Wages and Benefits in China

Wages and Benefits for English Teaching Jobs in China

China is a developing country and living costs are much cheaper than in USA, Canada or other developed countries.  The average salary for the local population is around 1500-2500 Yuan (depending on the location).

That amount is not enough for Westerners to survive however, because cheapest rent ranges from 400 Yuan (if you share your room with somebody) to 1500-3500 Yuan (if you rent one bedroom apartment yourself). But many Chinese manage to live a fairly good life earning this money.

Wages for teaching English are much higher than the salary of an average Chinese, that’s why Chinese people tend to think that all the foreigners living in China are very rich.

Salary rates for teaching English will depend on many different factors, such as a teacher’s qualifications and experience, the place where you work, public kindergarten, schools. colleges and universities or private institutions.

For a native speaker without experience the starting salaries can range from 4500 yuan to 9000 yuan (with housing, visa, airfare reimbursement and other bonuses).

More and more recruitment agencies are appearing on the market. They can play many different roles.  Some just introduce teachers to schools or institutions and then you deal with the school directly. But most education institutions are so busy that they prefer to find a recruitment agency that will provide referrals of foreign teachers.

Recently there has been more competition among employers. The Chinese population is huge and hungry for the English language training. With each passing year the scope of private kindergartens, schools, colleges and universities has increased so much that the employers (i.e. teaching institutions) have to compete among themselves, trying to make their offers as attractive as possible.

The benefits you can get for teaching English are as follows:

1.    Health insurance.  You will get it only if you are employed by a public institution or a huge private school or center and usually it is supposed to cover basic medical and dental needs. Chinese medicine is very cheap, so the amount of health insurance will correspond to expenses for medical attention and prescriptions.

2.    Holidays. There are 16 national holidays in China, excluding spring festival (Chinese New Year). For spring festival holidays different institutions have different schedules, but the minimum paid days off per year should be 7-14 days.  Colleges or universities might have up to a month or more off. All the national holidays will be paid by the employer.

3.    Vacations. Depending on the employer you may have 7-14 days for your vacation per year. But private schools are more unlike to offer you such benefits. They will ask you to take your vacation during spring festival or on other long national holidays, as they don’t have summer or winter holidays at all.   Universities and colleges will likely offer longer holidays than private schools.

4.    Sick leave.  You can count on a few days of sick leave per year, if you work at a public institution. But if it’s a private center, they usually don’t pay for missed days/classes. If you take a sick leave for more than 15 days, the employer has the right to terminate the contract without your agreement.

5.  Transportation costs. Many employers will cover the costs of transportation to China by reimbursing teachers after several months on the job in China and from China back to their home country at the end of the contract. Don’t forget to ask about it before signing the contract with your employer.

6.   Housing.  When hiring a foreign teacher, most schools are responsible for housing. This can be in an apartment, a furnished dormitory or small, single rooms. Single rooms are usually rudimentarily furnished, heated and air-conditioned (depending on location) with a private bathroom. They are usually in a foreign housing complex on the campus or close to school for teacher’s convenience.

7.   Visa.   Rules change constantly about visas and are often dependent on the province, city and even on the connections of the owner of the school.   What worked yesterday, might not work today and what works in Guangzhou, might not work in Shanghai.  What works for school “A”, might not work for school “B”.  Ask about your visa and how it will be done and make sure you understand the process.

8.    Bonuses.  Some schools will pay a bonus to attract more foreigners. It’s an extra amount of money that will be added to your monthly salary or the amount for the whole year when you finish your contract. This bonus is roughly equivalent to severance pay.

9.   Taxes.  In most cases teachers are taxed directly and the employer covers all the taxes. But in some institutions, especially if you earn a high salary around 15000-18000 Yuan a month, you may have to pay your own taxes. Discuss this issue with your employer before signing the contract.