Teach in Shanghai: The Complete Guide

Learn about the economy centre in China and what you will obtain teaching here !

Shanghai Video From YouTuBe

Shanghai has always been considered the first choice for expatriates teaching and working in China. An exciting city it is, rooted in its own unique culture that blends East and West. Shanghai combines modern and historical features: a cutting edge city always pursuing the best and the newest. It is the engine of China’s future: the economic hub of China, the metropolis of the international economy, finance, trade, shipping, technology innovation, and culture. The booming city worth exploring!

Shanghai is also an ideal location for teaching. With a wave of global talent that lives in this city, there are many top schools accordingly, all of which are worthy of the highest honors in educational accreditation circles.

Shanghai at a Glance

"Shanghai" literally means the “City on the Sea.” Specifically, Shanghai is located at the entrance of the Yangtze River to East China Sea. The city is built on an alluvial plain with an average elevation of 4 meters. The Suzhou River comes from the west, and the Huangpu River crosses the city. The west bank of the river is called Puxi, and the east bank of the river is called Pudong.

How Big is Shanghai

By total land area: 1 Shanghai = 192 Macau = 60 Paris = 10 Seoul = 4 London = 8 New York = 2.8 Tokyo = 7 Berlin.

Shanghai takes an area of 6,340.5 square kilometers, extending 120 kilometers north and south and nearly 100 kilometers east and west. The urban area covers 2,643 square kilometers and Chongming Island, covering an area of 1,041 square kilometers and is the third-largest island in China.

How Many People Live in Shanghai

By the end of 2019, the total population of Shanghai is 242.8 million, among them over 210,000 ex-pats working in Shanghai.

According to the data of the Shanghai government, since the pilot implementation of the foreigners' work permit system in Shanghai in 2016, the city has handled more than 100,000 foreigners' work permits, including more than 18,000 foreign high-end talents (Class A), accounting for more than 18 percent of the workforce.

Local History and Culture

During the long history, Shanghai first slowly developed as a fishing village. It gradually became a regional center of commerce after the First Opium War when the British named Shanghai a treaty port, opening the city to foreign involvement.

Soon, many other countries like the French, Dutch, and Americans set up concessions there. Each colonial presence brought with it its particular culture, architecture, and society. Thus began a mixing of cultures that shaped Shanghai's openness to Western influence.

Deeply affected by Western Culture, Shanghai’s regional culture was more open, creative, and diverse than the capital of Beijing to the north, or smaller cities inland.

Shanghai County was established during the Yuan Dynasty. In the 1990s, the Minhang district was integrated as part of the city. Coupled with the economic reforms of the 1980s and 1990s, modern Shanghai has prospered.

As the most prosperous port and economic and cultural center in the Far East Area, Shanghai was the first international metropolis in Asia.

What Province Does Shanghai Belong to?

Shanghai is a municipality directly under the Central Government and does not belong to any province. Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, and Chongqing are four municipalities, each with economic and cultural importance to have their autonomy.

(Photo by Amap)

What Languages Are Spoken in Shanghai?

The official language of Shanghai is standard Mandarin Chinese, also known as Putonghua. The traditional dialect of the city is Shanghainese, a dialect of Wu Chinese quite different than Beijing dialect of Putonghua.

Shanghainese used to be the common language of the Wu region before the 1980s. The influence of Shanghainese in the Wu-speaking area (mainly in Zhejiang and Jiangsu province) has decreased due to the promotion of Mandarin. As a result, the young generation of Shanghai is no longer familiar with the local dialect, but turns to standard Mandarin.

As a prestige dialect in the Wu-speaking area, Shanghainese is a hybrid between Southern Jiangsu and Ningbonese.

Weather in Shanghai

Shanghai has a humid subtropical climate with four distinct seasons. Winters tend to be cold, and temperatures sometimes drop below zero, yet snow seldom falls.

On the contrary, summers are tropical: hot and humid.

  • On average, the warmest month is July, with an average high of 88.7 °F
  • On average, the coldest month is January, with an average low of 32.9 °F
  • May, June, September, and October have temperate average temperatures.

For more information about the climate of Shanghai, read the Weather and Climate section.

landscapes along Huangpu River
(Photo by ChinaEducationalTours)

Shanghai Cuisine

Shanghai cuisine is characterized by salty with sweet, oily but not fatty, whose culinary style received great influences from neighboring provinces.  Běnbāngcài(本帮菜), another name of Shanghai cuisine, refers to authentic Shanghai homestyle cooking.

Generally speaking, Shanghai cuisine emphasizes the freshness of ingredients and original flavors. The cooking methods are more straightforward compared to other regional cuisines. Hong Shao or red-cooked (with sugar and soy sauce), stewed or simply stir-fried with ginger and scallions, are the three primary methods among locals.

The popular local snack includes xiǎolóngbāo(小笼包;little steamer buns), “shēngjiān (生煎; scallion-and-sesame-seed-coated dumplings), “tāng yuán (汤圆; small glutinous rice balls crammed with sweet fillings), etc.

The international history of this city also influences its cuisine. European-style bakeries that were first brought to Shanghai by the French have become a part of the daily dessert for decades. Luo Song Tang (literally “Russian soup”) is considered by many locals to be a Shanghainese dish, which was brought to Shanghai by Russians taking refuge here after the October Revolution.

little steamer buns
(Photo by SeriousEats)

Shanghai Transportation

With China's best highway, rail and inland marine infrastructure, and two large modern airports, you can quickly get to Shanghai from distant cities at home and abroad. Shanghai is also the world’s busiest container shipping port.

Shanghai Metro 

The Metro system in Shanghai is well-developed. It is rated as one of the best public transport systems in the world. It is an efficient way to get around in the city and avoid traffic jams, although human jams happen in the rush hour on the main lines of the subway and the city streets.

There are currently 17 lines and 345 stations and keep expanding every year. In the future, Shanghai will form an intercity line, urban line, and local line, the three 1000 km rail transportation network before 2035.

For an interactive station, line information and operating time for the Shanghai Metro, please visit Metropedia.

Metro system in Shanghai
(Photo by BaiduMap)

Working in Shanghai

Shanghai has been playing a leading role in the economic development of China. In 2019, the GDP per capita in Shanghai hit $22,233, 16.52 percent higher than in 2018, to reach the level of moderately developed countries and regions of the world. The fiscal revenue reached 660.6 billion, rising by 11.6%.

The booming economy attracts high-end talent from all over the world and provides all kinds of work options in the city.

Advantages of Working in Shanghai

Shanghai is definitely the most attractive city for foreign talent. Shanghai has been ranking first in the "Amazing China - The Most Attractive Chinese Cities for ex-pats" in 6 consecutive years, organized by the Foreign Experts Bureau and voted on by foreigners.

Compared to other first-tier cities in China, the city is more Westernized in culture, and most foreigners find their work experience and skills easily transferable. Another reason why foreigners love the city is that it offers a wealth of Western amenities: a large number of international schools, ex-pat societies, Western restaurants, and a vibrant nightlife.

Average Salary in Shanghai 

The average monthly salary, including housing, transport, and other benefits, is around 26,300CNY ($3719 USD) per month, according to Salaryexplorer.

Salaries vary drastically between different jobs. The average wages for different types of Western teachers is around 20,000 CNY ($2828 USD) per month.

Part-Time Jobs in Shanghai

You can also find different part-time jobs in Shanghai, and hourly pay of teaching is decent.

The Chinese government has recently allowed international students in Chinese universities to do part-time work while studying in China. In 2015, Shanghai implemented a pilot policy that allowed international students to graduate from Chinese universities to take up internships or start their businesses within two years of graduation in the Zhangjiang National Innovation Demonstration Zone.

Teaching Jobs in Shanghai

Shanghai was an educational hub well before the trend of international schools arrived. With some of the most respected middle and high schools in the country and some top universities, it is little wonder that Shanghai has long been regarded as a role model for China's education system.

Why Teach in Shanghai?

Shanghai's education system is considered one of the best in China. Shanghai was the first city in China to use a nine-year compulsory education system, illustrating the leading role in education. By the end of the 2019 school year, there were 64 higher education schools, 929 secondary schools, 698 primary schools, and 31 special education schools in the city.

With the growing foreign population over the last 20 years and Shanghai’s ambition for “the best and the newest." Shanghai has also fast become one of East Asia’s top international school cities. More teaching positions will be available in international schools.

What's the Salary for Teaching in Shanghai

According to ‘Shanghai City & Salary 2020 Research Report’, the average salary for teaching in Shanghai is 19,568 RMB - 27,680 RMB ($2,795 - $3,954 USD) per month.  Some managerial or specialist jobs can pay nearly double that.

Types of SchoolAverage Teaching Salary
Training centres¥19,950-¥26,441 ($2,850 - $3,777) per month
International Schools¥19,978- ¥29,045 ($2,854 - $4,149) per month
Kindergartens¥18,778 - ¥27,556 ($2,683 - $2,937) per month

Teaching Requirements

Working (Z) visa is primary and essential to work and teach in Shanghai, besides you will be more competitive if you fill the following requirements: 

Preschool EducationRelevant work experience in an international or bilingual institutionRelevant Certification/qualification from USA, Canada, UK, Australia or New ZealandWith internationally recognized teaching certificationOutgoing and caring personality, passion for children
International SchoolsProfessionally qualified in their own domainsPreferably with public school work experienceAge under 55 years oldPriority to native speakers having taught in an IB schoolFavorably to those who willing to be trained
Training CentersFor English Language Teaching Position:Native English Speakers (In principle from UK, U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and South Africa) Bachelor degree or above (Degree needs to be authenticated by your local PRC Embassy)Two Years’ related working experience.(Alternatively, bachelor degree or above holders in subjects like Education/Teaching major or have valid national or international level language teaching license can be exempt from it.)Age under 60Non-criminal record
For Non-English Language Teaching Position:Native Speakers of taught languagesBachelor degree or above (Degree needs to be authenticated by your local PRC Embassy)Two years’ working experience. (Alternatively, bachelor degree or above holders in subjects like Education/Teaching major or have valid national or international level language teaching license can be exempt from it.)Age under 60Non-criminal record
University Teaching JobsProfessionally qualified in their own domainsHigher academic requirements

Teaching Jobs in Shanghai for Non-native Speakers

Teaching Spanish 

The need for Spanish teachers is rising exponentially, especially as people realize it is easy to learn the basics of the language. You can find Spanish teaching jobs at Shanghai's international schools, language schools, or a university's foreign language department.  

Teaching French 

French is still the international language of diplomacy, culture, and high art. You can find a French teaching job in Shanghai's international schools, at language schools or in a university's foreign language department.

Teaching Math 

Shanghai educators are already experienced in math teaching. Some international schools in Shanghai will use Math material edited by Shanghai Educational Bureau in primary schools.  Others will want a Western curriculum.

Chinese high school students (Grades 9-12) preparing to go to university in English-speaking countries need foreigner math teachers to help them familiar with different teaching and exam patterns.  More importantly, many Chinese want to get past the endless practice and into Western critical thinking methods and inquiry.  

Teaching Music

Shanghai's international schools wish to develop a well-balanced music curriculum to serve students. Chinese want teachers who can help them get into well-known music schools, such as Julliard and European music academies.

IB Teaching Jobs

As of April 2020, the number of IB school in Shanghai is 38, according to IBO, including 14 schools in primary years program, seven schools in middle years program, twenty nine schools in a diploma program, two schools in career-related program and one school in all programs. There are thousands of available IB teaching positions to foreign teachers.

Schools in Shanghai with TTJ

The followings are the schools working with TTJ. All have been recognized as capable of running the educational institution and hiring foreign employees. Check more details now!

International Schools

Training Centres


Living in Shanghai

Life in Shanghai mixes Eastern and Western style in every major aspect. 

Cost of Living in Shanghai

According to Numbeo, 

  • Four-person family monthly costs: $2,377.47 (16,816.32¥), rent not included.
  • A single person monthly costs: $642.79 (4,546.60¥), rent not included.
  • Cost of living index in Shanghai is 36.30% lower than in Los Angeles.
  • Rent in Shanghai is, on average, 49.95% lower than in Los Angeles.

Where to Stay in Shanghai?

Generally, most schools provide staff dormitories. If you choose to rent a flat on your own, the school will usually pay around half of the monthly rent.

Where to stay in Shanghai depends on your budget and the amount of time you are willing to spend on transportation. Many foreigners prefer to live in the former French Concession in Luwai and Xuhui district and the area near Jing'an Temple to Xintiandi, which has a typical Shanghainese lifestyle, but with high rents and cost of living. The rent prices and cost of living in the suburb are relatively lower, but transportation being correspondingly less convenient.  

Things to Do in Shanghai

Shanghai is overflowing with things to do. Shanghai offers a blend of the Eastern traditional culture and Western Colonial legacy. Glorious Old Shanghai can still be found in the architectures along the Bund, in the buildings behind in the old Concessions and the ancient Chinese Longtang (lane) communities. Modern Shanghai is obvious: the high-rises are like a bunch of towering trees in the tropical rainforest. The Oriental Pearl Tower sticking a short straight into the sky is one of the particular landmarks in the skyscrapers of Pudong's Lujiazui District. Your weekday can start with a bamboo steamer of Xiaolongbao and then get a glimpse of the city’s past and enjoy a dazzling nightlife and shuttle between shopping malls one after another.


Shanghai is known as the Oriental Paris and Nanjing Road, often lauded as one of the most prosperous commercial streets in the world. On the 5.5-mile street, shopping malls, department stores, hotels, and restaurants are everywhere.

Surrounded by a sense of mysterious ancient Chinese atmosphere, scintillating traditional architecture in Chenghua Temple gravitate tourists from home and abroad. Chenghuang means “the city god who blesses the city from hunger and war.” Locals worship the deity at certain days in this temple. It becomes a part of the business district where all kinds of souvenirs and snacks can be found, and the traditional Chinese life pattern remains there.

Shopping malls on Nanjing Road
(Photo by GoShopsShanghai)

Tourist Attractions

For a century, the Bund has been a recognized architectural icon and pride of Shanghai. A constant stream of tourists come to visit there. The art deco buildings along the Bund are a legacy of the city's most glorious era.

Mega-structures that cluster the Pudong skyline are across the river. The Oriental Pearls change color at night, with blue and white lights being the most common and pastels generally appearing on holidays. Local people would come here in the morning to do exercise and enjoy the beautiful scene with their loved ones after dinner.

Shanghai always shows its vibrancy through both antique and modern life. Time imprints its footprints in this city. Zhujiajiao, an ancient water town with many canals and bridges located in western Shanghai, is 1700 years old.

In Shanghai, there is an ancient temple that is about the same age. According to legend, Long Hua Temple was built in the Three Kingdoms period. For thousands of years, Longhua Temple has been a popular place for people in Shanghai to pray for blessings in the New Year.

A classical garden, Yuyuan Garden, hides behind the bustling downtown area. The garden is lively during the Lantern Festival. The Chinese zodiac lanterns are the main characters of the lantern fair, and the tradition of the lantern fair in Yu Yuan began at the end of the Qing Dynasty and has continued to this day.


As the country's cultural center, Shanghai has a diversity museum providing a razzmatazz of exhibitions every year from traditional Chinese artwork to contemporary masterpieces.

For culture vultures, the Shanghai Museum and China Arts Museum showcases superb historical artworks; if you are interested in modern art, we highly recommend you to pay a visit to Long Museum, Yu Deyao Art Museum, The Bund Art Museum, and the Shanghai Contemporary Art Museum.

(Photo by Etihad Airways)

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