The job market in China

workers at office
Updated 2022-09-25 12:48

China is an attractive destination for those seeking new professional and business opportunities. However, following the pandemic, finding work in the country has become more complicated. You will also need to take travel restrictions into account. Here's what you need to know about China's labor market.

Working in China

Today, foreign expertise is still required in many fields, from catering, tourism and management to finance, trade, and education. Basic knowledge of Mandarin is preferable but not necessary to be hired by a Chinese company. In this article, learn about China's labor market for expats, how to find work in the country, as well as the peculiarities of working in a local company.


Only a Z visa allows you to work in China legally. While some companies may agree to hire you off the books on a business or tourist visa, this is a breach of law and, if discovered, will lead to deportation.

Expat job market in China

China's rapidly developing economy has resulted in a shortage of professionals in a variety of sectors. This, in turn, has made the country a popular destination for those seeking new opportunities. Prior to the pandemic, it was estimated that close to one million expats resided in the country.

Jobs in the highest demand in China

There are a number of opportunities available to those who want to work in China. However, these opportunities often lie in specific fields. Some of these are highly specialized and require long years of training. In some cases, the knowledge of a foreign language and good communication skills will be enough to land you the job.

Engineering and industrial design

A lot of foreign companies have moved their manufacturing to China. Moreover, many large local companies make products for the foreign market. This means that if you have skills that can be useful at any stage of the production process, you have a high chance of finding a job in China with one of the international or local manufacturers.

Salaries in manufacturing vary depending on your specific position, level of experience, responsibilities, the company you work for, etc. The salary for a senior beginner may vary from 15,000 RMB to 60,000 RMB per month and higher. Industrial designer salaries start at about 20,000 RMB and can go up to 40,000 RMB or higher.

Marketing and sales

A lot of companies in China make products for export. They need professionals to help them market and sell these products in foreign countries. Many Chinese companies prefer to hire foreign nationals for marketing and sales positions — especially foreign nationals from the countries they see as their biggest potential clients. Some of the most in-demand regions with which China has strong export connections include the United States, Western and Eastern Europe, India, and others.

To get a job in sales or marketing, you need to speak a foreign language and, preferably, have at least a basic knowledge of Chinese. You also need to have good communication skills, and any experience in marketing or sales will, of course, help you get a better position. Salaries in this field vary greatly and are often composed of a base salary (which you receive on a monthly basis) and a monthly or yearly bonus (which is what you accumulate in sales commissions). Salaries in sales and marketing start from 8,000 RMB and can go up to over 30,000 RMB or higher, depending on your commission volume.

Writing, copywriting and translation

As we keep mentioning throughout this article, many companies in China work for the foreign market. This means they often need their websites, marketing materials, social media posts, and more, written in a foreign language — mostly English. This creates a lot of demand for copywriters and translators who work with written and other materials. Knowledge of Chinese is a definite plus in this field but is not a requirement for most positions. In-house copywriters in China make from 15,000 RMB to over 30,000 RMB per month. But if you are not up for a full-time position, you may also consider working as a copywriter part-time or taking on some freelance writing work.

Hospitality and F&B

China's hotel and restaurant industries are booming, and there is a strong need for foreign talent in these fields. If you are a hotel or restaurant manager, a chef, a guest relations manager, etc., there may be quite a few employment opportunities awaiting you in China. You will find all the major hotel chains represented here. Plus, large hotel chains and boutique hotels in China are also often on the lookout for experienced multilingual professionals. A hotel manager of an international or a large local hotel can make from 40,000 RMB to 60,000 RMB or more. The salary of a chef in a foreign restaurant ranges from 10,000 RMB to 30,000 RMB and sometimes higher.


Teaching — and especially English teaching — used to be one of the best ways to get your foot in the door when looking for work in China. However, as we've mentioned above, the Chinese government has recently adopted the “double reduction” policy, which restricts the number of extracurricular activities that Chinese students can take on. This has led to the closure of several English training centers and other teaching facilities across the country. This means that there are now fewer teaching opportunities in China than just a few years ago. However, fewer doesn't mean none. If you are a qualified and experienced teacher, finding a job in China shouldn't be too difficult.

If you plan to work as an English teacher, you will have substantially more chances of landing a job if you have proper English teaching certifications such as TEFL, CELTA, DELTA, etc. An English teacher in China can make from 10,000 RMB to 25,000 RMB, and even more.

In addition to teaching English, there are other teaching opportunities in China on both school and college levels.

How to find a job in China?

You can look for a job in China before arriving in the country or on the spot. Generally, however, there are two main ways in which foreign nationals land positions in the country: they are either recruited locally or transferred by a company in their home country, or they conduct the job search themselves.

In the latter case, there are several things one could try.

If you are looking for a specific position in a relatively narrow field, it may be a good idea to contact a local headhunting agency. They will evaluate your skill set and suggest suitable positions available in companies across China. Note that headhunting fees are typically handled by your potential employer, and you should not be asked to make any payments or deposits.

If there are specific companies that you are interested in, you could go ahead and contact their HR departments directly with your CV and cover letter.

Professional social media could also be a good source of job opportunities. For instance, make sure to keep your Linkedin profile updated with the latest details, and it would be helpful if you switch your location information to China.

If you have already arrived in the country and are continuing your job search on the spot, consider attending job fairs as well as trade fairs and professional exhibitions that would help expand your network.

Labour laws in China

Conditions of employment vary greatly depending on your status in China. If you have a work contract with a foreign firm, you will be subjected to the legislation in force in that country; if you work for a Chinese company, you will be subjected to the Chinese labor legislation in force. The number of legal working hours in China is 40 hours per week.

Nevertheless, working overtime is often required without bonuses or compensation. Workers in China are granted five days of paid annual leave per year (if they have worked for the company for at least a year). Plus, there are 11 paid public holidays, including Spring Festival, Autumn Festival, National Day, etc.

With that said, workers employed in foreign firms are often granted one or two additional weeks of holidays as part of the 'expatriate package'. You will also get days off on 'western' holidays like Christmas, New Year, Thanksgiving, etc.

Wages in China

Minimum wages are set locally and may vary from one city to another, sometimes even from one city area to another. If you are working for an international company in China, you will receive a salary comparable to western standards. If you are working for a Chinese company, your wage might be lower. In all cases, you must sign a written employment contract within one month after taking office. Everything should be clearly notified in your contract (salary, holidays, relocation packages, air tickets provided by the company, bonus options, overtime pay, if any, and so on).


When thinking over a job offer, make sure you check whether the stated salary is calculated before or after tax. Foreign employees need to pay income tax in China. You can get your tax deductions back when you leave the country.

Useful links:

The Central People's Government of the People's Republic of China

China Income Tax Calculator

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.