Jan 06, 2017 By Bo Brennan , eChinacities.com

6 Lucrative Job Alternatives to Teaching in China
Photo: york.ac.uk

Twenty years ago, when China was first developing, foreigners were offered high paying jobs with a bevy of other incentives to help promote Chinese companies. Then, as more and more Chinese workers became skilled in various high-level positions, those jobs slowly transitioned away from former foreign experts, forcing a vast majority of foreigners into teaching positions. However, that is not to say that there are no opportunities for those with suitable qualifications. Here are six lucrative jobs expats in China are in high demand for.

1) Translator
One doesn't necessarily need an advance 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 Elance.com, 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.

Be careful though when you do freelance work, especially in China, as it tends to operate in a grey area of legality when it comes to taxes. Conversely, many fluent Chinese speaking expats choose full-time translating positions with either private companies or with various government institutions. For example, if you are translating for a law firm, you can earn 10,000-18,000 RMB per month, although these positions require an excellent grasp of both English and Chinese, as you will be drafting complex legal documents in both languages.

Unfortunately, there is one major downside to working as a translator in China: competition from your Chinese counterparts will be incredibly intense, as most Chinese have been studying English since they were six or seven years old, essentially giving those who stuck with it through university a massive comparative advantage. Suffice it to say, your Chinese language proficiency will have to be pretty stellar to even try to compete with them—two years of Chinese in university is probably not going to cut it.

2) 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 famous movie stars or singers.

3) 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 10,000 RMB per month depending on experience and the restaurant.

4) Engineer
Engineers, both Chinese and foreign, have greatly benefited from the massive amount of construction in China during the last decade. Yet, while Chinese engineers fresh out of university are only making about 6,000-10,000 RMB per month (with chemical and mechanical engineers earning quite a bit more), the outlook for well-qualified foreign engineers is much, much better. With eight or more years of experience and a university degree, a foreign plant manager in China can earn upwards of 70,000-110,000 RMB per month!

5) Accountant
Accountants are in high demand all over the world, and this is no different in China. While most of the positions are filled by Chinese, there are still ample opportunities for foreigners with a decent Chinese language proficiency to succeed in Chinese firms. According to the J.M. Gemini research firm, the highest paid accounting job for foreigners in China is the Director of Accounting, which earns a monthly salary of more than 60,000 RMB a month! Granted, such a position requires 10-15 years experience in the field, as well as a BA or MA in Accounting plus a CPA (certified public accounting).

It should be noted that the accounting standards are different than those in America or other Western countries, but the Chinese guidelines are slowly getting replaced by the International Accounting Standards, so it should be easier to apply for Chinese firms in the future with your Western credentials. Slightly more attainable for younger accountants, the typical monthly salary for a Finance Analyst in China with three to six years experience and a degree in accounting or finance is 13,000-27,000 RMB per month.

6) CEO and marketing director
A high salary goes without saying with this position. Foreign GMs and CEOs have been coming to China for years and there is a good reason why. A general manager CRM (Customer Relationship Management) with 15+ years of experience is going to net you around 100,000 - 150,000+ RMB per month. Yet, if you are a CEO you're probably used to making that kind of money anywhere. A bit further down the totem pole you'll find that a marketing director position for foreigners will land you 50,000-75,000 RMB per month depending on the company. Obviously, since this is the highest paid job on the list, it will require at the very least an MBA, preferably an International MBA with a focus on Asia, and many years of experience doing business in China.   

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Keywords: non teaching jobs in China working in China making money in China high paying jobs in China employment in China

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41 Comments Add your comment



most of the expats that come to china don't even have a college degree. so you can scratch out most of the jobs above.

Sep 04, 2012 08:16 Report Abuse



What absolute twaddle.

Sep 04, 2012 09:26 Report Abuse


James pond

You are absolutely right ! Most of them I see here just get a cheap TESOL or TEFL degree and have a big dream of living a great life in china. The reality is that they usually end up with something else or a mediocre job. Though having a white skin might count in most cases but in the long run this won't be enough.

Sep 04, 2012 09:33 Report Abuse



You're funny. No one dreams of "A great life in China" people come here out of curiousity for a few years. This country sucks compared to the places we come from.

Sep 04, 2012 10:11 Report Abuse



ya the country sucks but when we come here were treated like rockstars when back home were nobodys. even though it sucks i can't seem to want to leave and neither can you! admit it

Sep 04, 2012 15:17 Report Abuse



If you need to be treated "Like a rock star" to feel good about yourself I feel for you. I actually hated that most about China. It's not too late for you to become a person of substance!

Sep 04, 2012 17:29 Report Abuse


Confused. shush

re OP a LAOWEI with a PHD in emptying bins is a better qulaification than anything a Chinese graduate can peddle outside of PRC if he or she was to try and gain employment in a laowie's safe haven.

Sep 04, 2012 20:58 Report Abuse



Actually, to get the appropriate visa, a Z visa for teaching or an F visa for simply working, you usually do have to have an under graduate degree. Those that don't are usually here on a visitors visa, and have to travel to Korea, Hong Kong, or the Phillipines every few months so that they can have it renewed. Most expats in Asia actually earn under 2,000 USD a month and are taking a pay cut to work here. In other words, most people who come here from developed countries are looking for an experience rather than to *snicker* improve their quality of life.

Sep 04, 2012 22:41 Report Abuse



I don't think you should be so hard on native speakers when you obviously need us so desperately.

"All unemployable whites back home go to China and other Asian countries to offer expertise in various filed." This should instead read something like 'The whites who come to China and other Asian countries to offer expertise in various fields are in fact unemployable in their own countries.' When writing in your second language its best to keep your sentence structure simple, rather than muddle the whole thing by piling clauses on top of one another. It just makes your writing appear confused. Also, mind your nouns for singulars and plurals. Various fields.

"Of course, China gets the louziest ones, mostly without any academic credentials from a proper university-often with fake degrees."

Adding a qualifier--in this instance 'proper'--should be done to clarify, not obfuscate. What exactly do you mean by a proper university? Within the top 50 or 100 or some other number on a particular list? And if so, which list? Or do you mean proper as in holding accreditation? You should try to be specific as possible when writing to make an argument.

"You can find Whites from the USA, Canada, England and Australia everywhere in China who are hire d to teach English and other subjects (math, physics and chemistry etc) -However. most whites they hire in China do not have any clues as to what they are teaching ---They are hired by Chinese schools for show up--because it seems that Chinese seem to regard Whites as their gods and Lords."

This sentence is a total re-write based on the punctuation alone. A good rule of thumb for the fancier punctuation marks--such as colons, semi-colons, nut and mutton dashes-- is to avoid using them unless you know how and when to us them. I'm not saying you need to memorize the Chicago manual of style, but it doesn't hurt to give a quick glance if you find yourself lost. From the looks of it looks like you were.

Don't over use the phrase 'in China.' We know where it is that these things supposedly occur, using it over and over again is just redundant.

Avoid using 'seems.' And never twice in the same sentence. It makes your points less assertive. If you're going to make a point, then stop hiding behind equivocations and make it.

On the nit-picky side of things, its 'have a clue' not 'have any clues,' 'to show up' not 'for show up,' and there is no need to capitalize 'Lords.'

"For you do not want to admit the fact that you are not employable in your own country because either you are useless as a person or you do not have a proper university education or you have bad record back home, including criminal------For it is a well known fact that most Whites go to China or any other Asian countries for two major measons : 1. because they are unemployable in their own countries; and 2. exploit sex and corrupt Asian Women."

Consider breaking this up into several smaller sentences.

Avoid beginning a sentence with 'For..." because you'll find yourself either using cliches as transitions or, at the very least, getting laughed at by your audience for adopting such a bombastic tone.

Say 'or you have a criminal record' instead of 'you have bad record back home, including criminal.'

Say 'exploit Asian women' instead of 'exploit sex and corrupt Asian Women.'

Again, avoid using punctuation you don't understand.

"I have seen those cheap White monstors everywhere in Asia."

Put a comma after cheap.

Anyway, good luck with your studies! :D

Sep 09, 2012 07:19 Report Abuse


JAY (Just Another Yangguizi)

It's hard to believe this extensive set of corrections is by the same person who once wrote: "... you're attempt to do otherwise make you look like a blind 走狗," "...they would stick the Obama administrations current line that the cause of the US's high unemployment figures are the result of a lack of job growth in the Public sector," and "It's a shame that the john who fathered you had a dime in his pocket rather than nickle..."

Sep 09, 2012 12:34 Report Abuse



Well, writing is a process, and nobody produces a perfect draft on the first try 100% of the time. Obviously, my bugaboo has to do with contractions, which isn't exactly unheard of, but I'm able to recognize these sorts of errors. If I need to I can go back and correct them in later drafts.

Sep 09, 2012 16:46 Report Abuse



Nonsense. I have an M.A. in English Studies from the University of Alberta. I have known some teachers of the kind you describe, but most are intelligent, educated, and doing their best to provide some real education to their students. Most often we are frustrated by the strictures imposed by the schools and universities we work for. I taught writing in the U.S.A.. In Canada I taught math to Canadian kids and adults who needed help, and ESL to immigrants. I came to China because I was invited by some of my Chinese students in Canada. When I got here, I was offered work and, because I was interested in the culture and people, I decided to accept the offer. I'm glad I did. Perhaps your view is influenced by the people you hang out with. Birds of a feather and all that......

Oct 05, 2012 16:49 Report Abuse



Oh yeah! I came here to teach English, but instead I'll just apply for that engineering or CEO position.

HELLO! People who do those jobs are SENT here from companies back home.

Sep 04, 2012 10:09 Report Abuse


JAY (Just Another Yangguizi)

Actually, Tony, there were and probably still are a lot of engineering (and CS) graduates who wind up teaching English in China (and other places). Also there at least used to be a few engineers (especially EE and quality control- six-sigma types) trying to find work in their professions in China as well. The engineering professions in the US are often not quite what they're made out to be.

The US has for years had a real issue with lost productivity owing to high unemployment and underemployment (by some measures now as high as 16-17%). Our PRAVDA-like media and "edikation" systems tell us this is because there are not enough STEM degrees among those 'dumb American kids,' but I've met comp.sci graduates teaching English in Korea and China, electrical engineers trying to work for local companies in Taiwan and microbiology grads flipping burgers in the US. I've even met EE PhDs who (having been laid off) have opened consulting operations at their local Starbucks.

Sep 04, 2012 11:22 Report Abuse



I have never read an article blaming unemployment on a lack of degrees. I've also never met an engineer teaching in China and never met someone doing those other jobs who wasn't sent from their company abroad.

Sep 04, 2012 17:31 Report Abuse


JAY (Just Another Yangguizi)

Gee, Tony, here's an article I found within about two minutes of looking that describes exactly what I was referencing:

Since apparently we're not allowed to paste links, this is the title:
US News and World Report (2012/06/15) "Stem education is the key to the US's economic future." You can look it up, there are lots of other articles on the same theme.

Look around on the Internet, you'll see evidence of people with CS and engineering degrees expressing a willingness to find work - any job - in China.

Sep 04, 2012 18:58 Report Abuse



Except the massive media push has blamed the loss of the manufacturing sector for the economic woes of the US, not the lack of degrees. Great, you found an article by one shitty unheard of publication that was circulated, hardly a mass media campaign.

As well, that article says "key to the future" not "reason for the present"

Read, think, talk.

Sep 04, 2012 19:18 Report Abuse



I have to say, I've read several explanations in the last several months as to why US unemployment remains high. If the US media really were like Pravda they would stick the Obama administrations current line that the cause of the US's high unemployment figures are the result of a lack of job growth in the Public sector. That's to say nothing of reports that I've read over the last several years that have blamed illegal immigration, a lack of liquidity, instability in the banking industry, the national debt, and, as Tony pointed out, losses in the manufacturing as the root cause. For Jay to imply that there is a single narrative that the US media is pushing with all of its might is a steaming load.

Sep 04, 2012 22:57 Report Abuse


JAY (Just Another Yangguizi)

From the cited US News and World Report (incidentally, the 3rd most popular US news magazine right up through 2007 - hardly "a shitty unheard of publication") article:
"A close look at American unemployment statistics reveals a contradiction: Even with unemployment at historically high levels, large numbers of jobs are going unfilled. Many of these jobs have one thing in common–the need for an educational background in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics."
From Science magazine (an AAAS publication),
"... despite there being nearly 14 million unemployed people in the United States, American companies simply cannot find workers skilled enough in math and technology to fill an estimated 3 million permanent job openings. The solution, according to the majority of experts present at the summit, is to inspire student interest in science, technology, engineering, and math and provide better STEM education."
From InformationWeek:
"There is a significant gap between the kind of graduates the U.S. is producing and what the American economy needs today and in the future," said officials at the Partnership for A New American Economy, in a statement. "U.S. companies are hungry for talent with degrees in STEM [Science, Technology, Math, and Engineering]--these jobs are increasing three times faster than jobs in the rest of the economy. However, these positions are the hardest to fill because of the dearth of native-born Americans with these degrees."
From the New York Times (Thomas Friedman):
"The Labor Department reported two weeks ago that even with our high national unemployment rate, employers advertised 3.74 million job openings in March. That is, in part, about a skills mismatch. In an effort to overcome that, and help fill in the financing gap for higher education in Washington State, Boeing and Microsoft recently supported a plan... for students wanting to study science and technology or health care to ensure that they have the workers they need."
Sounds like they're talking present tense about the current unemployment crisis, Tom. Also looks like there's more than "an article."
I stand by my previous statements.

Sep 05, 2012 13:45 Report Abuse



I worked with one teacher who had an engineering degree. He was a teacher because it was easier work. Not the laziest teacher I ever met, but close. Finally got sick of Nanjing, and left to teach English to Arab engineers in Saudi Arabia.

Sep 06, 2012 05:40 Report Abuse


JAY (Just Another Yangguizi)

The role of "translator" is usually that of any independent service provider, with all the attendant hassles - not least of which is payment collection. Independent lawyers in the US spend large amounts of time trying to collect fees, and the same is true of independent translators, except usually they're trying to collect far less money and without the threat of legal action (unless they've got a friendly lawyer they can call on - otherwise they may run into some serious $$$).

It is a "high input - low rewards" profession compared to many other jobs, in that there may be a *huge* amount of education upfront that might be better applied to a different profession - for chasing jobs that may not pay all that well. I know high school grads who make more than the 130 RMB/hour quoted in the article, doing far less demanding work. Also, experience gained as a translator usually 'translates' very poorly into other jobs.

Translators are usually not given much (if any) recognition. Often potential employers (especially the less sophisticated ones) use ethnicity as a hiring factor, reasoning that a Chinese (or Hispanic or ... depending on the source and target languages) will provide better translations than someone who doesn't look or sound the part. Beyond this, there is a general consensus in the monoglot world that the service provided is pretty much interchangeable.

There has been for years the additional threat of MT ('machine translation'). Although it's difficult to take MT seriously the fact remains that it's now a widely available free crutch (thanks to internet-based services) and most of the world is perfectly happy relying on the output.

Advantages include some flexibility in working hours and conditions, low start-up costs if you already have the skills, and being able to provide online services (freedom of location). However, if you're bidding for employment, owing to the available competition pool, you're generally back to those 80-130 RMB/hour rates, with a strong emphasis on the "80." There are professional accrediting organizations (ATA and NAJIT in the US, to cite two examples) which may provide assessments and related credibility.

The upshot is, there are far better and more rewarding careers out there than translator. There are even some that may allow you to use your language skills (though good luck getting additional $$ for those).
Of the alternatives listed I'd suggest hotel management is probably the cushiest career (least hassle/best opportunities to interact pleasantly with people for most money) although the article doesn't point out it may require some formal education (hotel management/ hospitality and/or business).

Sep 04, 2012 10:58 Report Abuse



One added benefit of working in the hotel industry is often times, for foreigners at least, you can live and eat in the hotel for free!

Sep 04, 2012 18:04 Report Abuse



The first line of this article is breathtaking:

"Twenty years ago, when China was first developing..." 5,000 years, anyone?

Sep 04, 2012 21:05 Report Abuse



100% agree,
Even though China has developed a lot these years. But lots companies still like to hire people from outside China. Managements, out look are still very important .

Sep 04, 2012 21:27 Report Abuse


Dingle betty

Yet again a thread has descended into a pissing contest, ... the usual suspects.

Sep 05, 2012 04:39 Report Abuse