How to Negotiate Salary When Teaching ESL in China

So many non-Chinese people are employed to teach English in China; why is that? A lot of people say the luscious RMB is the key to their happiness. But how exactly do you go about convincing the Chairmans to open their wallets to you? In this article, I will provide some background information about teaching English in China, as well as some suggestions for maximizing your compensation.

The Unpalatable Truth

The first thing you need to know about any employer that isn't a public school is that you're working for a company that makes money by charging students and parents for educational services. As a result, it doesn't matter how qualified of an educator you are, how positive of a person you are, or how much experience you have, if you're from a nation where English isn't the native language, your foreignness will take precedence.

The fact that you are a natural English speaker from outside of the country will be used for advertising reasons and, in many circumstances, to justify exorbitant tuition rates. Although this makes it easier to get into the workforce with minimal experience, it also makes you easily replaceable.

Details about you

Your international background and command of English will be two of your most notable qualities. If you can master these two areas, you will be in high demand.

However, reputable institutions are always on the lookout for qualified educators, so the more experience and credentials you can boast, the higher your salary might potentially be. Salary negotiations will go more smoothly if you have credentials like a CELTA, a degree in education, or international experience teaching students of various ages.

Hone your abilities

Everyone believes they're a good teacher, but in reality, most are more of a flop in the classroom than in the kitchen. As a result, it is not hard to get a new job teaching English in any of China's major cities, reducing your market value and negating the benefits of a degree.

This obstacle may be overcome, in part, by providing instruction in more advanced fields of study. Preparing students for standardized tests like the TOEFL, SAT, or GRE demands more work on your behalf but often results in more pay. Many colleges and international organizations offer liberal arts courses, including ones on economics and computer programming, that pay far more than the typical English as a Second Language (ESL) teaching position.

Be aware of your value

Simply said, my top piece of advise is this: NEGOTIATE. I have personally seen a large number of qualified Chinese educators accept low-paying jobs with subpar working conditions because they were reluctant to negotiate their starting salaries. If you accept a job offer at face value, you have only yourself to blame if the pay is poor, the hours are long, and there are no perks.

Find out what you're really worth in today's market. Since you've gone through the trouble of moving all the way to China, you should be prepared to do some comparison shopping.

When interviewing with ESL firms in China, starting pay expectations are a common initial step. This is a sneaky tactic used to encourage you to bid below their maximum acceptable offer. For this reason, whenever you are asked such a thing, you should respond with an absolutely absurd sum. You should look elsewhere for employment if they are unable to budge from that point or disclose their true compensation expectations.

In every negotiation, the first guideline is to be prepared to walk away from the deal entirely if necessary. Take use of the fact that you have the freedom to choose any firm you want to work for as bargaining power and be prepared to walk away if necessary.

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