Before packing up your belongings and jumping on a plane to start teaching in China, there are a few things to consider. Namely, is this the right decision for you? Moving half-way across the world is no easy feat and should be taken with great consideration. We’ve highlighted the ten most important questions you should be asking your employer and yourself before taking a teaching job in China.
1. Am I qualified to be teaching in China?
“Anyone can teach in China” is no longer the norm. To become a teacher in China, you must be qualified to also be teaching in any other country: this means having a teaching license and at least two years of relevant work experience or a TEFL certificate and two years of work experience. And while you have many opportunities to travel while teaching here, that should not be your first objective when applying for a teaching position. Teaching in China is a reputable profession and you will be well respected by your Chinese peers.
2. Am I qualified to get a Chinese Visa?
In order to start teaching in China, you must obtain a China Z visa. The visa application process can be lengthy due to the many requirements, but there are specific factors that can deter you from getting a work visa completely:
- Over the age of 60 (Chinese law requires all expats and citizens to retire at age 60?)
- Less than 2 years of work experience (or no TEFL certificate)
- Not from a native English-speaking country (for English teachers)
- A criminal background
For other frequently asked questions about China Z visas, visit our China Visa FAQ blog.
3. Am I ready to live in a new culture?
Teaching in China is more than packing your bags and moving to a new city to start your new job – you must also adapt to a different culture. This includes becoming more flexible and open-minded as you learn to accept different beliefs and “standards” that may seem uncommon to you previously. While this can be the most challenging part about teaching abroad, it can also be the most rewarding and will give you the skills to take on any obstacle with patience and confidence.
4. Do I love teaching?
At the end of the day, teaching in China is not very different from teaching anywhere else in the world. If you are passionate about teaching, inspiring young people to pursue their dreams, building global understanding of others’ cultures and beliefs, and learning new things every day, teaching in China is for you. But if you don’t love teaching where you are now, you may not love teaching anywhere.
5. Why China?
China is a diverse nation — ethnically, culturally, linguistically, economically as well as geologically. No matter where you go in China, you are sure to find rich history and unique culture. This incredible diversity makes it a fascinating place to explore for travelers, and a unique living environment for those interested in sociology, politics, economics, etc. China’s rise as a global economic power also makes it a phenomenal place to experience first-hand a growing economy and its impact on the community.
Beyond what makes China unique as a country, its education system is long overdue for progress. Teaching in China means that you are a vital part of evolving the Chinese education system to empower students to think critically and open their minds to other cultures and practices. As a foreign teacher, you have the opportunity to not only open your mind to understanding the Chinese culture, but also to make a lasting impact on a students’ life.
6. What is the cost of living?
Considering a monthly starting salary of 20,000 RMB per month, your expected costs would be:
- Food: 1,200 RMB/ month ($190)
- Entertainment: 2,000 RMB/ month ($317)
- Utilities: 400 RMB/ month ($63)
- Clothing: 400 RMB/ month ($63)
- Transportation: 240 RMB/ month ($38)
- Health care: 200 RMB/ month ($32)
- Total per month: 4,440 RMB/ month ($703)
Through Ameson, you are provided free on-campus housing, or you are given a housing stipend of 2,000 RMB/ month (not included in your salary). Costs will vary depending on your location, salary, and preferred lifestyle, but on average teaching in China increases your comparative savings by more than 500%
7. What salary should I expect?
Salaries for teachers in China depend on a number of factors including your experience, highest degree earned, the location of the Chinese school, which subject you teach, the university you attended, etc. Lucky for you, we’ve created a salary calculator to help you determine an estimate for a fair salary teaching in China. Salaries range anywhere from 8,000 RMB/ month to 30,000 RMB/ month
8. What should be included in my contract?
A good teaching contract will provide monetary support for your travel to China, free housing or a housing stipend, insurance, and visa application support. Generally contracts will last no longer than one year especially for new hires, as employers in China prefer to test an employee’s worth based on performance. This is advantageous for teaching in China as you will be able to negotiate a higher salary after just one year at a school. We’ve dedicated an entire blog to your expectations about contracts in China.
9. What are the academic school year dates?
The academic year generally starts early September and ends between late June and early July. A ‘winter break’ is typically for a few weeks in January / February due to the most important holiday being the Chinese New Year. The dates for the 2016 / 2017 school year are:
10. What are Chinese students like?
Many teachers in China will tell you that the stereotypes surrounding Chinese students are no more than that: stereotypes. Students in China often are characterized as machines, bookworms who lack creativity, or poor English-speakers. In fact, most of our teachers will tell you that their Chinese students are just as passionate and driven than their foreign counterparts, if not more.
Creativity and critical thinking is encouraged in our classrooms and while studying for several hours is still a part of their culture, they do spend time on other hobbies outside of the classroom. If you’re not convinced, visit our YouTube page to see interviews with a few of our students about their goals and opinions on stereotypes.