The following table shows typical expat salaries in China, for a variety of jobs and roles. Note that these figures are based on employment statistics from major Chinese cities – if you work in a more rural area, you should expect to earn less than what is quoted below.
Table of Expat Salaries in China (2011 to 2012)
Annual Salary (USD)
Annual Salary (RMB)
|Accounting/Finance||Chief Financial Officer / 15+ Years||240K||1.5M|
|Accounting/Finance||Finance or Accounting Manager / 8+ Years||48K||300K|
|Accounting/Finance||Financial Analyst / 7+ Years||55K||350K|
|Advertising/Communciations||Media Director / 10+ Years||110K||700K|
|Advertising/Communciations||Account Manager / 3+ Years||32K||200K|
|Advertising/Communciations||English Copywriter / 4+ Years||44K||280K|
|Banking/Financial Services||Top-Level Positions / 10+ Years||190K+||1.2M+|
|Banking/Financial Services||Mid-Level and Junior Positions / 3+ Years||48 to 110K||300 to 700K|
|Education||ESL Teacher / 0 Years||7K||44K|
|Education||ESL Teacher / 3+ Years||8K||50K|
|Human Resources||Manager / 6+ Years||80K||500K|
|IT/Telecommunications||Project Manager / 8+ Years||80 to 140K||500 to 900K|
|IT/Telecommunications||Developer / 7+ Years||95K||600K|
|Legal||International Law Firm / 6+ Years PQE||205K||1.3M|
|Legal||In-House Corporate Lawyer / 6+ Years||95K||600K|
|Property/Construction||Architect / 5+ Years||80K||500K|
|Property/Construction||Project Manager / 8+ Years||110K||700K|
|Property/Construction||Engineer / 5+ Years||22K||140K|
|Sales/Marketing||Managing Director / 20+ Years||315K+||2M+|
|Sales/Marketing||Mid-Level Manager / 7+ Years||48 to 110K||300 to 700K|
|Sales/Marketing||Front Office Manager / 5+ Years||36K||230K|
Saving potential for expats in China
- Although China's cost of living is famously low – with youthful ESL teachers known to live on about RMB 3,500 (USD 500) per month – your expat salary package remains very important. Try to negotiate the best possible deal for yourself, as often the 'perks' of your contract will decide whether a move to China is financially viable for you or not.
- Although many Chinese employers won't provide an accommodation stipend, some will. You're doing well if they offer you something in the region of RMB 9,000 (USD 1,500) per month.
- Health insurance for foreign workers in China is quite expensive, and if this is provided in your salary package, it will save you at least RMB 1,300 (USD 200) per month.
- The issue of whether or not the company will provide for education expenses is often the 'deal-breaker' for expat families planning a move to China. The price of good-quality international education is astronomical – as much as RMB 1.2M (USD 200K) per year in the most extreme cases.
- Bear in mind, too, that most expats will be taxed around 20% of their monthly salary in China, but that this can rise to 40% for high earners.
- Note that as a foreign worker in China, you will be expected to work very hard for your money, and that the intensity of the Chinese workplace can be a bit overwhelming for some expats.
- Remember that although working in China might not be as financially rewarding as working in other expat destinations, such as the Middle East or Russia, there are some wonderful cultural benefits to such an adventure. China is at the forefront of global economic development, and there are many exciting things happening within the country to attract ambitious professionals. Also, the opportunity to learn a bit of Mandarin is widely reported by expats to be one of the most valuable aspects of working in China.