How To Choose A Contract
If you are considering a country where the official language isn’t English, have someone you know and trust translate the foreign language portion for you. If you aren’t completely familiar with the laws of that country, it’s pretty safe to assume that the native language in the contract is the one that will be the most binding. There should be an English portion and the native language portion. It’s important to know each portion’s content matches.
Everyone wants to be paid a decent salary. However, the word "decent" is subjective. It can only be determined by the recipient and their individual needs. I know you didn't read this post to get that as an answer. You want have a general idea of what you should be making. There are lots of variable factors to consider: experience, grade level, specialty, location, etc. Here's what I suggest:
Non-licensed/certified (TEFL/TESOL only): No less than 13,000RMB
Subject Teacher: No less than 18,000RMB
Licensed/Certified: No less than 22,000RMB
LEGAL WORK Z VISA SUPPORT
Make sure this is fully supported by the company and outlined in your contract. This is something they should pay for and do BEFORE you leave your country. There will be some additional steps taken once you arrive; however, you should have something temporary showing that you have completed the portion from your home country. I made an entire post about this. see more at Z Visas (work visa) & Permits
RED FLAG: An employer tells you to fly over on a tourist visa and they will apply for your Z-visa upon arrival.
Your Z-Visa should be completed on your home country’s end BEFORE LEAVING. It will be FINALIZED (not applied for) upon arrival.
Most educational institutions will have the normal 40-hour work week. It’s split into teaching hours and office hours. The more teaching hours you have, the more classes you’ll have. The more classes you have, the longer the class periods may be. Office hours are the non-teaching periods. It’s great for lesson planning, (and depending on your school—naps). Consider this when choosing a contract. Look at the balance of teaching hours to office hours that will work best for you. Depending on your school, if you can choose a contract without office hours, that means you can leave whenever you don’t have class. That is a huge bonus. Otherwise, you may be obligated to stay there during the entire work day.
You should have some type of assistance getting you set up. Find out what type of services they will provide (initial hotel stay, cell phone activation, house hunting, etc.) Ask these question if it's not stated clearly in the contract you're considering.
If the job announcement says "apartment (housing/accommodations) provided", be sure to ask what type of accommodations they are providing. There's a chance you may receive a housing allowance. If not, be sure to ask:
Is it a dorm room?
Is it on the school grounds? If so, are overnight guests allowed? Curfew?
Is it shared with someone else?
What expenses are covered? (rent, utilities, etc.)
Ask if it has a western toilet with a separate shower.
Ask to see pictures
We all want as much upfront money reimbursed back to us as possible. Be sure to look for this:
How much will be reimbursed?
When will it be reimbursed? Upon arrival? End of contract?
PAID TIME OFF
Look for the following:
Half or full pay for holidays
Half or full pay for housing allowance during holidays
It's important to have and most important to know the coverage. Ask specific questions about your coverage. I suggest asking about:
On/Off the job injury coverage
How much out of pocket expenses you will pay
Ask about the difference between social and commercial insurance (China)
These things don't come standard with all contracts, but they help to sweeten the pot when weighing options between multiple contracts.
Chinese/Cultural Classes: This is a good way to feel immersed in the culture. These classes are not only fun, but educational and a great way to meet new friends.
Performance & Contract Completion/Renewal Bonus: Some companies will give incentives for performing well, finishing an entire contract or renewing with them. It wouldn't hurt if you're happy with your company and school and wouldn't mind staying.
Don’t see what you want in a contract? Don’t be afraid to ask for it. The most they can do is tell you, no. Although, if you don’t ask, you already have a “no”. Some employers will start low with expectations that you will ask for more. If you don’t ask, it’s a win for them. If you don’t get what you want, don’t be afraid to move on.
The more understanding you have of these things, the less confusion you will have if a situation arises later. Be thorough in your questions. Be specific.
Choose wisely. Good Luck!