Published on:
July 26, 2017

by: Will Perrins

What salary can I expect teaching in China?

How much you can earn teaching in China is based on several key factors, such as type of school you work for, location in China and level of experience.

Regardless of these factors, Opportunity China do not partner with any schools that pay less than RMB8000 (£900/$1200) per month – the majority pay upwards of RMB10,000 (£1150/ $1500) per month and some up to RMB22,000 (£2500/ $3250) per month for experienced teachers or a Director of Studies. Note that salaries are typically net, so after tax! On top of this you can expect an apartment provided or an allowance, flight reimbursement and local insurance as a minimum – some schools also offer bonuses, funds towards visa costs, Mandarin lessons, and team building activities!

Private Language Centres


Salaries at private language centres range from around RMB9000-16,000 depending on experience. Those starting off in their first role can expect a package close to lower end of that range, usually between RMB9000-12,000.

Language centre roles are generally the highest paying teaching jobs in China and give you the opportunity to earn even more through performance related bonuses and handsome pay rises upon contract renewal.

The flip-side is that you really have to ‘work for you money’, teaching hours are often high at Private Language Centres and you will be expected to honor you office hours, even if there’s no work to complete!

It is however an enormously rewarding experience for ambitious, energetic and motivated individuals. See, firsthand, what a day in the life of a Teacher at a Private Language Centre looks like!

Public Schools


Salaries at public schools tend to range from around RMB8000-12000 depending on experience, but with a rise of public schools in China hiring and requiring foreign teachers, this salary seems to be on the rise.

Public Schools generally pay less than private language centres, but offer greater flexibility, less teaching hours, often little to no office hours. Many public schools will also offer considerably longer holidays, partially and sometimes fully paid! See our previous article on the benefits of working at a public school in China.

Location as a pay factor


Where you are based in China is important, as it will usually be a contributing factor towards you earnings. Working in a larger 1st tier such as Shanghai, Beijing and Shenzhen, even relatively inexperienced teachers can be earning upwards of RMB12,000 each at a Private Language Centre each month. The flipside of this is that the cost of living will increase exponentially, particularly for overheads such as rent (which is rarer to find included in a job package at a first tier city).

Conversely, second tier cities, (still not small by any stretch of the imagination), such as Hangzhou, Fuzhou or Chengdu will offer salaries of around RMB9000 for new starters, but will often include either accommodation outright or an accommodation allowance that will stretch a much longer way than in a first tier city.

See our city guides for more information and city-specific cost of living guides.

What your salary can get you?


No matter where you are located (with the notable exception of Shanghai and perhaps Beijing) the cost of living in China is substantially cheaper than what most will be used to at home, so although your monthly salary may be lower than a teacher’s salary in your home country, it will hold substantially more purchasing power in China.

For context, a foreign teacher in China’s salary is often equal to that of a doctor’s. Teachers enjoy a comfortable lifestyle with daily meals in restaurants, cinema trips, visiting bars and tea houses, shopping trips, gym membership, massages….and the funds to go on weekend trips to explore other areas of China. Find out more about entertainment in China.

Furthermore, you will have the opportunity to save a substantial amount of money. Many teachers in China save upwards of 50% of their salary each month, setting you off on a good footing upon your return from China or giving you the chance to save for a mega end of contract adventure!


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