Ever wondered how to work in China but have no idea where to start and you don’t really feel like teaching English?
I have just finished 3 months working in China and in this post will give some tips on how to work in China away from just teaching English.
To read about my experiences working and travelling in China please see my last post: Working and Travelling China
I managed to get a job with Dragonfly Outdoors, an outdoor education company based in Hong Kong. However in their fall season the have just as much work in mainland China and that’s where I was based for almost all of my 3 month contract. My job was a program coordinator supervising groups of between 2 to 12 outdoor instructors running outdoor activities with up to 110 kids for a few days each week. Its kind of like school camp for these kids. We would take them kayaking, hiking, biking ect… as well as some awesome cultural exchanges at small local primary schools and some traditional Chinese arts and craft activities in many different locations across South East China
In other words this job was perfect for me! I got to work with half Chinese and half western staff in 4 different locations, mostly away from the BIG cities. As a traveller, the 3 month contract and the possibility of returning in the future was exactly what I was looking for.
China is crazy! Its the largest country by population, 4th largest by land area and its economy grows by an epic 7% every year. In the developed world 7% is unheard of. 20-30 years ago China wasn’t much. Now they are about equal with the USA as the global superpower. In my opinion I think they are the most powerful country in the world because the USA is so far in debt and China makes a profit each year. The USA owes around 4-5 trillion dollars to overseas countries. And over a Trillion of that is to China.
It is the rising superpower of the world and it makes me excited to learn more about this fascinating country.
Each year more people are just travelling in China too. Its a huge country with so much to offer to travellers. The people are lovely, the cities are crazy, the technology is awesome, food is delicious, the nature is beautiful, and Tibet is meant to be one of the most interesting and beautiful places on the planet! I haven’t been there yet as you have to go as apart of a small tour group and get an extra entry permit on top of the Chinese visitor visa.
Like many people my China adventure started when I googled “How To Work In China”
The main jobs available are English teaching. China is in desperate need of native speaking English teachers and its pretty easy to get these jobs if your interested. The main hang up is you do need a Bachelor degree that helps you get the work visa. Contracts are usually between 6-12 months and the pay is OK. China is a very affordable country to live in so your money goes along way!
So I scrolled through lots of different English teaching job before I found one that was Outdoor Instructing In China and Hong Kong with Dragonfly, an outdoor education company. (Correction, Hong Kong is actually owned by China but as they are very different it is easier to talk about them separately. )
I decided to apply and by the end of the next week I had the job! Woohoo job hunting over already!!
Outdoor education is growing fast in China and there are quite a few different companies that hire lots of western staff every season. Some on full time and some on seasonal positions. There’s no need to know Mandarin to get most of these jobs.
I was very lucky because my company Dragonfly got me both the Hong Kong work visa and the Chinese tourist Visa. Because I was working for a Hong Kong company being paid in Hong Kong dollars I didn’t actually need a Chinese Work Visa which was nice.
In mot cases the company that you get a job with will organise all the visas for you. If you are like me on a tourist visa you just have to exit China for 5 minutes every 30 or 60 days depending what country your from.
Applying for a Chinese visa yourself its a little bit more difficult but its still possible and has got much easier in recent years. The best place to apply is in a Chinese embassy in Thailand because its the easiest place to get it.
If your from The USA, Canada or Australia you can now apply for a 10 year tourist Visa for China. In exchange Chinese citizens can also get the 10 years for these 3 countries too. Not everyone gets 10 years but most people get at least 2 or 5 years. This allows you to spend 60 days at a time in China and then all you have to do is a boarder run to get your passport stamped and then you can come back again.
Citizens from other countries like myself have usually only get 1-2 months at a time. Then you have to leave to apply for another in Hong Kong and it cots between $100-$200 each time.
Absolutely you can do this. Lots of people do this and I saw a lot of different opportunities in my 3 months. Once you make some local friends and get added to some Wechat (Chinese Facebook) groups there are positions offered by the minute. Mostly for English teaching, modelling and Gogo (strip club) jobs. There’s a lot of Expats in China too. Lots have their own businesses from Bars, to Hostels and hotels, to breweries, consultants, exporting, modelling, you name it its there. And if its not maybe you can start your own business. But that’s a whole different story. Entirely possible and rewarding tho!
You will find a lot of employment opportunities along your travels there for sure especially in the major cities and main tourist hot spots.
I spent a lot of time in Yangshuo, a busy little tourist town in the Karst mountains in Guangxi province, about 400km (or 2.5 hours by fast train) to the west from Guangzhou.
This area is one of the meccas for rock climbers and people come from all over the world to climb here. Lots of people do free-lancing here. Mostly for outdoor instructors but other opportunities like bar work exist too.
Across China there’s lots of volunteer opportunities but one in particular that I would highly recommend is in a small village near Yangshou.
Karstaway is doing some amazing work teaching sustainable farming and crop rotation in a country that uses a lot of pesticides. They also offer the opportunity to learn Mandarin and get involved with local communities and local people in Yangshuo and other locations around China. I have met the owner Katy and spent an afternoon with them and can vouch for them! Contact them or me directly if you wan tto know more about volunteering with them.
As you can probably tell China is one of my very favorite countries! My Mums family actually lived in Shanghai for a couple of generations before WW2 and my grandmother often tells us how she was born in China. My Great Great Grandfather Herbert Allan Giles wrote the first Chinese to English dictionary and helped develop the Wade-Giles system of writing Chinese. This was the predecessor to Pinyin which is now the input method most Chinese use for typing Chinese on their computers and smartphones.
Just encase you need to know my Chinese name is 龙高飞 Pronounced Long Gau Fei. And means High Flying Dragon. My Chinese friends Anya, Shelly and Yunyun helped me chose it!
Please let me know if you have any questions. I have a few contacts now so might be able to help you out and get you on your way!
China is amazing and I recommend everyone to go there and experience it. I am going back, its just a matter of when. And now you know How To Work In China too!