China is a large country with a myriad of places to locate to and a wide range of schools to teach in. Teaching in China also offers some excellent packages. Typically, a UK qualified teacher can expect:
- generous, tax-free income
- complimentary furnished accommodation or comparable housing allowance
- private healthcare for you and your family
- free schooling for your children
- annual return flights between the UK and China
The salary a teacher can earn in China will depend upon the location you work in. Those who teach in cities with more expensive living costs can earn in excess of £40,000 per annum. Typical salaries are between £20K and £35K a year.
Salaries are paid tax-free, so you keep the full amount and get free accommodation or an accommodation allowance on top of this. You can also take advantage of your time abroad by renting out your UK home whilst away.
There is a variety of opportunities for UK teachers in China. These include British International Schools, International Baccalaureate schools, Chinese state schools and private language schools.
One of the most popular choices for UK teachers are the British International Schools. These offer provision based on the National Curriculum with older pupils studying for GCSEs and the International Baccalaureate. Many of the students are British ex-patriates, though there are also children from China and other countries.
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International Baccalaureate Schools are similar to British International Schools but offer a curriculum based on that of another country. These are predominantly American schools but there are also those which offer Australian, Canadian and French curricula.
Chinese state schools employ English speaking teachers to teach English. Unlike international schools, Chinese is the main language used, so having some understanding of the language will certainly be of benefit. This is a popular choice for those who want to live and work with Chinese people and learn about the Chinese education system.
The final choice is to work in a private language school teaching English as a foreign language. There are many of these, especially in the big cities where there is a huge demand to learn the language. Teaching here may often be in the evenings in order to cater for adult students and children studying after the school day has finished.
To work in China, you will need a working visa, known as a Z visa, which you should be able to obtain through your employer. When accepting a contract to teach in China, the British Government website advises that you should take legal advice, both in the United Kingdom and in China, as contracts entered into in the UK are not always enforced by Chinese courts.
Qualifications Needed for a Teaching Job in China
In general, schools in China expect teachers to be fully qualified and experienced. For this reason, you will need the same qualifications as you would in the UK:
- Relevant degree
- 2 - 3 years successful teaching experience in an English-speaking school
If you are looking for leadership roles, such as vice-principal or principal, you may need an NCTL qualification, such as an NPQH, or even an M.Ed. or Ph.D.
Those wanting to teach TEFL should be a native or fluent English speaker, be educated to degree level and have a recognised TEFL qualification.
Living as a Teacher in China
China is an extraordinary country and one which is full of contrasts. The eastern part of China is a modern, hi-tech region boasting prosperous cities like Beijing and Shanghai. Further west, it’s a country which seems to go back in time, with many rural communities living in quite primitive conditions.
The country offers a wealth of opportunities for people who go to work there. With a civilisation going back almost 8000 years, there is a treasure-trove of culture to discover. China is the home of Taoism, Kung-Fu, and Feng-Shui; it’s the country of pandas, dragons, fireworks and tea; and it’s the birthplace of many important inventions, including paper, clocks, silk, iron, porcelain, the compass, printing and beer.
Few other nations have played such an important role in the development of global civilisation and this continues, today, through its rich artistic traditions, its world-renowned cuisine and its pioneering, hi-tech economy.
China is a country that seems to have everything on a grand scale: it has the world’s biggest population (1.31 billion) the second biggest economy ($11 trillion), and it’s the fourth biggest country (9.5 million sq. km). The tallest mountain, Everest, straddles its border and two of the longest rivers, the Yangtze and Yellow River, flow through its diverse landscapes.
On average, 690,000 UK citizens travel to China each year. The UK has friendly relations with China and it is considered a safe place to work and visit. Advice from the UK Government website states you should take out comprehensive medical and travel insurance before visiting. You are also reminded that the country has different laws to the UK and that you should be respectful of Chinese customs and traditions.
Average contracts for teaching jobs in China are two years. This gives you ample time to explore and get to know this amazing country in ways that you never could as a tourist.