A guide that helps you navigate the job market and build a career in China.
For many expats, what makes China a desired place to seek job opportunities is its position of being the second largest economy in the world. It is predicted that it will be on the top of the list in some years. What China did very well to develop that fast is to focus on being a global player by attracting foreigners and harmonizing their talents with Chinese workforce. None of the countries developed by ignoring the outside market. Neither did China.
There are unlimited number of job opportunities in China for foreigners especially in first tier cities. The number of workers increased from 180.000 to 950.000 since 1996. No doubt there will be more than 1 million foreigners in a couple of years.
Foreign workers are divided into three categories in China. The ones that are in Category A are considered as “highly-talented”. These are the foreigners China wants at most. Foreigners in Category B are mostly the ones with only Bachelor’s Degree. They also have many job opportunities; but they need to be more patient and ambitious while trying to prove they can do more than the local employees. Category C foreigners are very limited. Most of them do not have any degree. There are some job opportunities for them as well, but it is extremely hard for them to find a suitable one.
ESL (English as the Second Language) industry needs foreigners at most. The more China develops, the bigger it gets. Chinese people know the importance of learning English; and they are ready to pay the price for it.
Due to the high demand for English teachers, there is always thousands of job opportunities for teachers. A professional English teacher who is eligible to get the work visa can find a teaching job anywhere very easily. Teachers who are from native English-speaking countries with 2 years of experience or with a relevant teaching certificate can work in China “legally”.
Depending on the location and the school, English teachers can make 120,000RMB to 300,000RMB annually.
It is not a secret that China’s focus is technology these years. They give a lot of support for technology companies and want to be the technology hub of the world. First tier cities like Shanghai, Beijing or Hangzhou are always welcoming the foreigners to work on improving technology.
An HTML designer can earn between 180,000 to 350,000RMB annually where a Java developer can make up to 550,000RMB.
Heavy industry is not as popular as it used to be; but manufacturing will never end until the end of the humanity. A skilled foreign engineer, accountant or manager can be paid higher than their country and enjoy low cost of living in China.
Foreign engineers can make 300,000RMB to 500,000RMB annually and enjoy free apartment with a private driver.
As I have mentioned above, there is a very high demand for English teachers in China; but there is not enough teachers to meet this demand. That’s why some schools have no other choice but hiring illegal teachers. Nearly half of 400,000 English teachers in China are considered as “illegal”. These are the ones who are not eligible to get work visa to work as an English teacher.
China started to export Chinese technology and being a creative IT means a lot to them. On the other hand, they want “smart cities” that adapt technology into daily life. Their demand for talented ITs will definitely be more than now. Anyone who understands technology and who is creative can have a very good career in China.
Even though Chinese people study English, only 10% of them can speak English conversationally. A good translator who can speak Chinese and English, German or Japanese can use his/her talents and enjoy a very high-standard life.
A lot of Manufacturing and trading companies want to grow internationally. They need foreigners who know outside market and the differences of business cultures. An experienced sales manager can become one of the key players of these companies very easily.
Foreign sales managers representing foreign companies with the aim of growing in Chinese market can also be very valuable. There are a lot of companies that need foreigners who can take care of their sales in Chinese domestic market.
There are millions of new engineers graduate from universities in China every year; but not many of them are really talented. So, a foreign engineer who can do what locals can’t means a lot for any company. Good computer and mechanical engineers can have better career than anywhere else in the world.
There are plenty of accountants in China; but not many of them know much about financial issues in other countries. A foreign account who knows the details of accounting in different countries can find a very good job.
There are many foreign-owned multinational companies in China. Interestingly, most of them require foreigners for their top management positions. Good thing for top managers is they have more benefits than many other countries in the world. Anyone who has management experience can find his/her dream job in China.
As a foreigner who has experienced how much China changed in the last decade, I can easily say there are still a lot of job opportunities for foreign experts and there will always be.
In order to be a foreign expat in China, what we need to do is knowing our talent and how we can help this fastest-growing economy in the world. Once we do what we really can do, finding a job in China will not be a hard thing to do.
Embark on a lifetime journey teaching English in China!