Jobs Market for Teaching English: Is it too Good to be True?

A reader over at TEFL Newbie wrote this comment:

I am a little overwhelmed by the sheer volume of positions in S. Korea, China, and Japan. The job market situation appears to be the inverse of the market here in the USA. In the postings for positions in China I am surprised by the sheer volume of listings and by the often times scant requirements and sometimes the offers seem a little to good to be true.

Things are – in fact – booming in Asia.  The demand for teachers is as great as it has ever been.

While it can seem a bit “too good to be true”, it is only because the jobs market in the developed countries is terrible right now.  Has been for a couple years and probably will be for a couple more.

China and Korea continue to be the largest of the job markets for teaching English.  Korea requires a degree and no TEFL certification and China doesn’t require a degree but does require a TEFL cert, though some employers can get around the requirement.

While wages in China can seem modest, when you throw in free accommodation, airfare reimbursement, subsidized utilities (sometimes) and possibly even free lunch some days and a transportation payment – and all of a sudden you are doing okay.  Add in really low taxes (from zero to three to seven percent at most) and you can see that all of a sudden, your wages are basically for food (inexpensive) and fun (can be expensive!).

Teachers in China can often save US$200 and up.  Not a lot, but how much can you save working at Walmart or McDonald’s?

Korea too, offers what can seem to be a modest wage, but by the time you throw in all the perks – well – most people in Korea can save US$1000 a month without really trying.   If you can’t save that much, you need to take a break from the nightclubs and stay home every now and then . . .

Korea, for the above reasons, is a more competitive market than China.  Lots of fresh graduates from university head to Korea to pay off or at least put a dent in their student loans.

China is a better option for teachers who would prefer teaching at university, but don’t have the graduate degree required to do so in Korea.   Chinese universities pay modestly compared even to Chinese language schools, but you work less and there are often options for increasing your income — and the status of a university position helps a lot.

TED’s Tips™ #1:  Don’t make yourself a victim of the “It’s too good to be true” syndrome.  The jobs market for teaching English overseas is alive and well.  High unemployment in the USA, UK and Ireland means that Korea is more competitive, but there are still more jobs than can find teachers in China.

TED’s Tips™ #2:  Try for a good sampling of what is available around the world.  You will truly be amazed.

Teaching Internships in China


TEFL Internships in China

TEFL Internships in China

An interesting new program:  Internships teaching English in China.

This is a good way to get your feet wet.

The program is designed for people who:

  • aren’t ready to make a one-year commitment
  • still need some training
  • want only a short-term placement
  • want some experience before making a final decision
  • want to stick their toe in the water to see if it is what they really want

The program includes a 140 hour TEFL certification that – at the end of the program – will also be endorsed with over 200+ hours of on-the-job teaching practice.

If this sounds like a good program for you, then head over to TEFL Internships and take a look at what they have to offer.   The stipend (internship wages) is about double most similar programs and the fees are about half of similar programs.  If you decide to stay in China, most of the time you can be hired directly by the school where you did your internship.

TED’s Tips™ #1: I wish they had had these kinds of programs when I first started out!  It would have helped me a lot.  Take a look and see if it is for you.

Teaching Internships in China


What TEFL Training Courses Don’t Teach You #6

Qualifications for a TEFL Jobs in China

Today’s post is a communication with another reader of this blog with questions about qualifications and applying for work in China.

The reader wrote:

I found a decent-looking TEFL Course in the United States, the **** from ****. Do you think I could get as good a job with this qualification in China as I could with a CELTA or Trinity?

For China, at the moment, any certificate program will do just as well as any other. All they want to know is that you have 1. Some interest in what you are doing and 2. Some idea of how to do it.

I know just about anyone with a white face can get a job.

That is NOT true anymore.

That face also needs a degree and for the better jobs some sort of TEFL Certification. That face also needs to deliver on the job.

I’m looking for a good job with a large corporation teaching English to employees.

Corporate and Business English employers are even more demanding and those jobs are competitively sought after – only the best candidates will land those jobs and even then they will be expected to deliver a quality product. IF you intend to teach in that setting then you should have at least a few years of real business experience.

Be Careful Now . . .

What I am hearing is a sense of entitlement. The old “I have a white face, so I should have that job” that many people quite mistakenly believe is how things work in much of Asia and specifically in China.

What many newbie teachers FAIL TO REALIZE is that these schools are often paying you as much or sometimes quite a bit more than local Chinese professionals (degrees in education, sometimes advanced degrees and years of experience) and they expect you to DELIVER a good product.

Chinese people are not known for throwing money way – they are known for being thrifty and demanding what they pay for.

And that is fair enough.

TED’s Tips™ #1: If you earn a wage, you should deliver what you are paid for.

TED’s Tips™ #2: Drop notions about entitlement and develop ideas about delivering good quality instruction.