The need for native English speaking teachers in China is enormous. As mentioned in our previous post about Why Teach English in China, teaching English is a huge industry. So naturally, there are a number of recruiting agencies and methods for you to find work as an English teacher in China. Both Josh and I found our teaching jobs in China differently, so we can attest to multiple ways to find a job teaching English in China.
Online Research is a Convenient Way to Find a Job Teaching English in China
Of course, researching the internet is the number one way to accomplish your job search while you are overseas. There is loads of information on the internet, so you could be a bit overwhelmed with what you find when doing a general Google search. However, there are a few different ways that you can go about your online search so that you can dig deeper and find good and useful information.
1. Read Blogs from Former English Teachers & Travel Bloggers (like us!)
We have discovered that many teachers who come to China to teach English will create a blog to document their experience, as well as sharing their experience back home with their friends and family. But there is also a whole industry of people who work while they travel, either travel bloggers or digital nomads. Often these people are using teaching as a way to earn money while they travel or work on other projects. (…ahem, like us!)
These blogs are a VALUABLE resource! Reading them, you will be amazed at how much you learn about the teaching experience, life in China, as well as life working in different schools. There is a big difference between teaching at a language school, public school, private school, and universities. So reading about the different experience can really help you to figure out what option is best for you. Knowing this in advance is really helpful before you start actively looking for jobs.
Further, you may also learn about different cities where you might want to teach. China is so incredibly big, and life is very different for a teacher depending on where you live. Most foreigners only know of the major cities, like Beijing and Shanghai. We had never heard of Guangzhou before we started researching potential jobs in China, and we love it here!
** If you are interested in teaching English in China, then we can help. We have partnered with Josh’s school, First Leap, to put our interested readers directly in touch with their staff for potential teaching jobs. Click here if you are interested in talking with someone from First Leap.
2. Online Forums & Resources
While we were looking for teaching jobs in China, I did a lot of research all over different online forums. One of the best websites out there is Dave’s ESL Cafe. It a very well-known site where teachers can search for job openings and recruiting agencies, as well as find resources to help with their job hunt. Potential teachers can also submit their resumes and information to the system so that recruiters can contact them directly.
I can say that only a day after posting my information, I was getting emails from recruiters. It was great to see the interest, but honestly a lot of it didn’t apply to me and what I was looking for. So just keep this in mind if you post your information on the website.
3. TEFL & TESOL Schools
Many TEFL and TESOL certification schools will provide information to help you in your job search. This is a fantastic resource that you should take advantage of. In fact, when you are searching for a TEFL school you should see what kind of job placement assistance and resources they have in place. Certain schools are a lot more helpful than others. We have seen some really great schools who provide excellent training and will help you with your resume, as well as linking up with recruiters and providing access to job postings.
** NOTE: Some schools will tell you that they can “guarantee” you a job. BE WARY of this guarantee. Many of these companies already have contract with schools to place teachers. This means that you may not have a choice at where you are placed (school or city). Some people are totally fine with this, while other people want to have more control in choosing where they live and work. Most of these jobs are offered as”take it or leave it” – so if you don’t take it, no guaranteed job. We have heard stories from people who were not in the greatest of schools and had difficult working conditions. This is always a risk if you give up your ability to choose – but again, it’s personal preference. It is easy to get a job this way.
4. Recruiting Agencies
There are loads of recruiting agencies for English teachers in China. Being such a huge industry, there is a lot of money to be made by placing teachers. So naturally, there is some good and bad that comes along with working with agencies.
The good part is that they may work with many different schools. So you can have access to a number of jobs. And they may also cover different regions, so you can choose where you are interested in working. Working with a recruiter can also save you time because you don’t have to re-apply at different schools so many times. They can do a lot of that work for you!
Unfortunately, agencies are trying to make a buck. So you could potentially be led to a job that they want you to take, perhaps because their commission is higher. Lastly, another thing to keep in mind is that many recruiters will say that they don’t take a fee from you — but they will sometimes take a portion of your contract salary. Essentially, they might offer you your contract at a rate of 9,000 RMB per month, whereas if you went directly to the school, you might get 10,000 RMB per month. So again, it’s up to you if you want to leave money for the sake of convenience.
** NOTE: NEVER pay anyone to find you a job teaching English! You do not have to do this, and any agency who asks for a fee upfront is a scam…don’t do it!
5. Direct to the English School Website
Another option is to bypass the recruiters and go direct to the school. After doing a bit of online research, you will start to see the names of major schools pop up in your search results over and over. So you might as well go direct to their websites to look for job openings.
This is a great way to learn about the school itself, and see if you are a good match. Some of the bigger schools will have a lot of great information for prospective teachers! I have also found that this is a great way to also check to see if the recruiters are offering lower amounts for the same jobs!
Pounding the Pavement in Person
If you are brave enough to take the risk, you may also consider heading to China first and finding a job the good ol’ fashioned way…by pounding the pavement and cold calling! While not everyone’s cup of tea, it is a possibility and can be appropriate for people in certain situations.
Actually, this is how I found my job teaching English here in China! In my situation, Josh had already secured a job teaching. So I wanted to wait until I knew where we were living before I found a school. Cities in China are BIG. So the last thing I wanted was a 2 hour commute across town for my job. The good news is that there are so many English schools (especially in big cities), so you will have plenty of options.
* IMPORTANT NOTE *
Be aware that if you come to China before you have a job, you will likely need to get a tourist visa — and technically, you are not allowed to work OR look for work on that visa. However, people do it all the time and the schools won’t care – they know. But it is a risk that you should be aware of, because technically it is illegal. I cannot encourage falsifying any visa documents…so this one’s up to you.
Personal Experience & Word of Mouth
One of the very best ways to find a job as an English teacher in China (or anywhere in Asia) is word of mouth and by talking to other people who have done it. Beyond the online resources such as blogs, there are many people all over our native countries who have taught English. Maybe it is a family friend, or a friend of a friend. Reach out to them to get their opinion and recommendations. I’m sure they would be happy to share their experience with you!
Our Recommended Approach to Finding a Job Teaching English in China
Overall, I believe that the best way to find a job teaching English in China is to use a combination of these methods. Reach out to your personal network of friends and family, research online blogs, forums, recruiting agencies, and go direct to English school websites. If you are reading this, then you are already on the right track to finding the job you are looking for as an English teacher in China.
For more information about Teaching English in China click HERE and be sure to check out our other stories and resources on this website. We are happy to help!