The Average Salary For Teaching English in China

Rachel Weiss
Career China Digital Marketing Manager
Sep 19, 2018

There are many countries all over the world where the demand for ESL teacher is very high - one of those countries is China. Being one of the most populous countries in the world, China is full of opportunities for ESL teachers. Chinese youth understand the importance of speaking fluent English and know that a world of opportunities will open up for them if they can speak and understand English properly. This growing need for English teachers in China means that the average salary to teach English in China is strong.

In order to attract native English-speakers from overseas to teach English in China, Chinese schools are offering very attractive and competitive salary packages which include, but are not limited to, insurance, housing, paid vacations, free airfare and much more. 

Let's discuss some of the average salaries paid to English teachers in China, and variations between cities and types of schools.

English Teacher Salaries in China:

Across China the average salary to teach English in China can vary quite widely. Overall the average English teacher salary is 10,000 RMB to almost 30,000 RMB (in some cases maybe even more).

As you can imagine, English teacher salaries in big cities are more competitive because they are full of foreigners who are all looking to make a living, and most of them resort to teaching English.  In Beijing, a teaching salary of 12000 – 16000 RMB per month would be considered quite decent, while upwards of 20000 RMB would be very good.

However, it's important to take into account housing. Most schools in China will either provide housing, or they will give a monthly housing allowance. Be sure to find out whether the salary includes this or not so you can get a better idea if they are offering a fair total salary.

If you feel like big and bustling cities are not for you, you can also look towards smaller cities in China where the demand for English teachers is also quite large. Cities such as Suzhou and Chengdu are still bustling, but quite smaller and less expensive than Shanghai and Beijing, although the pay will usually be a bit less.  

Cost of Living in China:

Some people might feel that the average salary in China for English teachers is low compared to what they were earning in their home country. And while that may be true, one of the biggest benefits for teaching in China is the lower cost of living. In China, teachers will pay significantly less than other Western countries like the US or UK where a large portion of people's paychecks goes towards their rent and other costs of living. 

In real terms, many teachers in China might even be better off than their home country at the end of the month when all costs are deducted from their salaries. Most English teachers in China don't have to pay rent since accommodation is typically covered by their employer, and rent is by far the biggest expense teachers will have in China. Therefore, many teachers in China end up saving $1000+ a month (or more) and some teachers are able to save upwards off $20,000 USD per year.

It's important to consider that the average cost of living in China varies from city to city. The bigger cities, of course, will have a higher cost of living, whereas the smaller cities have a lower cost of living. In cities like Beijing and Shanghai, the cost of living could be roughly 6000 RMB without rent per month; it can be higher depending on where you live and what your spending habits are.

In smaller cities the average cost of living ranges from 1000 to 3000 RMB, depending on your choices and living style (excluding housing costs).

Read our full post on Cost of Living in China.

Types of Schools To Teach English At In China

Public schools:

Public schools are an integral part of the Chinese education system and are spread all across the country. Salaries in public schools range from 8000 to 12000 RMB, depending on your qualifications and what city you are based in. In some cases, the school may even give an extra 1000 to 1500 RMB for accommodation or they might even offer on-campus living/accommodation.

In smaller cities, ESL teachers at public schools receive salaries ranging between 7000 to 12000 RMB. There isn’t any difference between the salaries offered in big and small cities. The similarity in wage rate might be due to the fact that the same public schools are operating in both types of cities.

International Schools:

If you get a job as an English language teacher at an International school in China, then consider yourself very lucky. Getting a job an international school as an ESL teacher is no easy task. Your qualifications and experience matter a lot. If you are teaching in a first-tier city international school, your average ESL teacher salary will range from 15000 to 30000 RMB per month and will have lots of other benefits that come with it.

To get a job at an international school, you will have to be a native English speaker, have a license, and have at least two years of experience. In smaller cities, international schools offer a salary of 9000 to 12000 RMB per month. This might seem like it is a lot less than the salaries at first-tier city international schools, but you have to keep in mind the difference in living expenses between bigger and smaller cities.


Teaching English at a big city university in China means a monthly salary of 5000 to 8000 RMB. The reason for the salaries being so low is that there are usually fewer working hours - an ESL teacher will be required to work around 20 hours a week.

The university also provides the teacher with on campus accommodation, free utilities and meals; this all-inclusive package makes for low wages. Same as the big cities, the smaller city universities will have lower wages (almost the same as the first tier city universities). Monthly wages range from 4000 to 7000 RMB.

Language Schools:

In China is it becoming increasingly popular for parents to enroll students in after-school and weekend language schools, so there is a high demand for English teachers at these kinds of language schools! Working hours at language schools might vary, with a typical schedule going from Wednesday – Sunday and more classes being taught during the afternoon and evenings.

A huge perk of working at this kind of school is that the salary is generally higher than at public schools. If you're in a smaller city, the salary might be from 10,000 to 15000 RMB, while the average salary for a bigger city is from 13000 to 20000 RMB. Language schools will either provide accommodation or a housing allowance as part of your contract.

Teaching English in China Provides A Great Salary and A Very Comfortable Life

Working as an ESL teacher in China can be a great way to get started on a teaching career! As an ESL teacher, you can earn a great salary to support yourself. When you are looking for a job as an ESL teacher, explore your options to find the best kind of school and city in China for you.  

Learn more about Career China's Available Teaching Positions and apply today!

For more information about living and traveling in China, check out The Ultimate Guide for Moving to China

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