The Ins and Outs of Online Tutoring in China

The Ins and Outs of Online Tutoring in China
Sep 10, 2019 By Lewis Schwinn ,

Sometimes, location and distance can severely impact your bottom line when you're looking for work in China. If you're out in the countryside or on the fringes of a city, finding lucrative tutoring jobs can be difficult when you factor in commuting time. Luckily, we're living in the 21st century, and thus many expats in China have turned to technology. Today, I'm going to talk you through the ins and outs of online tutoring in China.

Fuzzy legality

Chinas visa and work regulations are a perpetual motion machine of constantly changing rules and requirements that vary province to province in both the letter of the law and its enforcement. Basically, if you work in China, you are supposed to have a work visa and residence permit and should only directly work for the company that has sponsored your visa.

The Chinese government has already taken steps to regulate online tutoring in China by imposing teacher requirements, time limitations, and more detailed record procedures. In reality, however, there is wiggle room, and most of the time having a legal work permit is enough to avoid direct harassment should you wish to take up online tutoring China, especially if it’s just a few students. It would be almost impossible to prove that you’re tutoring as part of an illegal work engagement. Most police won’t bother you unless an official complaint is made or massive pressure is being exerted by the central government.

In addition, most education companies in China are part of large conglomerates, so if you’re already working for a school or language training center, you could pick up extra work doing online tutoring for them, sidestepping the whole question of legality entirely.

Online teaching platforms 

A few of the most famous online teaching companies that operate in China are VIPKID, Dada, Whales English, Magic Ears, and EF. They generally pay between USD15-30 an hour, depending on a variety of metrics including the teacher’s experience, the subject being taught, the length of the class, and feedback from students. As with most teaching jobs in east Asia, your status as a native or non-native speaker will play an important role in your hourly rate. 

You could end up teaching one-on-one classes or an entire group of kids depending on which company you join. Most online tutoring jobs focus on young learners between the ages of 3 and 7, emphasizing basic phonics and vocabulary acquisition with pre-made materials.

Is it worth teaching online with big companies?

If you’re living in China and on a legal work visa, is it worth using any of the above-mentioned companies? Probably not. While bigger companies offer more reliability in terms of hours each month, their rate of pay is much lower.

The whole point of online tutoring in China is that it offers you a competitive edge over online tutors outside of China, which in turn allows you to charge a higher rate. The vast majority of the big online tutoring companies in China work with overseas tutors and therefore pay a lower rate. At a minimum, you can expect to make double if you avoid the McEnglish schools and do the legwork yourself.

How to set up as on online tutor in China

If you want the pay that comes with being in China with the convenience of online tutoring, there are a few options. The easiest is recruiting from your already available pool of students if you work in a school or training center. Many students and their parents, assuming they think you’re a good teacher, will approach you for additional lessons anyway. While some will actually want you to be physically present, others can be persuaded to at least try online classes, depending on the distance involved and possible incentives you can provide. 

Another way is to spread your name to headhunters and Chinese-based education companies. Both can be found on common online job sites accessible in and outside of China. Posting your resume to these sites acts as a form of passive job hunting. Interested recruiters and companies can peruse your resume at their leisure and get in contact if they’re interested.

However, it’s actually local headhunters in WeChat groups that will give you a vital advantage over online tutors outside of China. It’s difficult to access the vast majority of jobs in China without WeChat and local connections to other teachers and schools. Many education companies in China do not have an international online presence and instead rely on local headhunters, who in turn contact local communities of expatriate teachers. They can provide you with online classes with both students in China and Chinese students studying abroad who need additional help with their classes.

Social connections in the expatriate community will also help you recruit more online students through friend recommendations and, of course, inheriting students as other tutors inevitably leave China.

Are there some dynamite online tutoring companies in China we missed? Some pitfalls we didn’t explain well? Please let us know in the comments down below!

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Keywords: online tutoring in China


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Nice article

Dec 15, 2019 02:18 Report Abuse




Oct 16, 2019 01:47 Report Abuse



There's no "fuzzy legality". Without the necessary permission, it is illegal. There have been crackdowns on illegal tutoring in China recently and eChinacities should not be promoting illegal behaviour.

Sep 11, 2019 12:44 Report Abuse