Sick of Kids? How to Transition to a New Role After Teaching English in China

Sick of Kids? How to Transition to a New Role After Teaching English in China
Aug 30, 2018 By Degen Hill ,

If you’ve been teaching English in China for a while, chances are you’ve thought about changing jobs or even industries. But the question in the back of your mind is likely, “how?” If you’re looking to make a change from teaching English, don’t worry, it’s easier than it might seem. There are plenty of things you can do to propel yourself down a new career path in China and back home. 


Suitable industries

If you don’t plan on teaching English anymore, no sweat. There are plenty of industries where the skills you’ve learnt as an English teacher will be useful. 

International schools: If you’ve taught English for more than a year, there might be a reason - education is your calling. If it is, but you’re tired of only teaching English, a popular choice is to transition to an international school and teach another subject such as history, art or economics.

There’s a lot of competition at these schools and most require a degree in education or some other certificate that qualifies you as a professional teacher. However, some of these qualifications can be taken online, so make sure you do some research before resigning yourself to English teaching for life.

Editor/writer/proofreader: If you didn’t enjoy teaching but you’re all about the intricacies of the English language, look for a job as an editor, copywriter or proofreader. Many Chinese companies have English websites and publish English content, and therefore require someone to either write or edit that content. There aren’t a lot of certificates for these types of jobs, but building a portfolio by blogging or doing unpaid/freelance work is a great way to get started. 

Social media/marketing: These days, almost every company has a social media manager, but landing this kind of role requires more than just an addiction to the internet. These kinds of jobs often call for knowledge of SEO optimisation, Google Analytics and an understanding of how to use data from social media to better tailor content.

However, these things can easily be learnt online, and since (almost) no-one majors in social media, other applicants’ previous experience is likely to vary just as much as yours. Perhaps offer to help your school with some social media activities as a way to get some practice in a professional setting.

How to present your experience/skills

No matter what you do in life, you should always present it in the best possible light. Choosing how best to highlight your time teaching English in China is important when searching for new jobs

In China: Teaching English in China involves much more than coaching four-year-olds how to pronounce “apple”. You’ve likely written lesson plans, conducted meetings with fellow teachers, helped organise activities and learned how to communicate with the Chinese staff at your school.

Learning what to highlight on your CV based on the job you’re applying for is crucial. What made you unique as an English teacher? Did you take the initiative to design a new curriculum? Maybe you created workshops for teachers to improve their skills? Or perhaps you designed and maintained the teacher schedule to increase efficiency?

Keywords, especially on your resume, are crucial. Many Chinese companies use Applicant Tracking Software (ATS), which digitally scans resumes looking for keywords related to the job description. Keep this in mind the next time you’re applying for your dream China job.

Back home: Although there are those who might slander those who teach English abroad, your experience in a foreign country is a big advantage when applying for jobs back home. You managed a group of children that don’t even speak the same language as you. You thrived in a country that has a different culture, language and habits. In addition, you also learned about that culture, its people and perhaps the language as well.

All of this demonstrates your commitment to trying new things, that you’re not afraid to take risks and that you’re open to and interested in seeing things from a different perspective. These are all things companies look for in candidates, and that’s exactly how you should frame your English teaching experience in China to employers back home. English teaching might not be applicable to the job you’re going for, but the experience as a whole certainly will be. 

Expand your social circle 

If you only hangout with other English teachers, branching out from English teaching-related gigs will be tougher. If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times, networking is vital, especially in China. Many jobs hire based on referrals, so if you’re looking to get your foot in the door, it pays to know someone already inside.

Expanding your social or professional circle is as easy as attending events, talking to people and exchanging information. It’s also important to let people know you’re looking for opportunities in a new industry. Saying, “Right now I teach English but I want to do something different” might be true, but it’s not specific enough. Rephrasing that same sentence to, “Right now I’m teaching English, but I’m looking at getting into marketing since I studied business in college” will make you seem much more driven and focused.

Learning new skills

Teaching English in China will provide its own set of skills, but depending on the kind of job you’re looking for, they might not be enough. Figure out what sort of job you want, research the hard skills that go with the job and set about learning them. With thousands of certificates, classes, tutorials and step-by-step instructions available online, there’s no excuse.

Soft skills, like effective communication, strong leadership or being punctual are also important, but learning hard skills will increase your chances of finding a new job in a different industry. Pro-tip: learning Chinese is always a useful skill. If you speak Mandarin really well, no-one will care what job you did previously. 

Have you transitioned from teaching English in China to another career? Tell us how you did it in the comments section below.

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Keywords: Primary teaching English in China


All comments are subject to moderation by staff. Because we wish to encourage healthy and productive dialogue we ask that all comments remain polite, free of profanity or name calling, and relevant to the original post and subsequent discussion. Comments will not be deleted because of the viewpoints they express, only if the mode of expression itself is inappropriate.



10 years from now no teachers from outside China will want to work in China. You asked for it and you will get it. It has already started...

Sep 11, 2018 13:56 Report Abuse



Rather cryptic post which has piqued my curiosity. Why won't teachers from outside China want to work in China? Curious. (In similar vein, I believe that more and more Chinese nationals will teach English and other school subjects requiring English instruction in the coming years, thereby reducing the need for native English speakers as teachers. After all, current salaries are far lower for Chinese English teachers than for native anglophone teachers although in future that model may very well change. Dunno. What do you think? Cheers!

Sep 27, 2018 11:31 Report Abuse



@China_Stories: English is already taught by Chinese teachers and they do so very well indeed especially if you consider it is mostly done from books. However pronunciation, listening and speaking skills cannot be taught that way. Exposure to native speakers improves dramatically the chances students have of developing into good and fluent speakers. In the West, we use language assistants (native speakers) in schools for that very purpose.

Nov 21, 2018 08:53 Report Abuse



probably something to do with the stupid regulations concerning visas, the health concerns, the food concerns, the concerns over the fact that a lot of xenophobia exists etc etc oh and that these days 14,000 rmb a month is hardly a great deal of cash anymore. unless the person is a bum from canada of course. Cheers!

Dec 05, 2018 13:05 Report Abuse