Teaching English in Hong Kong: A Guide - Part 1
Teaching in Hong Kong is such a unique and rewarding experience. If you are looking to come to Hong Kong to work as an English teacher, then this is the guide for you. In this multi-part series, we are going to guide you through everything you need to be able to teach in Hong Kong.
When thinking about a career teaching in Hong Kong, you might have a million questions running through your head. "Do I need a degree?"Does my degree have to be English or Teacher related?" Do I need any work experience? "Do I need a TEFL/TESOL?" and in this article, we aim to answer all these questions and more.
If you want the TLDR edition of this post, it's this: Yes, you need a degree to teach in Hong Kong, but it doesn't have to be English or Teaching related. You will need a TEFL/TESOL with the practical teaching module so you can say you have experience teaching. There are other options and certainly opportunities to grow your career as a teacher here. You should start looking for jobs as early as February or even a little earlier. You might want to seek the help of an agency for your first contract as it comes with benefits like housing and a support network to help you. Visas should be handled by your employer. Make sure you have a valid work visa before you start your first day of work! Now we’ve covered the TLDR, let’s have a look at diving in deep.
What Qualifications Do I Need to Teach In Hong Kong?
As mentioned, you will need a degree and a cert TEFL/TESOL, and this is something we‘ve explored in our in-depth, data-backed post about what employers are looking for when hiring English teachers in Hong Kong. Do have a look as it will give you insight into the considerations given when companies and schools are looking to hire teachers.
If you don't have a degree, you really should consider getting one as it will be pretty much impossible for you to land a teaching job without it. It is possible to find jobs that don't require a TEFL/TESOL, but it would put you at a considerable advantage if you do have one.
If you are in Hong Kong, you could get in touch with the people at English for Asia. They are well-reviewed in Hong Kong, offering an effective way to gain qualifications that will boost your job options.
What if I Want to Teach Something Else?
While this guide is aiming to help people find a job teaching English, these are not the only jobs on offer. Some people come to Hong Kong to teach English and decide that they want to transition into being a registered teacher so they can be a "proper" teacher in local and international schools alike. There are many reasons people do this. Some find being a class teacher more rewarding, it generally offers better pay, benefits and a good shot at some personal development.
If this is something you are thinking of doing, you should consider doing a PGDE while you work. Studying a PGDE is something we've written about right here. To accompany this, we've also written an essential guide on how to survive a part-time PGDE, which is a must-read because doing a PGDE part-time is not for the faint of heart.
Once you've finished your PGDE, you can become a registered teacher. A lot of people stress out at this part, but it's really quite easy if you prepare for it the right way. We've got your back here! Check out our post on registering as a teacher in Hong Kong, which makes it super easy for you to get registered ASAP.
When’s a Good Time to Apply For a Job?
Some schools like to have their teachers locked down as earlier as November so they can plan ahead for the school year that will start the following September. That’s super early! It’s best to start applying for a job after the Chinese New Year, so around February. This will give you enough time to apply for good jobs as well as give companies the time to get your work visa sorted. You can still find jobs year-round, but the best ones frequently get snapped up early.
Should I Work With an Agency?
Before we look at places to find jobs, it's worth talking about agencies and what they can do for you. Agencies are great for schools because it means schools don't have to deal with a work visa or employee issues; they are all handled by the agency that the school hires. This is big business, so naturally, there are a fair few choices out there. Working for an agency can be an excellent fit because they take care of a lot of things for you. Especially if you haven't worked abroad before. They generally offer:
A place to stay — an agency will often sort you a place to stay. This may be a shared place with one or two other people working for the same company. It can sometimes be a great start when you come to a new country because you are all going to be having the same shared experience. There is also the option to find somewhere else to stay if it gets a bit too much. Your agent will generally give you a rent budget.
Training and teaching resources — Some agencies offer you basic training as well as time to acclimatise to your new job and environment. Agencies have been known to give their employees resources and supplies to provide them with a head start in doing their job, which is a nice touch.
Opportunities to explore your new home — It's great to have someone show you around your new home. Agencies generally take the time to make their employees feel welcome by showing them around and putting on gatherings every month or so. They're also a great source of knowledge about your new home. They can tell you how to get to places, what is worth seeing, how to take the bus, subway and train, etc.
Where Do I Find Jobs for Teachers In Hong Kong?
Assuming you have the above qualifications, let's have a look at the best websites to find jobs in Hong Kong.
- Indeed: This is a great site that aggregates lots of teaching jobs in Hong Kong and is as good a place as any to start your search.
- CPJobs: The Classified Post is the recruitment arm of the SCMP (South China Morning Post), and a lot of well-respected institutions choose to post their job ads there.
- JobsDB: JobsDB (Database) is a good place to scan for jobs. You also have the option of signing up with their website, which can make you discoverable to potential schools and learning centres.
- Recruit: Recruit offers yet another portal to look for teaching jobs in Hong Kong.
Forums and Facebook groups are other great resources that can help you track down a teaching post. Here are a few good ones to pursue.
- GeoExpat Jobs: Geo Expat is probably the largest and most popular forum in Hong Kong for expats and their job section offers yet more ways to find work.
- EFL Teachers of Hong Kong Facebook Page: This is not only an excellent place to find jobs, but many contributors offer great support and advice on living and working in Hong Kong as a teacher.
If you have the qualifications to register with the EDB, it might be worth checking out the NET scheme that runs for primary and secondary schools in Hong Kong. Joining the NET scheme has a lot of benefits that you may find appealing. We have an excellent write up on how to get on the NET scheme right here.
A Word About Visas
There are always many ways to peel a potato. Some people enter Hong Kong on a tourist visa and complete their work visa application in Hong Kong before they start work. Please make sure that you have a valid visa before you start work as there are lots of unscrupulous types out there that will tell you anything to get you to work.
Writing the Perfect CV
Now that we have a good idea of the qualifications needed to make you an attractive proposition to prospective employers and we know where to go looking for those potential employers let’s write a killer C.V that will land us a job.
To kick-off, here's a list of "must-haves" that you should absolutely include in your C.V right off the bat:
- HK Visa/Resident Status
- Registered teacher status (if you have it)
- SCRC (if you have it)
- Education and job experience
- Short intro about yourself and what you are looking for. If you're new to Hong Kong, a suggestion is to include why you came here. (This one is important because often companies are flooded with C.V’s and Don’t have time to look back through a long cover letter)
- For your C.V, don’t exceed four pages.
- Send in PDF format. Doc files open differently on computers.
- Always include your name/email /mobile in the footer of your C.V.
*Thank you to Willie Lau for your suggestions, here.
It is vitally important that you check and recheck your spelling and grammar when you write your cover letter and C.V. If you haven't heard of Grammarly, where have you been these last few years? It's a great program/plugin that will automatically check your grammar, punctuation and spelling as well as make suggestions on how you can improve your writing. We used Grammarly to write this article and can't recommend it enough. Give it a whirl right here!
If you are struggling to write a C.V and want some examples to look at, here is an example C.V our very own editor has used in the past to land jobs. If you're looking for a cover letter example, Indeed have some awesome tips which will help you get the ball rolling. Creating a website is also a fantastic idea and our very good friend, Mr Zane has a remarkable example for you all to gaze in awe at right here.
What We've Learned
Let’s take a quick recap at what we’ve learned. We now know:
- What qualifications you need to teach in Hong Kong.
- That teaching in Hong Kong is a broad field, and there are options for career progression.
- When it’s generally a good time to start looking for work.
- Going with an agent for your first job might be better if you haven’t lived or worked abroad before.
- To make sure that working visas are in order before starting work.
- Where to look for a job.
- How to write a killer C.V to get a job.
If you made it this far, thank you. It means a lot to us, and we hope you find our articles valuable. If you have any questions, reach out to us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or comment below.
In our next post, we will be looking at finding a place to live and getting settled in Hong Kong.
Photo sources: Header photo by Ruslan Bardash on Unsplash, Job search photo by Jason Wong on Unsplash, portrait used for C.V photo by Jurica Koletić on Unsplash, Resume photo by Helloquence on Unsplash. All edits made by Jamie Thorne