Exploring Chinese Work Opportunities: A Guide for Foreigners

Exploring Chinese Work Opportunities: A Guide for Foreigners

Are you interested in working in China? Look no further with this comprehensive guide we got for you.

We cover all the basics of getting a job in China and the types of visas.

This guide will help you take the necessary steps toward a successful career in the dynamic Chinese job market.

Learn Chinese on your own terms 🌟
Flexibility meets effective learning for Chinese character rapid progress!

How to get a job in China? 

Similar to looking for a job in your home country, you need to research and identify your target industry and job market, especially in China. At the same time, be sure to prepare your resume or CV (curriculum vitae) in English or Chinese—depending on the requirement.

Use job portals and professional networking platforms to help you search for Chinese jobs. Afterward, apply for job positions that best match your qualifications and interests.

If you pass the application round, it’s time to prepare for the interview. For more details, check out our article: Preparing for a Chinese Interview? 4 Essential Parts To Know.

Once you’ve got a job offer, it’s time to prepare the necessary documents for a work visa in China. Consult the Chinese embassy and the company to understand the application process.

The importance of guanxi in Chinese business relationships

Guanxi (关系) can be best translated as a strong relationship network or personal connection/trust. 

This concept and social networking are among the best ways to find a job in China. Whether it’s a friend, teacher, or other Chinese person, they might know about new opportunities and industry insights. 

Sometimes, it’s not what you know but who you know.

What type of work visa is there for China?

To properly work in China, work visas are necessary. China offers different types of work visas depending on the type of employment and the duration. 

  1. Z Visa (Employment): This visa is primarily the most common work visa for foreigners in China. It is for individuals with a secured job offer from a Chinese employer. Applicants must provide an employment permit or foreign expert certificate issued by the Chinese authorities.

  2. R Visa (Talent): This visa is for high-level foreign professionals such as scientists, researchers, entrepreneurs, and individuals with exceptional skills. They are usually granted as an invitation from a Chinese government agency or reputable organization for their talent to be used.

  3. F Visa (Business or Non-commercial Visit): Depending on the situation, this visa can be used for short-term employment or internships. It allows individuals to engage in cultural exchanges, academic conferences, research projects, or other non-commercial activities.

  4. M Visa (Commercial and Trade Activities): This visa is for foreigners engaging in commercial and trade activities in China. It can be used for short-term work assignments, such as attending business meetings, participating in trade fairs, or signing contracts.

Check the Embassy of China’s website in your state and country for more specific document requirements and fees.

| Chinese Embassies’ locations around the world

How is the work culture in China?

Working in a different country will result in culture shock. Here are some things to know to reduce this shock

  • Emphasis on hierarchy: Chinese work culture emphasizes social hierarchy, authority, and collective harmony. So many workplaces have a clear distinction between superiors and subordinates with instructions and protocols to follow.

  • Potential long working hours: There is a strong dedication to work and a focus on achieving success. Hard work, perseverance, and loyalty to the company are highly valued attributes.

  • Guanxi (关系): Maintaining good relationships with colleagues and superiors is crucial, as interpersonal connections play a significant role in career advancement and professional opportunities.

  • Saving face: Face or mianzi (面子) refers to preserving one's reputation and avoiding public embarrassment or loss of dignity. This concept is crucial to saving their face and your company when interacting with your superiors.

Western work practices have recently influenced China’s work culture, particularly in multinational companies and tech startups. This influence has led to a more dynamic and flexible work environment, with increased emphasis on creativity, innovation, and individualism.

Still, it's important to note that traditional Chinese work values still hold significant importance in many sectors and industries.

1. Teaching

Teaching is one of the most popular jobs for foreigners in China. Let’s take a look at the top two.

English teacher

With the high demand for English education, there are work opportunities in language schools, universities, and private tutoring

Brief insight into an average English teacher in China

Requirements usually include:

  • A bachelor's degree.

  • Two years of post-graduate job experience.

  • A TEFL certification.

  • A valid passport.

With education highly valued in Chinese culture, foreign teachers are in high demand, from kindergartens to universities.

Even though the average salary can range from $16,800 to $26,400 per year, the cost of living in China is much lower than in the US. So, teaching in China is much easier to live and save money than in the US. 

Foreign teachers in China can also enjoy accommodations such as free housing, health insurance, public transportation, and other living necessities.

Chinese instructor in education and research

This profession lets you express your passion for and expertise in Chinese with others, whether in a school, community college, or university environment. Ample knowledge of Mandarin Chinese in your industry is required for this role.

Chinese universities and research institutions will welcome foreign professionals in various academic fields. So there are Chinese work opportunities, including teaching positions, research collaborations, and academic exchanges.

You must have a license or a qualification exemption to become a Chinese teacher. A bachelor’s degree is also required, as is the completion of initial teacher education.

Since you are competing with domestic Chinese instructors, your field can be highly competitive. But, a qualified Chinese instructor can make up to $61,805 per year

2. Media


Subtitles write texts for movies, television shows, and educational materials. However, there is no standard salary for a Chinese subtitle, so the salary varies depending on the type of material needed to be transcribed, its length, and the time. 

While you can be a freelancer, being part of an established translation company greatly helps get you projects to work on and helps with your reputation.


A transcriber listens to the audio and then converts it to text. 

Generally, it is a freelance job, and you don’t normally need a degree. However, having a certification for Chinese reading and speaking fluency and knowing all the nuances allows you to translate any hidden meanings. 

You can use software to get most of the audio transcribed, but be sure to review and make any corrections.

Like being a subtitler, you can be freelance, but it’s best to be part of an established transcription company to work on projects more easily. Moreover, most businesses prefer to have their translation work done by a trusted company.


As a foreigner, you bring an international viewpoint and proficiency in the English language, which is highly valued in the Chinese market. 

Whether working as a content writer, editor, or translator, your skills contribute to bridging the language gap and facilitating effective communication between Chinese and English-speaking audiences. 

Additionally, working in the writing and editing industry allows you to immerse yourself in China's rich literary and artistic traditions, providing a rewarding and intellectually stimulating experience.

3. Hospitality and tourism

In this industry, foreigners can work in hotel management, travel agencies, and cultural exchange programs.

With the rapid growth of tourism in China, there is a need for international services and accommodation. So a foreigner’s perspective and talent will enhance those who are visiting.

4. Business and trade

Foreigners in this industry can open the door to exciting opportunities. With China's thriving business landscape and global trade connections, foreign professionals can contribute their expertise and international perspectives.

The world has become interconnected, so working in this industry allows foreigners to tap into a dynamic and competitive business environment and learn Chinese and international businesses.

Revamp Your Flashcard Experience
Boost your vocabulary, crush radicals, and level up your Mandarin skills.

5. IT and technology

Foreigners specializing in IT and Technology can find a job in China. There is a high demand for software engineers and UX/UI designers.

You can get a job based on your technical skills, expertise, and certifications rather than knowing Chinese. But knowing Chinese would definitely help your chance of landing the job.

6. Language professional


If you are fluent in Chinese, have good listening skills, and can translate the nuances between Chinese and your language, then being an interpreter can be your thing.

This job can be freelance, but being an interpreter lets you be in any industry, such as working for the government, being a medical interpreter, helping at international conferences, consulting, and much more.

You can earn from $42,580 to $54,678 per year, depending on your education, certifications, specializations, additional skills, and the years you have spent in your profession.


Being a translator usually involves working freelance, as agencies usually hire freelance translators for regular projects. So Chinese translators often specialize in a particular type of content, such as news, finance, health information, or software documentation.

Unlike Chinese interpreters who deal with multiple spoken Chinese dialects, a Chinese translator works with two main written forms—simplified and traditional Chinese. 

Additionally, Chinese translators must possess a high degree of writing expertise and the field they will work in. From legal, technical, and commercial to medical fields, these industries offer avenues for the skills of the Chinese translator. 

Where to find Chinese-speaking jobs?

If you are in China or in any Chinese speaking countries, you can definitely network in person while traveling or studying abroad.

No worries if are you not there in person. There are many sites to find jobs in China and other Chinese-speaking countries. Let’s take a look at these sites.

National job-seeking sites

These sites are widely known worldwide. You can access other countries’ jobs that match your skills by changing the language and location.

Chinese job-seeking websites

People use these sites to find jobs in China, Shanghai, Beijing, etc. These sites are great if you want to show off your Chinese skills.

These sites are in Chinese, so if you are serious about working in China, make sure your resume and CV are in Chinese. 

Foreigner-friendly Chinese jobs site

These sites advertise themselves for foreigners to use to look for jobs. Additionally, Chinese companies are specifically looking for foreigners, so you are likely to be hired through these sites. 

Additionally, companies posting jobs on these sites know the visa process as they have most likely hired foreigners before and are familiar with it. 

Frequently asked questions

What are the different types of jobs available in China for foreigners?

There are different sectors and industries for foreigners to work in China. They include:

  • Teaching

  • International Business and Trade

  • IT and Technology

  • Hospitality and Tourism

  • Media

  • Language professional

What are the jobs in China for English speakers?

Being a native English speaker or knowing English gives you a significant advantage in finding job opportunities in China. Many industries and sectors require English proficiency, and there is a demand for English teachers, translators, interpreters, and professionals in international businesses and organizations.

Are there jobs for Americans in China?

Yes, there are job opportunities for Americans in China. Americans can find employment in education, international business, technology, hospitality, and consulting sectors. Each job and industry depends on your qualifications, language skills, and work experience.

Can I get a job in China without knowing Chinese?

Yes, getting a job in China without knowing Chinese is possible, but it may limit your possibilities and the types of jobs available to you. Many multinational companies and international organizations in major cities may have positions that require English proficiency.

However, having at least a basic understanding of the Chinese language and culture can significantly enhance your job prospects and open up more opportunities for communication, collaboration, and career advancement within the local market.

Wrapping up 

Exploring work opportunities in China as a foreigner requires thorough research, preparation, and understanding of the country's job market, work culture, and visa requirements.

If you are already in China or in a Chinese speaking country, start making connections to get your name around. With the right preparation, research, and networking, foreigners can explore and secure work opportunities in China across various industries, contributing their skills and expertise to the country's dynamic and diverse job market.

About Pandanese
Learn over 6,000 Hanzi with Pandanese’s Chinese characters flashcards with our easy mnemonic stories and SRS system to build your Chinese vocabulary.

The easiest way to learn Chinese & build vocabulary

Learn more than 6,000 hanzi and vocabulary in a single year.