How Much are Salaries for Teaching English in China? More Than You Might Think

china map

How Much are Salaries for English Teachers in China?

After a decade living in Thailand, a few years ago I decided it might be time for a change so, with my seven years of teaching experience in Bangkok, I started to look for teaching opportunities in other countries. China was one of the countries that jumped out at me as a possibly good place to relocate to, as I know salaries for English teachers in China are high because I have several friends who teach there.

After spending a couple of months seeing what was out there, an amazing opportunity came up for me in Bangkok and I decided to stay put. However, after all my research on teaching English in China, as well as Skype interviews with several schools and a couple of subsequent job offers, I have to say if you’re considering accepting a teaching job anywhere in China, you could be in for a very nice surprise. Particularly when it comes to the salary you can expect to make.

Salaries for teaching English in China are high – Out of all of the countries in Asia where a native English speaker can teach, China is one of the top when it comes to salaries and opportunities. That is because there are several hundred million Chinese now wanting to study English and, with a scarcity of western English teachers, schools and language schools are having to pay a hefty price if they want them teaching in their school.

In fact, all of my friends, who currently teach in Beijing or Shanghai, are making more than double what they were being paid as a teacher in Bangkok, with around the same cost of living, and with a lot more perks as well.

If you want to teach English in China, as a first-time teacher or one with a lot of experience, what kinds of salaries can you expect to be offered?

A first-time English teacher’s salary in China – Unlike countries like Japan and Korea, where not having teaching experience can definitely affect your salary, in China that often doesn’t seem to be the case. One first-time teacher I know was offered the same salary as another one recently, even though the second one had taught for eight years in Thailand.

When asked by the second teacher why there wasn’t a difference in the two salaries, the school’s Director of Studies said it was simply a case of “we need someone in the classroom – now”, and they were worried they might lose out to a different school if they didn’t pay the first-time teacher a sizeable salary.

That being said, you can usually expect to make between $1,700 and $2,000 a month in China (10,400 RMB to 12,200 RMB) as long as you have a BA degree, even if you don’t have any teaching experience yet.

Jingli Street in Chengdu, China. – copyright BenBen, Creative Commons License

Salaries in China for English teachers with experience – When I was interviewing for English teaching jobs in either Shanghai or Beijing, each school I interviewed with, or that I applied to, was offering a salary of between $2,800 to $3,200 a month (17,100 RMB to 19,500 RMB). That was for my 7 years’ teaching experience, a BA degree and TEFL certification.

I interviewed directly with the schools, however, as many teaching agencies both in China and on the internet in the US and the UK offer low salaries as they pocket the difference themselves, so they are best avoided. I’d suggest you do the same.

The China Foreign Teachers Union (CFTU) has an excellent website that lists the teaching agencies to avoid if you want to make a good salary, as well as gives enormous amounts of information for foreign teachers considering teaching in China.

Additional perks – As part of your salary as a teacher in China, you may well be offered both round-trip airfares from your country to China and a housing allowance.

In all the jobs I interviewed for, my airfare from Bangkok to Beijing or Shanghai would have been covered, and I was offered a housing allowance that covered at least 75 percent of the rent I expected to pay in either city. Health insurance was also included.

As you can imagine, when you take into consideration the salary itself, and the generous perks you will also likely be offered, if you work for a reputable school or organization, it’s no wonder China is now becoming the most popular place to teach English in Asia.