There are many opportunities for teaching English in China. The demand is high, and so is the turnover. Many teachers have a good experience and often remain in China for years. But beware of job scams. Although most schools are honest, many of the agents recruiting for teaching jobs in China are not. More on that later.
You need a degree and an Z visa – whatever anyone tells you.
You will also need to apply for a residence permit within 30 days of entering China (this is in addition to your Z visa), and you will need to get a work permit. Your school should help you with both of these, likewise they should help you register with police on arrival.
There are a few employers who are willing to turn a blind eye to legalities (this is NOT in your interest).
Remember that teaching English in China is a positive experience for many, with keen students, and schools that simply want to make money by providing a service. That said, because of the huge demand, and the large numbers of English teachers looking for work, a number of scams have developed. The following are the most obvious things to look for:
If the school does not offer a Z-visa – run!
If a recruiter wants your passport or copy of it without a job offer – run!
Beware of agents. They're not all bad, but many are. Beware of glowing recommendations on forums – some are planted by sock puppets. Wherever possible it's best to apply directly to the institution you're interested in.
I hope you have a great time in teaching English in China – and if you plan to teach in one of the big cities remember to pack a mask!
Salaries – vary a lot!
Here are some points to bear in mind:
11,000 yuan a month would be low for Shanghai, but 10,000 yuan a month is a good offer for a job in a smaller city with free accommodation provided; if the job is in a public university with low hours, a lower salary could be acceptable.
Be aware that salaries change – do your own research. Check out job ads for teaching English in China and ask on TEFL forums.
A quieter section of the Great Wall
It's well worth learning to speak Chinese (Mandarin) when you're here – even if you only learn a little, you'll have a better experience. And with so many interesting places to travel to within the country, you can have a lot more fun meeting and speaking to people.
You can find a lot of online learning materials for the language.
Learning martial arts is also very possible. Decide whether you want traditional or modern wushu (if your interest is really traditional kung fu, then Taiwan might be better for you).
Chinese cuisine is well worth exploring, but be aware that there's some problem with overuse of pesticides – wash your vegetable well if you cook at home. Chinese beer is good and quite cheap, but beware of fake wine or spirits. If something tastes strange, it probably is – and it's best to dump it.
The situation for English teaching in China changes rapidly. A good source of information on teaching English in China is Middle Kingdom Life
Another option, especially if you're interested in learning Chinese with traditional characters, is teaching English in Taiwan