Teach English in Harbin: The Complete Guide

Learn about the Ice City in north China and what to expect teaching here

Harbin at a Glance

Harbin, pronounced as [hahr-bin], is known as the Ice City and is also the capital of Heilongjiang Province. Harbin has a long history. As early as 22,000 years ago, in the late Paleolithic period, there were already human activities there. Harbin entered the Bronze Age and is the earliest ancient civilized country in Heilongjiang.

Harbin is a national historical and cultural city. It is the birthplace of "One Country, Two Dynasties", that is, the birthplace of the Jin and Qing dynasties. The first capital of the Jin Dynasty is located in Harbin Acheng.

Harbin is different from other Chinese cities located in the northeast. This city was born because Russia chose the location as the hub of the middle east railway. In the early days of Harbin, the number of foreigners was more than Chinese. Most of them were Russians (many were dissenters of the 1917 revolution) and Jews. Besides, more than 10 countries chose it to set their consulates (Today Harbin has none for now). They left many Russian style buildings in the city and some of them today have become the city’s symbol, such as Saint Sophia Cathedral.

Where Is Harbin?

Harbin is located in Northeast China and is the center of Northeast Asia. It is the political, economic and cultural center of Northeast China. Harbin is also in the northeastern part of the Northeast Plain of China, in the south of Heilongjiang Province and in the central region of Northeast Asia. In addition, it is between 125°42′~130°10′ east longitude and 44°04′~46°40′ north latitude.

This photo is a map of Harbin’s geographical location.

Population of Harbin

According to'Harbin statistical bulletin of 2019 on national economy and social development', at the end of 2019, the total registered population was 9.513 million. Among them, the urban population was 4.739 million, and the urbanization rate of the registered population was 49.8%. At the end of the year, the city's population was 10.763 million, of which the urban population was 7.09 million. The urbanization rate of the population was 65.9%.

Weather in Harbin

Harbin is a large city with high latitude and a low temperature in China. The four seasons are very different. The winter is long and cold while the summer is short and cool. According to timeanddate, the coldest month in Harbin is January and the average temperature is -18 °C. July is the hottest month in Harbin and the average temperature is 23°C.

The city is quite hot in summer, but the heat will not last too long, mainly from July to August. By timeanddate, the average temperature in July and August will be between 17-28°C. The temperature rises and falls rapidly in spring and autumn. Spring and autumn are relatively short.

According to 'Harbin air quality is improving steadily' published byHarbin Ecological Environment Bureau on November 24th, 2019, the city’s air quality has been effectively monitored for 328 days, reaching the standard for 280 days with an increase of 1 day over the same period last year.

How to Get to Harbin

Harbin, 1057km (657 miles) away from Beijing has one airport called Harbin Taiping International Airport. It is an important air traffic hub. You can reach Harbin Taiping International Airport from major domestic cities in China such as Beijing, Hong Kong, Taipei, Shanghai, or other important international cities such as Tokyo, Osaka, Niigata, Paris.

There is no subway connection between Harbin Airport and the city. However, you can take the airport shuttle. Taking the airport shuttle bus is cheaper than taking a taxi from Harbin Airport to the city. From TravelChinaGuide, the one-way ticket by shuttle is only ¥20 while the taxi fee would be more than ¥100. It takes about 1 hour from Harbin Airport to the downtown of Harbin. There are 4 airport shuttle buses available from the airport to the downtown area. These shuttle buses connect Harbin Airport to many places.

This photo is a map about the distance from Harbin to Beijing.

Teach English in Harbin, Heilongjiang

According to 'Harbin statistical bulletin of 2019 on national economy and social development', at the end of the year, there were 52 general higher education institutions in the city with 622,600 students and 30,600 full-time teachers, 81 secondary vocational education schools with 182,100 students and 4,148 full-time teachers, and 327 ordinary middle schools with 346,500 students. There are 27,300 full-time teachers, 758 ordinary primary schools with 513,000 students and 30,300 full-time teachers, 1,407 kindergartens, 246,000 children in kindergartens, and 16,300 full-time teachers, 6 special education schools with students in school 824 people and 194 full-time teachers.

International School jobs in Harbin

There are about 4 international schools in Harbin. They are

  • Harbin American-Canadian Foreign Language School
  • Harbin Wangbang School
  • Harbin YingSha Concord College of Sino-Canada
  • Harbin ShunMaiHuaMei Foreign Language School

They all have reputations as professional international schools. Around 35% of opportunities for foreign teachers are from international schools. Foreign teachers are mainly required as ESL teachers and Subject Teachers for Humanities&Social Science or Science&Engineering in Harbin international schools.

Kindergarten Jobs in Harbin

Only two kindergartens are registered in the TTJ system and they both belong to EtonHouse Education Group. They are

  • EtonHouse International Pre-School Harbin Qunli
  • EtonHouse Pre-School Harbin Zhonghai

While EtonHouse International Pre-School Harbin Qunli applies the Reggio Emilia curriculum, EtonHouse Pre-School Harbin Zhongha combines the local education system with international ones. Job opportunities in Harbin kindergartens are mainly kindergarteners from native English-speaking countries. Normally, kindergartens will prefer applicants who are patient and love to spend time with children.

Training Centers in Harbin

The job opportunities in training centers account for around 41% in all of the Harbin job openings to recruit foreign teachers. The demand is mainly for ESL teachers. three training centers are included in TTJ system and they are

  • Seed Education Harbin
  • Harbin Education first
  • Trinity International Children's Academy

They are professional English training centers with many years' experience. Some of them also offer online classes.

How Much Do You Get Paid in Harbin

Salaries for foreign teachers in Harbin differ based on personal teaching experience or educational level.

The salary for training center teachers is slightly lower than foreign teachers in kindergartens and international schools. The average salary for foreign teachers in Harbin training centers is between ¥12,286 ($1,755) - ¥17,833 ($2,548). In 'Harbin city&salary 2020 research', all of the job openings are for ESL teachers.

International schools in Harbin pay around ¥15,060 ($2,151) per month to foreign teachers including subject teachers and ESL teachers. The salary ranges from ¥12,286 ($1,755) to ¥17,833 ($2,548). The maximum salary is paid to a Subject Teacher (Science&Engineering) up to ¥20,000 ($2,857).

The average salary for kindergarteners is relatively higher than other teachers. The average salary as a kindergartener is around ¥19,750 ($2,821).

Harbin ESL Job Requirements

The requirements in Harbin for recruiting foreign teachers are not so strict compared with tier 1 or new tier 1 cities. However, it is still necessary to have a bachelor's degree to meet the requirement especially when the major is related to education. Schools in Harbin prefer native speakers but as long as your English is fluent, there are still many chances waiting for you. Most schools in Harbin no matter training centers, kindergartens, or international schools would require 1-2 years of teaching experience. The salary will usually be higher if you have 3-5 years or even longer experience in English teaching.

Living in Harbin, China

As a traditional city, Harbin retains the taste of Northeast in the minds of people who have never been to that area. Ice and snow, traditional urban style, European architecture, classic Northeast food and surrounding tourism resources are all waiting for you to explore. The Songhua River is wide, flexible and atmospheric. Steel and flowers exist at the same time. These all represent the cordiality and tolerance of this city.

Things to Do in Harbin

Harbin’s eating habits are affected by Russia. You can see many places some big bread whose crust is tough and tastes sour.

This photo is a local food in Harbin which is called “Big Bread”.
Photo from kknews

Harbin has a kind of sausage called “red sausage” which is also originally from Russia.

This photo is a kind of sausage in Harbin which is called “Red Sausage”.
Photo from sina

It tastes quite well. On Central Avenue or some other places, you can also see many Russian restaurants.

Winter in Harbin is quite beautiful, the city will put many ice lanterns on the streets. And the “World of ice and snow” opens annually winter is famous for its ice buildings.

This photo is about Harbin’s famous ice buildings in Winter which is called “World of ice and snow”.
Photo from twgreatdaily

Living in Harbin can be quite comfortable. While different people have different opinions towards a city, you can come here to have your personal experience.

Winter swimming

Winter swimming is a sports activity with its own cultural characteristics in Harbin. It shows the strong physique and determination of Harbin people who are not afraid of the severe cold. In winter, the outdoor temperature in Harbin drops to ten to twenty degrees below zero. On the Songhua River, the swimmers shaved the ice to build  an ice swimming pool. Winter swimming time is mostly around 5-6 o'clock before the sun comes out, and winter swimming performance time is between 10-14 o'clock.

This photo is a sports activity in Harbin which is called “Winter Swimming”.
Photo from Zhihu

Drink beer

Harbin has already produced beer in the early 20th century. According to harbin-beer, Harbin Beer was founded in 1900 and has a history of one hundred years. Harbin Beer became a national best-selling beer brand since 2004. In 2012, Harbin Beer signed a contract with the NBA to become a market partner. Harbin Brewery is committed to bringing cool products to young people.

This photo is a famous beer in Harbin which is called “Harbin Beer”.
Photo from harbin-beer

Watch ice lantern

The ice lanterns in Harbin began in the early 1960s. It relies on garden art, uses architecture and sculpture art as expression techniques and uses electric light as a light source to make various ice sceneries. In the second half of the 20th century, ice lanterns gradually developed into Harbin's representative ice and snow culture and art. The annual Ice and Snow Festival and Ice Lantern Expo have become the Grand View Garden of Ice Lantern Art, attracting a large number of domestic and foreign tourists to visit.

This photo is Harbin's representative ice and snow culture and art which is called “Ice Lantern”.
Photo from newqq

Cost of Living in Harbin

You can maintain a high living standard with less money here. According to Numbeo, The rent for an apartment with 1 bedroom in the city center in Harbin is ¥2320 per month. A meal in a local inexpensive restaurant is ¥25. If you want to eat in McDonald or equivalent fast food shops, the price is around ¥35 per meal. There are convenient subways and bus lines in Harbin at a low fare. The price of a one-way ticket is ¥1.25.

Where to Live in Harbin

The most popular neighborhoods in Harbin for foreigners are Nangang development zone and Daoli District. There are a lot of attractions near Nangang development zone such as Guogueli street, Dragon tower and holes golf course.Daoli is by the river so it is always nice there especially during summer.Expats usually prefer to rent an apartment in Harbin. Typically, you will be required to pay a deposit up-front before moving into the apartment. Utilities are generally not included in the price of rent. They are mostly extra.

Harbin Subway Map

This photo is a map of Harbin metro.
Photo from harbin-metro

Harbin City&Salary Report

Find more information regarding teaching in Harbin
Sign in to download the report

Unlock the single city report