How To Get A Job As An Expat In China

Recent stories indicate the end of expat work in China. Locals with foreign experience have better linguistic and cultural abilities, say experts. China still has a strong employment market for competent expatriates that brilliant Chinese recruits can't replace.


Language teaching may be a great approach to learn about Chinese culture and language, despite the stereotypes. French, Spanish, German, and Russian are in great demand alongside English. While most instructors educate youngsters, adult demand is expanding. The native requirement implies competent instructors can always apply.


Foreigners' work market in China differs by region, as is typical. In smaller towns and Tier 1 cities like Shanghai and Beijing, engineering graduates with international skills are in great demand. Shanghai and Beijing's flourishing financial services industries are attractive places to hunt for finance or economics experts. Technical specialists frequently don't need to speak Chinese, although this is changing as more locals study abroad and return with expertise.


Jobs requiring Mandarin? Strong Chinese skills can land you jobs in marketing, sales, and PR. Chinese companies gain face by hiring expats (as discussed here), and many believe foreign staff will better communicate with foreign clients.

Translation, editing, and writing will always need foreigners with great language abilities. As the Middle Kingdom opens and expands, demand for foreigners with excellent Mandarin and native language skills rises. Many companies require a degree in translation or communications, but native speakers of foreign languages with translation experience can also apply. Some foreign companies will help you train here.

Food industry

While large cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou offer a variety of alternatives for those looking to eat out or visit the bars, many smaller Tier 2 or Tier 3 cities are only starting to develop when it comes to Western restaurant selections. While founding and operating a company involves a substantial time and financial commitment, it can also be incredibly satisfying – not to mention a decent money-making operation.

Local Chinese are keen to try the multiplicity of cuisines from the West, and astute Westerners with expertise in the field and a competent Chinese business partner have abundant potential to build a profitable restaurant or bar. This industry, like all others, offers entrepreneurial opportunities.


For foreigners with substantial job experience at the top management level, a transfer to China might mean striking pay dirt. Senior executives employed on a so-called “expat package” sometimes receive extraordinarily high salary, as well as benefitting from a variety of lavish extras such as housing, health insurance, living allowance and tax equalization. As one BBC Capital story states: “Despite increased competition from seasoned local talent … in the future many major multinationals will continue to recruit expat C-Suite executives since they feel more comfortable dealing with personnel from their home country”. Over 50% of China's multinational top management is foreign. China is a wonderful alternative for people with a successful job at home.

Foreigners still have numerous chances in China, but the market for generalists is shrinking. Getting ahead in the Asian behemoth takes more than soft talents and a foreign look. Companies want immigrants with China job experience and language abilities. Foreign applicants should take the time to learn the language and culture.

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