Teaching:Not the Only Job for Expats in China

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Hi there! Love reading the blog and seeing a black woman living a successful life in an Asian country with a great loving husband at that. This question has been on my mind a lot. It seems like whenever someone decides to live in an Asian country they always become teachers. So I was wondering is that the only way one can get to China, Japan…etc, is teaching the ONLY job a foreigner can get or is it one of the easiest jobs to get as a foreigner?


Thank you for your question.  Actually, there are many jobs for expats in China.   Teaching just happens to have decent pay for the most part, provide you with some kind of housing or housing assistance, and handles your working visa.  It is basically the easier way to get into the country.  However, if you don’t like to teach or you have some other skill you would rather use then by all means apply.  

There are a few things you have to remember though.  China has a lot of people… and they also want to work at decent paying jobs.   So, to get an edge over the competition besides your education your English skills are your best assets.

There are a few jobs that expats can get that let them live pretty comfortably….Besides being a teacher.

1.  DJ‘ing.  If you have any skills behind the turntables you will be a hit in China.  They are always wanting to party the way we do in the west… or like they think we do in the west and some good DJ’ing skills will get you in the clubs making the Dollar Bills … or um … Chinese RMBS.

2) Can you play an instrument?  Musicians do well over here.  I have several friends that have lived here for years just playing piano, sax and singing in the major hotels and clubs.

3) Speaking of singing.   If you can sing well… you can almost always get a spot on a tv show over here.  They are just totally fascinated with watching foreign people sing.  If you can sing in Chinese even better.. you will be like a star.   (watch out David Hasslehoff)

4) Modeling.   Due to the very different look of expats there are many modeling opportunities over here.  They usually favor the tall, blonde hair, blue-eyed types, But there are more and more opportunities opening up for other nationalities and children of mixed races.

5) Quality Control.  If you have a background in factory work, QA position are a plenty over here.  Companies want to impress and follow the requirements of their foreign customers and if they have a foreigner in their company it makes them look very good.

6) Translator.  If you can speak Chinese and English fluently.. you are golden.   You have the knowledge of a foreigner and the understanding of Chinese you will never be without employment.

These are only six job but there are plenty more.   There are many websites available to find overseas jobs that are not teaching jobs.  But try to find one that gives you an advantage over the locals.   Trust me the graduates over here study hard and know their stuff when it comes to the book learning and you pretty much out matched in that department.  However, creativity; talent; and personality go a long way over here if you know how to work it you could have a pretty lucrative career.


10 thoughts on “Teaching:Not the Only Job for Expats in China

  1. Pingback: Ask Jo: Was It Something I said? « Life Behind The Wall

  2. Regarding C. S’s comment: While true that China’s educational system focuses too much on rote learning, rote learning is not dead in the West since medicine and law requires much rote learning in addition to the focus on critical thinking and problem solving.

    In addition, China is moving in the right direction but changing a culture is not an overnight thing.

    The Huffington Post ran a revealing piece eon this topic in October 2010.


    The Huffington Post said, “No one born in the mainland China has won the Chemistry or Physiology/Medicine until this year, and all four of the mainland China-born winners of the Physics prize (Charles K. Kao, Daniel C. Tsui, Chen Ning Yang and Tsung-Dao Lee) received their graduate training and did their prize-winning research outside of China (three in the US, one in the UK).”

    What we learn from this is that even mainland Chinese born and raised in China’s culture can adapt and learn in a Western educational environment.

    In addition, there are more foreign students from China attending US universities than from any other country–more than 150,000 last year spending over $4 billion for their US educations. Those students first went to school in China and then came to the US as a college student. In fact, China’s next president has a daughter attending Harvard.

    The Huffington Post continued, “So when will we see a Nobel Prize winner in science who was trained in China and did their prize-winning research in China? Not for a long time. Although the Chinese government has been investing in its science technology as well as luring established scientists of Chinese descent back to the mainland, it will take years to build a strong infrastructure for cutting-edge research. Additionally, Chinese academia will need to modify their teaching styles to emphasize more creative problem solving, rather than the traditional approach that values wrought memorization.”

    “Delays will also be due to the typically decades-long lag between when research occurs and when an award is granted (though this year’s Physics prize was an exception). This lag, which allows for validation of the scientific merit and importance, means that great scientific discoveries that occur now will most likely not be awarded until 10, 20 or even 40 years in the future.”

    The lesso to be learned here is: Do not write China off for any reasons, which are usually biased in nature when coming from a Westerner.

  3. C.S.

    I’m not so sure I’d say that the graduates here outmatch us in book learning. They’ve definitely memorized everything, but logic and application are not emphasized in Chinese education. I’ve only met one — ONE — CS grad who had written a program during school, and only two accountants who could use Excel. Both of them taught themselves; their education was focused on regurgitating information for tests.

    1. @C.S. This is true but this is what they are looking for as job canidates for Chinese owned businesses. And because they have memorized all that information… we cant compete. They are obey, and follow orders… we are more outspoken and will disagree with policies… this is not what most chinese owned companies are looking for.

  4. Watch out with the performance work. It’s a slippery slope to becoming a “foreign monkey.” A buddy of mine owned a guitar, didn’t know how to play it, but made a living by pretending to play while the actual music was going in the background. He made enough money but described it as a soulless existence. You might try looking into an editing or writing job with a Chinese company. No matter how well educated a Chinese English speaker is, they almost always make some mistakes that their company doesn’t like going unnoticed. That’s my 2 cents anyway.

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