A Guide To Teaching English in Hong Kong

teaching english in hong kong c for cat

A guide to teaching English in Hong Kong. Altogether now “c” for cat!

Thinking about escaping the boredom and mundane-ness of your home town, village or city? But not sure where to go? Here’s a piece on how YOU can move to the skyscraping metropolis of Hong Kong and teach English! A quick guide to teaching English in Hong Kong, all from four years of my personal experience living and breathing in the Kong.

A lifestyle of travel teaching english in hong kong

A Guide to Teaching English in Hong Kong – working in a kindergarten in Tsuen Wan.

First things first – what do you need to teach English in Hong Kong?

Let’s go for 3 easy answers:

1. English to be your main/native language (even this is NOT essential as I found out – met Spanish, Peruvian, German and Austrian guys all teaching English here!).

2. Be enthusiastic.

3. Be legally allowed in the country.

Jonny Blair at the Peak Hong Kong

Hong Kong baby! Yeah viewing this skyscraping megamonstertropolis from the Peak!

Do you need anything else? Not really. I had the above 3 the day I started teaching English in Hong Kong and that was enough, I’d say the most important one was number two – BE ENTHUSIASTIC. That’s how I got the job, I was eager to teach, I was enthusiastic and I showed I wanted to work hard and do the job. In fact showing enthusiasm is pretty much something you should have for any job interview, hence how I have managed to live away from my home country for 10 years now: my travel timeline. I’d also recommend buying Matt’s e-Book on How to Teach English Overseas! This is a detailed expert guide delivered straight to your inbox.

Teaching English in Hong Kong – what you need to know!

I’m sharing with you an overview here of the ins and outs of the job, and a general impression of what it is like to teach English out here in Hong Kong, easily one of the most liveable places in Asia for a foreigner. If you’re thinking about moving to Hong Kong to teach English – what’s stopping you? It’s a great place to live and work. You can e-mail me or comment below.

Jonny Blair Santa Claus a lifestyle of travel

Teaching English in Hong Kong may also involve dressing up as Santa Claus. The kids love it!

I have experience of teaching English to children and adults. I have taught children on three levels:

1. Kindergarten children (aged 3-6)
2. Primary School children (aged 6-12)
3. Adults (18 +)
Jonny Blair teaching English

Teaching English in Yuen Long in Hong Kong – go and do it!

Hong Kong is littered with Primary Schools. They are immaculate. Neat, clean, tidy and all consist of at least a few floors. There is a constant need for Native English Speakers. Hong Kong is a global city and lives up to its promise. Local families want their children to be successful globally and the old ideals of sticking to Chinese and simply embracing their own country’s culture are changing. The children and adults in Hong Kong want and need to learn English. The children actually enjoy it.

Jonny Blair in Tsuen Wan Hong Kong

Playing with the kids in a kindergarten in Tsuen Wan, Hong Kong

A typical Hong Kong Primary School will consist of over 30 classrooms. You will more than likely be assigned to one classroom with the children coming to your room.

Teaching English in Yuen Long Hong Kong

My classroom in a Primary School in Yuen Long – the children came to my room for lessons – I didn’t have to move!

You have all the materials you need provided. The Primary schools in Hong Kong are extremely well equipped. Photocopiers, air conditioning, books, blackboards, pens, chalk, computers, internet, teaching materials. They have everything you need here. And if you do happen to get thirsty in the heat, schools even have their own drinks machines (which accept Octopus cards for purchases).

teaching materials in Hong Kong

The materials are almost always provided for you in these teaching jobs though you may have to make some.

The rate of pay is excellent and varies depending on the school. You can live a luxury lifestyle on what you can earn out here in Hong Kong. All of my Primary School work has been through an agency, and through them I have worked in 6 different Primary Schools, the main one being St. Francis of Assisis Primary School in Shek Kip Mei. The standard of the pupils there is high.

preparing lessons in Hong Kong

The office in one of the kindergartens I have worked in – plenty of space to prepare lessons!

I have taught a range of topics from Classroom Phonics to Cambridge English (Starters, Movers, Flyers) to even Interview Techniques and Extensive English Courses. The children’s behaviour is generally impeccable, especially if you come from a place like Northern Ireland.

teaching materials in Hong Kong

Materials for teaching the weather in Tsuen Wan, Hong Kong.

The materials for teaching are all provided and the teaching hours are regular and consistent.

kindergarten kids at mid autumn festival

With the kindergarten kids during Mid Autumn Festival in 2011.

My main job has been working in Kindergartens, the Primary Schools have been extra work for me away from my normal contract. This proves there is also an abundance of part-time English teaching to be had in Hong Kong. If you fancy working full time in a Hong Kong Primary School, I have friends who have done that for a few years and love it – salary increases year on year and they become eligible for some additional money towards accomodation due to the fact they are living away from their natural home.

a guide to teaching english in hong kong

Playing games with the kindergarten kids in Tsuen Wan, Hong Kong.

Please note that this type of work is aimed at Caucasian people only – local Asian English teachers are not in a niche. It’s the “western face” that most agencies look for! As racist as that sounds!

So in short, if you’re thinking about teaching English in Hong Kong – go and do it. You’ll earn good money, have decent students, all equipment provided and enjoy the vibrancy of living in Hong Kong.

hong kong dollars

You’ll earn a fair whack of Hong Kong Dollars as an English teacher in Hong Kong.

How much can you earn? – 20,000 HKD per month and above.

What Visas do you need? – 

If you’re under 30 and come from one of the listed countries, you can secure a one year Working Holiday Visa for Hong Kong. Read my full guide to getting a working holiday visa for Hong Kong.

If you’re British you can go there as a tourist and stay for 6 months (180 days). If you’re sponsored by a company they sometimes offer to sponsor your working visa (normally 1 year)

Jonny Blair dont stop living how to get a Hong Kong working holiday visa

My Hong Kong Working Holiday Visa from 2011!

When to go? – Hong Kong term times generally begin in September, so arrival in the Kong in July and August gives you plenty of time to scout about for a teaching job.

What qualifications do you need? – a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) and a University Degree certainly help your cause though in some cases neither may be totally essential. You can just “wing it”.

children's songs in hong kong

One of many CDs you will get to play and sing with the children!

Where to live? – To start with you could try staying in the notorious Chung King Mansions in Tsim Sha Tsui (which despite having the word mansion in its title, is hardly The Ritz) – once you get a network of friends, flat shares can easily be organised. Your schools or agencies may be able to help with setting up your accomodation. Gumtree is also very reliable and I often use it for sourcing new flats.

Lam Tin view Hong Kong

The view from my bedroom window in Lam Tin, first place I stayed in Hong Kong.

Good social life? – You bet – there are hoardes of foreigners and locals mixing here on nights out, particularly in Lan Kwai Fong, Wan Chai and Tsim Sha Tsui!! It’s not cheap but if you want to party at weekends in the Kong you most certainly can!

lan kwai fong having a beer.

You can relax with a beer in Lan Kwai Fong at weekends.

Anything to do? Are you kidding!! Hong Kong is one of the most vibrant, busy and diverse cities in the world. It has hiking, biking, shopping, drinking, eating and fishing. Even if you do get bored, Macao is only an hour away on the ferry and is a hot bed for Casinos, while Hong Kong of course borders China!

Anything else you need to know? Well you might have guessed I’m a very approachable, people person so if you have any questions on travel, teaching, the Kong etc. just e-mail me – jonny (at) dontstopliving (dot) net, or get connected through my social networks:

– Like Don’t Stop Living on Facebook

– Subscribe to Don’t Stop Living videos on YouTube

StumbleUpon Don’t Stop Living

– Follow Don’t Stop Living on Twitter

– Buy the book “How to Teach English Overseas

In the meantime, enjoy my website, enjoy life and don’t stop living!!

Join 15,017 Monthly Readers! If you enjoyed this article and LOVE travel and SAVING money, get e-mail updates from Don’t Stop Living – a lifestyle of travel! (It’s Free) 😉 Jonny

101 thoughts on “A Guide To Teaching English in Hong Kong

  • You do put a special spin on it and make it very appealing but I do think you’re special personality makes you so popular with those kids… tough shoes to fill. 😀

  • Thanks for the kind words Maria – I must also stress that Hong Kong really needs Native English Teachers so anyone out there who is considering it – don’t just think about it – do it!! Your life could change forever and you’ll earn good money here in a successful city. Jonny

  • Great guide, Jonny! Hong Kong looks like a really attractive option for teaching English right now! I knew the money was good there, but didn’t realise it was *that* good! The only thing I have to wonder now is what on Earth are K1 fish materials?!

  • Hi Sam. Yes – the money in Hong Kong is amongst the best in Asia – I’d expect Singapore and Tokyo to be similar or higher though. K1 Fish materials are magnetic fish with letters on them – you put them in a pool and the kids can only collect the ones with “f” on them with their magnetic fishing rods. Decent and easy learning exercise for them! Safe travels, Jonny

  • Hi Jonny,
    i love your guide, great thanks!
    i am looking for a teaching job in Hong Kong. (I have a degree an CELTA)
    English Excel are offering $ 18, 000 per month minus $6, 000 for shared accommodation. This is less pay than you stated.
    Maybe you can advise me on some companise/schools to apply to??
    Thanks!

  • Hi Alice,
    Thanks for your comment. What part of Hong Kong are you in? I’d say this rate is ok if you’re out near the China border, but in Kowloon and HK Island you’ll definitely get paid more. This rate is also OK if it’s not full time (what are the hours??). You just need to look around and keep searching. I got my first teaching job in Hong Kong through an agency and even though they take a cut I was still earning over 22,000 HKD per month. On a Friday pick up the free recruitment magazines, ask people in “Western bars” and just keep your eyes and ears peeled for teaching jobs. There are lots in Hong Kong – I’m sure you’ll get a better one than that! Keep me updated. Jonny

  • Hello Alice and Jonny!

    Jonny, I’m originally from down the road from your original Bangor, Newtownards!

    I’ve got an skype interview coming up with http://www.hkedu.com.hk to work as a kindergarten teacher. I’ve no experience but currently completing a TEFL. There are offering similar to you Alice HK$18000 no accommodation or HK$12000 + HK$500 traveling, allowance per month plus shared accommodation. I was wondering how far $12000 would stretch if you want to live reasonably well and also safe.

    I’m looking at Korea as well.
    Cheers!!

  • Hello Alice and Jonny!

    Jonny, I’m originally from down the road from your original Bangor, Newtownards!

    I’ve got an skype interview coming up with http://www.hkedu.com.hk to work as a kindergarten teacher. I’ve no experience but currently completing a TEFL. There are offering similar to you Alice HK$18000 no accommodation or HK$12000 + HK$500 traveling, allowance per month plus shared accommodation. I was wondering how far $12000 would stretch if you want to live reasonably well and also save.

    I’m looking at Korea as well.
    Cheers!!

  • Thanks for your message Claire. Hong Kong is an awesome place to live and work. I’ve kind of “based” myself here for the last 2 years and spent a fair chunk of that time working in local schools, 80% of the time in kindergartens (it’s an easy, stress free job and I get time to travel). I tend to run several jobs at the same time though to keep busy, extra money and keep my travel dreams going. I’ve travelled about 10-12 times already THIS YEAR and built it all around my job and lifestyle here. I’d have to say take the plunge and do it. I take it all those rates are quoted per month? You could easily live and save a lot of money on that rate. Though please note, I am a really tight, cheapskate backpacker with a good experience in budget travel so I’d be able to save over half my pay on that.

    I hope you make the right decision for yourself – only you really know. If it was me I’d be straight in there. I’ll be in Hong Kong on and off for the next 2 months or so, let me know if you want to meet up at some point.

    Newtownards is where I was born. I still love Ards and Bangor despite having now travelled to all seven continents. I’d still love to go into Knotts for a cup of tea and a scone! Or down the Loft Bar for a pint. Safe travels and keep touch!!! Jonny

  • Thanks for the reply, that’s all really good to know.

    I’m a cheapskate backpacker too and wouldn’t have it any other way so that’s all good!!
    I’m sorting out my house, completing the TEFL and will be gone from England by end of August although still not sure where.

    Ha, was in Knotts over Xmas, still as busy as ever, that’s one business doing well. Ards has changed so much..don’t say I miss it but do miss the craic!!

    Cheers

  • WOW!!! Knotts is still there. Amazing information. I did Scrabo Tower last time I was back in Northern Ireland and totally loved it! Safe travels, Jonny

  • Hi Jonny, I’m in Hong Kong and now doing private English tutoring part-time. I’m an extroverted guy, and I love the field of conversational English tutoring. One thing I wonder is what TEFL certificate you got?

    I’ve debated about spending 25,000HKD to get the Cert TrinityTESOL in HK or doing one online. One teacher in HK recommended teflinstitute.com. In your experience and in meeting other English teachers does any 120 online TEFL certification get you better jobs and a higher salary in HK? I’m ready to invest my time and some money in a certification, but I just want to make sure it’s money and time well spent. Any recommendations about a specific TEFL certificate would be welcomed.

  • Hi Logan – Thanks for your comment. I just got the cheapest online TEFL I could get my hands on! I’d recommend i to i. Google them and they should come up. 25,000 HKD is crazy money!! I could backpack for about 4-5 months on that money!!! Safe travels and good luck mate!! Jonny

  • I enjoyed your post, I am Chinese and was born in HK moved to Seattle, WA when I was 8 years old. I speak perfect english and have no accent. Is it likely that I can secure teaching job or do most schools hire a western face (caucasian) only? I would love to get some insights from you. I will be returning to HK in January after leaving 24 years ago. I am so excited for my return.

  • Thanks Daisy – you should be fine – Hong Kong people don’t discriminate really but for some reason, most of the native English teachers do look foreign. Good luck with it!! Jonny

  • Hi Jonny,

    Thank you for sharing your experience …….. your comment about LOCAL Asian English Teachers ….. I was born in Hong Kong but my family emigrated to the US when I was 4 years old. I am 42 and have work in various industry related to business [ sales and marketing ] for the most part and in Education. I am married to a Hong Kong native with 2 kids living in California but do you feel this is a LONG TERM opportunity ? Thank you in advance for your insight.

    John

  • Hi John! Thanks for your comment! Of course it can be a long term job opportunity. For me however I change jobs and countries a lot as I’m nomadic so I saw it just as a job for a few years to save money, enjoy the local culture and move on. You can make a career out of it for sure and you’d get a job teaching English easily! Safe travels. Jonny

  • Hi Jonny,

    Thanks for your website. I really enjoyed it.
    Please, I have a few questions to ask you. I recently visited HK like 2 months ago and I enjoyed the place.
    I want to know if as an African well educated with a Bachelor degree in Economics, Postgraduate Diploma in Education and a 450-hour TEFL/TESOL Diploma plus 8 years experience in teaching English in Abuja, Nigeria, I can easily find an English teaching job in Hong Kong. Or is the teaching job only for the caucasin?

  • Johnny,
    Thanks a million for your introduction on TEFL in HK. I am very familiar with HK and have visited the city numerous times. You are right — it is one of the most vibrant cities on earth. One thing I am slightly puzzled about is the pay of 25K HKD a month you mention. These days 25K HKD hardly pays for a smallish apartment in Kowloon or HK Island, so I was wondering how to make ends meet taking into account the notoriously high HK rents.

  • Hi Rick thanks for the comment. Make ends meet are you kidding? You can earn a lot of money in Hong Kong. Im a budget backpacker and wouldnt stay in a posh apartment when Im there, ever!! I havent signed a rent or flat contract in my last 5 – 6 years of travel – maximum you should pay in Hong Kong per month is 5,000 HKD, which is 1/5th (one fifth) of your wage. You should be looking to roomshare and flatshare, as I do and you’ll earn and save a lot. My first job in Hong Kong was bar work on 10,000 HKD a month and I still made money on that. Put your mind to it and you’ll do it. “You can have it all if you want” – Stereophonics. Check my Sunday’s Inspiration section for further lifestyle tips. Safe travels and best of luck. Jonny

  • Hi Koko, I really am not sure though I have to admit sadly Indian, Chinese and African (non Caucasians) I rarely see in these jobs in Hong Kong even though they have experience. This is quite sad and clearly a bit racist even though people won’t admit it. Be strong, be bold and go there and get it is my advice. Prove them wrong about race/colour being in the way of honest hard working people. Good luck and safe travels. Jonny

  • Great intro to what life is like teaching HK Jonny! It’s awesome to read how you manage to make a good living in HK and enjoy your job, as I always hear about too many teachers becoming frustrated with the high prices and crowded streets while living there. Your experiences are a great example for people doubting the value of teaching in HK. We recently posted an article in our blog about teaching in HK compared to surrounding places and the pros and cons involved. You should check it out:

    http://mytefl.net/blog/tefl-hong-kong-worth-it/

    Let me know what you think of the perspective of this author on HK! Best of luck and safe travels Jonny! I will check back for more interesting articles in the future, for sure.

  • Hi James – thanks so much for the link and comment. Completely agree that HK is a great place to teach English and earn money. It’s down to the individual in honesty – if you want to go there and do it, you will. I hope more people break the mould and head to HK to teach. Every week I get 20+ emails about this subject and you can normally tell the ones that want to do it or not – in short – don’t have any restrictions or worries, GO TO HONG KONG and you’ll love it! Safe travels. Jonny

  • Hi!
    My name is Dyamond, and I would love to teach kindergarten ESL in Hong Kong. But I’m an African American female and I wonder how I will be received and if that could effect my chances of getting a job. I’m only a senior in high school right now, so I have a while to consider and reconsider my options – eventually, I’d like to teach ESL in several Asian countries – but this is what I’ve wanted to do for a long time. Any advice or information you could provide would be helpful and appreciated. Thanks!

  • Hi Dyamond, Thanks for the comment. I don’t live in Hong Kong anymore but I’m sure if you stick to your guns and beliefs, get your Working Holiday Visa/Tourist Visa and head there you can find a job! HK employers want to meet you face to face so being in Hong Kong is your first priority here. Safe travels and good luck. Jonny

  • So much WONDERFUL information, thank you for sharing 🙂
    Gives me hope that I can find a job teaching English in Hong Kong.

  • Hi Angela thanks for the comment. Good luck in finding an English teaching job in Hong Kong – I am sure you will be fine there is always a need for teachers in Hong Kong. Safe travels. Jonny

  • Hi Jonny,

    I found your blog searching for information on Hong Kong. You have achieved what I am dreaming of and I am looking forward to reading through more of your posts. As for my question; my SO has secured a teaching position with an American International school in Hong Kong and we will be relocating from the US in August. I am currently an accountant, but I am considering teaching English while I am there. My SO is going to have several breaks during the school year between the trimesters and we would like to travel during that time. Did you have breaks/holiday while you were teaching? Were the schools flexible with time off?

    Thank you!
    Deanna

  • Hi Deanna thanks for your comment. I’ll be honest I don’t what SO means!! But in terms of holidays and breaks – yes you get lots – you get the Chinese Days, the Buddhist Days and the Christian Days, so things like Chinese New Year, Easter, Christmas and the Chinese National Day etc. I worked in lots of schools over a period of three years and could often get another teacher to replace my shift if needed and I also got other shifts if other teachers needed days off. I’m sure you will love it. Don’t worry about the days off – Im pretty sure it’s better holidays than in the US. Best of luck and safe travels. Jonny

  • Hi Jonny,

    Just read this post and has given me some confidence in looking for work in Hong Kong! Been there twice just on small trips and now want to move there! My worry however is I have only studied up till UK College level where I have A Levels.. So no Uni degree 🙁 I am also going to undertake a TEFL course soon! Will this be enough? I was reading your replies to other peoples comments also and saw that you had an agency finding jobs for you? Can I be cheeky and ask what agency you use? I have only been looking for jobs myself via job serch websites such as indeed.com (The HK version though).

    Many thanks,

    Sidney

  • Hi Sidney. You won’t need a TEFL or a Degree to teach English – that’s a travel myth which I constantly try to tell people to no avail. You need to be able to speak English, work hard and be enthusiastic. I worked in about 10 different schools in the Kong, some through friends contacts and some through an agency in Yau Ma Tei area. They don’t have a website but they have an office in the Ruby Comm building so I guess you’ll be able to find it easily enough. I wouldn’t bother looking online for jobs in Hong Kong – all the jobs I got there were in person by calling in. It’s very much a face to face society, and rightly so. The schools want to meet you, not to receive an email or a CV. Safe travels and best of luck. Jonny

  • Jonny,
    Hi, I’ve been doing some research for teaching in Hong Kong and I’ve a few inquires.
    I’ve been a teacher for 12 years now in Australia and have decided I would like to teach overseas for a few years. I’m 33 and have a Bachelors degree in Primary Education and was wondering if I’m still able to teach due to VISA’s, etc.
    Is there an age limit of 30 and under for a VISA to teach?
    Would the company I go through, provide a working VISA?
    Would a Bachelors degree in teaching be enough to teach in Hong Kong or would I need to complete a course of somewhat?

    I have more questions as I’m very interested but before I go to the next step, would you be able to answer the above questions if possible. I would really appreciate it.

    Thank you, Simon

  • Hi Simon, thanks for your comment. 12 years experience? You’ll be absolutely fine then!!! You’ll be the most experienced foreign teacher in Hong Kong. In terms of visas, here’s how I got my work visa – http://dontstopliving.net/how-to-get-a-hong-kong-working-visa/ – I know 60 year olds who got a visa so there is no age limit. The only age limit is for the “working holiday” visa, which is this one – http://dontstopliving.net/how-to-get-a-hong-kong-working-holiday-visa/ . Most people I met didn’t have a Bachelor’s Degree or any type of degree so definitely not essential. Good luck on your trip to Hong Kong! Jonny

  • Hi Johnny,

    Enjoy the article. I myself have been out of the UK teaching for 6 years.

    Quick question on primary jobs (not through the NET scheme) how did you find positions?
    I see primary’s aren’t big on advertising.
    Would really appreciate so insight into how you went about finding your position.

    Many thanks

    Alex

  • Hi Alex. Thanks for the comment. It’s easy to find a job teaching in Hong Kong! As long as English is your main language. The turnaround is huge. Just ask around and you will get one. For me, I met a guy at a party one night and he referred me to a school that needed a teacher, but if that hadn’t happened I would have got one at some point anyway. I started off working in bars in Hong Kong. You have a working holiday visa already right? As they’ll ask you that before interview. Best regards, Jonny

  • Hi Jonny,
    So I’m still in the UK and have been offered a position at English Excel language centre recently, with a take home salary of $14,000 HKD after rental expenses for a shared apartment provided by the school have been deducted. Working hours are 9-6.30pm Weds-Sat 3-7pm Mon/Tues.

    Whilst I’m still in the UK I can only go off the information I can find online and i’d love to know if you think I would be getting a bit of a raw deal with this? I really want to come to Hong Kong but I don’t want to commit to a year contract if i’m being underpaid and overworked compared to teachers in comparable positions.

    Thanks, hope to hear from you soon! Gina

  • Hi Gina, thanks for the comment. The choice is yours of course, as we all have different budgets and priorities. If it was me, I would take that option for sure! But I’m a budget backpacker so it’s rare for me ever to turn a job down. My first job in Hong Kong was 10,000 HKD a month in a bar working 9 hours a day 6 days a week, so if this is your first job in the Kong, it sounds amazing to me! You mean you don’t even have to do a face to face interview? And only 4 hours of work on Monday and Tuesday?! And they help with your rent too???! I don’t know your job history but underpaid and overworked are traits I associate with business types in offices, not English teachers. Any way good luck with your decision. Jonny

  • Hello!
    Thank you for a great read! I am really interested in getting a teaching English job in HK! I have a friend there who loves it and recommends moving there. I recently taught in Zhengzhou, Henan province, China for a year and before that I taught English at a Summer camp in Italy. I have been offered a job in Chengdu but the contract is 2 years.
    I was just wondering how is the best way to get a teaching job in HK? Do schools normally pay for your flights and accommodation like they do in mainland China? Where is the best places to live in HK?
    Apologies, so many questions!!
    Rebecca

  • Hi Rebecca, thanks for your comment. The best way to get a job in Hong Kong is to fly there as a backpacker and look around until you get one, I have never heard of anyone who didn’t get one. If a school ever pays for any of your flights or even accommodation please let me know where it is!! That sounds like the golden ticket but I can’t see that ever happening. You should try and get a Working Holiday visa first though as it makes things easier for immigration purposes. I personally lived in Lam Tin, Ma Wan and Lai Chi Kok, but it’s each to their own. I prefer the Chinese communities rather than the westernised parts of HK island. Safe travels. Jonny

  • Hi Jonny,
    I’m also looking to teach English in Hong Kong. But I don’t have a 3 years degree, I only have a Higher Education Diploma which is equivalent to 2 years University Degree and I also did the 150hrs Tefl course.
    Do you think I still have chance on getting a work visa at a school or teaching center?

    I searched online about the work visa, they all say I need get a job first and have the visa granted before I enter Hong Kong. But I have a friend who settled down first then apply for the jobs, she recently had her work visa granted at a learning center, difference is that she has a degree.

    My plan was to rent a 3 month apartment and job hunt during that time. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

    Kind regards.
    M

  • Hi Mike, thanks for the comment. Of course! I don’t see a problem. I went there as a tourist and got a job easily after a few days. For the English teaching job, they didn’t ask for my degree or TEFL but I did have a degree at the time. If they really do ask for those qualifications, just buy a degree online or in Khaosan Road in Bangkok – you can buy fake degrees there for a few dollars. I don’t see you having any issues, just head to Hong Kong on a tourist visa and you will get a job soon as long as you want it! I wouldn’t search online for anything – just head there, the only way to sort jobs and travel is by doing it for yourself. Safe travels. Jonny

  • Hi been offered a teaching role – teaching young children offering 18000hk going up to 22000hk after 4 months what’s your view on this? Working mon-sat

  • Hi Jonny,

    I just read your blog and I really enjoyed it. I am an African American currently completing my TEFL certificate and am going to be graduating from college in the summer (finally!) with a BS. I am interested in teaching in Hong Kong (I’m looking all over Asia) and was just wondering what the outcome of me getting a job over there would be and really any advice on how to get a job over there (I can’t afford to go without having a job first so hopefully I get a Skype interview). Do you have any advice for me?

    Thanks.

  • Hi Victoria, Thanks for your comment. As I’ve mentioned before on this article and in comments and other articles, the best advice is book a one way flight over there and you’ll get a job. It’s the best way. I have never heard of anyone getting a job on Skype before, seems a bit crazy to me! Hong Kong is a very face to face real life country – they want to meet you and to have proof you’re actually living in Hong Kong before they could trust to employ you, so get your flight booked and get a working holiday visa first and things will fall into place from there. So many places in China and Hong Kong need English teachers so you’re already a step ahead of everyone else by having the TEFL. Best of luck on your adventure! Jonny

  • Hi Jonny,

    I am an english teacher from the Philippines. I applied directly in HK as an English teacher. Since I am allowed only for 14 days to stay in HK I went back to Manila and waited for the results. I just received a letter from my employer that my work visa has approved by the immigration. My concern is, according to my employer I have to get the visa where I submitted the documents at Immigration tower (You know where that is located). Do I need a round trip ticket when I arrived at HK or just a one way ticket? I prefer to activate the visa by exiting MACAU. Or Is there a need for me to present the letter from the Immigration that my work visa was approved?

    Regards,

    Jeff

  • Hi Jeff, Thanks for the e-mail. I just went in there on a one way ticket, some five years ago now, 2011. They don’t really check for a departure date if you have a one year visa. Just get a stamp on arrival. I had the letters with me anyway but they never asked for them. Take them just in case. Safe travels. Jonny

  • Hi Johnny,

    You mentioned caucasian face. I’m hispanic, I have tan skin. Do you think I would still be respected? My english is perfect, I was raised in the US, and I’m a US citizen. I also speak Spanish fluently and have citizenship in South America.

  • Teaching English in Hong Kong seems like a really great experience if you’re comfortable with it. I personally don’t have much of a knack for teaching, but I envy those who do. Like you mentioned, the requirements for teaching English in Hong Kong are pretty simple; being enthusiastic is the most important thing. It’s great that you were able to have such a cool experience! Thanks for sharing.

  • Hello Jonny,
    I am a certified special education teacher do you know if there are opportunities for teaching students with special needs. Also are student with special included in typical classrooms.

  • Hi Sheree, thanks for the comment. Yes I am sure you will find a job there in Hong Kong with students for special needs. It’s a huge city/country with a high turnover of staff. Good luck and safe travels. Jonny

  • Hi Hazel, thanks for the comment. Yes, enthusiasm and passion for the job are essential for teaching English in the Kong. Good luck and safe travels. Jonny

  • Hello! I just got a Kindergarten teaching job in Hong Kong (Kowloon Tong). I am so excited But I have a ton of questions!

    How is the rent/living expenses there? I would be making around 23,000 HKD. Can I love comfortably on this and have a decent sized apartment? Do you have any suggestions on where to look for apartments? What do you suggest for transportation?

    Sorry for all the questions, any advice and help you could give me would be much appreciated!

    Thanks,

    Alex

  • Hi ALexandra,

    Thanks for the comment. Yes, that is great news. Wow – 23,000 HKD!! That is a huge sum, well done, more than I ever earned so you’ll have no issue. Rent can be got from 3,000 – 7,000 HKD so depends on your personal style. At one point I was paying just 3,000 sleeping on a settee+chair in a friends flat, another time I paid the same amount to share with my girlfriend and her family, and for a few months I paid 7,000 to live a luxury life with a swimming pool. Avoid Hong Kong Island – stay in Kowloon or Tsuen Wan 😉 For transport get an Octopus Card and get to know some Cantonese and the local Siu-pa (mini bus routes) and you’ll love it. Safe travels. Jonny

  • Jonny,

    Thank you so much for the quick response!

    Wow, I didn’t realize rent was so cheap? So 7000 HKD for your own apartment? I was looking online and it seemed like rent was much higher but maybe I was looking in the wrong places!?

    Thank you again for the information!

    Alexandra

  • Hi Alexandra, are you in Hong Kong? Join Internations and get to know people, there are always people to share with. 7000 is not cheap! It’s a lot. My first job in HK I was earnign 10,000 HKD per month so my rent was 3,000. I never had my own apartment, I don’t like to be alone. If you want to be alone, of course you’ll have to pay more but I wouldn’t recommend it unless you’re an introvert and don’t want to mingle too much. Also try not to look online, go out and meet people and rent agencies in Kowloon to give you a better indication. It’s a country with so many options, so many skyscrapers to live in. Safe travels. Jonny

  • Hi Jonny
    Thanks for all the information. It sounds like a no brainer to me!
    Working in Japan for 3 months, starting in december (not teaching English) and then flying to Hong Kong from there. Id love to do some teaching whilst i’m there, planning on doing a TEFL course soon.
    I would only like to spend 1 – 3 months doing this though. Everything online iv been looking at says 1 year contracts. Is it quite easy to get a part time job for a month or 2? I don’t want to agree to a long contract and then let people down.
    Of course I might change my mind when i’m there and want to stay much longer!
    Cheers
    Rosie

  • Hi Rosie – that sounds great. Of course jobs don’t have to be forever. I have done many 1 week, 1 month, 4 month etc. contracts. Just don’t sort anything out until you get there, it’s always better to organise face to face and go with the flow. Enjoy your trip to Hong Kong. Safe travels, Jonny

  • Hey Jonny,

    Do you recommend any specific recruiting websites to look for gigs?
    So far I have found a few with one that even says they work with schools that pay for your accommodation. I have experience working in Seoul, and my goal is to find an opportunity that pays a bit more than what I was making there.

  • Hi Keegan, what do you mean by gigs and recruiting websites? I didn’t use either of those and am not sure about them. All interviess in Hong Kong are face to face so websites don’t really work. Go there first and then look around for interviews and you’ll get sorted. As for accommodation, I sorted my own, not too keen on companies organising generic accommodation for me. From experience, Seoul and Tokyo probably pay more overall, but the price of living in Hong Kong is always less so make your choice and good luck! Jonny

  • Hiya, first of all great blog! I’m currently in my 5th year of teaching secondary science and have 3 kids . My husband also teaches secondary science and we are thinking of leaving the uk for either Dubai or Hong Kong but are struggling with our decision as we have young children to
    Think of. What is the normal amount of teaching contact hours in Hong Kong and is it normal to bring work back with you? We are basically looking for a comfortable
    Life with a realistic work/life balance.
    Any help or advise will be greatly appreciated!

  • Hi Jonny,

    Great information! Do you know if the schools care if you are over 40 years old? I am 42 and I am seriously considering try to teach in Hong Kong.

    Thank you,
    Maryjean

  • Hi Jonny nice blog Im from the UK andhave taught in Europe and Indonesia Im looking for a primary to high school position do you know eher I could look thanks, Kai

  • Hi Kai, thanks for the comments. If you are looking for a place in Hong Kong, I recommend getting a working holiday visa, then booking a flight ASAP over there and start looking straight away. You can also try looking online but HK is a face to face culture and I got my jobs by meeting the headmistresses and headmasters of the schools. Best of luck. Jonny

  • Dear Maryjean, thanks for the comment. Yes, I worked with teacher of all ages from 22 to about 65 so 42 should be in the middle somewhere and no problem. Safe travels. Jonny

  • Hi Liz, thanks for the comment and apologies for the delay. I have been suffering from depression and wasn’t replying or checking all messages. Realistically it is up to you – I liked Hong Kong but I was not married with children when I was there. It was just me and my girlfriend and the busy job. The city offers a lot but can also drain your energy, Dubai is similar.

    I never took any work from the Kindergartens back home but the Primary School lessons had more preparations and I often watched the DVDs and notes before my lessons. But overall, foreigners know to clock in on time and leave on time. Hong Kong locals are over worked, sucked into a false belief that by working longer hours they are better employees and will be rewarded more. You can do the same amount of work as them in a shorter length of time and that was what I prided myself on. Best of wishes making your decision and safe travels. Jonny

  • Good stuff Jonny. I can imagine the energy required for teaching. Is English moving forward or backwards in HK would you say?

  • Hey Jonny,

    I’ve read somewhere that you need a degree to teach English in Hong Kong? It doesn’t matter what type of degree it is, just any degree, in any field. Is this true?

  • Hi Chris,

    I worked in Hong Kong for 3-4 years and didn’t need a degree. If you really need one, you can buy them online or in the markets of Bangkok. But the most important things are enthusiasm, a working holiday visA/ working visa and the Hong Kong ID card. I assume you have those three things? If so, I don’t see an issue with it. Safe travels. Jonny.

  • Hello Jonny,
    Great website and read. Thank you for sharing.

    I’m Canadian currently living and teaching English in Thailand, and loving the experience of teaching. I’ve decided that I’d like to continue teaching abroad and continue traveling. I’m looking at Hong Kong as my next teaching “gig”. Would you be able to provide the contact information of the agency you work with.

    Many thanks! – Nancy

  • Hi Nancy, thanks for the comment. Unfortunately I was in Hong Kong working 2011 – 2012 on my WH Visa. I was in Primary Schools and Kindergartens teaching English mostly and they were Catholic and Buddhist schools. I don’t have any contact details for them, but their addresses should be online now, though not always in English I must admit. Good luck and safe travels. Jonny

  • I’ve learnt so much from the above thank you. I am a mum of 3 primary aged children wanting to travel to Hong Kong for a year or maybe more teaching English. Do you think it is still possible to earn / save considering rent for a family plus school fees? Do you know if any teachersuggestions get accommodation or school fees included?

  • Hi Jonny,

    I was just wondering which recruiter you used to secure your kindergarten jobs in Hong Kong. I am currently teaching in Germany and am looking into teaching in Hong Kong in the fall. Thanks!

  • Hi Teresa, Thanks for the comment and sorry for the delay. I have been suffering from depression and I don’t work at this website anymore. I worked in about 10 schools – I think about 8 primary schools and 2 kindergartens. The Kindergartens were BOTH in Tsuen Wan. As for the recruiters, it was different for each one but I remember the English name was Excellent Culture and they were based in Yau Ma Tei or Tsim Sha Tsui. I recommend calling into as many kindergartens as you can – most of them will be looking for an English teacher from September to July, or you might be lucky and get a half year contract as it’s now Chinese New Year there. If not, private teaching and learning centres are always looking for staff, so I am sure you will be fine. Best wishes and have a safe trip to Hong Kong. Jonny

  • Hi Helen, thanks for the comment. Apologies for the delay. I have severe depression and therefore I don’t work at this website any more. I am happy to hear you are heading to Hong Kong. Of course it is possible to save money!!! I saved and earned a lot here, second only to Australia in terms of profit in the countries I lived in. The only difference is I didn’t have any children or a family, but I am sure your husband/boyfriend will be able to work there too so you will be fine. Some schools probably do include accommodation – maybe Boarding Schools but I always sort my own bed out. Safe travels. Jonny

  • Hi Kay, thanks for the comment. I am glad you enjoyed the post. It is a tough time for me in life, so thanks for all your wishes. Best of luck, Jonny

  • I found your thread quite interesting.

    I am Chinese but born in the U.K and have been living in H.K since 2009.

    I was a postman in England before moving here and I didn’t have a degree when I arrived.

    For anyone thinking about coming to HK as an English teacher I strongly recommend a company called Eureka.

    They are based in Sheung Wan and they will get you a working visa if you pass the interview.

    Perhaps most importantly they aren’t motivated by the almighty dollar. They actually care about their teachers.

    Coming over here on a tourist visa and trying to get into a school without a degree is almost impossible – just look at the EDB website.

    Also the age factor is not to be underestimated.

    I was almost 40 when I started applying for my first teaching job. It took me 200 applications and 20 interviews despite graduating with a 1st Class Honours degree (Bachelor of Education in English Language.)

    I would say being Chinese is not the obstacle it once was due to the handover and judging by the number of interviews I had.

    Victor

  • Hi Jonny, really excited at the prospect of being able to teach abroad and I’m really interested in working in Honk Kong. I’m about to graduate and weighing up my options. My only concern is the fact that I’m Asian (Indian) I think we born in the U.K. but I was wondering how much do you think this is a disadvantage?

  • I am a Cambridge-trained English teacher, attended 120 hours of a 120 hours initial course at Education and Training International Tbilisi in Georgia (CELTA), who is currently looking for a position as an ESOL English teacher in HK. I am from Iran and I love to experience and expand my teaching career more professionally in HK.
    I have been teaching English for about 15 years and and I am 35 now. Are there any chances for me ?

  • Hi Bahram, thanks for the comment. 15 years experience are you kidding??!!! You will get a job there easily!!! I had no years experience and no qualifications yet I got a job there. Best wishes. Jonny

  • Hi Jonny,

    Can you please recommend a few schools to reach out to on HK island where the pay is at least 25,000? I was offered a position with a school but I am not too fond of the hours (9:30-6:30, sometimes 7:30). Any schools you recommend I contact?

    Best,
    Melissa

  • Hi Jonny

    I need some advice about teaching in Hong Kong. I’m a bbc (British born Chinese) and have been in the retail management for over 10 years but now looking to have a career change and looking at teaching English in Hong Kong. I have completed an 150 hour tefl few years ago, I have not used it yet until now. I have no teaching experience but do a lot of training and mentoring at my management job. I have updated my cv and done. Covering letter but don’t know where to apply. Any suggestions? Thank you. May

  • Hi Risha, thanks for your comment. As always my advice is if you are worried about something, then you don’t want it enough. Nothing is a disadvantage if you want to succeed. I was born in Northern Ireland and didn’t even consider it. I just worked hard, followed my passions and lived my dreams. Just be careful for liars though – they can quickly change your happy life into one of depression, turmoil and suicidal thoughts. Best wishes. Jonny

  • Hi Melissa, thanks for the comment and apologies for the delay, I have had severe depression and I don’t work here any more but the site stays live. I didn’t work in schools on HK Island – only at events for Internations. Most of them were around Wan Chai and Lan Kwai Fong. For schools, just pop into as many as you can with your CV and I’m sure one will be happy to have you! Safe travels and good luck in Hong Kong. Jonny

  • Hi May, thanks for the comment and apologies for the delay, I have had severe depression and I don’t work here any more but the site stays live. For schools – just pop into as many as you can with your CV. You won’t need the TEFL or Degree – that’s all a myth. I got my first teaching job without them but be passionate and get a Working Holiday visa first if you can. Good luck and safe travels. Jonny

  • Hi Johnny, Firstly thank you for writing this, it’s really helpful! I’ve just obtained a BA in English and desperately want to teach in Hong Kong! I am going to do at least 120 hours of tefl, do you think that’s enough? My main problem is that I have type 1 diabetes, will this count against me and how easily can you get medication? I need to inject daily so it’s super important! I’m really hoping this won’t stop me as like you said if you want something go and do it! I would seriously appreciate some guidance in this! I’m so grateful to have found this website with such useful info! Best wishes! 🙂

  • May, I am a also a BBC.

    The days of coming to HK and getting a job as an English teacher with 5 O levels are well and truly over.

    Have a look at what I wrote above for a realistic insight into the difficulty of finding a job as an English teacher in HK as a BBC.

    Yours sincerely,

    Victor

  • Hi how are you? I’ve a few quick questions about teaching in HK. 1st at the end of each school year do you need to apply at new schools? or are you able to remain at the same one. Also where is the best place to look and find schools that are hiring? Is the pay fixed or do you need to negotiate your pay.

  • Hi Michael, thanks for the comment. I haven’t lived in Hong Kong for a few years so things may have changed and modernised but here are my answers from my time there (mostly 2011 – 2014).
    1.Applying for new schools is fine, but always check the contracts. If you sign a contract with a school, you are kind of stuck there unless you want to lose money by quitting early. For that reason, I admit that being freelance/a free agent was better. You can of course stay at the same school if they keep hiring you, or give you a 3-5 year contract for example.
    2.The best place to look is obviously inside the schools themselves. Call into as many as you can. Failing that – use an agent, or word of mouth. I got my first HK teaching job through a guy I met at a party, so it was word of mouth and chance.
    3.Again, the pay can be fixed or negotiable. I used to have a different rate depending on the school and the day of the week. You can also earn more money on Saturdays, if I recall I used to charge 300 HKD per hour on a Saturday.
    All in all, I’m sure you will find your way out there! Jonny

  • Hi Wiktor thanks for your comments and good luck in Hong Kong. With BBC experience, it should be easy enough for you, just work hard and be passionate. Safe travels. Jonny

  • Hi Isabella, thanks for your comment. I don’t really work here anymore just checking comments now and then and find over 100 so hard to reply to them all. I have severe depression and suicidal thoughts daily due to liars and wannabe GuruGods but a TEFl?? Yes that is definitely enough!! I had nothing like that when I started teaching English in 2011, at the time all I needed was passion, commitment and a visa. Get the Working Holiday Visa sorted first, the rest will be easy. Safe travels. Jonny

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge