Working in China



The first expatriate workers in China were English teachers in universities. Until recently, teachers made up a significant part of the expat workforce, but there are now many more opportunities opening up for foreigners aspiring to work in China.

China has the second-largest economy after the United States, and foreign trade accounts for a third of China's GDP. The per capita income about stands at about $6,675 per year, though a typical college graduate earns quite a lot more. It might not sound enticing to move to a place where your salary is almost sure to disappear, but with the cost of living 50-75 percent lower than the US, a little goes a long way.

Many multinational companies are relocating to China. Other companies that are already located in Asia are moving their Asian headquarters to China.

"Visa and work permit are not particularly difficult if your expertise is needed in a place of work; the family visa is quite easy to obtain once you have a spouse who is legally and formally employed here."- Varya, Expat in Zhuhai, China

The market in China has seen staggering growth in the last few years, and right now China is the world's fastest growing economy. The Banking & Financial Services industry is most in demand as China has opened up this sector to foreign companies.

China is the preferred destination for TEFL jobs (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) because of the speed and ease of getting a visa for this sector. Although employers need government permission to hire foreigners, authorities get back to you with an answer within 15 working days. In other countries, this process can take a couple of months.

"With agreements developing between countries and China, more and more of the process is being streamlined. It is now very possible to receive a revolving Visa, allowing you to enter China up to 90 days per visit and valid for the life of your Passport."- Clint MacNichol, Expat in Zhaoyuan, China

Companies in China tend to recruit local candidates who are bilingual and who have experience of working in multi-national corporations (MNCs).

The second choice is for Chinese "returnees" who are ethnic Chinese with experience of working abroad.

Then, for certain niches, skill sets, and some top-level management positions, expatriate staff positions are available. Employers consider the ideal expatriate worker to have the right mix of technical experience, soft skills and language abilities.

"Exhausting. Since living in Bozhou the government paperwork and visa application is a nightmare. Mostly because I am the first foreigner to be married to one of the Chinese locals. Most have never seen a family visa, or know how to process specific applications."- Anna Zech, Expat in China

Job Hunting

The best way to find English speaking jobs in China is to check the classifieds in English magazines or newspaper listings. If you have personal contacts that work for a company with a vacancy that fits your skill set, then your chances of securing a position are certainly improved.

English Teaching

To land a profession teaching English at a top university in China, you need a TESOL certificate.

Teaching in an international school in China is an excellent option for those who already have US teaching credentials.

English teaching jobs or university teaching jobs can usually be found via e-mail and telephone contact with the school or through a job agency. Candidates need a government-issued public school teaching certificate and should plan on attending to participate in on-site interviews.

"Visas are getting more and more expensive, but the paperwork is still acceptable. Work permits are almost impossible to get. It really depends on the company, but it takes a lot of time (1-2 months) and a lot of money."- Caterina Russo, Expat in Beijing, China

Business culture

Businessmen will often have a soft spot for those who are learning their native language. In fact, in various progressive industries today, such as information technology, telecommunication and engineering, individual positions are reserved for foreigners who speak Mandarin and will allow for very attractive pay. Those who have the qualifications for teaching English may also find China as a good place to find a well-paying job. English teachers are some of the top-earning expatriates in this country. Engineering and another middle to high-level management positions in foreign companies are also some of the highest paid jobs.

In a typical Chinese workplace, people are addressed using their family names and handshakes are a very common gesture of friendliness, especially towards Westerners. In a white collar environment, formal attire is always expected. When coming to meetings, the highest-ranking person should enter the room first, and the most senior sit at the head of the table and must be addressed first. In general, the Chinese are known as very hardworking and industrious people. For an expat who wants to live in China and make a mark in its corporate world, this trait is something he must learn by heart. 



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