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How much do South African teachers earn in China?

How much do South African teachers earn in China_-pretoria-sandton-capetown-durban-2024

For many South Africans, teaching English in China can be an incredible opportunity and a rewarding experience in more ways than one can imagine. Apart from the cultural, historical and culinary enlightenment, teaching in China can also be a very profitable experience for South Africans. As a foreign English teacher in China, South Africans can generally expect to earn a competitive salary with additional benefits that are often higher than what they would earn in South Africa.

China is the largest and one of the most lucrative job markets for overseas English teachers in the world. As a result, there is a huge demand for English teachers in China and many English teaching jobs are available throughout the country. This means that South Africans with a TEFL qualification can earn a lot of money teaching English in China.

How much do South African teachers earn in China-pretoria-sandton-capetown-durban-2024

Given the size of China’s English teaching market, how much South African teachers can earn in China can vary widely depending on your location in China, institution, role and experience. This Salary Guide will give you a clearer idea of how much you can earn as a South African English teacher in China and what you can expect when working there.

Teaching English in China Salary


How much do South African teachers earn in China-pretoria-sandton-capetown-durbanYour salary as a South African teacher in China will vary depending on the city, but more importantly, the type of institution you choose to teach in. It’s important to distinguish between the tiers of cities where English is widely taught before we start. When we say Tier 1, we’re referring to mega-cities like Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen and Guangzhou. Tier 2 refers to medium-sized cities, while Tier 3 includes smaller cities such as Yangzhou and Foshan. These are still big cities with lots of schools and businesses, but they’re dwarfed in size by the likes of Beijing and Shanghai. There are also differences in Chinese schools and teachers. There’s the state education system, which we call public schools. Then we have to take into account private, international and university salaries to get a broader perspective.

Public Schools: $1,000 to $2,500 (R18, 900 to R47, 300) per month

Public schools tend to pay less than private institutions but if you’re getting your start teaching Chinese students as a South African, it’s more than likely you’ll be teaching English in the public school system.

The salary can range pretty widely for South African ESL teaching in public schools from about $1,000 to $2,500 (R18,900 to R47,300) per month. In a lot of cases, salary depends on where you are in China; Tier 1 teachers in public schools typically earn $1,500 to $2,500 (R28, 400 – R47, 300), while in Tier 2 it’s slightly less: $1,400-2,300 (R26, 500-R43, 500) is an average salary. Tier 3, meanwhile, offers substantially less, with wages starting at $1,000 (R18,900) and tending to top out at $1,500 (R 28,400).

How-much-do-South-African-teachers-earn-in-China-pretoria-sandton-capetown-durban.webpEnglish lessons range from teaching young kids in kindergarten right up to the end of schooling age. Teachers at public schools tend to work fewer hours than those at private schools, and they also enjoy longer (often paid) vacations and more holidays

There are benefits to working in public schools for example, International English teachers at public schools work with a native co-teacher who provides help and eases your adjustment to teaching in China. However, class sizes tend to be quite large at public schools, averaging around 20 to 40 students. Public schools also have less of a support structure when it comes to the application process and applying for work visas.

Private and international schools: $1,500-3,500 (R28, 400-R66, 300) per month

International schools in China are for expats kids or kids from more well-off families that aim to send their kids overseas. So, if you’re looking to earn a higher salary in the private education sector, international schools are your best bet.

Obviously, it depends on the institution and – again – where in China you’re teaching. Tier 1 cities will have the best salaries relative to the cost of living. Salaries vary based on your personal teaching experience, certifications, and your level and type of education, you can expect to earn between $1,500 and $3,500 (R28, 400-R66, 300) per month teaching at an international school in China. Again, this depends on where you’re teaching.

A Tier 1 international school is most likely to pay this kind of salary. If you work in Tier 2 international school, you can expect to earn $1,200-3,500 (R22,700- R66,300)per month, while in Tier 3 areas it’s usually $1,200-3,000 (R22,700-R56,800).

If you, like many who teach English in China, have limited experience teaching, working for a private institution may be helpful because they tend to provide significantly more support than public schools. Private schools also provide more assistance with applications and applying for visas.

Universities: $1,200 – $1,600 (R22, 700-R30, 300) per month

University salaries in China tend to be quite low, so if your goal is to save thousands while working, universities aren’t necessarily the best choice.

Tier 1 universities tend to pay South African ESL teachers between $1,200 and $1,600 (R22, 700-R30, 300) per month for English teaching jobs, including benefits such as accommodation, lunches and visa support. Tier 2 universities pay between $1,000 and $1,300(R18, 900-R24, 600), while Tier 3 institutions tend to pay a monthly salary of $1,200 (R22, 700).

Compared to other schools, universities have a much lighter workload and fewer teaching hours, a maximum of 20 to 25 hours per week with a few hours of preparation time. University professors can enjoy more free time, paid flights, accommodation and paid holidays. Also, public universities are more attractive than private ones and are seen as more prestigious institutions, so these positions can be a bit more competitive.

The cost of living in China is relatively low compared to South Africa, so overall, South African teachers can expect to save anywhere from 20-50% of their teaching salary in China, depending on how strict they are with their budget and how much they want to travel in their spare time. If the Chinese employer offers additional benefits such as Z visa reimbursement, free accommodation, flights to and from your home country and a signing bonus, saving a good chunk of your take-home pay is more than doable.

Partner with Global Apostille

To obtain a work permit for China, you’ll need to apostille your university degree, TEFL certificate and Police clearance certificate. This can be a difficult process on your own, so we offer a service that gets it done for you, hassle-free! Global Apostille is a Pretoria-based agency providing authentication and legalisation services for South African documents used internationally. We offer certificate apostille from the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) and the High Court. For more information, contact us at Tel: 012 348 3134 – Cel:  081 347 6060, or email

How much do South African teachers earn in China?
Article Name
How much do South African teachers earn in China?
This salary guide will give you a clearer idea of how much you can earn as a South African English teacher in China at different types of institutions, from public schools to universities. It also discusses the benefits South African teachers can expect when working in China.
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Global Apostille Lagalisation
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