The teaching position you land in China is often linked to your background. Here you can see the most common jobs for several typical profiles of teachers:

University graduates (major in Education, Teaching, or TESOL): Many find positions in international schools (30%) or international programs (30%), although many first take positions to gain needed experience—often settling at kindergartens (25%).

University graduates (other majors):  most find teaching positions in large training centers (65%), followed by kindergartens (20%) and public schools (10%).

State or province-certified teachers with experience: the majority work in international schools teaching expatriates (45%) or international programs of Chinese schools (35%) teaching AP/IB or other international curriculums. The rest typically teach at public or private schools.

Professors – Those with a Ph.D. are usually employed in Sino-Western universities (45%) or public/private universities (40%).


Comparison of educational institutions in China:

Private Training Centers Preschools and Kindergartens International Programs in Secondary Schools International Schools (AP/IB) Sino-Western Universities Public Universities Public schools
Salary Med-High Med Med-High Med-High High Low Low-Med
Weekly schedule Evenings & Weekends Mon-Fri / 8-4 Mon-Fri / 8-4 Mon-Fri / 8-4 Mon-Fri / 8-5 Mon-Fri / 8-5 Mon-Fri / 8-4
Teaching hours 20-30 20-30 20 20 12-18 12-18 20
Preparation time Low Low High High High Med Med
Vacation 0-2 weeks 3 weeks winter, 6 weeks summer 3 weeks winter, 6 weeks summer 3 weeks winter, 6 weeks summer 3 weeks winter, 6 weeks summer 3 weeks winter, 6 weeks summer 3 weeks winter, 6 weeks summer
Prestige Med Med Med High High High Med
Job difficulty Low Low Med Med-High High Low Med
Hiring selectivity Low Med Med Med High Med Med


Explanation of schools and educational institutions in China

Private English language training centers

The majority of foreign English teachers in China teach children and adults at these private institutions. Classes are highly structured and use a fixed curriculum.


Also, a very common place to find teachers from abroad, especially those fresh out of university. If you playing with and teaching kids, and have an outgoing personality, this may be the place for you!

Private schools and international programs

More and more public and private schools offer separate programs to train students to study abroad, out of the stream of the Chinese education system. These schools are eager to receive your input into operations.

International Schools (AP/IB)

These are schools for children of expats and match the experience of North America. For certified teachers, this is a great place to gain work experience, although there is no TEFL aspect.

Sino-Western Universities

These are joint venture partnerships between Western and Chinese universities. For professors with a Ph.D (sometimes a Master’s degree) this is the top-of-the-line educational experience in China. Salaries match those abroad and the professionalism is often world class.

Public Schools and Universities

In the larger cities there is moderate demand for foreigner to teach English or other subjects. These schools have a low tuition fee and attract students of all socio-economic backgrounds.