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Teaching in an International School in China

China’s rapid modernization and enormous development have brought the need for international-level education in the country. Major Chinese cities are becoming home to a growing number of international schools, hence, an increased number of opportunities for teaching in China for native English speakers.

Most of these international schools are in metropolitan cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Hangzhou, etc. Being located in business-rich cities, these schools offer handsome benefits to their foreign teachers.

International Schools in China at a Glimpse

The number of international schools in China has reached 661 and has surpassed that in the UAE, to be ranked first in the world, as per the 2016 China International School Development Report.

These international schools can be divided into three groups.

  1. International schools for foreign nationals
  2. K-12 schools offering an international curriculum
  3. International programs in public schools

Private schools hold a dominant position in the international school market in China. Almost half of these schools are in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangdong.

The curriculum offered by these international schools is mainly that of the American, British, Canadian, or Australian education systems. Cambridge IGCSE accounts for 45%, IB holds 23% and AP constitutes 30% of the education systems followed by international schools in China. With a wide range of excellent, reputed international schools, foreigners living in China can choose from the curricula that best suit their child.

Despite the fact that the educational expenses of these international schools are quite high, still, both international and Chinese students are rushing to these schools. And this is where the demand for foreign English teachers comes into play.

As the number of international schools in China is on the rise, so is the demand to hire foreign Language teachers to cater to these students. The quality of these international schools is dependent on both the quantity and quality of the international educators hired by the organization.

International School Jobs in China

There are more teaching jobs to be found in Beijing and Shanghai than in other cities.

The international schools operating in these two cities offer a vast variety of job opportunities, from subject teachers to management and administrative roles.

The head of departments, school counselors, and physics teachers are an example of a few other job opportunities that are offered to foreign educators in these international schools. If you study the recruitment market of China thoroughly, you will find that international schools, in particular, prefer foreign candidates when hiring for management roles.

The different types of teaching jobs in international schools include EAL teacher, MYP/DP Mathematics, Computer Science Teacher, Humanities Teacher, Chemistry Teacher, Economics Teacher, School Counselor, and Head of School/Principal.

These international schools are fully accredited and deliver internationally recognized certificates. Whatever grade or curriculum you teach, being a foreign teacher, you would be able to find a suitable teaching job for yourself in these international schools.

Now that you have an idea of how international schools operate in China. In the next segment, you’ll receive vital information on how to find jobs in these international schools and what are the requirements for teaching there.

Finding Teaching Jobs in China’s International Schools

There are a few ways of landing a job at Chinese international schools. The majority of schools post their job openings on their websites, however, it’s impossible to go through all of them. Two alternate approaches are to hire an agent or attend an international school fair. The Council of International Schools is a good option to start your search.

These jobs are filled early. The recruitment typically begins in August or September for the next academic year. The recruitment process for hiring international teachers tends to be longer than usual.

So, if you’re planning to land such jobs in China, then you’d want to consider using the above-mentioned ways to not only find but also land a job. However, my personal preference would be hiring an agent who would be honest about your competitiveness in this dynamic market. This would help you in finding the right job.

General Requirements for Teaching at International Schools in China

In order to land teaching in China jobs in these teaching institutions, you need to fulfill both the requirements of your employer and the Chinese government.

Here’s a list of a few conditions for foreign job seekers which are crucial for a working visa application:

  • Bachelor’s degree or above in related subjects
  • Two years of teaching/working experience in the home country
  • Age under 60
  • No criminal record

Based on the research, International Schools will quite often have a higher prerequisite for their foreign educators than training centers and kindergartens, who are mostly in search of ESL teachers.

International schools, on the other hand, prefer candidates with higher qualifications and experience. A few of them are listed below.

  • Relevant teaching experience with international schools or foreign language schools/ or extensive experience in teaching the English language at multiple international forums.
  • Working experience over three years.
  • With a teaching or language certificate/degree/qualification gained in the US, Canada, UK, Australia, or New Zealand.


Although, at times, there’s a very strict set of prerequisites to be met for working in international schools in China, something that makes the teaching-in-China experience unique. Taking into consideration the high demand for foreign teachers and not enough applicants, requirement standards can be rather flexible when you apply.

All you need to do is to apply to the right school, at the right time. When they’re in need of foreign teachers, they might overlook the lack of previous experience, which is impossible otherwise.

However, this does not happen with highly reputed international schools. They would want you to fulfill all their requirements before making you an offer. So, when you are to apply for a job opportunity, it’s worth doing some thorough research on the schools you are interested in. This would only smoothen your way towards landing the right job.