivated to learn English.
  • It’s a busy city-country. Yes, Hong Kong is considered both a city and a country! But whatever it is, it’s densely populated, to put it mildly. Teachers coming from smaller cities might find the amount of people in Hong Kong daunting.
  • Be mindful of cultural expectations. As a teacher you should know the concept of “saving face” in Asian countries. It is important to not publicly criticize, argue with or reprimand someone in Hong Kong.
  • Food is an art form. Drinking tea is a beautiful ceremony and ritual to take part in while in Hong Kong. It’s a great way to interact with locals. Communal eating is common in Hong Kong. It is practice to let the host start eating first and it is rude to eat all the food on your plate. 

It’s very career-driven. Teaching in Hong Kong is serious business. Continuous Professional Development will be a big focus of your job here. If you’re looking for a laidback gig for a few weeks, rather go to Thailand.

Contents

Are you looking to change things up a bit and experience a fusion of East and West? If you’re keen on encountering mouthwatering Asian cuisine, enjoying mesmerising skylines and harbour views, or immersing yourself in a large variety of cultural festivals, then Hong Kong is the place for you.

Hong Kong’s decades-long interaction with western culture makes it easy to experience Chinese culture but have the familiarity of English nearby. This is the perfect place for you to have your Asian adventure and earn a healthy salary.

Not convinced? Let’s explore what makes teaching English in Hong Kong so special. We’ll look at what you need to know about teaching requirements, teaching salaries, the cost of living, and what it is really like living in this large Asian city.

Why teach English in Hong Kong?

Improving their English ability is a major priority for citizens in Hong Kong. Throughout Hong Kong, English is taught from a young age. As a TEFL teacher you can find teaching jobs ranging from teaching young children to students at university. As English is now one of Hong Kong’s official languages, the demand for TEFL teachers is increasing. 

Besides the abundance of teaching opportunities, there are other reasons teaching English in Hong Kong is the best idea you’ve had all week:

  • A healthy work life balance. Work weeks in Hong Kong are usually only between 25 – 30 hours a week. In your free time you can take the tram up Victoria’s Peak, visit the Big Buddha on Lantau Island or do some tai chi in the park.  
  • Good salaries and benefits. Teachers are well paid in Hong Kong and can expect great benefits like a housing allowance, flight reimbursements and paid holidays. Contracts are usually for two years which gives you a great sense of security. Schools in Hong Kong usually provide teachers with end-of- contract bonuses and assistance with getting work visas.
  • Endless travel opportunities. Hong Kong’s location makes it ideal to travel to China or the rest of East Asia. Hong Kong is just a hop, skip and a jump away from Taiwan, the Philippines, Thailand, South Korea, Japan, and Bali. Yes please!

What will I need to qualify to teach in Hong Kong?

There is a lot of competition for teaching jobs in Hong Kong. Teachers with more experience are preferred above new teachers. In reality Hong Kong will be better suited for qualified teachers than for young graduates that want to do a bit of teaching to travel.

Degree requirements

You need a Bachelor’s degree to teach English in Hong Kong. Your degree does not have to be in English or Education, any field will do.

Universities may require a Master’s degree or a PGCE. These jobs are very well-paid and popular with experienced TEFL teachers, so competition is stiff.

TEFL requirements

Hong Kong requires you to have a minimum of a 120-hour TEFL certification to teach English. The TEFL Academy is the perfect place for you to get qualified and the first step to find that perfect job in Hong Kong.

If you’re serious about your teaching career and are considering teaching long-term, we recommend taking our Level 5 168-hour Combined TEFL Course to give your CV the extra edge when it comes to job applications.

Employers in Hong Kong prefer TEFL teachers with at least two years of teaching experience. 

Visa requirements

To work legally in Hong Kong you need a Z visa. This visa is very similar to the Z visa that you need to work in China. To apply for a Z Visa in Hong Kong, you need an offer of employment from your school or employer.

Schools in Hong Kong will assist you with a large part of the Z Visa application. There are however a few things that you have to do in your home country before you travel to Hong Kong.  

You need to send your potential employer the following documents:

  • Copy of your passport
  • Authenticated copy of your Bachelor’s degree
  • Proof of teaching experience (references, recommendation letters)
  • Police clearance certificate
  • Copy of teaching certificate

After providing them with these documents, they will then get you an invitation and Foreign Expat Certificate that you need to process the visa. Once you receive this you can go to a Chinese Embassy or Consulate in your home country and process the visa. 

Financial start-up costs

Start-up costs are the basic costs you need to survive from when you arrive in Hong Kong until you receive your first paycheque. It is important to have between HK$ 15,500 – HK$23,000 ($2,000 – $3,000 USD) available to set yourself up in Hong Kong. Below is a breakdown of costs you might incur to start off in Hong Kong:

  • Accommodation: First month’s rent and security deposit.
  • TEFL certification: A TEFL course can cost between $100 and $500, depending on the length and level of the course and the course provider. 
  • Document fees: Any costs related to certifying and notarising your degree and TEFL certificate.
  • Flight ticket: Variable. 
  • Visa application: The cost of an Z visa is subject to your home country. You can expect to pay between $90 and $140.
  • Living expenses: You will need one month’s worth of start-up capital of about HK$ 8,000 ($1, 000 USD).

Types of teaching jobs in Hong Kong

Because of the variety of different types of teaching jobs available in Hong Kong, it’s important to research each one carefully to make sure that it is the right fit for you. 

In Hong Kong, you can teach at private language schools, public schools, private schools, international schools, universities and privately.

Private language schools

The majority of TEFL/ESL positions in Hong Kong are available at private language schools. Students range from young children learning English to adults wanting to learn Business English. At these schools you will focus on exam preparation, conversational English or Business English. Teaching hours are mostly in the afternoons and evenings or on weekends.

Public Schools

In public schools you will teach English as a foreign language to either primary or secondary students

The best way to find a job in a public school is through the Hong Kong government program known as the Native-speaking English Teacher (NET) Scheme

The NET Scheme places teachers in local schools to improve the proficiency of Young Learners.  NET teachers assist teachers in their placement for two years. Teachers on the NET Scheme are paid well and provided with a monthly housing allowance. To qualify, teachers need to have a Bachelor’s degree, a recognised TEFL qualification and preferably teaching experience, though that’s not essential.

International schools

In Hong Kong there are a lot of International schools where the children of expats attend school. They follow an American or British curriculum. At an international school teachers are wanted for a variety of different subjects like Maths, Biology and others. International schools offer great salaries with good benefits, but they require qualified teachers (an Education degree) with lots of experience.

Universities

There are some positions available to teach English at universities in Hong Kong. You must however have the correct qualifications and have prepared for an academic career. These positions are very prestigious and offer very good salaries and benefits.

Private tutoring

Opportunities for private tutoring are abundant in Hong Kong. Private lessons often involve extra exam preparation for high school or university students, extra lessons for Young Learners, or conversational lessons for adults.

How to get a job teaching English in Hong Kong

  • Schools in Hong Kong prefer teachers with advanced degrees, a teaching qualification from your home country, TEFL certificates (TEFL, TESOL, CELTA), as well as real world teaching experience.
  • Make sure your TEFL CV is in tip top shape by doing a Level 5 168-hour TEFL course with The TEFL Academy.
  • Have a teaching demonstration prepared. A demo video is a great way to show the school you know what you are doing.
  • Third-party organisations can assist you with finding a job in Hong Kong, especially if you are looking at a job through the NET Scheme.
  • Dress formally. If your interview is on camera, make sure you look the part to make a good first impression.

What is the average salary in Hong Kong?

Teachers in Hong Kong are paid well. The average monthly salary for a teacher ranges between HK$ 23,000 – HK$63,000 ($3,000 – $8,000). TEFL teachers can charge HK$150 – HK$500 ($20 – $65) an hour for private lessons.

If you are a newly qualified or relatively inexperienced teacher, you can expect your salary to be on the lower end of the scale. If you have a high quality TEFL certificate, you can expect a higher salary. And if you have a teaching degree or an advanced degree, a TEFL qualification and teaching experience, you can pick and choose whichever job you want!

Remember that the cost of living, especially rent, is high in Hong Kong, so it will make a big difference to your salary if accommodation or a housing allowance is provided.

What are common benefits in Hong Kong?

In Hong Kong a lot of jobs include the following benefits:

  • Free accommodation or a generous housing allowance
  • End-of-contract bonus
  • Airfare
  • Health care
  • Visa costs

What’s the cost of living in Hong Kong?

Hong Kong is an expensive city. If you wanted to, you could easily blow your very generous teaching salary on eating out at fancy restaurants and shopping at designer boutiques. But if you’re smart, it’s quite possible to live well and save money at the same time.

Accommodation

  • One-bedroom apartment in city centre: HK$ 18,000 ($2,300)
  • One-bedroom apartment outside city centre: HK$ 12,000 ($1,500)

Utilities

  • Electricity, water, and gas: HK$ 1,500 ($200)

Food and groceries

  • Monthly shop: HK$ 2,300 ($300)
  • Meal at an inexpensive restaurant: HK$ 55 ($7)

Transport

  • One-way bus ticket: HK$ 10 ($1.20)
  • A monthly pass:  HK$500 ($65)

Internet

  • Unlimited:  HK$200 ($25)

Entertainment

  • Gym, cinema, clubbing: HK 1,500 – HK$ 2,300 ($200 – $300)

On average, the monthly cost of living for one person living in Hong Kong is around HK$ 8,000 ($1,000). Of course it can be much higher than this if you lead an opulent life, but you can also live quite frugally and save money. Whatever floats your boat!

Is it possible to save as a TEFL teacher in Hong Kong?

As in most countries, if and how much you can save every month depends on your motivation and your lifestyle. If your main aim for teaching in Hong Kong is to save money to pay off your student loan back home, you can happily save between HK$ 3,000 – HK $ 4,500 ($400 $600) a month after expenses. 

On the other hand, if you’d rather experience the high life in Hong Kong, eating out at fancy restaurants and going away on holidays, the amount you’ll be able to save will be much less.

What's it like to live and work in Hong Kong?

When it comes to culture, Hong Kong may surprise you.

  • Hong Kong is often referred to as “China lite”. As a British colony until 1997, but now a Special Administrative Region of China, Hong Kong is a melting pot of east and west. Teachers should expect to experience slight culture shock when traveling to Hong Kong, but not as much as countries like, say, Japan or South Korea. 
  • People in Hong Kong speak Cantonese, which is quite different from the Mandarin Chinese of the mainland. English is actually an official language of Hong Kong, spoken by about 50% of the population.
  • Teachers in Hong Kong are well-respected. Teachers should dress in semi-formal business attire. Students are generally well-behaved and motivated to learn English.
  • It’s a busy city-country. Yes, Hong Kong is considered both a city and a country! But whatever it is, it’s densely populated, to put it mildly. Teachers coming from smaller cities might find the amount of people in Hong Kong daunting.
  • Be mindful of cultural expectations. As a teacher you should know the concept of “saving face” in Asian countries. It is important to not publicly criticize, argue with or reprimand someone in Hong Kong.
  • Food is an art form. Drinking tea is a beautiful ceremony and ritual to take part in while in Hong Kong. It’s a great way to interact with locals. Communal eating is common in Hong Kong. It is practice to let the host start eating first and it is rude to eat all the food on your plate. 

It’s very career-driven. Teaching in Hong Kong is serious business. Continuous Professional Development will be a big focus of your job here. If you’re looking for a laidback gig for a few weeks, rather go to Thailand.

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