The Ultimate Guide to Teaching in Hong Kong
Last Updated on January 22, 2021 by Charmaine | The Canadian Wanderer
Teaching in Hong Kong is a great way to live in a bustling city. Although Hong Kong is a financial hub and there are international banks everywhere, there is also a huge demand for teaching English. As an ex-British colony, Hong Kong values the importance of English as a language for business.
If you are a native English speaker with a degree, loves working with people (and children) and want to have a meaningful career, you should definitely give teaching a chance! Teaching English exposes you to the local culture, helps students boost their language skills and allow you to work and stay in Hong Kong.
In this post, I will show you where you can find a teaching job in Hong Kong as well as organizations and resources to help you get hired!
Hong Kong’s NET Scheme
Primary and Secondary Schools
If you have a teaching qualification and/ or majored in English in university, I highly recommend the Native English Teacher (NET) scheme sponsored by the Hong Kong government. The NET scheme allows you to work in a local primary or secondary school. Depending on your educational qualifications, appointment of NETs are considered based on a priority order, which has impact on the salary you may receive. It is a two-year contract with the possibility to renew.
NET’s Teaching Salary
This is one of the most attractive packages for teaching English in Hong Kong. Salaries start from HK$31,750 to HK$61,415 (approx. USD $4,095.33 – $7,874/ month). On top of this appealing salary, NETs will receive a generous housing and medical allowance. (Updated November 2020).
College and Adult Education
If you prefer working with older students, there are also opportunities with the Vocational Training Council (VTC). The VTC is the largest vocational and professional education and training provider in Hong Kong. Once a year, they will post online on their career site for NET positions which includes an accommodation package.
These positions are less competitive than the primary and secondary levels, and are less publicized than the NET scheme above. To qualify for the VTC’s NET scheme, you will need to have a CELTA or a level 5 TEFL certificate, in addition to a Bachelor’s degree. If you do not have a TEFL certificate at the time of the interview, you will need to ensure you are qualified before the start of the position.
The VTC has announced that the NET positions will not be available for 2021. I cannot verify the current salary at this time. (December 2020)
Teaching English Agencies
If you are not a qualified teacher, do not fret! There is still hope to teach English in a public school system! There are many teaching agencies in Hong Kong that partners with local schools in supplying them with a Native English teacher (NET). They can either employ you for a full-year contract with a school or for after-school programs. These experiences are very valuable especially if you want to apply to the NET scheme in the future or be hired directly into the school.
Most of these agencies only require a Bachelor’s degree of any subject as long as you are a native English speaker. However, having a TEFL certificate also increases your chance to get hired. I chose to do the CELTA as it is recognized worldwide and gave me an opportunity to work in Canada in the long run.
Here are three organizations that I have worked with and can recommend in Hong Kong.
Chatteris Educational Foundation
I first landed in Hong Kong by teaching English for a non-profit organization called Chatteris Educational Foundation. If you are a new graduate and want to test the waters in teaching English, Chatteris recruit candidates to work in a local school for a nine-month contract. The position starts at the end of August until June every year.
Chatteris partners with local primary, secondary and vocational schools across the city to provide teaching jobs to young people. Depending on the age group you are interested in, you can choose which type of school you wish to work in.
Here are some benefits in working for Chatteris Educational Foundation:
- Chatteris takes care of you throughout the entire process. My visa process was very simple and it was mailed to me. I was impressed at their efficiency!
- Chatteris helps you get settled in Hong Kong. During training, you get a temporary place to live for two weeks while hunting for an apartment. You get time to meet new friends and pair up as roommates.
- They provide a lot of support including teaching you how to find your first home, what to say to real estate agents, and how to budget your money properly.
- They host workshops every month to help you learn about the local culture in Hong Kong and conduct professional development workshops.
- As a non-profit organization, they partner with local organizations to provide volunteering opportunities. I was able to earn a little side money by conducting English workshops for university students at a local university and made some local friends. I really enjoyed this experience.
* If you decided to apply, please include my name ‘Charmaine‘ as your referral on your application. I appreciate it! *
Eureka Language Services
Eureka Language Services is another teaching agency that places native English speakers into local schools. Like Chatteris, they employ young graduates into full-time teaching jobs but also have some short-term positions available as well.
If you are looking for a supplementary income or just missed the full-time cycle, Eureka has options for after-school or weekend English programs. I worked with Eureka for one semester and really enjoyed it. I worked for a local primary school on Saturdays and Eureka provided me with materials and notes for reference. It was a nice touch to my daily routine.
If you sign up on their mailing list, you will receive an email with different projects available at the time. It consists of both full-time and part-time positions.
English For Asia
English for Asia is known for its Trinity TESOL courses and recruiting English teachers for kindergarten, primary and secondary schools. I have the least amount of experience working with them. Besides attending a professional development workshop for teachers, I have not worked directly with English for Asia. To my understanding, they are a similar organization like Eureka that employs both full-time and part-time positions across Hong Kong. I would give them a shot!
Apply Directly to Schools
Another route you can consider is applying directly to the school. When I worked for Chatteris, I have seen some of my colleagues who have built a rapport with the school they worked for, to be hired directly. For example, the Vocational Training Council (VTC) has many English teaching positions available. Since these are generally catered towards local teachers, it would not have a compensation package that includes accommodation. However, the salary is still decent and it is a great way to start a teaching career. On the side, I’ve seen my friends upgrade their qualifications and take on a part-time education degree at a local university.
Word of Caution
A disadvantage of these programs is that you would most likely be the only English teacher at the school, and this experience can be quite isolating. Since these are local schools, most teachers are Cantonese-speaking and are from Hong Kong, but you will learn a lot about Hong Kong in the process.
Teaching your Expertise
If you are a licensed teacher in your home country, international schools pay their teachers extremely well in Hong Kong. Instead of teaching English as a second language (ESL), you will be teaching the subjects you are trained for, whether that may be Math, Science or English Literature to students from all over the world. Your students will most likely be a combination of local and ex-pats.
International schools also need support staff and if you have strong English proficiency and an area of expertise, you might fit into one of the roles. Most of these jobs are not willing to sponsor your visa so you would need to either be a Hong Kong resident or possess a valid visa to work (i.e. dependent visa, right to land, working holiday visa, etc.) in Hong Kong. Some of these roles include communications, counselling, and educational assistant.
Teaching English in Language Centres
If you are looking to teach young children (generally 3-12 years old) in a small classroom, there are so many language centres to choose from! Generally, classes only have up to 8 students so it is small and intimate. Since language centres are a private business and target middle-class parents, teachers get paid fairly well. The peak hours for language centres are mornings (for kindergarten classes) and after-school (4-7 pm for primary school students). Therefore, your working hours can be quite long, lasting from the morning to past 7 pm.
Many language centres recruit on JobsDB, a job searching website in Hong Kong, or on expat websites such as Geoexpat and Asiaxpat. If you need the company to sponsor your visa, make sure you have at least a Bachelor’s degree. A TEFL or CELTA is also preferred to show you have relevant training.
Minorities or Ethnically Asian Teachers
Although language centres are serving education, it is a business enterprise and they tend to hire based on demand. Most parents associate authentic and native English to a Caucasian blonde with blue eyes. Therefore, if you are Asian (like me) or coloured descent, stay optimistic and keep looking. There are many organizations out there and it is important to find one that will not discriminate against your skin color. I have and continue to face this barrier in my teaching career but I remain hopeful.
Extra Support and Resources
If you need extra support, there is a strong community for expats on Facebook.
Expat Support Groups
My Other Articles on Hong Kong
- How to Move to Hong Kong on a Budget
- Struggles of Ethnic Chinese Expats in Hong Kong
- My Love-Hate Relationship with Hong Kong
If you have any other ideas and organizations that you wish to suggest, I would love to hear it. Please leave me a comment below.