The job market for ESL teachers in China is simply huge and there is no sign that it is going to slow down anytime soon. With a rapidly growing economy and upwards of 300 million students studying English, China offers countless opportunities for foreign teachers to earn a good salary and to save a considerable amount into the bargain. Throughout the country there are a large variety of jobs available with a wide range of salaries, however, first time teachers can reasonably expect to earn between 6000 RMB and 12000 RMB per month which equates to around $1000 to $2000 US dollars.
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On top of the basic salary, it is also common for teachers to receive free housing or a housing allowance, as well as paid airfare in and out of the country. These added extras, plus a cost of living that averages around half of that in the U.S.A. means many teachers are able to save substantial sums of money during the length of their contract. Depending on lifestyle, an ESL teacher in China should be able to save anything from $500 to $1500 per month.
In the past, simply being a native English speaker was sometimes all you needed to get a teaching job in China. Today you will need to possess an internationally recognized TEFL certificate if you want to have access to the widest range of jobs, especially those that pay the best salaries. Across the country standards have been substantially raised in recent years, leading to many provinces now requiring teachers to have completed a TEFL course of 120 hours or more. For those without a college degree, this is already mandatory and it is likely to be extended nationwide at some point in the future.
When looking for work in China it is recommended that you do as much research as possible before committing to a position. Demand for teachers is so high that you are generally guaranteed a choice of positions if you apply for multiple jobs. Research on individual schools, and the cities and regions you plan to work in, should help you to narrow down your options and to make the right choice to suit your plans. If you are a native English speaker with a college degree and a TEFL certification, the world really is your oyster when it comes to teaching English in China.
Once employed and living in the country, many teachers take advantage of the high demand for private language tuition that allows them to substantially top up their monthly income. It is common practice amongst the growing middle classes in China to provide extra English study for their children outside of school hours. It is not uncommon for teachers to effectively double their earnings by providing private lessons for these students in their free time.