The Best Times to Apply for Teaching Jobs in China

The Best Times to Apply for Teaching Jobs in China
Jun 25, 2011 By Thomas Ackerman ,

If you're looking for a teaching job in China you're probably asking yourself: What's the best job I can get? How much salary can I negotiate for? How can I get a position in the city I want? Certainly your schooling and teaching experience will have the biggest impact on your possibilities, but how early or late you choose to apply has a significant effect on your employment and salary options as well. Applying at the right time can mean the difference between a so-so job and a great one, an alright salary and an excellent one. Read on to find out when’s the best time to apply for teaching jobs in China.

When’s the best times to apply for teaching jobs in china
Photo: AlicePopkorn

China has several types of teaching institutions which hire foreign teachers: primary schools up to universities, public and private schools, international schools and private language academies. Most of them run on a system of two terms per year. The fall term, which is usually the biggest time for hiring, begins late August or early September. The spring term, which brings with it slightly less hiring, begins late February or early March. There are a few exceptions to this, especially with private academies, which sometimes offer contracts of several months.

According to the schools I spoke with, you should apply for teaching positions as early as April or May for the fall term, and as early as November for the spring term. By this time, schools have already heard from most of their teachers about whether they will return, and the hiring departments know how many teachers they have to search out. Three to four months may sound early to a lot of ears, and it is certainly possible to start finding a job later, but when you consider that you'd probably like to shop around and compare location, salary, benefits and even do a bit of negotiating, then the more time you give yourself the better. You probably don't just want to sign a contract with the first institution that offers you one. Ideally, you want to be looking over several possible contracts, and learning more about the position and the institution itself.

After all, communicating and asking questions about a job may sometimes go smoothly, but it can also take weeks. I once spent nearly a month applying to teach at a university, having an initial interview, and then having a meeting to negotiate a few details. It was only at the last meeting that the hiring director told me that the school actually ships out their teachers to another location an hour away to teach most of their classes. As you might imagine, this was not exactly what most teachers, myself included, would want, and I was glad that while discussing their offer I'd been taking my time to apply to other universities as well. A week later, I turned down their offer and accepted a different one. If I had been over the barrel because of time and without other options, I could have done no such thing.

Similar to the school system, large academies advise applying four months in advance also. This is not just for the sake of deciding if you want the job, but also because with a multi-franchise school you can choose which city you want to work in. Four months in advance, you may be able to choose between all of those cities as your destination. By about six seeks in advance, the pickings are slim. Academies also offer positions during winter and summer breaks, which range between six and eight weeks. Academies need fewer teachers for these shorter programs, but many local teachers choose to go out of town during this time, leaving some positions open.

While your immediate concerns may be with the time involved in researching and applying for jobs, another important factor in the hiring process is that you will need to get your work visa. This is usually shortly before the semester begins, but in some cases schools will help you get it earlier. If it's simply a renewal, and you're in China already, it will often take only a week. However, you should leave yourself at least two weeks just in case of bureaucratic problems, or in case a public holiday falls on a visa-processing day (as it might during Spring Festival). Getting the work visa for the first time in China can take as long as a month. At home, it generally takes two to four weeks. To avoid overstaying or other problems while acquiring your visa, make sure you have time during this period to visit the necessary offices (most of which are only open during work hours), and check to make sure public holidays won’t reduce the number of business days, making it impossible for you to get it processed in time.

If you already have a visa, you can sometimes negotiate higher salaries when applying at the last minute. The school will also be short on time, forcing them to agree to contracts they would’ve turned down several months out. This is obviously a dicey tactic, especially when it involves a move, and can result in complications on the visa front.

It might seem daunting going through the whole employment process the first time, but getting a jump on it early will be a huge help. Even if you've had teaching jobs before, an early start will definitely give you more options. It will also allow you to review more schools, examine more contracts and compare more offers. You may already be very confident in your credentials, but with the added advantage of proper timing, you’re in an ideal position when it comes to landing the right job and the best salary.

**Thank you to the folks at Aston English, New Oriental and South China Normal University for their help in researching this article

Related Links
How to Find the Perfect Teaching Job in China
5 Blunders to Avoid for English Teachers in China
The Life Cycle of a Teacher in China

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Feb 16, 2017 14:28 Report Abuse



nice article, thanks

Feb 01, 2017 08:30 Report Abuse



Am a near native English speaker and am from Africa.I have taught in a high school for over 6 years now. I have a degree in Education and would like a chance to teach in any phase in China.
Do i stand a chance?

Sep 12, 2012 00:46 Report Abuse



Chinese parents don't like black teaching their child/children, such as big cities in china

Jul 12, 2016 12:15 Report Abuse



Any one who know a school in China that is hiring English school teachers from English speaking African countries?

Jul 04, 2012 22:45 Report Abuse



Any one who know a school that is hiring English school teachers from English speaking African countries?

Jul 04, 2012 22:44 Report Abuse



It's the most disgraceful place to ever be in
I am currently teaching in one of the schools of Aston
Mob driven collaborated with local authorities a place

May 13, 2012 02:54 Report Abuse



Shane School in Nanjing has employed many teachers of different races. However they treat all their staff poorly, especially the Chinese staff. They refuse to provide teaching supplies like board markers every day of the week. Currently we can only ask on a Friday. Half the staff have given in their notice since they started taking away our paid holiday days.

Some school can be great to work for but do your research and ask to speak to existing staff members. Ask to walk around the office speaking to teachers. Don't let them provide you with a chosen representative.

Apr 16, 2012 21:32 Report Abuse



wish to have a teaching in English job in the big reputed business school in china, any part. Pl. send the application form. I am BE MBA MSc (SWEDEN), published many papers, books, ARANGED SEMINARS.

Mar 26, 2012 22:48 Report Abuse



I love teaching. That's why, i have made my career in teaching.

Jul 25, 2011 20:07 Report Abuse



Good to know this...
I would like to find a job which acts as a liaison to English teachers and other Chinese. If there are possible opportunities, pls feel free to contract me.

Jul 22, 2011 19:56 Report Abuse



J E - You are right, not only racism, but don't forget the always active sexism, and age discrimination. Indeed very hard to get a job in China yet they claim they are in dire need of expats. Go figure!

Jun 30, 2011 07:07 Report Abuse



@ Leon and Ric,

If you done your homework before going to China, you'd know that racism occurs.... Knowing that would probably not encourage you to enter the market in China?! As I presume the degrading racism will not make your life happier....

As for me, I am a recruiter for a Chinese company. I told my boss that I am not judging applicants on skin colour, however she seems to be rather ignorant towards my ethics.... (Do not always think its the recruiter who is being unreasonable, he has forces behind him as well...)

Jun 29, 2011 22:53 Report Abuse



As far as universities or other public schools are concerned, I've determined there is no "best" time to apply. I thought applying 3-4 months ahead was the best approach, and all received as answers was "can't say for sure right now", or "we don't know call again in another 2 weeks". Then suddenly positions are full. The people who work in foreign affairs offices are quite clueless and often don't share information with each other. I've had people tell me the exact opposite thing of what they said before within the span of 1 week. They will drag you on and on with completely ambiguous answers and then at the last second, for no reason or explanation, say there are no positions left. Or in order to avoid a headache or trouble if they have forgotten who you are, will randomly make something up just to save face. I had been speaking with one women off and on for nearly 2 months and somewhere in the process she had swapped my identity with a 58 year old man and proceeded to tell me I'm too old told to teach at their school (I'm 24). I've also had schools that I never even applied to call me at the last second asking if I were still looking for a position. It's completely random and unpredictable. And as a general rule, the darker your skin the more severe the ambiguity, and erratic the behavior. Were I a bit younger, some of these people I've had to deal with could seriously fool me as retarded.

Jun 26, 2011 21:42 Report Abuse


John Keith

This is a great article. It would be great if you would also post in on China Teacher Registry.

Jun 26, 2011 16:08 Report Abuse



recently i have completed my master degree in physical education. as looking for an international job to glow my carrier as playing is my passion as that i have chosen my carrier in physical education. I know basic skills of , badminton, volleyball, football, volleyball rugby cricket and i am specialized in handball

Nov 07, 2010 02:53 Report Abuse



Interesting points here, and here are mine just for good measure. Firstly, this is not a recruitment site, maybe others can add to the list but if your looking for teaching jobs try these :

Or simply google"Teach in ........" enter the city you want and go from there. I arrived in China in 2006 in Dalian, telephone and MSN interviews, i have a minor disability, i am missing 3 fingers from my left hand due to a venous condition. Now, this was not noticed by either Chinese or Foreign friends for 3 months, i certainly dont advertise it, i am not ashamed, i simply do not want to explain a trillion times why i have it, my hand, my body, i do as i please. Once my employers noticed a few comments were going around the office, more inquisitive than any other kind. This culminated in a visit to the bosses office where it was "suggested" i wear a glove.....yeah, cos obviously people wouldn't question me then would they, stupid F......s! i explained that i would not be doing that, nor any other hair brained scheme they might come up with and that if they felt that my "disabilty" was losing them students, or affecting my work, then please fire me....they did. I decided to punish them where it hurts the most, their pockets, upon me telling all my students who in the short space of time had bonded with me, they in turn told their parents, who spoke to the school, who lied about why i was leaving, who tried to have me beaten in a bar because i told the truth, which ended with me removing 47 full time paying students from the school and placing them in others that i had made relationships with. So, was i discriminated against? Partly, but Chinese discriminate against themselves also, fat, busty, thin, spotty, they are critical of their own place in society not to mention in the worlds eye, so i just did not match up to their highly inflated egotistical appearance values. After i left the city, i joined a huge Chinese company, nothing said, infact, when they noticed, they asked all the right things in the right way, and have bent over backwards to ensure that i am ok, performance matters here not looks. I won't even get started on the racism.......

Jun 25, 2011 16:55 Report Abuse


Dog and Wolf

Ric, we know you are hurting and desperate. If you are in the US, you will be considered as over-qualified since you have an MBA and a BS in computer science. The bigger question, why you are not able to find a job commensurate with your qualifications in good old USA. Instead of capitalizing on the approval you will get for lashing out at China, you should think why you cannot find a job in USA, a country for which you are a citizen of?

Oct 08, 2010 07:34 Report Abuse



Why is Ric hurting and desperate? Sound like assumptions to me. I think he's just angry at what he feels is racism.

Well, I too can be racist, and I'll assume you are Chinese because of the incredibly naive and simplistic arguments you are putting forward. Did it ever occur to you that RIc's ancestors are Chinese? And that maybe he wants to spend some time in China working and travelling to see the land of his ancestors? But now he is incredible disappointed to find out that the land of his ancestors is so narrow minded and short sighted...

Dec 12, 2010 15:24 Report Abuse



He has been facing racism in the USA. That is why he cannot find work in the land of empty talk although he holds US citizenship. Instead of lashing out against the US racism, he thinks he will get some tidbits of affiliation to the whites.

Dec 12, 2010 19:26 Report Abuse



You don’t HAVE to be white.
But it helps a lot.

I personally know black American, black British, non white Brazilian, Korean, Malaysian, and Chinese English teachers.

I have hired an ethnic Egyptian, an Indian, and a black American teacher myself (as DOS).

It is worth noting that you are more likely to get work in the private sector.

And the people in Kunming are still looking for an African teacher.

Oct 07, 2010 18:30 Report Abuse



Dear Mark

If you know any school that would hire English teachers from English speaking African countries kindly let me know my email address is as below

Jul 04, 2012 22:49 Report Abuse


White Pride

Rice: u mad

Oct 07, 2010 10:15 Report Abuse



To Ric,

I can totally relate to your comment because as an ABC myself I have faced the same obstacles in finding a teaching job in China. No matter how well your English proficiency is, the bottom line is that all these cram schools prefer Whites. I’d once witnessed a German teacher giving a demo English class and let me you: F@@King horrible accent.

Oct 07, 2010 03:43 Report Abuse



Don’t forget to mention that you HAVE to be WHITE!

Ive been to several interviews and they were shocked when they saw that I wasnt White, but was a native speaker and was born in the USA. They say, "Thats impossible!" Well, heres my passport and ID as proof!

Most times, they lie and say, "Well call you." Places like Web International English are people who lie to their own clients. They dont hire native speakers. They hire only White people who can BARELY speak any English. They even admit it to me.

Im an Asian-American, or ABC, as these idiotic Chinese like to call it. Im well educated with a Masters in Business Administration and a Bachelors in Computer Science with 5 years of professional working experience. And they still look pass that!

I have some friends here who arent native speakers and whos English skills are subpar, but they are much desired and are paid handsomely, while I get nothing at all. 5 months and all I get is rejection, while they get all the money.

This is the reason why Chineses English skills are so piss poor. You get some guy/girl who cant speak English fluently, teaching it.

I met a guy who bragged about studying English for 20 years, but he spoke so slowly and could barely use adverbs. But when he spoke Chinese, he spoke quickly. I wanted to point this out so that you know that he didnt have some kind of speech impediment.

Also, this Chinese lady who spoke SOME English said that my English was good and she complimented my Cuban friend on how good his English was. HA! His accent is so heavy, how can she not know? Of course, shes Chinese. Of course she wouldnt know!

They are so proud of what little they know, it never ceases to amaze me...

Perhaps the author of this article can be honest about this... for once....

Oct 07, 2010 01:47 Report Abuse