Photo: Terraces, Yuanyang.

China forum

Working in China

Posted by stemay on 12/11/2013 at 11:14

We're a couple planning our first ever backpacking trip across SE Asia and finally ending up in China. We're aiming to leave the UK late February-early March, and have a spending budget of at least £5000 each, not including flights. We're leaving everything behind, jobs, flat, most of our possessions, for this trip of a lifetime, so the idea is to be out there for as long as possible. On our current budget, this may get us by for about 8 months, but I think by the time we get to China, we'll be ready to top up our funds.

This is our current itinerary, and length of time in each location is mostly based on the visas that are available (most appear to be 30 day on arrivals).

Thailand - 2-3 weeks
Laos - 4 weeks
Cambodia - 4 weeks
Vietnam - 12 weeks
China - as long as budget allows

So really, I'm wondering if anyone has any experience applying for a working visa for China whilst travelling through SE Asia. And is it fairly easy to look for a job when you arrive? If anyone has any further info or websites they could point us to that would help us extend our trip, I'd be most grateful.

#1 stemay has been a member since 8/11/2013. Posts: 3

Posted by MWasser6 on 13/11/2013 at 04:57

Technically, you won't be able to work while in China unless you get a work visa Z from an employer (i.e. you need official sponsorship before you leave which usually required a set contract to be signed for a specified period of time). i believe its much easier to get temporary work on the road in SEasia, but in China, you'd be running a serious risk to get some unofficial paid work on a tourist visa. If you do get a job when you arrive, try not to get caught, because i'm under the impression that is technically illegal and could get you deported or imprisoned, but maybe someone can correct me!

#2 MWasser6 has been a member since 6/8/2012. Posts: 19

Agoda coupon: Get an extra 7% off selected properties with the coupon code

Posted by jbrinkey on 13/11/2013 at 05:26

Maybe this guy on youtube can help you out:
He is an expat living in China and he has videos about living and working in China but more interesting for you, specifically about working visas. As I can remember from his videos you need at least a Bachelor degree to work legally in China.

#3 jbrinkey has been a member since 7/10/2013. Location: Netherlands. Posts: 15
 Send jbrinkey a private message   Where has jbrinkey been?   Instagram 

Posted by stemay on 14/11/2013 at 12:40

Thanks for the info! From the sounds of things, we're better off doing our trip in reverse due to the working visa. We don't really fancy getting deported so would rather do things by the book!

Thanks for the YT link, will definitely watch his videos. The only thing is, my partner doesn't have a degree! Though he's considering completing a TEFL course before we go if that'll help our chances.

#4 stemay has been a member since 8/11/2013. Posts: 3

Posted by caseyprich on 15/11/2013 at 22:03

Very difficult, if not impossible, these days getting a Z Visa without a university degree - at least in the 1st tier cities. A lot of students (on student Visa) will work at language training centers 'illegally' and there isn't a real risk of getting deported. I'd recommend doing the TEFL just to have something in the back pocket, and there are probably fewer hoops to jump through in Thailand and Vietnam from what I've heard.

Check out

#5 caseyprich has been a member since 3/3/2010. Location: China. Posts: 1,281
 Send caseyprich a private message   Where has caseyprich been? 

Posted by cybermutiny on 11/12/2013 at 19:14

I agree with what caseyprich said about getting a TEFL. It seems to help with getting jobs in China.

And I don't think it is very difficult to get a job in China...

China is currently THE biggest market for getting English teaching jobs. Recently I applied to jobs in China because I was worried I wouldn't be able to find a job in Japan. Well, it is mind-bogglingly easy to get a job in China. People were offering me jobs left and right. I literally got 5 job offers in a matter of days. Granted, I have some teaching experience. However, I know people with no experience who got jobs in China easily. My best friend just started working in China and she said one of her coworkers is a Polish national. The Polish girl is not even a native English speaker! Normally, countries like Thailand, Japan, and South Korea always require their teachers to be a native speaker but apparently in China they are so desperate to get English teachers that they will actually hire continental Europeans.

That said, although it is easy to "get" a job in China, the visa process apparently can take awhile as the Chinese bureaucracy is notoriously slow in processing visas.

#6 cybermutiny has been a member since 10/12/2013. Location: Thailand. Posts: 15
 Send cybermutiny a private message   Website   Twitter 

Posted by markalan0123 on 12/12/2013 at 08:45

What is required for business visa can someone guide me please .......

#7 markalan0123 has been a member since 7/12/2013. Posts: 8

Posted by MWasser6 on 12/12/2013 at 11:04

You don't need a business visa to teach English in China, which Is why i don't really consider it being employed. You can find teaching English jobs really easy in China (just about anywhere and just by showing up). Although, a lot them don't pay very much or at all and you trade your time teaching for room and board and a small stipend.

If you want a business visa you need an invitation letter from an employer and proof of qualifications. It inst really the route to go unless you plan on staying there for over 6 months or if you are working for company.

#8 MWasser6 has been a member since 6/8/2012. Posts: 19

Posted by caseyprich on 12/12/2013 at 20:06

Do you mean a Z-Type Employment Visa? If so, they usually need to be arranged before arrival at this point. It can be some trouble to show up on a tourist visa and then try to change it to an employment visa, which used to be the way a lot of people did it.

Again, technically you do need a Z-Type to work in China. In the larger cities you will still find language centers that will employ you if you are staying long-term on a student visa, but they will usually not get you a visa to work for them unless you sign a one-year contract. Maybe you can scrounge some freelance tutoring and get a couple of shifts at a center by just walking in . . . but most of your English First and Wall Street English offices are looking for employees with at least some stability. If you go to a place that doesn't require much of you, remember that you can't expect much of them.

#9 caseyprich has been a member since 3/3/2010. Location: China. Posts: 1,281
 Send caseyprich a private message   Where has caseyprich been? 

Posted by China_explorer on 13/12/2013 at 15:05

Rules have changed and are even more strict to get a work visa. Read this very good legal website:

#10 China_explorer has been a member since 13/12/2013. Posts: 2

Posted by caseyprich on 13/12/2013 at 18:30

China_explorer, great site, thanks for the post.

#11 caseyprich has been a member since 3/3/2010. Location: China. Posts: 1,281
 Send caseyprich a private message   Where has caseyprich been? 

Posted by markalan0123 on 16/12/2013 at 08:24

Thanks to everyone guys for providing me such an information....

#12 markalan0123 has been a member since 7/12/2013. Posts: 8

Posted by Risstel on 21/12/2013 at 23:05

What is the approximate salary someone with not much work experience, not yet much Mandarin skills and a university degree (biology) one might be able to earn in a big city like Shanghai or Beijing?

#13 Risstel has been a member since 21/12/2013. Posts: 6

Posted by caseyprich on 23/12/2013 at 05:27

You won't need any Mandarin skills to get a job teaching in Shanghai or Beijing. As far as income goes, without any teacher training at all it would be difficult to get work in even a 2nd-tier international style school, even the 3rd-tier isn't going to happen until you get into a city and make some connections to get your foot in the door.

That means you'd be looking at work in language training centers like English First or Wall Street English. For a 40 hour week you can count on around 12,000 RMB per month before taxes. Even they would prefer you have CELTA or TOEFL certificate. They claim to want one year of teaching experience, but with a certificate you'd be fine.

The final option would be to get work teaching oral/written English at a university. I think they tend to pay less than a training center, but you aren't required to be in the office for a full day, only come in and teach your lessons. Most people only want to do this for a year or two as a step into the country and usually tend to go on to training centers as they provide better pay.

My advice is to get a certificate before you start applying for jobs. If anything, once you get to China it isn't as easy to arrange a training course and you'll wish you had one if you don't like your position and want to look around.

#14 caseyprich has been a member since 3/3/2010. Location: China. Posts: 1,281
 Send caseyprich a private message   Where has caseyprich been? 

Posted by salmanize on 17/1/2014 at 05:50

Thanks for this helpful post about China working. It's very helpful for me and others.

#15 salmanize has been a member since 17/1/2014. Posts: 2

Please login to add a reply

You need to be a Travelfish member to be able to add a reply to this post. Please use the button below to log in. After logging in you'll be returned to this page automatically to add your post. Not a member? Join up here.