Common Jobs for Foreigners in China

Common Jobs for Foreigners in China
Jan 24, 2014 By Tobie Taljaard ,

Knowing where to start is often the hard part. You want to come to China, or you are already in China and stuck for the next thing. Well, whether you have a degree or not, are a native-English speaker or not, or can’t speak any Chinese at all, if you look in the right place for long enough you’ll find something for you. Here is a list of common jobs for foreigners in China. Perhaps one of them fits you to a T.

Common jobs for foreigners in China
Source: Red Lionness

1) Teacher
Although the number of opportunities is technically on the decline, teaching is still ranked as the most common job for foreigners in China. Just go on any job site and you’ll see the endless stream of posts about different teaching jobs available.

Although the salaries have decreased of late, you can still find some really good packages to come to China to teach. These packages usually include an apartment, reimbursement for your flights, medical insurance, a working visa and bonus at the end of your contract.

Some people have been put off by new regulations, which seem to make it harder for teachers. However, the new rules are really targeting unqualified teachers. In the past, all it took was a good level of English and some charisma. Now it is likely that you will need a Bachelors degree, a TEFL/TESOL, be a native speaker and, most likely, some experience. So the jobs are out there, you just need to make yourself a little more suitable in order to get them. 

2) Freelancing – Translating, Editing, Proofreading 
One doesn't necessarily need an advanced degree to become a translator, just an advanced level of Chinese and the credentials to prove it, the most common and prominent being the HSK test. There are a number of ways through which to make a profit translating between Chinese and English. For example, if you freelance through websites like, or any China-based expat website with job listings, you'll be able to earn 80-130 RMB per hour depending on your educational background and Chinese language proficiency.

Editing and proofreading are great part-time job that foreigners can do in China to make some money on the side. Since the education industry is so gigantic, Chinese students who write entrance letters for universities, both local and abroad, in English will often want their writing edited or proofread. This business is rapidly growing in China. There are now entire companies based around pairing proofreaders with students who want to have flawless essays.

3) Hotel management
In wake of China's booming economy, China's hospitality industry has also grown by leaps and bounds in recent years. Radisson, Hilton, Shangri-La, and Portman-Ritz are all international hotel brands associated with prestige and money. With more and more famous movie stars and high-level CEO's coming through town, the managers and upper division staff at such luxury hotels are seeing big salary increases to match the many demands of their jobs.

According to China Hotel Magazine's 2011 Salary Survey Report, the average salaries for department managers and directors at 5-star hotels are 11,000 RMB per month and 21,000 RMB per month respectively. If you're promoted to the general manager of an international 5-star hotel, you can expect upwards of 50,000-60,000 RMB per month. And as an added bonus, you never know when you'll get the chance to meet someone famous.

4) Chef and restaurateur 
This job typically goes hand-in-hand with the one listed above. If you live in a city like Shanghai, Beijing, or Hong Kong, names like Paul Pairet, Eduardo Vargas, Jun Trinh, and Alain Ducasse should sound awfully familiar, even if you're not employed in the food service industry. And even for those who don't enjoy pseudo-celebrity status in their respective city, many chefs and restaurateurs are able to earn a very agreeable wages in China, with average monthly salary for a head chef at a high-end restaurant somewhere in the neighborhood of 21,000 RMB per month. And if you've already gone through the rigorous process of becoming Michelin certified, you can expect to bring in even more. But if you're just getting started, there's no need to worry—even inexperienced chefs in lower positions are able to pull in around 10,000 RMB per month depending on experience and the restaurant.

5) Import/Export
Many foreigners, once they have a certain level of Chinese, will at some point come to the conclusion that their best bet is to work in some kind of trade between China and their respective nation. There are many companies set up for this kind of trade already with which one can get involved in. However, most of these jobs will found in smaller cities or in Guangzhou/Shenzhen where the factories are located.

As the Chinese market changes, expands and modernizes there are opportunities for importing products such as coffee, wine, clothes and furniture. As an example, according to a Time report, China is expected to become the world’s largest wine consuming country within the next two years. Further, importing of coffee into China has grown by over 400% in the last five years.

6) Managing a Startup
Modern day China, especially in first-tier cities, is a haven for startups. As Chinese people begin to be more and more creative, so there are an increasing number of small businesses and new business ventures with which to get involved. These companies are also more likely to hire you if you have less experience. The top three industries in which startups are delving into in China are IT (particularly the mobile sector), food and beverage, and travel. So if you have qualifications in one of these areas then the future looks bright.

7) Weird China Jobs
Here is one man’s account of the weird and wonderful jobs he has done or been offered in China. From posing as the CEO of a company to pretending you’re a Michelin Star chef to impress your students at a cooking class, you can find many colorful jobs to keep you busy, and entertained. You can usually do these kinds of odd-jobs as an aside to your day job, on weekends or weekday nights. These by far are the best common job for foreigners in China if you are just looking for a great story to tell friends back home. 

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Keywords: jobs in china Expat jobs in China common jobs for foreigners in China job search in China


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Great opportunity to person who is seeking best jobs.

Feb 14, 2018 20:10 Report Abuse



For me is informative and helpful, especially job limitation for outsiders in China.

Sep 15, 2017 16:50 Report Abuse



Thanks a lot for sharing this post

May 17, 2017 01:31 Report Abuse



odd jobs are the best :D sadly, they usually don't provide visa

Mar 28, 2017 06:40 Report Abuse



yea i hear about china but now im sure its really land of opportunities . well that seems good and encourage people who has dreams and what to move up on life . but this position must give s to who deserve it not for anyone i would like to introduce myself for this job but i don't know if i'm good enough or there a weakness should fix it first i hope someone comment on my statute and advice me ...; thanks guys i wish you all the best

Nov 17, 2016 19:13 Report Abuse



Just wonder if the final proposal of so called weird occupation ( like pretending you are someone important or famous) and getting money for this is legal ? Or let me ask in other words Is this advice legal ?

Oct 24, 2016 21:20 Report Abuse



Great post!

Aug 08, 2016 11:39 Report Abuse



I believe in reciprocity in life. No man is an island and were it not for this platform chances of getting a decent job would have been proportionately reduced in as much as whosoever shall be fortunate to engage me through the same platform shall wish we had met earlier.

Jun 07, 2016 11:10 Report Abuse



The land of opportunities

May 24, 2016 18:40 Report Abuse



jobs need luck

May 18, 2016 17:01 Report Abuse



The posts above are just nice stories for kids .... How many foreigners can attend that jobs and salary ?... Maybe one at a 1000.. I am trying hard to get a job here for a long time, but I don't have any chance. I am not English Native and because of this, even I have work experience in many fields and can speak also Chinese, I am rejected because I am not from US or Caanada or Australia... Very disappointed of everyting here and too much racism.

Jan 03, 2016 12:27 Report Abuse



Damn dude every single post you complain about racism and crying about not getting a job!....maybe it's because of that negativity that you're not getting anything! who would want to hire a person that complains about your culture and country on a constant basis, work on your attitude, improve your skills and you might get something.

Jan 04, 2016 04:12 Report Abuse



Shut up , shit idiot ! If you are not a non Native, then shut up ! Not everyone has your chnace here . Go to fuck your mother , Jerk Idiot !

Feb 11, 2016 21:04 Report Abuse



Education is the key. Currently Chinese are focusing on this area. They are also focusing on learning English Language. For this purposes, now requirement are very high for English teaching jobs. But it does not mean that salaries are high. these are very average.

Jun 16, 2015 12:29 Report Abuse



You are clearly not a teacher and do not use spellcheck.

Jan 14, 2016 19:58 Report Abuse



Its advisable to always proofread your content before posting on any public wall.

Sep 21, 2016 01:35 Report Abuse