Sunday, March 06, 2005

My 5 cents of knowledge of the Beijing employment scene

Recently I have received a bunch of mails asking my about my stay in China. I reply to the here since it might be of interest of others:

If been reading your blog now for a while, just to get some news on whats happening in Beijing at the moment (from a "westerners" point of view) and hearing about how life in Beijing / China for a westerner permantly is.

I am at the moment looking for a job in Beijing startin in July and I would like to stay for one year. In April I will leave school (in Germany) receiving my "Abitur", which is similar to the A-Levels in the UK, but in my personal opinion more advanced. I have been attending a economy grammar school, so I have some good knowledge in business administration (well 3 years with 4 hours per week, so some good basics:) ) Do you maybe have an idea?

Best regards and keep up the good blogging,

The people I know that have found non-teaching jobs have found them through That's Beijing's classifieds or personal contacts.

There are basically three types of employments here.

Teaching English or other languages

It is fairly easy to get such a job. If you have a passport from US, UK, Australia and are a whitie this is no problem. Anyone else might get paid less (including American born Chinese!), but can still find pretty good jobs. 80-150 RMB/hour. Many people are hired for longer periods of time at schools and get all expenses paid and a couple of thousand to play with. When it comes to bigger money you better be careful since many people get cheated. Note that I have only been teaching as a volunteer, and have quite limited personal experience. There are as you probably know a lot of blogs out there talking about teaching experiances here in China.

Some people (including myself) are making a little extra money by working as a model or actor. This is mostly for fun, but it seems like some are combining this with English teaching to make a living.

Local hire

Usually related to language skills too but is a real job but with a pretty meager salary (compared to the money in at home). 5000-12000 RMB/month. The lower range is for a Chinese company and a higher probably a foreign company. From my own experience and from what I have heard from others, working in a Chinese company seems to be quite unbearable.

Another option is to do internships at the various trade councils or embassies etc. Might or might not include a salary.

Expat package

A person that have his employment transferred from another country and get a better salary than in in the home country plus a fat benefit package (apartment, insurance, flights, etc). I don't have too much knowledge about these players, but here are some things I have heard. You get this job because you are trusted by the home team and have some specific knowledge about your company. These guys can save money and have a much higher living-standard than back home. It will probably include long working-hours and insecurity in regards to future employment. When being called back home, other colleagues might have have been promoted while you are back to square one.

Most people here are teaching English or other languages. It is hard to beat the money from that unless you find a job from home. There are many skilled Chinese with work experience that will work more effectively for a fraction of your pay. In most cases, except when it comes to dealing with other foreigners, a Chinese can do the job much better because of better contacts and knowledge on how to get things done here.

My intention is to go back and find a good job back home. I like to study Chinese so that makes staying here worth while. Spending a year or two in a different country is a lot of fun by the way. That fact that China is a cheap place makes it a lot easier.

Good luck!



Ian said...

Thanks for your tipps.

Johan said...

Your welcome buddy.

Let's have a beer when you get to Beijing!