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Salary and Benefits

You may have already heard stories about the amazing salaries and benefit packages that teachers receive in China and might have an idea as to what you are after when beginning the negotiation process with your employer to-be. But what is the education market reality actually like? Are your expectations in line with your qualifications?

Let’s start by an overview of the average salaries across China. Unsurprisingly the earnings taken home vary depending on qualifications, experience and the type of school you work for.

UK, USA and IB Curriculum Teachers

According to a recent survey of a number of international schools it has been estimated that the average salary for a qualified GCSE teacher comes in at 22,879 yuan per month before tax. If you teach A-Levels you are expecting to take home around 25,920 yuan. Please note that this is a China wide survey. The take home salary will likely be higher in tier 1 cities and lower in tier 2 cities due to the cost of living.

If you are a US curriculum teacher, you are going to average around 28,000 yuan per month, and if you teach IB curriculum, you are in luck, as qualified IB teachers come in at the highest average salary of 31,631 yuan!

The standard benefits package includes visa costs, return flights, medical insurance, housing allowance (usually enough to cover the cost of suitable apartment near the school), hotel upon arrival, excess baggage allowance and tuition fees for up to two dependent children. Must be noted, however, that not all bilingual schools will be able to accommodate international students, so if you plan to bring any school age children, it is important to research what type of schooling is available beforehand.

English Second Language Teachers

It is estimated that English teachers earn between 18,000 and 24,000 yuan, with the average salary number falling at 20,590 yuan per month. This reflects the average pay in first and second tier cities quite well, however, what a third-tier city school will offer may fall a lot lower at 8,000 – 10,000 yuan. There are a number of variables to take into account when deciding what is right for you as there can be hidden deductions behind the high salary package and the 10,000-yuan job may come with 20 working hours per week rather than 40.

Typically, the benefits package includes flights allowance, medical insurance, some reimbursement towards visa costs, accommodation allowance and paid holidays. In most cases teachers won’t receive any reimbursement before arriving in the country, so it is important to factor in the costs of visa documentation and flights before committing to the process. Many bilingual schools hiring ESL teachers will not be able to offer free schooling, therefore, this should be the most vital consideration for any teachers with children.

When considering an offer by a school, it is crucial to ask a number of essential questions to avoid any potential issues.

Checklist of questions to ask the school about your offer:

  • Is the salary quoted before or after tax? How much will I receive after tax?
  • Do you reimburse visa costs? Does this include the medical check in my country? When do I get reimbursed?
  • How many days of paid leave will I have?
  • Is my salary different during the school holidays?
  • Does the contract include paid sick leave?
  • If the school provides accommodation: where is it located in relation to the school? Do you have any photos of the accommodation? Am I expected to pay any bills? Is it single or shared accommodation?
  • If the school provides accommodation allowance: will you provide assistance finding accommodation? Do you offer help with the deposit?