The Most Lucrative Jobs for Foreigners in China

The Most Lucrative Jobs for Foreigners in China
Dec 21, 2016 By Charles Cooper ,

Source: Flickr

While there are plenty of opportunities in China for foreigners looking to find work, the fact is there are only a few lines of work that are truly open to us here. Given the country’s colossal population, Chinese companies already have an enormous pool of potential employees to choose from and so foreigners must tailor their career options to the work available should they choose to live out here. At eChinacities we’ve prepared a short guide to the types of work most available for English speakers in China, using data from eChinaJOBs (

Teaching: 64,645

Easily the most readily available source of work for English Speakers in China, English as a Second Language (ESL) is an industry that has exploded here in recent years. A decade ago china had approximately 2.5 million students learning ESL, by 2013 that number had swelled to over 300 million. The value of this market is set to grow at about 12-15% over the next few years, and was valued earlier this year at $4.5 billion.

Teaching currently account for just under 87% of the jobs available for for foreigners according to data from eChinaJOBs, however this is not limited to ESL. Whilst ESL makes up a whopping 92% of positions in the education/translation field, there are also numerous jobs to be found teaching other languages and subjects such as Maths, Art and music throughout the country, a total of 4553.

IT/Media/Creative: 2,064

Outside of teaching your best bet is to look into Online media and writing work. The IT/Media/Creative section of eChinaJOBs ( currently accounts for just over 2.5% of the sites total holdings. Whilst that might not sound like much it is the largest pool of work outside of teaching to be found in China. Whilst perhaps seeming like a drop in the bucket compared to teaching work, there is still a good deal of demand in China for English speakers to work in creative media, not least due to the influence of the English language in global culture, as well as a desire to reach English speaking markets.

As anyone who has spent a good deal of time in China can tell you, while most peoples grasp of English is far better than most westerners grasp of Chinese, there is still room for improvement, and as such there is a chronic need for translators, editors, copy writers and the like. The rise of start up companies (particularly in Beijing) is adding to this need too, as companies seek to shift their products overseas. Beijing and Shanghai are the biggest players in these industries, holding 72% of positions relating to these types of work. The rest are spread more thinly throughout the country and so while it is not absolutely necessary to head to the tier 1 cities for this type of work, such a move would no doubt help immensely.

Marketing/Advertising/PR: 1,546

The next area to look into would be work relating to Marketing/Advertising/PR. Accounting for over 2% (again, small potatoes compared to teaching but representing plenty of opportunity) of the work available according to eChinaJOBs ( This is natural, given the desire of many Chinese companies to market and spread their products across the globe. Most of the opportunities you’ll encounter for this kind of work are focused in the tech industry, which is currently experiencing something of a boom in China. This is particularly true of gaming, and companies like Reality Squared Games (Hong Kong R2Games Company Limited) are scouring the country looking for native English speakers to help market their products in the English speaking world.

Once again Beijing and Shanghai have the best opportunities here, offering 26% (Beijing) and 47% (Shanghai) respectively. These cities consistently offer the best opportunities for finding work outside of teaching, however there are still plenty of positions spread throughout the country, so if you’re looking for work elsewhere, don’t assume that these sorts of jobs are out of reach!

Sales/Retail/Business Development: 1,124

Another surprisingly lucrative area for English speakers is in sales. As with much of the previous positions we’ve mentioned, the sales work that one can find in china mostly relates to international sales, meaning that your talents will be aimed primarily at foreign markets rather than Chinese ones should you opt for this kind of work. Business development positions here are largely similar in this regard, after all when looking to focus on Chinese clientele, companies have over 1 billion employees to choose from who know the country inside out, why would they need a foreigner? This needn’t be an issue however, as while most companies won’t be interested in hiring a foreigner to develop their business in China, your knowledge of your own culture, particularly Europe and North America, will prove invaluable for penetrating new markets. As a result, such work accounts for over 1.5% of jobs in China according to data from eChinaJOBs (

Admin/HR/Management: 939

As discussed in our last section, most Chinese companies are not particularly interested in hiring foreigners for positions that they can hire local Chinese for. Fortunately for you however, there are plenty of lucrative opportunities to found with foreign companies looking for talent to help run their operations in China. One example of this is Stratasys, a Minneapolis based company that in its own words, is ‘a leading global provider of 3D printing and additive manufacturing solutions’, and is currently looking to hire an East China Territory Manager in Shanghai.

Just as the Chinese generally prefer to hire Chinese, Americans prefer to hire Americans, British British, and so on. This means that if you’re looking to find work, particularly in a management setting, foreign companies are your best bet. Companies want managers whose ideas and methods they can understand, and having a similar cultural background is indispensable. While this same rule does not apply to Admin and HR, there are plenty of opportunities to be found here as well, as long as you’re willing to work in education. It is no secret that Chinese and Western work cultures often clash, and as a result many schools have started turning to foreigners to run things on this level in their companies. Overall these types of work account for just over 1% of jobs according to eChinaJOBs ( data.

Warning:The use of any news and articles published on without written permission from constitutes copyright infringement, and legal action can be taken.

Keywords: admin advertising business development chinese jobs creative echinajobs HR IT management marketing media PR retail sales teaching work in China echinacities work 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.