Kindergarten Jobs in China: The Early Education Market

- Everything you need to know about working at a kindergarten in China -

Early Childhood Education in China

According to Wikiversity's definition, Preschool education refers to the provision of education for children aged from 2 to 6. In today’s China, the preschool education industry is full of potentials for both social, political, and demographic reasons.

On the one hand, with the country’s one-child policy being implemented for over 35 years, a particular family structure has been formed: 4-2-1 (four grandparents -two parents – one child).

Naturally, the family members are paying a tremendous amount of attention to their only child, both emotionally and financially. Meanwhile, this generation of parents, who were born after 1980’s, generally received a better education than ever before and are fully aware of the importance of education to children, starting from young ages.

On the other hand, the recently-enforced two-child policy, implemented as a countermeasure to its aging population, has been slowing down the birth rate since 2008. With the rapid growing of the middle-class base and its demanding towards the premium early year development&caring service, the size of the preschool education market in China has been continuously growing.

Preschools in China: Industry Overview

With the above background information, let’s take a look at what this industry is really like.

Generally, preschool education can be divided into early childhood education (non-full-time education centers which provide education in health, language, arts and the like); and kindergarten education (full-time educational institution for young children).

In 2014, the total investment in preschool education reached 204 billion and 800 million yuan (8.37 times that of 2009), with 209,900 kindergartens. In 2017, this number jumped to 255,000, providing early childhood education to 46 million children – a population that is equivalent to that of a middle-sized country. China has then become the largest pre-primary education market in the entire world.

However, the whole market is still experiencing a problem of inadequate amount of pre-school teachers, in particular, teachers with high qualifications. Compared with developed countries, China’s ratio of teachers to students is far behind (1:5-1:10) (Chyxx, 2016).

Meanwhile, the growing speed of the market didn’t catch up with the explosive and urgent demands for quality pre-primary education. And that has led to a shortage of kindergartens, causing a problem called “kindergarten crunch” refers to the emerging difficulty of enrolling a child in kindergarten or “入园难 Ru Yuan Nan” in Chinese.

To tackle these issues, the Chinese government stated that by 2020, the prevalence rate of preschool education in the country should aim to reach 85% and attention should be paid to children from 0-3 years’ old in its Outline of the National’s Medium and Long Term Education Reform and Development Plan (2010 – 2020).

Advice for Finding a Kindergarten Job in China

If you are looking for a job as a kindergarten teacher, you should focus on high-end early childhood training centers or kindergartens with international backgrounds. This is because only those institutions would have a high demand for foreign candidates.

It is interesting to note that some international and bilingual kindergartens are now looking for foreign candidates for senior management positions and even principals for their institutions. That is to say, the demand for foreign candidates in this market extends to teachers, tutors, and education leaders.

The typical hiring positions in pre-school education in China are usually as follow:

  • ESL teacher to kids at training centers
  • Kindergarten homeroom teacher
  • Kindergarten teacher
  • Principal

Requirements for Teaching in the Kindergarten Institutions in China

To get a job in preschool education institutions in China, you need to meet the employers' requirements and the Chinese government. To begin with, the work visa (Z visa). Here we list several conditions for job seekers, which are essential for applying for a working visa in China.

Check our Career Advice for more information on Z-visa.

  • Bachelor degree or above in related subjects (Degree needs to be authenticated by your local PRC Embassy).
  • Two years’ related working experience.
  • Age under 60.
  • Non-criminal record.

However, we have noticed that most of our top employers tend to have extra requirements when recruiting. If you hold below qualifications, you are going to be more competitive in the job market:

  • Have related working experience in international or bilingual institutions.
  • With relevant teaching, certification recognized internationally, such as GPST-PT.
  • Extrovert personality, easygoing, caring, and have enthusiasm for kids.
  • Certification/qualification comes from the U.S, Canada, UK, Australia, or New Zealand.

Please note that a native English speaker is not always mandatory in the preschool education market. If you have an outgoing personality and are good at engaging with kids, some employers will consider you, regardless of your nationality.