How to Avoid a Mismatched Teaching Job in China

We've already explored how to discover teaching jobs in China, but what about the ideal teaching job? Every year, hundreds of foreign teachers travel to the Middle Kingdom to educate. But I'd wager it's more about their social and vacation adventures than their jobs. Finding a teaching job in China is a gamble for many.


The Impersonal Recruiting Process: The online recruitment tactics utilized by most Chinese institutions are at best an inexact science. Teachers are often hired simply based on their degree and teaching credential. They don't care about an employee's personality or ambitions in China.

Some do the whole procedure by email, with no phone interview. The first important interaction a new teacher has with their employer is generally when they arrive for their first day of work. That way, neither the school nor the instructor knows what they've agreed to.

Misaligned Priorities: A superficial recruiting approach leads to many mismatches. As an example:

One year after graduating from middle school in the UK, two young British teachers spent a year teaching at a university in Beijing. The newcomer expats were looking forward to broadening their credentials and perspectives as well as experiencing Beijing nightlife.

They both got positions at a university in the city's north. Upon arriving, they realized that the university-provided flat was in the same building as the university dormitories, which closed at 10 p.m. promptly. This threw their social life into disarray and required months to sort out.

Others come to teach in China to take a gap year with plenty of travel and time off. They are often engaged by well-known English language instruction businesses with a global reach.

These firms, first and foremost, cater to public demand. Classes after school, on weekends, and on vacations are available for children and adults. Many new workers soon become disillusioned as their relaxed overseas journey turns into a lot of effort.


Smaller rural towns may have fewer employment, but China's larger cities have thousands. Always compare conditions and wages on many recruitment sites. Always research before accepting a job offer.

You should also study as much as you can about the place you are contemplating moving to. Teachers in China have several challenges, both socially and financially. However, minor industrial cities in Shanxi offer significantly cheaper living costs than Beijing or Shanghai, but far fewer Western-style dining and leisure alternatives.

Acceptable if you like Chinese culture. If not, try relocating someplace more cosmopolitan. Do your homework on the internet and try to find any foreigners who live in the city.

Because some Chinese cities are the size of small nations, you'll need to know where your possible company is situated inside that metropolis. This is especially true for big cities like Tianjin, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, and Beijing.

After example, the Bund is the most famous landmark in Shanghai, but when you work there, you may find yourself in a dusty neighborhood far from the metropolis you imagined. The difference between the urban core and the suburbs of China's largest cities may be dramatic.

Don't Over-Commit: Finding a job in China online is simple, but finding the perfect teaching job in China is much easier. For this reason, if you expect to remain longer than a year, sign the shortest contract feasible.

A lot of foreign instructors start out in public schools or low-paying private schools before moving on to larger private enterprises with better pay. Similarly, many professors transfer to cities after working in rural areas.

The Fine Print: Most Chinese schools create contracts in Mandarin and then translate them into English — frequently poorly. The golden rule is to never presume anything and to always use the Chinese version in any debate. Before you sign, Google translate your Chinese contact to make sure everything is clear.

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