Jobs In 2024

English Teaching Jobs in Shanghai – Unlocking Exciting Opportunities in 2023/24

Looking for English teaching jobs in Shanghai? Then, read this article.

Shanghai is truly one of a kind. Amidst the plethora of excellent English teaching opportunities it offers, you can also immerse yourself in the pinnacle of Chinese culture, architecture, cuisine, and music. The enchanting city of Shanghai extends a warm and inviting embrace to TEFL teachers like no other.

Imagine teaching English abroad in one of China’s most vibrant and expansive cities. Welcome to Shanghai, a bustling metropolis with approximately 26.3 million residents, covering an area of nearly 2,500 square miles and teeming with a sensory feast of sights and sounds.

Shanghai epitomizes the country’s open, welcoming attitude in its major cities. The cityscape is awe-inspiring, featuring skyscrapers like the Shanghai Tower (affectionately known as ‘The Twist’), the World Financial Centre, the Jin Mao Tower, and others that pierce the sky hundreds of meters above street level. For those seeking nightlife, Shanghai is unbeatable, with iconic areas such as The Bund, The French Concession, and Houhai drawing partygoers to its clubs, bars, and music venues.

Shanghai offers an abundance of cultural offerings, from a rich film heritage to various sports and everything in between. It truly has something for everyone. Therefore, it’s an ideal place to teach English as a foreign language. China is a powerhouse in the field of TEFL, boasting numerous language teaching companies, a school system that prioritizes English proficiency, and millions of adult learners seeking private lessons.

So, what kind of teaching opportunities await in this sprawling city? Can a TEFL teacher balance fulfilling work and a vibrant social life in Shanghai? And what are the requirements for teaching in this city? Let’s delve into what it’s like to teach English in Shanghai.

Shanghai: A Comprehensive Overview

For those aspiring to teach English in Shanghai, you’ll be pleased to discover a wealth of opportunities in the realm of ESL education. In China, children are mandated to start English classes from the tender age of 9, and given English’s role as the lingua franca of business, there’s a perpetual demand for language learning.

Shanghai isn’t just an exceptional workplace; it’s also an extraordinary city to call home. Often referred to as the “Paris of the East,” Shanghai may captivate with its modern facade, but its deep respect for a rich and dramatic history should not be underestimated. Remarkable landmarks like the Songjiang Square Pagoda, which dates back to the 1100s, stand as testament to this history. Meanwhile, the Old City, particularly the Yuyuan Garden, is a must-visit attraction for anyone intrigued by Chinese heritage.

If you have a penchant for theme parks, consider visiting Happy Valley or Jinjiang Amusement Park for an adrenaline rush. If you’re a culinary enthusiast, Shanghai offers a checklist of delectable local dishes, including Ci Fuan Tuan, Xiao Long Bao, and Gui Hua Lian’ou – though you might need an extra napkin for the last one!

Shanghai is a metropolis that caters to diverse tastes, whether you’re into vibrant nightlife and clubs immersed in the city’s historical richness

 or perhaps indulging in Michelin-starred dining experiences. Also, teaching opportunities in Shanghai are exceptional, with access to what’s self-proclaimed as the ‘World’s Best School System’ for TEFL teachers.

Shanghai’s sheer size and cultural wealth can make it your world without the need for extensive travel. Nevertheless, the “Magic City” happens to be situated on China’s east coast, making it convenient to explore neighboring countries like Korea and Japan during your stay. Teaching English in Shanghai can be a rewarding journey filled with opportunities and experiences.

English Teaching Jobs in Shanghai – Requirements

Becoming an English teacher in China, including the vibrant city of Shanghai, involves meeting specific requirements to secure a work visa. These prerequisites typically include:

  1. Bachelor’s Degree: You need a degree to teach English in Shanghai and China. To obtain a working Z visa, having a bachelor’s degree is a mandatory requirement, regardless of the subject of your degree. For certain positions in prestigious language schools, private schools, or universities, a master’s degree may be necessary, but this specific requirement can vary depending on the employer and their criteria.

A bachelor’s degree in any field is a fundamental requirement. This is a legal requirement for obtaining a work visa in China. Your degree doesn’t necessarily have to be in education; it should be from a recognized institution.

  1. TEFL Certification: You must hold a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certification with a minimum of 120 hours of training. This certification equips you with the necessary teaching skills and methodologies. It’s crucial for your teaching role and is legally required to obtain a work visa in China. 

If you desire to teach in China but haven’t yet obtained your TEFL qualification, there’s no need to worry. High-quality TEFL courses are affordable, engaging, and, perhaps most importantly, easily accessible online. Regardless of your choice of destination for teaching, completing a TEFL certificate is, without a doubt, a must for foreign teachers. It enhances your job prospects and equips you with the skills and knowledge needed to be an effective and successful English teacher in a foreign setting, making it a pivotal investment in your teaching career.

  1. Work Visa: Once you secure a job as an English teacher in Shanghai, your employer should assist you in obtaining a work visa, also known as a Z visa. This visa is specific to work and is essential for legal employment in China.


Visa Options for Teaching English in China

When it comes to teaching English in China, there are primarily two visa types that you should be aware of: the Z visa and the X visa.

  1. Z Visa:
  • The Z visa is the most common and appropriate type for those who intend to teach English in China full-time.
  • To obtain a Z visa, you typically need:
  • A bachelor’s degree in any subject.
  • A 120-hour TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate or two years of teaching experience.
  • To be under the age of 55.
  • A clean criminal background check.
  1. X Visa:
  • The X visa is primarily a student visa for individuals studying in China full-time or part-time.
  • Individuals can also use this visa to teach English in China without a bachelor’s degree legally.

It’s essential to understand that the Z visa is the most common and recommended option for individuals aiming to teach English in China. It allows for full-time employment as an English teacher. On the other hand, the X visa is primarily designed for students, and using it for teaching is typically seen as a workaround for individuals who do not meet the degree requirements for the Z visa.

Before applying for a visa to teach in China, it’s advisable to thoroughly research and consult with the relevant Chinese authorities or your prospective employer to ensure you meet the specific visa requirements, as they may be subject to change and can vary depending on your circumstances and the region of China where you plan to teach.

English Teaching Jobs in Shanghai

  1. Experience in Teaching English in China

China’s TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) industry is vast, and one of the attractive aspects of teaching in major metropolitan areas like Shanghai is that you typically don’t need prior teaching experience to start your teaching career there. This is true as long as you hold a TEFL certificate. However, if you don’t have a TEFL certificate, you may be required to have at least two years of teaching experience.

The good news is that having a list of schools or previous teaching positions on your CV isn’t a strict prerequisite if you’re TEFL certified. Many educational institutions and globally recognized English teaching centres in China are open to hiring new teachers who are certified but may not have prior teaching experience.

That being said, having teaching experience can be a valuable asset. If you can provide tangible evidence of your teaching abilities, including solid references from past teaching positions, it can certainly work in your favor. This is especially true for jobs in higher wage brackets, primarily in private schools, international schools, and universities. A proven track record of successful teaching can make you a more attractive candidate for these higher-paying and potentially more competitive positions.

  1. Non-Criminal Record Check: You may be required to provide a clean criminal background check from your home country as part of the visa application process.

It’s important to note that these requirements are the standard criteria for obtaining a work visa in China. However, suppose you don’t possess a bachelor’s degree. In that case, alternative visa options may exist, such as a working holiday visa or a student visa, depending on your qualifications and the specific circumstances of your teaching assignment.

Before embarking on your teaching journey in Shanghai, it’s advisable to check with the Chinese embassy or consulate in your home country for the most up-to-date visa requirements and guidelines. Additionally, collaborating with a reputable language school or institution in Shanghai can help you navigate the process and meet all necessary prerequisites for a smooth and legal transition into teaching English in this vibrant city.

Salary and Cost of Living in Shanghai for Foreign Teachers

Teaching in Shanghai, a major metropolis in China offers relatively higher wages than Tier 2 or 3 cities in China and rural areas. Here’s an overview of the typical salary range and additional benefits for foreign teachers in Shanghai:


On average, foreign teachers in China can earn approximately 9,000 to 18,000 RMB per month, translating to roughly £1,000 to £2,000 or $1,300 to $2,575 per month. The average teacher salary in Shanghai is around 13,000 RMB per month, equivalent to about £1,450 or $1,860 monthly.

Shanghai Specifics:

In Shanghai, due to its status as a major city, salaries are on the higher end of the scale. A typical starting salary in Shanghai ranges from £1,700 to £3,500 or $2,000 to $4,200 monthly.

Additional Benefits:

  • Many Chinese employers, especially in large Tier 1 cities like Shanghai, aim to attract top TEFL talent. Therefore, you can often expect the following benefits:
  • Free accommodation or an accommodation allowance which significantly contributes to your savings.
  • Flight reimbursement helps cover the costs of your initial travel to China.
  • Performance bonuses, which can be a substantial financial incentive.
  • Free Mandarin lessons can be valuable for your daily life in China.
  • Assistance with health insurance, as China offers almost universal healthcare.

It’s important to consider that the cost of living in Shanghai is relatively higher than in other Chinese cities. Accommodation costs, especially in prime areas, can be significant. However, the additional benefits employers provide, such as free housing and flight reimbursement, help offset these expenses and contribute to a comfortable lifestyle for foreign teachers in Shanghai. Overall, teaching in Shanghai offers a rewarding cultural experience, competitive compensation, and valuable perks.

Cost of Living for Foreign Teachers in Shanghai

The cost of living in Shanghai for foreign teachers can vary depending on individual choices and lifestyle, but here’s a breakdown of some common expenses to provide a general idea:


  • A typical city centre rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Shanghai is around £912 or $1,110 monthly. If your employer offers you free accommodation, it’s a significant cost-saving opportunity. The monthly rent for a three-bedroom apartment in the city centre can be approximately £2,500 or $3,050. Sharing rented accommodation with other teachers can significantly reduce housing costs.


  • Eating in Shanghai is both delightful and cost-effective. A three-course meal for two in a mid-market restaurant will likely cost around £30 or $36. If you’re dining at an inexpensive eatery, you can enjoy a fantastic meal for under £5 or $6.


  • Transportation costs are reasonable. You’re unlikely to spend more than £30 or $36 per month, provided you are budget-conscious. A monthly pass for city transport is approximately £26 or $31, and public buses and even taxis are relatively affordable.


  • Basic utility costs, including electricity, heating, cooling, water, and garbage, typically cost around £56 or $68 per month.

Comparison to Other Cities:

According to Numbeo, the cost of living in Shanghai is estimated to be 37.7% less expensive than in London, with rent being nearly half the price. This makes Shanghai a relatively affordable place to live, especially given the additional benefits such as free accommodation that many foreign teachers receive from their employers.


While Shanghai is an international and cosmopolitan city, it offers a cost of living that is manageable for foreign teachers, particularly when considering the benefits provided by employers. Sharing accommodation with other teachers and enjoying the local cuisine can further help manage expenses and ensure a comfortable lifestyle.

English Teaching Jobs in Shanghai

English Teaching Jobs in Shanghai – Opportunities in Shanghai

Shanghai offers foreign teachers a wide range of English teaching job opportunities, catering to diverse age groups and preferences. Here are some of the main types of English teaching positions available in Shanghai:

Teaching Kindergarten and Early Primary in Shanghai

Teaching English to Shanghai kindergarten and early primary school students can be a rewarding experience. Here are some key points to consider when exploring these opportunities:

Age Group:

  • English classes are not compulsory in Chinese schools until 9, but there’s still a demand for teaching young learners. Many Chinese parents value their children learning foreign language skills from a young age. This creates a steady demand for ESL (English as a Second Language) teachers who can engage and educate very young learners.

Asset for Young Learners:

  • Teaching young learners is considered a valuable asset in Shanghai and China. Many parents see early exposure to English as an advantage for their children’s future education and career prospects.

Wages and Hours:

– It’s important to note that wages for teaching in kindergartens or early primary schools may not be as high as some other teaching positions. Additionally, the working hours may be fewer.

– However, teaching young learners can be a great introduction to the profession for those new to teaching or considering their first job in the field of TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language). It allows you to gain classroom experience and develop essential teaching skills.


Teaching very young learners can be an enjoyable and enriching experience, as you play a fundamental role in shaping their language and learning development. While the wages may not be as high as some other teaching positions, these roles offer a fulfilling start to a teaching career in Shanghai.

Teaching in Public Schools in Shanghai

Like other parts of China, public schools in Shanghai offer unique teaching opportunities for foreign teachers. Here’s a closer look at what you can expect when teaching in public schools:

Challenges and Opportunities:

  • The Chinese education system is known for its rigor, and public schools often have large class sizes. This can be especially challenging, but it’s also a great way to test your teaching abilities and gain valuable experience.
  • Students in public schools typically have varying degrees of English proficiency. You’ll need to plan fast-paced lessons and keep students engaged, which can be a rewarding challenge.


Teaching in public schools often comes with benefits such as guaranteed holiday time and accommodation. These benefits can help you save money and enhance your overall experience while teaching in a big city like Shanghai.


While the wages in public schools may not be as high as those in private schools, language schools, or international schools, they are still competitive, especially considering the additional benefits.

Contract Duration:

Foreign teachers in public schools usually receive initial contracts of 10 months to cover an academic year. This provides a structured teaching experience and the opportunity to immerse yourself in the educational system fully.

Teaching in public schools can be a fulfilling experience inside and outside the classroom. It allows you to significantly impact students’ language learning while gaining valuable teaching experience. Public schools’ benefits and job stability make them an attractive option for foreign teachers in Shanghai and other parts of China.

Private Language Schools and Private Academies in Shanghai

Teaching English in private language schools and private academies in Shanghai offers attractive opportunities for qualified educators. Here’s a closer look at what you can expect from these positions:

Private Language Schools:

  • Private language schools in Shanghai cater to a wide range of age groups, from young learners to adults. These schools often have smaller classes and can provide a more interactive and engaging teaching environment.
  • Wages in private language schools are generally higher, especially in Shanghai, where there is significant demand for English teachers. These schools may offer more competitive salaries, reflecting the demand for quality English instruction.
  • Private language schools often provide additional fringe benefits, including accommodation, flight reimbursement, and health insurance.

Private Academies:

  • Private academies in Shanghai are similar to independent versions of public schools. These schools are often less regulated than public schools, meaning salary and benefit packages may vary from one private academy to another.
  • Teaching in private academies can offer good compensation, especially compared to public schools. The smaller class sizes can also create a more personalized teaching experience.

English Teaching Companies:

  • English teaching companies, especially in major business districts, focus on Business English and career mobility. In a Tier 1 city like Shanghai, there is a significant emphasis on improving English proficiency for career advancement.
  • While these positions may require flexible working hours, they can offer substantial salaries, and you might find them a lucrative option. Full-time work as a teacher in an English teaching center can earn you between £3,000 to £4,000 or $3,600 to $4,900 per month.

When considering positions at private language schools, private academies, or English teaching companies, reviewing your employment contract carefully is important. The terms and conditions can vary widely, so it’s essential to understand each institution’s specific salary, benefits, and working conditions. Reputable schools and institutions are known for offering competitive wages and a supportive work environment, but it’s always advisable to do thorough research and read reviews before committing.

Teaching in International Schools in Shanghai

Shanghai boasts diverse international schools, making it a vibrant hub for educators seeking a unique teaching experience. Here’s a closer look at what you can expect when teaching in international schools:

Variety of International Schools:

Shanghai is home to many international schools catering to different nationalities and languages. These schools include bilingual Chinese/British-founded schools, American schools, French schools, German schools, Canadian schools, and more. The opportunities are truly endless, reflecting the city’s international character.

Bilingual and Multilingual Environment:

International schools in Shanghai often provide a bilingual or multilingual learning environment. While teaching positions may primarily focus on English instruction, fluency in other languages or proficiency in Mandarin can expand your job market and make you a more attractive candidate for these institutions.

Fee-Paying Schools:

Many international schools in Shanghai are fee-paying and, in some cases, can be quite expensive for students. These schools often cater to expatriate families and students who seek an international education that aligns with their home country’s curriculum or culture.

Qualifications and Experience:

  • International high schools typically value teachers with a bachelor’s degree and in some cases, a master’s degree. Teaching experience is often a requirement for positions in these prestigious institutions.
  • The qualifications and experience requirements can vary depending on the school and their curriculum. International schools may follow American, British, French, German, or Canadian curricula, so the requirements may align with the educational standards of those countries.

Teaching in international schools in Shanghai provides a unique opportunity to work in a diverse and multicultural setting. These schools typically uphold high education standards, and they often require teachers to hold qualifications and experience that align with the standards of their respective curricula. It’s an excellent choice for educators who are passionate about international education and willing to meet these schools’ specific requirements.

Private Tutoring in Shanghai

  • Private tutoring is a popular option for English teachers in Shanghai, offering flexibility and potentially higher earning potential. Here’s a closer look at private tutoring opportunities in Shanghai:

Independent Business or English Teaching Businesses:

  • Private tutoring can take two main forms. You can set up your own private tutoring business, offering students one-on-one or small-group lessons. Alternatively, you can work for one of Shanghai’s many English teaching businesses that connect tutors with clients.

Abundance of Clients:

  • There is a high demand for private tutoring services in Shanghai, so you can expect to find many clients if you have the necessary skills and qualifications. Many Chinese students and parents seek additional English instruction outside regular school hours to improve their language proficiency.

Variable Wages:

  • The wages in private tutoring can be highly variable and depend on several factors. Your availability, whether you have a full-time teaching job in Shanghai, and whether you can set your rates can all impact your earning potential.
  • Generally, private tutors who can provide high-quality instruction, have relevant qualifications and offer flexible scheduling may command higher hourly rates.

Private tutoring can be a lucrative option, especially for teachers with additional time to offer instruction outside their regular teaching commitments. It allows one to work one-on-one with students and deliver personalized English lessons. To succeed in private tutoring, building a strong reputation and client base and maintaining a flexible schedule can help you maximize your earning potential.

Conclusion on English Teaching Jobs in Shanghai

Teaching English in Shanghai offers many opportunities for educators looking to immerse themselves in this vibrant Chinese metropolis’s rich culture and dynamic environment. Whether you’re interested in working with young learners in kindergartens and early primary schools or teaching in public schools, private language schools, international schools, or private tutoring, there’s a teaching role to suit your preferences and qualifications.

Shanghai’s diverse educational landscape allows for various teaching experiences, and the city’s global appeal provides unique opportunities for international educators. While wages and benefits can vary depending on the type of institution and your qualifications, Shanghai generally offers competitive compensation and additional perks like accommodation, flight reimbursement, and healthcare.

Teaching in Shanghai is a chance to make a meaningful impact on student’s lives and explore one of the world’s most dynamic and culturally rich cities. As you embark on your teaching journey in Shanghai, consider your personal and professional goals and choose the teaching path that aligns with your aspirations and interests.

FAQs on English Teaching Jobs in Shanghai

  1. What is the Typical Salary for English Teachers in Shanghai?

The earnings of English teachers in Shanghai vary depending on the type of teaching position, but the average starting salary typically falls in the range of £1,700-£3,500 or $2,000-$4,200. Tutoring or working at an English training center can significantly increase your income.

  1. How to Become an English Teacher in Shanghai

You’ll need to meet certain requirements to pursue a full-time English teacher career in Shanghai. Here’s what you need:

  1. Bachelor’s Degree: You must have a bachelor’s degree in any subject. This is a fundamental requirement for obtaining a work visa (Z visa) in China.
  2. TEFL Certificate: You should hold a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate with a minimum of 120 hours of training. This certification is essential for teaching English in China and is required for a work visa application.

You can qualify for English teaching positions in Shanghai with a bachelor’s degree and a TEFL certificate. Meeting these requirements is crucial to securing the necessary visa and ensuring your eligibility for teaching opportunities in the city.

  1. Are English teachers in demand in Shanghai

Yes, English teachers are in high demand in Shanghai. The city’s status as a global business hub and its growing international influence create a strong demand for English language education. Teaching opportunities are available across various age groups, from kindergarten to adult learners. Shanghai’s robust demand for English teachers makes it an attractive destination for educators looking to teach in a dynamic and culturally rich environment.

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