teach English in Chengdu
(Photo from Pixabay)

Teach English in Chengdu

ESL Jobs in Chengdu

ESL and other teaching jobs in Chengdu are ample. Per job seeker, there are about as many opportunities as other large cities.

Equally important to the number of jobs in Chengdu is the wide range of distribution. Carefully collected data shows that the entire range of jobs still exist in a normal distribution. That is, Kindergarten, public school, international program, international school, private language centers, and college/university teaching jobs still exist and are available, without being overly rare.

How Much Do You Get Paid to Teach in Chengdu?

As with all other teaching jobs, salaries range based on education attained, years of experience teaching, demonstrated skills, additional certifications, etc.

According to 'Chengdu City & Salary 2020 Research Report', on the low end of the scale, many jobs at kindergartens and other early childhood education pay around ¥16,000 ($2,291) a month. As we can remember, contrary to what happens in the US, UK, etc. early childhood educators make more money than their counterparts in the US.

Language centers pay around ¥12,000 ($1,714) a month for a freshman English teacher. However, the distribution curve quickly rises, and more jobs (including at language centers) pay ¥13,688 ($1,960) to ¥19,938 ($2,855) a month.

On the high end of the pay scale, teachers who have multiple certifications, work for international programs or international schools, and can prove to handle multiple responsibilities can top out at up to ¥32,000 ($4,570).

As always, it is essential to look at the fine print carefully.  

Does the job come with guaranteed housing; is this housing paid for by the employer?

Is such a guaranteed housing plan competitive or even better than you can get renting by yourself?

How many hours does this job require in the contract?

What is the overtime rate?

Are there other worthwhile benefits, such as allowing my children to enroll in the same school where I teach?

Additionally, once you either can ask around or get to the job, many other pressing questions apply?

What is the turnover rate for this company, this position?

Are there any other hidden benefits or opportunities this job provides?

Are the hours on the contract different from what happens in practice?

Again, many of these questions would depend on the situation, the people involved, etc.

For example, a public school job in a particular city may seem unappealing, and low paid. However, in practice, it may end up requiring only a few hours of preparation per week, end up paying well per hour, have excellent students to teach, and end up giving a lot of benefits that others may not ordinarily realize such as a nearby basketball court and basketball league, access to a good gym at a low price, a nice private office space, excellent restaurants, a nice park, or something that just makes you happy.

Conversely, some jobs that may seem to pay more may require much more preparation time for many different classes, more grading, more extracurricular activities, etc. The amount of time necessary for some teaching jobs in this world may be over 60 hours a week. For those who value free time or making a high hourly rate, the highest-paid or most prestigious job may not be the way to go.

Salary Cheat Sheet:

Types of SchoolAverage Teaching Salary 
Preschool/Kindergarten¥13,500 - ¥19,333 per month ($1,933 - $2,768)
Public Schools¥7,000 - ¥11,200 per month ($1,000 - $1,600)
International Programs and International Schools¥16,500 - ¥23,000 per month ($2,363 - $3,294)
Private Language Schools¥13,688 - ¥19,938 per month ($1,960 - $2,855)
University and College Teachersup to ¥12,000 per month (up to $1,700 ) 

Note: Since public schools and most of the universities and colleges belong to the Chinese government, the salary of teachers in these institutions may differ from the market price.

Chengdu English Teaching Job Requirements

The same rules that apply to other cities apply in Chengdu.  Among these are:

Types of SchoolRequirements
Public Schools• Bachelor's Degree or above, holding English literature or related degree.
• At least two years of relevant teaching experience.
• Under 55 years old.
International Schools• Working experience above three years.
• Relevant teaching experience in an international school or foreign language school, and/or extensive experience in an environment with multiple English learning needs.
• Relevant Certification/qualification from the USA, Canada, UK, Australia or New Zealand.
Private Language Schools• Native English speakers (in principle from the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, and South Africa).
• Bachelor's degree or above (degree to be certified by the local Chinese Embassy).
• Two years of relevant work experience. (Alternatively, a bachelor's degree or higher in a subject such as education/teaching or a bachelor's degree or higher with a valid national or international language teaching license is exempt.)
• Under 60 years old.
• Non-criminal record.
University and College TeachersLecturer teachers or assistant professor:
• Bachelor's degree or above.
• Native English speaker.
• At least two years’ full-time teaching experience or possess a TESOL or TEFL certificate.
• Clean criminal record.
• Professional, positive and culturally aware.
• Demonstrate an ability to work collaboratively in a team setting.

• PhD holder in related subjects with quality academic papers. Associate Professor or above.

Living in Chengdu

As stated elsewhere in this passage, and often written about, Chengdu has a reputation as one of the most pleasant places in China to live. While the weather itself is mediocre, and there is nothing particularly fabulous, wealthy, tropical, or otherwise spectacular, many residents of China and foreigners genuinely believe the city has much character, people are friendly, the environment is welcoming to other ideas and foreigners, many natural parks have adorable panda bears, tea houses host lots of Mahjong games and other social events, and many restaurants serve delicious spicy food, with a fusion of modern cuisine to match. 

Things to Do in Chengdu

Of course, any tourist will cite the most obvious things that Chengdu is known for. Admittedly, it would be a tragedy if a visitor lived close at the doorstep, but never made use of local attractions.

Among the most famous things in Chengdu are the Panda Museums. Of course, many people make sure to take many pictures.

(Photo from Trip.com Group

Additionally, many architecture advances such as the Three Gorges Dam, the Leshan Giant Buddha, Wenshu Monastery, Renmin Park, Jinli Ancient Street, Chengdu Opera, etc. are all eye-catching. Much of Chengdu is known for its authentic, traditional vibe. So, many monasteries, shrines, monuments, etc. give a feel for traditional China.

Jinli Ancient Street
(Photo from Trip.com Group

Of course, you will get hungry in Chengdu. The most famous dish, which almost everyone enjoys, is Chengdu Hotpot. Although there are many variations of hotpot, Chengdu hotpot is known for its spiciness, tendency to promote drinking cold soda or an ice-cold beer, talking to many different companions, and having fun with this unique style of dining.

Chengdu Hotpot
(Photo from Omnivore's Cookbook

What Chengdu is Famous For

Chengdu is most famous for sights to see, such as Panda Museums, monasteries, nature around the Sichuan basin, etc.

Chengdu is also famous for food, both traditional dishes such as Spicy Hotpot, Mapo Tofu, Spicy Noodles, or the more modern fusion cuisine.

Mapo Tofu
(Photo from Omnivore's Cookbook

If you ask any expatriates, they like Chengdu for the laid back population. Many people feel they can relax and unwind in a way they cannot quite do in Beijing, Shenzhen, etc. Somehow, they feel time slows down, and stress levels are less. While this is a very subjective, personal experience, enough people were able to do so to want to stay in Chengdu.

Cost of Living in Chengdu

Numbeo does give some results, which are consistent with what other laypeople say.

Many of these rates may seem low; however, it is essential to remember that Chengdu has a much lower cost of living. Housing is often included; fair market value only costs around ¥3,500 ($500) a month to rent a clean, furnished apartment near work; living expenses average ¥3,500 ($500) per person.  By these calculations, a person could live comfortably even on the most minimal of salaries.  With plenty of work nearby, people can earn more money, especially if they are in an environment that leaves them happy and energized.

At best, those who come to Chengdu enjoy the work and social environment, are productive and happy at work. They can often get optional extra work and can live inexpensively, with enough time and energy to enjoy life fully.

In the end, people at a job, lifestyle, location, etc. genuinely want to be at, rather than forced to be at, are productive, happy, and end up saving more money in the long run.  Being truly happy and energetic makes people productive and successful. Chengdu is a place many people have found happiness. Essentially, the cost of living is lower in all fields and about 40% of the cost of New York City. While some cities have lower overall prices, but some very high prices for housing, food, cell phone usage, cigarettes, or some other anomaly, Chengdu is generally lower.

A single person can live comfortably on a budget of ¥7,000 ($1,000) a month. While that salary seems quite low for a Western country, remember that if taxes are low, apartment rent is moderate, and food and dining is inexpensive, such a modest budget can go a lot further than for the same lifestyle in the West. 

Like other ex-pat hubs such as Thailand, many individuals find more happiness if they can market out a niche for themselves. A teacher (or any other profession) that gets known for quality, reliability, and service, can get at least ¥175 ($25) - ¥245 ($35) on the open market. With some luck, some people can get up to ¥350 ($50) or even ¥700 ($100) an hour, as long as they have reliable internet. Such is the case with Chengdu; many ex-pats are easily able to pay for their cost of living, and extra work can be used for savings, investment, or to enjoy more luxuries.

What is Chengdu Like?

Even though living somewhere is a personal experience, most people credit Chengdu's laid back and relaxed atmosphere.

Such a pleasant social environment is the main reason many surveys and blogs cite many cases of foreigners who wish to stay in Chengdu in the long-term. It is a friendly place, with lots of smiling, talking, busy with activity, Mahjong playing at Teahouses, etc.

Just a few decades ago, Chengdu was regarded as a quiet city. However, the city has modernized so fast that there is now plenty of skyscrapers, construction, IT, buildings, etc.

Chengdu Subway, Buses, Taxis

Subway System:

There are seven lines in operation and five lines under construction. 

Chengdu subway map
(Photo from Chengdu Metro)

Bus Routes:

If you can stand a slower and crowded journey many new bus routes are available. Most of the buses in Chengdu start running at 6 a.m. and stop after 8 p.m. or 9 p.m. Apart from normal bus transit, there are bus rapid transit (BRT), which runs faster than regular buses, and sightseeing buses, which run directly to  scenic spots without stopping.


While traffic in Chengdu is one of the worst parts, taxis are quite inexpensive. Official taxis are marked by a green cab. They are everywhere.

Failing that, Didi offers many private cars, at a much lower price than Beijing, Shanghai, etc. It should be noted that you need a WeChat pay or an Alipay account because cash is not accepted.

Chengdu City Report
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