Can I study and work in China? This is a question foreigners ask themselves before they decide to make the move.

The state of the world economy means the cost of living is rising in China every day. For this reason, international students who study in China may be forced to take a part-time jobs. Likewise, other international students choose to study at the cheapest university they can find in China.
study and work in China

Study and work in China

Today, China’s population is over 1.3 billion people. This means that there are many job opportunities for both Chinese and international students as part-time teachers, in hospitality and more. This job availability has made studying in China appealing and fun for international students.

Why fun? Obviously when international students work, they interact with Chinese people and this exposes them to Chinese culture and new and exciting things.

This article on study and work in China has some survival tips that international students working in China should know. The article will tell you about study visas, scholarships and the types of jobs you can apply for.

Can international students work in China?

Yes, they can. However, before 2013 international students were not authorized to take an internship or part-time jobs while they were studying. The Chinese government realized this was not attracting international students to the country. So it abolished the law.

If you want to get a part-time job now you will need an X-visa (student visa). Students visa are either X1 or X2. X1 is for international students who come to China for advanced studies, fieldwork and who study here for more than six months. X2 is issued to students who come over to study for less than six months.

Foreigners are not allowed to just work under the X-visa. Fortunately, they can take part-time jobs and internships off campus later on. All you have to do is to contact your employer or university after you’ve settled in and figure out what you need to do. If you have an X1 visa, you can apply for a temporary residence permit within 30 days of setting foot in China.

Study and work in China as an international student

Looking for a part-time job in China is not that complicated. But here are some tips that should make job hunting easy.

study and work in China

Take advantage of the internet

Visit websites that offer part-time jobs that you can do as an international student. Read the job requirements and find out where it is. You definitely don’t want to work too far from home.

Talk to friends and colleagues

Not all job openings are advertised. Tell everyone you know that you are looking for work. Hopefully if they hear about anything, they will let you know.

Drop off your application in person

This is where you front up to places. While most foreign students don’t like doing this, it’s one of the best options. Why? You can chat to the manager or HR. They get to know you and you get to know them. Tell them about yourself.

Take a walk around town and look for ‘Help Wanted’ signs in windows. If there are no signs, knock on the door and ask about openings.

What are some of the part-time jobs for students in China?

Language teacher

English teaching jobs are the easiest jobs to get in China. And you don’t have to be a native English speaker to get one either. Depending on where you live, the salary may vary from 100RMB to 200RMB per hour. You can work in a big organization, a small company or as a private tutor.

Voice recording

This is another part-time job related to English speaking. Your role might be doing an English voice over for commercials or videos. This work pays well.


Not the Hollywood kind of acting, unfortunately. This job would be appearing in video commercials for various companies. It’s usually very simple and pays well too.

How to study in China for free or cheap

There are a few tuition-free universities in China for international students. This means you can study in China for free as long as you plan it. Look for the best scholarships available and while you are studying maybe make a few changes in your lifestyle. Do you really need to keep buying comfort foods from home?

The term ‘free’ tuition means that your fees are covered, but personal expenses aren’t. Some scholarships give a little bit extra to help international students with their monthly expenses. Getting a full scholarship while you work in China is not very easy.

There are three types of scholarships in China:

  • University scholarships – There are free and very cheap universities in China that offer scholarships. When you apply, check what the scholarship covers; it may only cover tuition fees. You could also get into an exchange program so your housing and tuition costs are much less.
  • Program provider scholarships – Studying abroad with a service program is more expensive than direct enrolment. Talk with a program advisor at home about any financial aid packages you might be able to get.
  • Independent scholarships – These are offered by independent, sometimes charitable, companies. They can be full or partial scholarships. You will need to research these.

Tips for getting a scholarship to study in China

First, you should learn some Mandarin. Having some knowledge of the Chinese language will increase your chances of getting an independent scholarship from Chinese organizations.

Don’t try and be totally fluent because these scholarships may involve studying and improving your Mandarin-speaking skills. If you’ve been speaking Chinese since childhood, you might not get this type of scholarship.

Third, you should learn as much as you can about Chinese culture, its history and traditions. Scholarship councils will be more likely to award you a scholarship if you show an interest in China.

Lastly, you must be honest about your goals when you apply. Give as much detail on all the forms you fill in.


There is a lot on offer for international students who want to study and work in China. Good part-time jobs and scholarships are available if you hunt them down. But make sure you meet all the legal requirements before you start working in China as a foreigner.

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