So, you’re thinking about living and working in China at an international school. If you’re excited at the prospect of starting a new chapter in your life and opening up countless opportunities, but you’re not sure where to begin, follow this handy guide which answers some of the most commonly asked questions.

Why should I work at an international school in China?

Finding a job at a Chinese international school has many benefits. Some are obvious and are most likely the reason you became interested in the idea in the first place. Let’s take a look at some of the top perks of becoming a teacher in China.

  • Travel — This is the obvious one. Finding a job abroad is the best way to experience a country. You won’t merely be a tourist — you will make friends with both international and local colleagues who can show you the real side of the city you’re in. Speak the language, know the culture, and experience the true China.
  • Professional development — Many teachers come to China after finishing their bachelor’s degree to bolster their résumé and land a top job in their home country when they return. A well-paid teaching job at a good school in China looks great to employers and will open many doors for you in the future.
  • Personal development — Teaching is such a rewarding experience. Many agree that teaching helped them become confident, well-rounded individuals, ready to take on any challenge life throws their way.
  • Money — Jobs for international teachers in China are often high-paying. You can earn a living on par with the pay received by teachers in your home country, and often even more than that. Of all locations with international teaching jobs, China is widely considered one of the places you can earn the best living.

What is it like to teach in a Chinese international school?

International schools in China, and especially in Shanghai, are often prestigious and well-established. The school will most likely have high expectations from their teachers to deliver a quality teaching experience for their students. This being said, it’s important to find a school that can give you the support and guidance you need for you to reach your full potential as a teacher.

Moving across the world and leaving behind your friends, family, and home comforts can be a daunting undertaking. That’s why at the Western International School of Shanghai (WISS), the school community always strives to ensure its teachers know they belong to this home away from home, and that they are a part of the WISS family.

What are the requirements to teach in a Chinese international school?

For teachers to obtain a Chinese Visa, they must:

  • Hold a Bachelor’s degree
  • Have three years of teaching experience
  • Pass a criminal background check
  • Undergo a medical check

There may be additional requirements depending on the teacher’s area of expertise. For example, primary classroom teachers applying to schools whose language of instruction is English must have a passport from a government-approved list of native English-speaking countries.

Some schools, such as WISS, will require you to be certified in your field. Others may ask you to take a teaching course (online or in-person) before leaving your home country or in China prior to starting the semester. Those thinking about working overseas should also be responsible, professional, and culturally sensitive.

How do I find a job at a Chinese international school?

There are several ways to find your ideal teaching post. Schools often list their available positions directly on their website. Check if there are any career postings that give you the opportunity to work at WISS.

Alternatively, you may choose to find your post through an agency. This can cut out some of the leg work for you, although the agency will usually require a fee for their services.

You can also check if there will be any international job fairs held in your area. If Coronavirus restrictions prevent this, many organizations now have virtual fairs which include webinars and the ability to chat with schools and employment agencies.

When should I start looking for a teaching job in China?

Start looking as soon as you can. The school year in China typically begins in late August/early September and can run until late June. Schools begin looking for international teachers far in advance of the school year’s start — sometimes even a year or more before the start date. The reason for this is that the process of hiring international teachers takes a long time i.e. acquiring the necessary visa etc.

Although it is possible to find teaching positions closer towards the start of the school year, or even midway through the year, you may find your choices are limited.