请求 - Sichuan job leads

xiaohu
June 01, 2009, 06:26 AM posted in General Discussion

大家好,

This Friday I'm going to leave for China to be the Co-MC of a great friend's sister's wedding.  I'm going to Chongqing, and I figured I'd try to schedule some interviews while I'm there.

I was wondering if anyone knows how to break into the job market there.  I've been told there are places that will hire someone with a decent command of Chinese at around $60 - $80 USD per hour. 

Does anyone have any advice on how to go about finding employment?

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pearltowerpete
June 01, 2009, 06:31 AM

Hi xiaohu,

If you find any jobs that pay $60-$80 an hour, please let me know about them! ;-)

The devilish thing about working in China as a foreigner is that overwhelmingly, the people who make the big money are entrepreneurs or people sent here by their foreign company. They don't speak a lick of Chinese, and have interpreters to do everything for them.

English teachers can make 200-300 RMB (about 30 to 50 bucks) an hour, but they rarely have a decent command of Chinese.

For someone interested in using Chinese on the job, 100-200 RMB per hour is probably a more realistic range.

I made much more per hour as a freelance translator and interpreter, but then you have to network and look for projects all the time, and take care of your own visa.

There are tons of great reasons to learn Chinese, but for most people, the money isn't one (yet.)

Finally, these are just my own observations. I'd love to hear from people whose Chinese has helped them get a high-paying job.

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xiaohu
June 01, 2009, 06:38 AM

Pete,

I have a friend who is trying to open a company in Shenzhen, and he has a friend living and working there who earns $65 USD an hour...and (as you can imagine) he doesn't speak a lick of Chinese.

I asked him if he has any job leads, but he said the job market in Shenzhen is kind of slow.  I figured the same could be said of Chongqing but I thought I'd ask.

I'd be willing to take the $200 RMB per hour, except I have responsibilities in the states that require a certain outlay of capital.  If I didn't have that monkey on my back, it would make things SO much easier!

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pearltowerpete
June 01, 2009, 06:45 AM

Hi xiaohu,

Yes, definitely, the sky is the limit for entrepreneurs. As weak as the market is in Shenzhen, I think it's probably better in many ways than our good old US of A.

And my last comment may have seemed a bit harsh about English teachers. I taught English for a year, and though I didn't enjoy it much (largely due to my attitude), it did leave plenty of time for things I liked better. The most important was studying Chinese. There are plenty of teachers who are very good at what they do, and use the extra time to study Chinese-- some of them are great Poddies.

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xiaohu
June 01, 2009, 07:31 AM

Pete,

So what would I need to do to find a job as a teacher?

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pearltowerpete
June 01, 2009, 07:42 AM

Hi xiaohu,

I've been out of the game for a bit, but you just need to check online for the city that you're interested in living in. I think it makes sense to get the job based on the city you like, since you'll basically be able to get teaching work no matter where you decide to go.

Be really suspicious, and don't get your hopes up when schools say you'll only be teaching for 16-20 hours per week. If you add in the lesson prep and office hours, plus the weird class scheduling, you're generally looking at 40 hours per week.

The alternative is to tutor rich or upwardly mobile people. You go to their house, and can generally make 200-300 per hour, depending on the deal you work out. That generally works better, although many people love to casually cancel or rearrange their classes.

There's no perfect solution here. Probably the best thing is to get some serious teaching qualifications (IELTS, whatever) and work for an international school.

Please, other poddies, share your experiences.

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Tal
June 01, 2009, 09:27 AM

Well basically I can confirm that everything that pete says here is 'on the money'. Especially the last bit about working for an international school.

One unfortunate aspect of teaching English in China (unless you're teaching highly motivated people) is that you pour a lot of time and energy into teaching kids with no real interest in or feeling for the language. If you can't adjust your 'attitude', then at times it can be miserable, you have to get good at disconnecting certain emotional switches and being able to spontaneously generate the required energy.

The good side (as pete has said) is that if you're lucky and/or you play your cards right, you get lots of free time to while away on Chinesepod, drink lots of tea, and dream about the life that could/should have been if you hadn't spent so much time as a youth drinking tea and dreaming about the life that could/should be.

If you choose to teach English here, it's still a viable way to make a living, maybe even an attractive one if your voyage through life is getting snagged on the rocks of the west's current economic difficulties. But it's most unlikely you'll be in any way affluent by western standards, (unless you can also count time as money of course.)

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bodawei
June 01, 2009, 10:03 AM

@xiaohu

My daughter has both been learning Chinese full-time until the money ran out, and taught English for a year.  She has taught from kindergarten to middle-aged people, all in the same business with lots of different contracts.  I have heard all the stories, and support the above comments.  Just a couple of further comments: if you teach at a private school you will earn as much as twice as much as at a university or school.  The hours all work out to about 40 hrs per week if you do preparation.  The highest you could expect west of Shanghai would be say 9,000 RMB per month and many pay much less; universities pay around 3,000 per month but generally offer accommodation and a return airticket so that it evens out somewhat.  (Interestingly if you want to teach say Economics or Finance at a university, in your discipline, you may be offered less than half this.)  My daughter says that if you want any work satisfaction at all, work with customers who pay for their own lessons (ie. avoid all school and university teaching.)

Teaching qualifications appear to be irrelevant in getting an English-teaching job (most people require a bachelor degree and will pay a little more if you have a Masters) but the ESL certificate Pete referred to may mean you actually know what you are doing.  

BTW the best money I have seen for a foreigner: my son worked in a bar and attended functions 'mixing drinks' for about 200 an hour plus as many cocktails as he liked.  (They probably didn't realise that he can drink a lot of cocktails.)  He didn't actually have to mix drinks at all - he just had to be there and display his foreignness. He was provided with a paid interpreter, and if the authorities called he was to say that he was just a customer.

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andrew_c
June 01, 2009, 01:47 PM

bodawei:

"Interestingly if you want to teach say Economics or Finance at a university, in your discipline, you may be offered less than half this."

Professors at Chinese universities make less than English teachers?  I don't have any knowledge or experience regarding these matters, but that just makes no sense to me.  Why is it that way?  Is the pay any better for faculty in technical disciplines?

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calkins
June 01, 2009, 02:07 PM

Andrew, I think there are some big differences between teaching University and teaching English at a cram school for example:

- University teachers usually get 3 weeks to a month paid vacation during Chinese New Year (I'm not sure about summer vacation).  Other holidays are usually paid.

- English teachers get a week off for Chinese New Year, unpaid.  All other holidays are unpaid, and usually need to be made up on the following weekend.

- English teachers usually work year-round, and it's difficult to take much time off other than during CNY.  And again, any vacation is unpaid.

- I don't know how much most Univ. teachers make, but I believe that they typically have more paid hours, so they end up making more money in the end.

This is based on a few conversations I've had with Univ. teachers in Taiwan, so I'm not sure what the exact situation is on the mainland.

All this aside, and even with few paid working hours for English teachers (typically 18 to 25 hours per week), the pay is quite high when compared to most natives' salaries.  That coupled with the low cost of living (in most places), foreign teachers in Asia can't complain!

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andrew_c
June 01, 2009, 03:09 PM

Brent, Thanks for the info.  I just want to double check. Are you talking about English teachers at a university, or professors (for example, in science or engineering) at a university?

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miantiao
June 01, 2009, 11:59 PM

typical uni english lecturer on the mainland gets 5000rmb plus an apartment and some other negotiable extras for 9-10 hours teaching a week. many do two gigs.

a private school teaching adults and uni students will offer around 7000rmb to begin with plus accom allowance and end of contract bonus. however, most places require 40 hours of work, 25 teaching and 15 office.

if you like kids then you'll love the flexibility that goes with it. mainly part-time work but at an hourly rate(usually around 150). i know some teachers only doing part-time work teaching kids but have a number of gigs and they earn up to 15000rmb.

all that said, salaries vary between cities, in particular shanghai and beijing jobs pay more because of the higher cost of living.

like pete has said, if your degree background is education then you can work for an international school and earn in excess of 20000rmb, anywhere in china.

if you have good networking skills you could also teach privately. i know people who have made good money doing this, however, students do cancel.

professors do make more money than english lecturers, but not much more, and the work is more difficult to find. the demand for english teachers is very high compared with that of other subject areas which are taught in chinese.

most uni students must pass english exams relating to their degree subject. many are not interested in aquiring practical ability. class sizes vary from 20 to over a hundred.

students requiring practical ability( for many reasons) enrol in private schools that focus on speaking and listening.

 

 

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jamestheron
June 02, 2009, 03:06 AM

I've heard that actors make a lot of money in Hollywood!  So, I'll head to California to seek my riches.  ;)

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bodawei
June 02, 2009, 04:03 AM

@miantiao & others I didn't know that about international schools - I had only heard that the salaries offered were quite low. There is quite a lot of variation across the country with salaries much lower in the West. In Kunming teaching English at universities at present range from 2,500 to 3,800 per month - you may get a little more (4,300) if you have a Masters degree. University Business Schools do offer higher pay, or at least they say that there is scope for negotiation. @andrew_c The point I was making is that if you teach in your discipline you are in the university system and the salaries are low, although as some have pointed out you usually get an accommodation allowance, a few paid holidays, an 'airfare' at the end and sometimes a small 'bonus' in addition. The bonus is actually there to encourage you to stay out your contract. So, teaching economics in China I will receive less than half what our daughter earns teaching English in a private business. It's all about supply and demand in China. PS. I'm pleased to note that you think that Economics is not 'technical'! :-)

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calkins
June 02, 2009, 06:01 AM

Sorry Andrew, I was talking about University teachers teaching English.  I should have qualified that.

Bodawei is right, it's all about supply and demand.  Recently, the supply of English teachers is more than the demand, so pay has dropped (a little) and jobs are more scarce.  But I'm sure that will change once the economy picks up again.

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sushan
June 02, 2009, 05:38 PM

yes, it's changed quite a bit. Last year I could start setting up interviews at the beginning of august, arrive in China during the third week, and have my pick of jobs for the september term. Now, many places have already filled available positions for the fall term.

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xiaohu
August 23, 2009, 11:59 PM

@Calkins,

I've been trying to contact you through our new IM system and haven't yet gotten a response back.

I'm serious about getting to China, and I was wondering how you found your job.  What sites you used, or if you went through an agency, how you structured your resume, cover letter, etc.

The sooner I get all this prepared the sooner I can start my new life, so your input would be greatly appreciated.  In fact, input from anyone who's made the jump would be greatly appreciated.

You can always e-mail me directly at: xiaohucai@gmail.com

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calkins
August 24, 2009, 08:45 AM

Hey Chase,

I sent an email to your other gmail account about a month ago.  I bet it went into junk.

It's still in my sent folder, so I'll resend it to the above gmail address.  Post here if you don't get it.