What You Need to Know to Teach English in Hong Kong

So, you want to teach English in Hong Kong. Well, look no further. This article will tell you exactly what qualifications you need and where you can get a job in Hong Kong.

First, you need to think about where you might want to work. There are three different areas teachers can pursue a teaching position. A public school, an international school, or a training center. Let’s start with the easiest place to get a teaching job in Hong Kong; a training center.

Training Center:

Qualifications needed: native English speaker, bachelor’s degree, TEFL certificate

To get a job at a training center, there are two ways you can do it.

  1. You can go through a recruiter.

  2. You can apply directly to the center.

There are reasons for choosing both of these routes. Depending on your preferences, going through a recruiter can be nice because they basically do all the work for you. They assist you in your job search and help you get set up in Hong Kong. However, they do take a chunk of your salary every month, so be wary of that. If you prefer, you can apply directly to the training center. This is recommended for maximum salary opportunities. You can check third-party websites like Indeed or JobsDB to find the job you are looking for. You can also search for recruiters in Hong Kong.

While this is definitely the easiest teaching job to get in Hong Kong, it can be challenging because of the work hours. Hours will vary from place to place, but generally, you will work 5 days a week, from around 9:00 or10:00 am to 7:30 or 8:30 pm. Usually, training centers will offer you one weekend day off in addition to one random weekday. You will always have to work at least one day every weekend.

Public School:

Second story view from a school courtyard. Lush green mountains are in the background on a clear blue sky day with a few fluffy white clouds. A basketball hoop is in the courtyard.
View From The Public School Hayley Currently Works At.

The second easiest place to get a teaching position in Hong Kong is a public school. The process and experience of applying will vary depending on if you apply through a recruitment program or directly to the school. I will discuss qualifications and different options for applying below.

The government program (EDB NET Scheme) is by far the best program that you want to pursue. Working for them, you can make anywhere from $31,000 HKD to $61,000 HKD. PLUS, another $20,000 for a “special allowance” - meaning you can use it for anything. This means you could be making anywhere from $6,500 USD to $10,500 USD a month!

Another great thing about working at a public school in Hong Kong is that they celebrate both U.K. and Chinese holidays. Meaning, you get a lot of vacation time! *WOOP WOOP*

Depending on your qualifications and how you apply, this job can be quite lucrative. Below I will discuss what you will need to work at a public school through the government program or through other channels.

Public School (Non-government Program):

Qualifications needed: native English speaker, bachelor’s degree, TEFL certificate

This will be the easiest way to get your foot in the door. To get a job at a public school (non EDB), you can apply two ways:

  1. Through a recruiter (like Eureka)

  2. Directly to the school

The above options will pay a lot less than the government program (less than $30,000 HKD); however, they are much easier to get into. As I said above, the obvious pro to recruiters is that they do all the work for you. I went through a company called Eureka my first two years and they helped me get the job at my school. They also didn’t take as much money out of my paycheck as other recruiters and didn’t encourage me to stay with their company. They truly wanted what was best for me which I appreciated. Feel free to contact me if you have more questions about applying for a position through Eureka.

Applying directly to a school can be a great way to get more money and not have to worry about recruiter contracts. This is beneficial because if you begin teaching at a school through a recruiter and want to get hired directly by them in the future you would have to wait 12months per your contract. On the flip side applying directly to the school may mean that you have less support in getting your visa set up since this is something a recruiter usually helps you with. Everyone's situation is different so it's important to weigh the pros and cons and choose the best option for you!

Public School (EDB Net Scheme):

Qualifications needed (minimum requirements): native English speaker, bachelor’s degree in any subject and TEFL/TESL qualification

It is important to pay close attention to the TEFL/TESL qualification. There are only a few certificates that they categorize as acceptable:


  2. CertTESOL or DipTESOL

  3. PGCE or PGDE

  4. TEFL certificate with a minimum of 100 hours AND includes a teaching practice component in which a PASS is required

I have a Master’s Degree in Education, but I did not have the teaching practice component the first time I applied to the program and thus did not get in. They are very specific about that and you must be able to prove it. They are also very specific in their application process about the documents you need to provide, so pay close attention to the requirements on the application form. (Important note: you can still apply if you are in the process of getting the qualifications and have them by the time you start working at the school.)

This program, as you can imagine, is quite competitive and can be hard to get into. However, if money is a motivator for you, then this program is probably the best in the world. You can look on the EDB’s website for further information about applying or ask me if you have any questions at all. Good luck!

International Schools:

The last avenue you can pursue if you would like to work in Hong Kong is to apply for a position at an international school. You must have all the proper qualifications in order to be considered for a teaching position at an international school. This makes it the most difficult to attain.

It’s also important to note that working at an international school will be very different than working for a public school in terms of culture and curriculum. The international schools follow the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum and have students that come from countries all around the world.

Qualifications needed (minimum requirements): native English speaker, Bachelor of Education OR bachelor’s degree in any subject and further teaching qualifications such as PGCE/PGDE, at least 2 years of experience in an accredited school, IB training/experience is preferred.

You can apply to an international school in two ways:

  1. Directly

  2. Through ESF (English Schools Foundation)

You can search on Google for international schools in Hong Kong and apply directly through their website or you can go through websites like Indeed to see if there are openings posted.

There is also a group of schools under ESF. You apply to them based on their openings available and they place you. Click here to access their website. You can only apply if they have positions open, they do not accept or hold onto applications for future placements.

Final (Important) Notes:

  1. The qualifications I mentioned above are generally for English teachers at the primary level. Requirements may vary depending on if you want to work for a primary or secondary school within a public or international school. Generally, secondary schools require further qualifications.

  2. If you are applying to a government program or an international school, the contracts usually last 2 years but you may be able to commit to only 1 year at certain schools. If you break the contract for any reason, you may be liable to pay the school.

Good luck on your job search! Hong Kong is a wonderful, crazy place to live and work.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or just want to chat about Hong Kong.


Hey there! My name is Hayley and I’m a lover of education, learning new languages, traveling, and cats. I have been an ESL teacher for about 4 years now. Currently, I am working at an elementary school in Hong Kong but I have also taught English in Shenzhen, China. I teach online as well. If I am not working, you can find me planning where to travel next, learning a new language, or hanging out with my cat, Xiao Bao. I have traveled throughout Asia and Europe mostly. Always down to chat so feel free to reach out to me or follow my journey on IG @hayleymweston.

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