Teaching In China Salary: An Ultimate Guide In 2019

teach in China salary

What’s the average salary for a foreign English teacher in China?  

If you are wondering how much you can earn working as an English teacher in China, this article is for you.

The salary standard is increasing in China with the fast-growing economy. However, salary rates vary from industry to industry. For foreign teachers teaching English in China, it also differs depending on mainly three factors:

  • Your qualifications and teaching experiences
  • The type of institutions you teach at
  • The location of your schools 

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Of course, before researching further, you need to find out whether you are qualified to teach English in China or not. Head to this article for more details. 

Below is the infographic of a complete salary guide for teaching in China. As it shows, apart from your qualifications and experiences, how much you earn depends on the type of schools you teach, and generally speaking, greater income comes with bigger responsibilities. In general, teaching English in China offers a decent pay which allows for a comfortable lifestyle for expats. 

Infographics: how much can you earn teaching English in China?

salary expectations for teaching in China infographics

ESL teacher salaries based on different school types 

There are a lot of job opportunities in China for English speakers due to its current high economical growth, and people’s demand for overseas education and business communication. So let’s take a look at in the non-adult education sector, how much can a foreign English teacher earn (in a month):

1. Public Schools: 8,000 – 11,000 RMB per month (1,268 – 1,740 USD)

Public schools in China belong to the government educational system, the teaching hours usually are around 20 hours/week, Monday to Friday. You will be able to teach students from multiple English level, and generally a medium to large class (30 – 40) size.

The teaching schedule won’t be very packed giving you a lot of free time on your own, usually a native co-teacher is there to work with you preparing and delivering lesson enabling you to cope with the environment better. Another one absolute perk is that most public schools have canteen open to you for lunch (amazing food!).

2. Private Institutions: 8,000 – 16,000 RMB per month (1,270 – 2,535 USD)

As you might already have heard that in China, parents usually have high expectations towards their kids’ academic performance, and private Institutions are where parents sent their kids to further develop their skills after normal school hours.

In these institutions, teaching performance expectation for teachers is generally higher which results in more working hours (as well as the increase in salaries).

Private institutions are generally more open and less restrict about candidates’ background. Candidates who have high English skills and a genuine passion for teaching in China can get a shot in winning a position there. Working hours are different from public schools where after-school hours will be your working time.

3. International Schools: 10,000 – 25,000 RMB per month (1,584 – 3961 USD)

International schools in China are for expats’ kids or kids from more well-off families (that aim to send their kids overseas). Most classes in international schools are taught in English (100%), therefore expectations for foreign teachers here could be more than English language, and extended to other subjects such as history, arts, maths and physics etc. Of course, your salaries will be aligned with high expectations and more working hours.

Bonus (outside of the salary): Accommodation Allowances and Flight Reimbursement

In most jobs, free accommodation or allowances will be provided on top of the standard salary, giving foreign English teachers more disposable income to enjoy their stay in China.  Apart from that, flight reimbursement (exact amount varies) is often offered at the end of their one-year teaching in China contract. If you really enjoy your teaching job and would like to extend, you are more than welcome!

What can you do with your teaching salary?

A comfortable living 

Generally speaking, the pay for foreign English teachers in China is quite decent given that the average salary in China per month is probably around RMB 5,000 ~ RMB 8,000. With earnings from teaching English in China, you’ll get to experience cheap but amazingly awesome food, super convenient and cheap transportation, and many other entertainment activities as well. Also, a decent amount of savings if you are determined.

New life experiences 

Apart from getting paid decently, teaching in China is a great opportunity to open yourself up to a new and exciting experience. Check out the stories from other teachers:
Experience of Jennifer: My Teaching in China Experience
Teaching in China Story: Culture Shock? Most Welcome!
Teaching in China Story: A Spontaneous Decision Turned Life-Changing Experience
Teaching in China Story: The Beginning of A New Chapter

Panda Buddy is currently hiring for more than 300 positions in China. We carefully select our education partners to make sure they are well recognised in the industry, provide great local support (airport pickup, visa, and accommodation support) so that you can have a smooth transition to your new life in China. Apply today with Panda Buddy to get your journey started.

Cost of living in China

So, with the money you are earning as a foreign English teacher in China, what kind of lifestyle you will be having? 

There will be a bit of variance between cities with a more noticeable difference between rural and big city life, the cost listed below is an average number taken for your reference.

cost of living in China graph
Average cost of living in China

Below is the sample monthly budget from Harold, an English teacher in Chongqing, China. He recently extended his stay in China for a second year.


Let’s start with the basics.

– you need protein so a kilo of chicken (a weeks’ worth) costs $6. That’s a lot of chicken

– what about some rice. A 5kg bag costs $7.5 (and if you don’t eat like a crazy person like me that’s around 2 weeks’ worth)

– cooking oil? $7.5 / litre.

– milk is what you’d expect anywhere — around $1 a litre.

– and finally fruits and vegetables. There is too much to list individually but you can get several servings of each for $7.5 a week especially if you know where to look. A word of caution though, some vendors will try to charge you more knowing you’re a foreigner so a basic understanding of numbers helps a lot.

Altogether weekly groceries will cost you, if all you ate was chicken, rice, and vegetables (yes, I’m that exciting), around $25.

Going Out

Say you got bored of eating the same thing and want to try something different? That’s half the reason you came to China, right?

Let’s see:

– a standard noodles and beef cost $1. And believe me, it’s anything but standard.

– a pint of beer is a buck — yes you heard that correctly, $0.7.

– what if you’re feeling tired and need something to drink? Water is dirt cheap and coffee is around $0.7.

Let’s say you eat out 3 times a week and drink once a week — that’s around $10.


What about transportation? Too many things to see and cities are quite large wherever you go. Walking is all fine and good but after a month you’ll find yourself catching a taxi for everything. Therefore, to get from one side of the city to the other is on average, $3.

With all the moving around you’ll do in a week that’s around $10.

What if you’re feeling adventurous and want to get a scooter? To buy one new is only $380. Imagine that — you came here to teach kids and the next thing you know you’re riding a scooter and drinking cheap beer (not at the same time of course).


What if you accidentally ate too much and want to go the gym. It’s only $20 a month with all the things you’d expect such as treadmills, squat racks, etc.


And finally, utilities.

The dreaded utilities.

Let’s go through it together.

Water, gas, electricity, wifi, phone costs. Around $75 a month.

And now the big one. Rent. Brace yourself.

A grand total of $0. It’s already paid for. Hmm wasn’t that bad after all.


Let’s get a monthly total.

Income          $1580


Groceries      $25 x 4 = $100

Going out     $10 x 4 = $40

Transport     $20 x 4 = $80

Gym               $20

Utilities      $75


Costs              $315


Total              $1580- $315 = $1265

That’s $1265 USD to do whatever you want (and that’s not including the free plane ticket back home).

can you save money teaching in China infographics

As you can see teaching and living in China doesn’t mean you have to deprive yourself of the big and even small things in life.

Even though $1265 is light years ahead to what most young people save — always remember to have fun and live a little.

Different cities might have a different cost of living, check out the city guides! Check out our city guides for cost of living in individual cities, or you can also take a quick look at this comparison table.

Are you ready to teach English in China?

Teaching in China is an experience that is meant to stay within you for a lifetime. You’ll get to experience, learn, grow and impact.

Apart from all the experiences and learning, you’ll also be guaranteed for a financially worry-free life. Why wait when an opportunity like this arise?

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