There are many reasons why China is an attractive and suitable destination for teachers who are looking for a new challenge abroad. One reason why most teachers choose China over other countries is money… A common question we get asked by our teachers is ‘How much money can I save when teaching in China?’ In this blog post, we aim to answer that question, by outlining how much money all different types of teachers can realistically save in China.
Cost of Living
Before we examine how much money teachers can make in China, we need to look at how much teachers will spend. The cost of living in China does vary greatly depending on what city you’re based in. Beijing and Shanghai are by far the two most expensive cities to live in, and the cost of living here is comparable to many major Western cities. A one-bedroom studio apartment in either of these city centres will roughly cost 8,000RMB per month.
As the size of the city falls, so too does the cost of living. A similar one-bedroom apartment can be found for 4,000RMB per month in cities like Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Chengdu (the next biggest cities). Meanwhile, you can rent a place for as little as 1,500RMB per month in some of the smaller Tier 2 / Tier 3 cities! Day-to-day living costs, such as food, transport, entertainment etc will also be slightly more expensive in the bigger cities.
However, this doesn’t mean that teachers who go to the smaller cities will save more money… In China, schools in bigger cities pay higher salaries. This is to compensate for the higher cost of living and means that teachers generally save a similar amount each month, regardless of where they’re located.
For the sake of this blog post, we’ll use the cost of living and earning potential of Shenzhen to highlight how much money a teacher can save in China. As previously mentioned, a one-bedroom studio apartment in Shenzhen would cost around 4,000RMB per month. In addition to this, most teachers who live a comfortable life in Shenzhen will have living costs of around 6,000RMB per month, making the monthly cost of living around 10,000RMB.
Now, let’s examine how much money teachers can earn…
How much experience a teacher has, and the school type they teach in, have the strongest influence on how much money they can earn and save in China. As shown on our Schools in China page, there are a variety of different school types and opportunities for teachers to consider.
A Teacher Agency in China is an education company that is partnered with a large variety of Kindergartens, Public Schools and Private Schools (usually within the same city or province).
Teacher agencies are suitable options for those with 0-2 years of teaching experience, and who are looking to enter China for the first time. Teachers working at agencies in Shenzhen can expect to earn around 18,000 RMB per month after tax. Although assistance with finding accommodation is provided, teachers are required to pay their rent. It’s also worth noting that when working at an agency you will be given time off over the winter and summer holidays. During this period teachers’ pay is subsidised, subsequently making the saving potential over these months smaller.
Training Centres are where young learners come to learn English after school and on the weekends. Although the number of training centres in China has declined over recent years, there are still several reputable ones successfully operating. Just like agencies, training centres are most suitable for teachers with 0-2 years of teaching experience, who are looking to enter China for the first time. As a result, the compensation package is usually very similar to that offered by agencies, with an average teacher working at a training centre in Shenzhen earning around 18,000RMB per month after tax. Unlike agencies, training centres operate all year round. Therefore, teachers can expect to save a consistent amount all year round.
For teachers who are looking to further their careers in early childhood education, a Kindergarten in China is a great place to pick up valuable experience of working with very young learners, while also teaching English at a beginner level. Kindergartens will typically only take on experienced teachers, and as a result, the compensation package they offer is slightly higher. Most kindergartens in Shenzhen will offer a salary of around 25,000RMB after tax. Although some kindergartens will provide a housing allowance in addition, the majority don’t. In addition, most kindergartens will offer their teachers full pay during the winter and summer holidays, however, some will only offer subsidised pay (similar to agencies). Therefore, yearly saving potential may be affected by this.
Private Bilingual School
At Private Bilingual Schools in China, native students are taught in both English and Chinese.
These schools are well-funded, and typically only hire teachers with several years of teaching experience. Teachers working at a private bilingual school in Shenzhen could expect to earn around 28,000RMB per month after tax. In addition, teachers are usually provided with a housing allowance that covers their monthly rent and thus reduces the cost of living. Therefore, since winter and summer holidays are fully paid at private bilingual schools, teachers can expect to save a considerable amount of money year round!
International Schools are the pinnacle of professional teaching in China. Due to the funding they receive, the facilities found in International Schools are usually outstanding, and these schools operate at high academic standards. To secure a job at an international school teachers must hold an official teaching license (PGCE, QTS etc), and have several years of teaching experience. As a result, international schools pay the highest salaries out of all school types in China, provide the largest amount of fully paid vacation over winter and summer, and typically include other great benefits such as a large housing allowance, or free housing. International school teachers in Shenzhen could earn around 32,000 RMB after tax in Shenzhen.
The amount of experience a teacher has, the type of school they teach in, and the compensation package they receive all largely influence how much they can save in China. However, it’s worth mentioning that certain lifestyle factors also have a big impact:
Social Life – Teachers who go out socialising frequently are likely to save less money than those who live a more conservative life.
Travel – During the winter and summer months, teachers who travel frequently are likely to save less than those who don’t.
Food – Teachers who consistently eat out will spend more than those who cook many of their meals from scratch.
Material Things – Those who spend large amounts on possessions will save less than those who don’t.
Dependants – Some teachers will have dependants (partners, children, pets) when in China. This will impact how much money they have left at the end of each month.
Nevertheless, as we’ve highlighted in this blog post, the vast majority of teachers who move to China can save a considerable amount of money each month. This is what makes China one of the most attractive countries for teachers to move to. It doesn’t matter if you’re a recent TEFL graduate with no experience or a licensed teacher who spent years in the classroom, there’s brilliant earning potential for all!
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