Securing a teaching position in Hong Kong can be competitive given its popularity among TEFL-certified teachers. To enhance your prospects in this vibrant city, familiarize yourself with local programs and hiring schemes, such as the Native-speaking English Teacher (NET) Scheme run by the Hong Kong government, which places teachers in schools to elevate the English proficiency of students.
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For those aiming to teach English in Hong Kong, there are clear guidelines to consider. A university degree in any discipline is crucial, and recently, adherence to this rule has become stringent. In addition to the degree, either two years of teaching experience or a TEFL certification of a minimum of 120 hours is necessary. While these form the basic criteria, prospective employers in Hong Kong may have additional requirements for teaching candidates, emphasizing the competitive nature of the job market in the region.
There are a small number of job options in universities, but these will require a high level of qualifications and experience. A master's degree in English, TESOL or linguistics will probably be expected, as well as a teaching certificate and a minimum of two years teaching experience. If you meet the required standard, the pay and benefits should be very good.
For the majority of teachers, a private language center is the most likely employer. There are plenty to choose from that cater to children of various ages, as well as some aimed at adults. The majority of students use these schools in preparation for external exams. The prerequisites for these jobs are generally in line with the basic government requirements of a bachelor's degree in any subject, and a TEFL/TESOL certificate or two years of teaching experience. Although it is not a necessity, native English speakers without strong accents are often preferred.
A third major option is to teach in state run schools via the Native English Speakers Scheme (NET). These jobs are open to native English speakers or fluent speakers who have a degree and a TEFL/TESOL certificate or teaching qualification. This is a very popular scheme so those with previous teaching experience or a teaching related degree may well have a distinct advantage when applying for a position. You will also earn more as salaries are based on qualifications and experience. If you prefer to teach young children, it is worth noting that these positions almost always go to female teachers in Hong Kong.
The standard work visa required to teach legally in Hong Kong is known as the Z visa. The school should be able to sort this out on your behalf, but if they say they can't or make excuses then you should think twice as it is probably a sign that they are not an officially registered school. The requirements for the Z visa are basically the same as most teaching positions i.e. a degree in any subject and either two years teaching experience or a TEFL certificate.
Your employer will act as your sponsor for the visa and should take care of most of the paperwork for you. To start the process you will need to supply scans of your passport, evidence of your degree, and a copy of your teaching certificate or evidence of your previous teaching experience. Using these documents the employer will be able to obtain an invitation letter and a Foreign Expert Certificate which will be sent to you in your home country.
Once you have these documents, you need to visit a Chinese embassy or consulate and make a visa application. You can also pay an agency to take care of this part of the process for you. As long as all the paperwork is in order, you should receive your Z visa within a week. The Z visa is essentially to allow you to enter Hong Kong and it must then be converted to a residency permit within 30 days of your arrival. Please note that a basic background check will be required. As long as you have a reasonably clean criminal record there should be no problem. Also, teachers over the official retirement age in China might find it difficult. This is 60 for men and 55 for women.