Career Paths for Teachers in China

Career Paths for Teachers in China
Dec 16, 2021 By Paul Bacon ,

Although most foreigners who come to work in China are teachers, it would be foolish to lump them all together under one giant umbrella. The truth is that the industry is far more diverse and nuanced than people realize, with many different ways to start and end your journey. Here we take a look at just some of the typical career paths for teachers in China.

Career path for teachers in China

Recruitment & Arrival

Most teachers tend to arrive in China by one of two routes; either through a recruiter or by answering an advert on a jobs website. The initial conversation will usually start based solely on a resume and scanned copies of a degree and teaching qualification. After passing an online video or phone interview, first-time China teachers will typically sign up for a short stint, say a year or even just a semester.

Teachers just starting out in China tend to be younger and with little experience under their belts. Accordingly, salaries will likely be low, especially if you’re sent to work in a rural location.

Another gateway into China is through a private English teaching company, such as English First. Again, contracts will usually run for a year or less, but salaries may be a little higher, especially for those with advanced teaching certificates like DELTA or CELTA. The recruitment and interview process is much the same, although sometimes large companies run TEFL training programs in would-be teachers’ home countries, with jobs in China offered upon completion.

Professional Migration

When your initial contract is up, it’s decision time. Should you stay or should you go? Those who just came to China for a change of scenery or a break from the norm bid zaijian to the Middle Kingdom and head home at this point. For others, this is a chance to move onwards and upwards in China’s teaching industry.

The end of the initial contract is the time of greatest migration for the expats that decide to stay. Most choose not to continue on in a badly paid job at a drafty state school somewhere in the hinterlands of China's vast interior. Instead, we see two types of migration among expat English teachers, often happening in conjunction.

The first is from the countryside to the city. After experiencing a slightly more rough and ready version of Chinese life and culture, younger teachers are often keen to get a taste of the country's modern face and buy a one-way ticket to bright lights of Beijing, Shanghai, and the like.

The second migration is up the teaching pay-scale. Those at state schools may look to move to university jobs or private language companies, both of which offer higher salaries for teachers with previous China experience. The recruitment process will typically be a little more involved, however. Most language schools or universities are at least likely to want to meet prospective teachers in person and put them through an interview. Others may request a trial lesson in front of pupils.

Reaching the Pinnacle

There are further steps up the ladder for those who decide to stick it out in China for longer. Some may graduate to a top-tier private language school, such as Wall Street English. Others move to some of the big international schools operating in the major cities around China or move up internally to become managers or principles.

These more prestigious China teaching jobs pay MUCH better, but they are not easy to secure. Most of these organizations will require advanced teaching certificates and several years of experience, preferably in-country.

Unfortunately, for this type of top-tier teaching job, there’s no short cuts. Like any profession, anywhere in the world, you need to put in the work to make it to the top.

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Thank you for the assistance.

Jan 03, 2022 11:40 Report Abuse