Teacher Pay In China: 3 Tips For Earning More

Learn how to earn more and increase savings teaching in China

You’ve finally settled on China as the place that you want to teach English. Awesome! At this point, you’ve probably been doing a lot of research into which city is right for you, whether you want to teach at a language center, private school, or a public school, and all of the other considerations that have to be made before making the plunge to live and teach abroad.

Or, maybe you’ve already been teaching in China for a year or two and you’ve got all the basics down. You love teaching English abroad and plan on doing so for at least a few more years.

Whichever camp you are in, one thing that has probably crossed your mind at some point is how much you will be getting paid, or potentially, how you can get paid more.

Now, we understand that money isn’t everything. You have traveled abroad to teach and the reward of helping students better themselves while experiencing a new culture is immense. However, student loans, retirement, bills, and everything else we contend with as adults are a reality no matter what country you are in. It’s safe to say that a little extra money every month can go a long way.

So, how do you go about increasing your monthly earnings? We have three tips that will allow you to potentially bank more money each month that anyone teaching in China or thinking of teaching in China can implement.

Choose a Smaller City to Work In

This one may seem pretty obvious but it is undoubtedly the most overlooked way to save money. Finding a job in a smaller city such as Chengdu or Wuhan can save you a decent amount of money each month without sacrificing much in terms of what you can do and experience.

Many first time teachers immediately think they need to be in the largest city of a country to have an awesome experience. But, as we all know, major cities in any country are always going to be the most expensive place to live. Transportation costs, higher food cost, productivity lost due to commuting times, and increased health difficulties due to higher levels of pollution and simply being closer to other people and more susceptible to contagious diseases, all add up. Over time, you are spending more each month from your take-home pay than you would in a smaller city with all of the same benefits.

On top of the above facts, if you are working at a job where you aren’t being provided with accommodations or receiving a stipend then you are surely going to be spending more than you need to on housing.

It doesn’t have to be that way. You can find all of the same amenities in a smaller to medium sized city, especially in China, that you can in the main cities of Shanghai and Beijing. Large expat communities, airports that will take you wherever you want to go, great food, bars aplenty, and everything else you might want when living in a foreign country can be had for usually much cheaper than in the main city.

The counter to this is that you can make more money in most jobs in a city like Shanghai than you can in a place like Chengdu. However, when you factor in the higher cost of living, that extra money, and more potentially, is getting eaten up each month just from your normal day to day activities and living expenses.

Negotiate Your Salary

For many teachers coming from Western cultures, negotiation is an alien concept. However, in East Asia, outside of Japan and South Korea, it’s the norm. In fact, it is almost expected that you are going to do some negotiation before you sign your contract. The reality, however, few teachers do.

Teachers who have worked already in the country are certainly going to have a leg up when it comes to negotiating a higher salary, especially if they are renewing their contract at the same job. But, this doesn’t mean that first-time teachers can’t negotiate for more money or added benefits each month. Forbes has an excellent article on tips for negotiation in China. While it is certainly geared more towards higher level business negotiation, many of the tips will be applicable for teachers looking for a bit more each month.

Don’t shy away from negotiation simply because it is unfamiliar to you. We know of many people working as teachers in China who successfully negotiate a higher salary with every new contract signing while their coworkers, some who have worked at the same institution longer, remain at the same salary level simply because they do not want to negotiate. This is not a skill that we are accustomed to in the West. But, there is never a time like the present to learn a new skill. Especially, a skill that can earn you more money.

Also, if you do go to negotiate and find that it is to no avail, don’t be afraid to walk. There are over half a billion people learning English in China and the demand for teachers well more than the supply. If one institution isn’t willing to negotiate with you, there is certainly another that will.

Supplement Your Income

This final tip isn’t directly related to increasing your salary. Instead, it’s about bringing in other income streams that can increase the money you bank each month. The awesome thing about being a teacher abroad is that there are numerous different ways that you can supplement your income from teaching English online to private tutoring or freelance writing.

The beautiful part, you don’t have to make much to provide a significant boost to your income. Just thirty-three extra dollars each day adds up to an extra $12,000 each year. That’s just two hours a day of teaching online or four articles on many online content mills writing articles. For teachers that are doing private lessons, this could easily be made with just one hour each day of tutoring. That means 14 hours or less each week of work.

These are just a few examples of things you can do as a teacher to supplement your primary income. But, as stated previously, the actual number of ways are numerous. You just have to get creative and you can easily find a way to increase your monthly. Who knows, you may even stumble upon something that will allow you to completely replace your teaching salary with something you love more if you so choose.

Earn More and Breathe Easier

Again, we know that money isn’t everything and probably wasn’t the reason you traveled abroad to teach in the first place. That being said, a bit extra money each month can most certainly allow many teachers to rest easily. Whether providing extra money for travel, helping to pay down student loans faster, or simply having extra money to save each month for retirement or other goals, a little extra money each month can go a long way. As you can see from the above three tips, you don’t have to put in a lot of extra work to increase your monthly salary or to add a second stream of income. Don’t settle. Get that extra money coming in and enjoy your time abroad helping students and experiencing a new culture with a few extra dollars in the bank.

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