How Much Do English Teachers Make When Teaching English in China?

Children taking photos, Teaching English in China

You want to start your teach abroad journey but you’re not sure if it’s the right fit. You’re tired of the corporate grind and you’re looking for adventure and fun. Well teaching English in China might just be right up your alley. As China continues to encourage its locals across all age groups to learn English, so the demand for English teachers in China grows.

Teaching English as a foreign language has become an increasingly popular career choice for native English speakers around the world. China, with its growing economy and large population, has become one of the most popular destinations for teaching English. The need in schools for native English speakers is growing which means the demand for English teachers is high and there are many opportunities for qualified teachers to find work. The benefits are also great which tends to attract many international teachers.

When it comes to determining how much English teachers make in China, there are several factors to consider.

These include the type and location of school or institution where the teacher is working as well as the teacher’s qualifications and experience. Different schools and institutions in China offer varying levels of compensation but overall, the benefits are great. These range from free airfare, accommodation, paid holidays and even healthcare.

In general, English teachers in China can expect to earn between RMB 10 000 and RMB 20 000 per month, which is roughly equivalent to $1 500 to $3 000 USD or ZAR 25 000 – ZAR 50 000.

Type of Teaching Institution

One of the biggest factors that influences a teacher’s salary is the type of school or institution where they are working. English teachers in public schools, for example, can expect to earn between RMB 6 000 and RMB 12 000 per month while teachers in private schools can earn between RMB 8 000 and RMB 16 000 per month.

Teachers working for international schools can earn even more, with salaries ranging from RMB 15 000 to RMB 30 000 per month.

Public Schools: Between RMB 6000 – RMB 15 000 per month

Public schools tend to pay a lot less than private or international schools. Salaries range from RMB 6000 – RMB 15 000 per month (equivalent to ~ $800 – $2100 / ZAR 15 000 – ZAR 40 000) . While this may seem low, there are also a range of added benefits that these schools offer to complement the package. These benefits can range from fewer working hours, longer paid vacations and free local lunches.

Classroom hours range between 16 – 25 teaching hours per week, with more flexibility with regards to your teaching style. Class sizes on the other hand, tend to be much larger at public schools with an average of 20 – 40 students per class.

Private English Centers – RMB 6500 – RMB 16 000 per month

Private English centers or learning academies tend to offer a higher salary than public schools however this should only serve as an indication. The salary can range from anywhere between RMB 6500 – RMB 16 000 (that’s equivalent to ~ $ 940 – $ 2 300 or ZAR 17 000 – ZAR 42 000). The salary for a private English center can vary greatly due to the different standards of learning centers available in and around China. Salaries also vary based on your personal teaching experience, your academic certifications and level of education. Often these private English centers tend to provide more support to international teachers when it comes to applying for visas. Benefits are often greater, ranging from free housing, flights or flight reimbursements and health insurance.

Private English centers also tend to have more rigid curriculums. Class sizes tend to be much smaller, ranging between 5 – 20 students per class. The age group of classes however can vary drastically – from 3-year-olds to adults.

International Schools – RMB 12 000 – RMB 30 000

International schools often have the highest salaries for English teachers in China, ranging from RMB 12 000 – RMB 30 000 per month (equivalent to ~ $1 740 – $4 300 or ZAR 31 000 to ZAR 78 000). This is one of the best types of schools to get into, but the higher salary often makes finding a job here very hard. Teachers often work 40 hours a week and have less benefits due to the higher salary.

The curriculum at these international schools is often more controlled as these schools are typically attended by children of expats or locals who hope to study abroad at an international university.

Private tutoring: RMB 150 per hour (or higher)

Many English teachers tend to work as private tutors after hours to supplement their day jobs. This is a great way to increase your income while teaching in China as there is quite a high demand for one-on-one tutoring, especially amongst adults. The great part about private tutoring is that you can charge whatever you feel like and adjust your price to the type of students / lessons you have.

Teacher Qualifications

Another factor that can affect a teacher’s salary is their qualifications and experience. Teachers with a bachelor’s degree in English or education, along with a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certification, can expect to earn more than those teachers without these qualifications. Similarly, teachers with several years of teaching experience can earn even more than those who are just starting out.

Finally, the location of the school or institution where the teacher is working can also affect their salary. Teachers in major cities like Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou can expect to earn more than those working in smaller cities or rural areas.

The Great Wall, Badaling

Salaries Between Cities

It’s a well-known fact that many teachers earn higher salaries in smaller, less well-known cities (or Tier 3 cities) as compared to more popular cities (or Tier 1 cities) such as Shenzhen and Guangzhou.

Below is a rough estimate of the expected salaries across Tier 1 to Tier 3 cities.

Tier 1 cities: Shenzhen and Guangzhou


  • Typical contract length: 12 months
  • Average monthly salary: RMB 18 000 – RMB 20 000


  • Typical contract length: 12 months
  • Average monthly salary:  RMB 18 000 – RMB 20 000

Tier 2 cities: Hangzhou and Guiyang


  • Typical contract length: 12 months
  • Average monthly salary: RMB 16 000 – RMB 18 000


  • Typical contract length: 12 months
  • Average monthly salary: RMB 17 000

Tier 3 cities: Zhongshan


  • Typical contract length: 12 months
  • Average monthly salary: RMB 18 000 – RMB 22 000

Other cities like Hong Kong and Macau

Hong Kong:

  • Typical contract length: 12 months
  • Average monthly salary: 23 000 HK$ – 24 000 HK$


  • Typical contract length: 12 months
  • Average monthly salary: 18,000 MOP – 22,000 MOP

Additional Benefits

In addition to a monthly salary, many English teachers in China also receive benefits such as free housing, health insurance, and paid vacation time. Some schools may also offer bonuses or reimbursement for flights home. Overall, the salary for English teachers in China is quite competitive, especially considering the low cost of living in many parts of the country.

Many English teachers can expect to save a decent amount of money while working in China as the cost of living is relatively low when compared to most western countries. The cost of living varies from city to city, and from the busy city center to the more rural countryside. Housing tends to be more expensive in densely populated areas and rental agreements usually expect a payment three months in advance which tends to be quite a large some of money. That being said, many teaching contracts include a housing subsidy or free accommodation which is provided by the school which is a great feature.

The Great Wall

Teaching English in China is an amazing opportunity that can be fulfilling on so many levels. Not only will you get to make a difference in shaping the lives of another human, but you will also be able to save money, travel, experience a new culture and have many wholesome adventures! I hope this article was helpful and feel free to leave any thoughts or questions you may have in the comments section below and I’ll get back to you and help in any way I can.

Happy adventuring!

Posted by

I'm Shalinee - a Geminian scientist who loves to travel, write, draw and eat chocolate. I've visited over twenty countries, published a Environmental Science encyclopaedia and somewhere along the way started a science communication company to help students and corporates translate that hard-to-read data generated in a lab. Other than that, I'm just searching for the magic still hidden in the world.

What are your thoughts?