How to Find Your Dream Job Teaching English in Hong Kong
Teaching in Hong 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 list out the different options and organizations to find a teaching job in Hong Kong.
Teaching Jobs in Public Schools
The Government NET Scheme
Primary and Secondary Students
If you have a teaching qualification or majored in English at university, I highly recommend looking into 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 background, there is an order of priority in getting placed in the system and that has impact on your salary. It is a two-year contract with the possibility to renew.
NET Teaching Salary:
This is one of the most attractive packages out there, with salaries starting at HK$31,750 (an equivalent of USD $4,095.33/ month). This amount can go up to HK$61,415 (approx. USD $7,874/ month). On top of this appealing salary, NETs will receive a generous housing and medical allowance. (Updated November 2020).
College and Adult Students
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 a very generous accommodation package. For this position, it is less competitive than the primary and secondary levels, and less known to the general public. The main qualification you will need is a CELTA or level 5 TEFL certificate, in addition to a Bachelor’s degree. If you do not possess this at the time of the interview, you will need to obtain it before starting the position.
Local English Teacher
If you do not go the NET route, there are also English teaching positions you can apply directly to the school posted on the careers website. These are more catered towards local teachers so it would not have a compensation package that is usually included for NETs. However, it is still a great way to become a teacher in Hong Kong.
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 Chinese-speaking and come from Hong Kong and you would need to follow their school practices and traditions.
Teaching English Agencies
If you are not a qualified teacher, do not fret! There is still hope to work 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 them in Hong Kong.
Chatteris Educational Foundation
I first landed in Hong Kong by teaching for this non-profit organization called Chatteris Educational Foundation. If you are a new graduate and want to test the waters in teaching, Chatteris is perfect as they recruit candidates to work in a local school for a nine-month contract.
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 your school preference.
Here are some things I loved about Chatteris:
- Chatteris really helps you get settled in Hong Kong. During training, you get a temporary place to live while apartment-hunting.
- 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 provide fun activities and workshops every month to help you learn about the local culture in Hong Kong.
- As a non-profit, they partner with local organizations to provide volunteering opportunities. I got to work with university students at a local university to provide fun and interactive English workshops.
* If you are interested in applying, please include my name ‘Charmaine’ as your referral for your application. *
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. They hired me for one semester and I really enjoyed it. I worked for a local primary school every Saturday 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, they will let you know what teaching projects are available. It’s a mixed bag and you might find something interesting!
English For Asia
English for Asia is known for its Trinity TESOL course and training workshops for ESL teachers across Hong Kong. They also provide language service support to different schools across Hong Kong. Similar to Eureka, they have opportunities all-year-round so even if you miss the school timeline, you have opportunities doing weekend or after-school programs.
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.
Private 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 targets 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 of the 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 that you have a Bachelor’s degree as this is the minimum requirement from immigration. A TEFL is also preferred.
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 or coloured descent, stay persistent 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 am hopeful and keep applying.
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!