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Work in China

Country flag: China

There are opportunities for working in China if you are ambitious, resourceful and willing to make the move East...

Job market in China

China has the second largest economy in the world behind the US, with a population of more than 1.3 billion.

The capital, Beijing and Shanghai - the largest cities in China - are the business and industrial hubs of the country. Many multi-national companies have their Asian headquarters in one of these East coast locations.

For English speakers, job opportunities will mostly be in these cities (as well as Hong Kong) and others such as Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Tianjin.

International candidates who can speak Mandarin, have good knowledge of the country, and can display an interest in Chinese culture and life, are well placed to find jobs. It helps to already be based in China when applying for jobs.

There are positions for foreign nationals in technical and IT related roles, while jobs in finance and banking are available, but may be more difficult to enter into.

Jobs in Hong Kong are widely accessible to English speakers. The job market is competitive, with locals and international graduates all vying for work.

Hong Kong has opportunities in teaching and the media, as well as accountancy, banking and finance, for English speakers with experience.

A popular way to live and work in China while earning a good salary is by teaching. You may receive help with accommodation and travel costs to and from China if you are working for a reputable school. You will also receive support with visas and health insurance.

You can teach in Hong Kong with the right qualifications, although work may not be as readily available as in the rest of China, as English is already widely spoken there.

For more information on teaching English, go to  and i-to-i TEFL .

Job vacancies

For jobs in China, view the location-specific jobs boards at AsiaXPAT .

Search for jobs in Hong Kong at Classified Post .

Work experience and internships in China

Internships and summer work placements for students can also be arranged by:

  • AIESEC UK  - for students and recent graduates;
  • IAESTE UK  - for science, engineering and applied arts students.

Volunteering in China

Voluntary work can help you build your skill-set and learn a new language. It will help to have some money saved before you set off as the vast majority of voluntary positions are unpaid. Volunteering looks good on your CV and gives you the chance to network and build contacts.

To volunteer in China you should first research what you would like to do and apply to organisations directly. 

Some relevant organisations that may offer opportunities in China include:

  • Lattitude Global Volunteering  - An international youth development charity offering placements to 17-25 year-olds;
  • Projects Abroad  - Offering placements in a range of areas, in 28 countries, you can volunteer work with children, do conservation work and internships and more.

Language requirements

If you speak Mandarin, you are better positioned to find work. It is worth learning some before you arrive in China. Once you are there, it's beneficial to take lessons.

Teachers of English may be offered Mandarin lessons as part of an employment package, as will employees of multi-national organisations.

English isn't widely used in China. However, it is spoken by younger Chinese people, while school children and students are beginning to gain a good grasp of the language.

As a general rule, it is unlikely people will speak English in rural areas, but in bigger cities like Beijing and Shanghai you should be able to get by if you can only speak English.

English and Chinese are the official languages of Hong Kong. Nationals speak both Cantonese and Mandarin.

Chinese visas and immigration

British nationals require visas to enter China and will need to acquire one before they arrive.

If you are entering Hong Kong you don't need a visa. However, to work legally, your employer will have to apply for a working visa on your behalf.

If you are planning on study, working or living in China for more than six months, you must obtain a health certificate that has been legalised by the Chinese Embassy.


Want to study in China?

Find out about fees, funding, visas, exchanges, and where to study in China.

Written by Editor, Graduate Prospects
January 2013

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