You, Too, Could Have My Shanghai Job!

My company has decided that there’s too much work here for me to handle on my own, so they’ve asked me to find a second. Another person that can do my job. Only problem is, since I am quite busy, I don’t have a lot of time to look for someone. I just got back from Dezhou. Tomorrow I go to Fuzhou for 3 days. When I get back the next day I’ll go to Wuxi for 5 days. Then I’ll be in Shanghai for a week, after which it’s off to Tianjin for 10 days. You get the idea. School’s out now, so it’s the busy travel season for this job.

So let me tell you a little about the job. The pay is not bad (about 12,000rmb), but it doesn’t come with benefits, so it’s not exactly the most wonderful package in the world. (On the other hand, you won’t be hurting for money on that salary, even in Shanghai.) What is good about the job is that you can use Chinese (and, indeed, must use Chinese) on a daily basis. Also, the company pays for you to travel all over China. Yes, you have to work, but often your host will pay for you to do a little sightseeing, and even if they don’t, you could take a vacation day or two in that location before returning to Shanghai.

So you have to live in Shanghai. You have to deal with me on an (almost) daily basis. You have to be able to speak Chinese. You have to like to travel. And you have to be a native speaker of English, of the North American variety. If this sounds like you, please head over to Sinosplice Jobs, take a look at the information there, and then give me an email.

(For other entries I’ve written about my job, check out the “Work” category in the archives.)


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. wow, you seem like a very busy person. I’d like to accept the job offer but I’m too younge and I’m not in China… 🙁 (by the way, if you are wondering where I got your URL from, I saw your link on Heather’s site so just dropped by)

  2. Wow…sounded like an ideal job until the part about having to deal with you on an almost daily basis ;p

  3. have to be North American?! Racist bastards! Don’t they want to learn REAL English?

    • Wait real English? Now who is racist? Also on the fact language doesn’t classify race so once again it’s best to find someone who at least can tell the difference between what is racist or not.

  4. Anonymous Says: June 30, 2004 at 11:40 pm

    Let the begging begin!

    Ooo Ooo!!!!!! Pick me!!! perty please?

  5. Can we nominate people? I think we should all put forth suggestions in the next three days and form a list of possible candidates. Then we will vote on it. The winner, whether they want it or not, will have to take it. Sounds like a sure fire way to find a completely qualified coworker. Also the winner should be entitled to one of those cool t-shirts you got from work.

    I nominate Brad F. I have a bit of insider trading knowledge and lets just say his job at Dell, and Dell in China, may not be around for too much longer.*

    *completely made up, Dell WILL make Lenovo its bitch, but without Brad F who will be working at melody

  6. Carl,

    Ha, great idea! It wouldn’t be so bad having Brad around the office….

    (serious applicants, e-mail me now!)

  7. Is that 12,000 RMB an annual salary or per month?

    • Jing,

      You are an utter idiot. 12000 RMB for an annual salary in Shanghai!! ARe you f’n crazy?!! Actually 12000 RM/month is horrible in Shanghai unless you plan on never going out. Shanghai is one of the most expensive cities in the world. If you wan to have a decent living, you need to make at least double that amount if not triple, and that’s being very conservative. wake up pal.

  8. Jing,

    That’s per month.

  9. Out of curiosity sake, can a chinese, who can speak fluently in both languages apply?

  10. Asking the obvious, aren’t I. sighs

  11. Phy,

    If by “Chinese” you mean “Chinese American” or “Chinese Canadian,” then yes. If you mean “Chinese national” (i.e. born and raised in China), then no.

  12. I so would have jumped on top of that job if it were available a couple of months ago. Alas.

  13. Neither, Chinese-Singaporean.

  14. 12000 rmb is an amazing salary in China, even for Shanghai. My older cousin who just graduated a few months ago with a masters in aerospace engineering or some such only pulls 2000 rmb at Beijing. Laowei expat salaries are pretty slick, even if they don’t convert to many U.S. dollars.

    If I wasn’t still trying to graduate, I’d be on my way to Shanghai :). Curse you UF, one more year to go, ARGH senioritis! I suppose I should enjoy it now though, I have the sneaking suspicion that I will miss my undergrad days in the years to come.

  15. Shelley Says: July 1, 2004 at 3:00 pm

    I can attest to the quality of this position. After all, that used to be my job, and I was the guy who convinced John to work there.

    I loved the traveling myself. You save money doing it because the host pays for meals and accomodations. I don’t want to say the work is easy, but it would be much easier than your average teaching job … and much easier than my job now.

    By the way, for the Brits being discriminated against by Melody, my school in Shandong is more than willing to hire you. I’ll be putting something up on Sinosplice Jobs in the near future (like next week).

    Oh yeah, by the way John, I’ll be putting up a notice on Sinosplice jobs next week, specifically looking for experienced Brits. Stay tuned.

  16. It sounds like an exciting job with which you can travel around China! Believe it or not, you’ve been to more places than many of us have. Good for you!


  17. Thanks for the nomination, Carl, but I think I’ll stick with Dell a little while longer. If John had posted this a few months ago, before I transferred to a new department, I’d have been all over it, though.

  18. 12,000RMB.
    Are you kidding?

    Respectable guys like John can’t even get a credit card with that not to mention guys like me. And I don’t make less.

  19. Brits? Who cares about them? It’s the Aussies and the Kiwis you are all missing out on!

  20. And what about the Jamaicans? They’re native English speakers and it’s a bit close to North-America.

    “Eh man! How you doin’ man! Eh, whatcha lookin’ at cracka laowai!”

    HAHAHA! Chinese with a Jamaican accent. That would be something.

  21. Hmm, life of 12,00RMB/month in Shanghai is something better than 12,000 bucks/month in New York I guess. Lucky bastard!
    For an offer from New York something 6,000$/month, as a Chinese, he/she should posse some Ph.D, plus some years of work experience, on the other hand, college graduate who can speak chinese can earn 12,00RMB/month in Shanghai . Mean world.

  22. John, How would you like the “Doom” back? He can’t speak Chinese but I think you could tutor him. Yeah! Pay him 12 grand a month and teach him. He’s gotta get outta Haikou, even if he’s only here a month. Help me out dude and hire him! Kidding of course..but not really!

  23. exactly Geoff, native English is native English.

  24. Dude, Jamaica is kind of… sort of… North America. I think that would be awesome. (Not to mention that Jamaican-accented Chinese would certainly be more comprehensible than Texan-accented Chinese, I think; while a student in an immersion program in Harbin I had the unfortunate luck to be in the same class as a Texan with perhaps the best comprehension of Chinese but the worst accent — the teachers could barely understand him.

    If I didn’t already have obligations for the upcoming year, I’d beg to apply. It all sounds yum!

  25. Zhang,

    Get real and stop crying. Learning English as a second language is common. Learning Chinese as a second language is not. Because of that those of us that learn Chinese are more uncommon. That often affords us more cash.

    That is a fact so deal with it.

  26. And 12,000 bucks a month in New York is simply awesome. Don’t compare apples with oranges when you haven’t eaten them.

  27. Tim H,

    Just because it’s the reality doesn’t mean it’s fair; and it definitely doesn’t mean people cannot complaint about it. Chinese may have more opportunities and arguably a better academic environment to learn English than Americans who are trying to learn Chinese, but individually similar amount of effort is required to master any kind of foreign languages.

    And I assume you HAVE eaten both oranges and apples; so you probably know that in order to earn $12,000/month in NYC one has to completely give up his mind, body and soul to his company (with very few exceptions). Just ask your I-banker or lawyer friends, to have a 6-hour sleep would be a luxury. Who dares to think about traveling across the country, playing with kids, and at the same time keeping a wonderful blog?

    Suggestion to Zhang: get a degree in the States and come back to China as a “hai-gui”. Work in Shanghai and get paid in US dollars, now that’s the way to live.

  28. Where is all this talk about $12,000 coming from? The job in Shanghai pays 12000RMB/month (US$1500), which won’t buy anywhere near the lifestyle of $12000 in NYC. I’d compare it to about $3000/month in a decent sized US city, or maybe $5000/month in NYC.

    By the way, elfuzz, your hai-gui comment is two to three years too late — nobody hires returnees at US salaries anymore. It’s pretty rare to find a US-salaried job at any position lower than (upper-level, experienced) Director…unless you’re looking for a 6-month “train the locals and leave” kind of job.

  29. Before you all get too excited about the salary, you should realize that 12,000 RMB is an ANNUAL salary, not a monthly one. While still good, it falls a little short of 144,000 RMB/year.

    Details, details, details . . .

  30. Da Xiangchang Says: July 3, 2004 at 10:27 am

    The problem with living in China long-term is twofold (though, there are more reasons):

    1) Even if possible, will you be willing to live there forever?
    2) CAN you live there forever (i.e., without outside circumstances denying you the chance live in China forever)?

    The first is, of course, you might THINK you’ll be in China a long time, but maybe you’ll change your mind–maybe next year, ten years from now, twenty, etc. The second is the same deal–for example, what if you get kicked out of China either because of you rubbed some political cadre the wrong way or for any unforeseeable reason (like, let’s say, China attacks Taiwan). The bottom line is if either of these options happen and you’re forced back to your home country, YOU ARE FUCKED. That is, your work experience AND your Chinese degree are completely worthless in a Western country. Of course, if you’re young, you can start over again, but I sure as hell don’t want to be in my 40s or even 30s having to scramble for a living stateside working minimum-wage jobs somewhere. You’re a special person in a poor country abroad, but in a Western nation, unless you work really hard for a really long time, you’ll always remain an average schmuck. And your fall from your privileged status to an average schmuck will be harder and exponentially more painful the older you are.

    That’s why while I admire John’s dedication to China, I know it could never work for me. I don’t have enough confidence in myself OR in China’s future. So I need the stability of a longterm AMERICAN job if I’m going to work abroad again. But that’s just me. It might be different for John and others.

  31. Anonymous Says: July 3, 2004 at 11:38 am

    TimP> Actually, it was confirmed earlier in the comments by John that the 12,000 RMB was MONTHLY i.e. 144,000 RMB ANNUALLY… I don’t think you’d get too far on 1000 RMB a month, without benefits in Shanghai.

    details, details…

  32. 144,000 RMB per year is NOT even close to $144,000 per year in NYC. It isn’t even half of that in terms of NYC dollars.

  33. 12,000RMB in Shanghai is damn good living compare to $12,000 in NYC, if not better. First Uncle Sam will take away a nice chunk of it; then add in 401K, insurances and other expenses your disposable income is not that much after all. Even we are talking about $12,000 net income, you can hire a full time cleaning/cooking maid for 300-400RMB in Shanghai; at least $2000 in NYC. Labor is dirt cheap in China, keep that in mind when you talk about lifestyle; a king is nobody without the servants.

    As for the Hai-gui situation, there are still US-paying jobs out there in China. Two or three years ago any new grads with a US degree can get a managerial position; nowdays you need a hefty degree AND useful work experiences. It’s harder, (and I think that’s a sign of chinese labor market maturing), but not impossible.

  34. Elfuzz,
    have you even been to NYC before? If your answer is NO, then stop posting nonsense.
    Just look at this, $12,000 US in NYC can buy you a $2000 Armani suit every month. Uh oh, that’s more than 12,000 rmb. Name brand wears are same price in shanghai compare to NYC. Purchasing power with $12,000 is way greater than 12,000rmb. It’s a fact!
    Oh and making $144k a year in NYC does not require working 18 hours a day. Many people are making 6 digits in NYC, and they all have great lives there.
    I know people in shanghai are making around 12,000 rmb. That amount is barely enough to cover monthly alcohol bills after rent and food. Bars in shanghai in costs more than bars in the States on average.

  35. Ron,

    We are comparing quality of life in two cities; not whether US dollar is worth more than RMB. When you reside in China, live like a Chinese. Why buy $2000 real Armani when you can get a nice tailor-made famous Chinese brand for RMB1000? Same applies to bars, yes, RMB40 for a Corona is pricy; but don’t forget a huge bottle of YanJing is only RMB6 down the block. But with RMB 12,000 in Shanghai, you can hire a freaking personal suit carrier, and a personal beer bottle opener, and someone to carry your bottle opener, you get the idea.

    Factor in PPP, China has the second largest GDP following the US; without it, China is the league with Zimbabwe. Simple econ concept.

  36. As for the pay/workload comparison, if you know anyone of our age in NYC who makes $144K/year without working his balls off, please, please, let me know. Unless he is a trust-fund baby, or P-diddy’s nephew, he is probably slaving away as I type. Okay, I will even break it down for you. Big NYC law firm’s starting salary for new law grads are $125K plus bonuses. Average billable hours are 60hr/week. And those are billable hours, you need to times at least 1.3 for total hours. That’s 78 hr/week, add in commuting and eating, not much time left for sleeping, is there? I-bankers, similiar schedule. Doctors, esp. young residents, tons of night shifts and low pay. Hmm, what else can a young person do in NYC to make $144K? Oh, high-end prostitution, but unfortunately I have no experiences in that. Anyway, jokes aside, you might have a lucky friend who makes that kind of money and has an easy lifestyle, but that would be the exception, not the norm.

  37. 12000RMB (gross)
    -3500 Rent
    -400 Utilities
    -2000 Food (30RMB/day, plus some extra for weekends)
    -300 Transportation (assumes a lot of walking, buses, or subway)
    -500 Ayi
    =5300RMB disposable
    -500RMB/weekend for entertainment
    =3300RMB savings (27.5%)
    Which, if saved for ~3 years, would buy a VW Santana. Oh, but you’d still need to save up for another year to pay for the registration.

    This is a combination of Western and Chinese lifestyles, and would probably only be considered comfortable by young single people. Yes, you’d make more than most Chinese people, and you could afford to buy a “famous Chinese brand” suit (puke) once a month. It’s still a (US) college student style life. You absolutely, unequivocally would NOT be living the lifestyle of a 6-figure salary in NYC.

    The thing that people like Elfuzz don’t seem to understand is that while most everything in China is cheap, it’s also shit. If you don’t mind buying shit, eating shit, and living in shit, you can live very comfortably for very little money.

  38. Why has to be a native speaker?
    I was born in Shanghai and have been living in the U.S. for years.
    I’m actually planing moving back to Shanghai next year.
    My husband is a native speaker, but he doesn’t speak Chinese; I speak Chinese, but I am not a native speaker……
    I’m gonna force him to learn Chinese from now on. >o

  39. “Why has to be a native speaker?”

    I don’t know.

  40. If RMB 2000/month on food plus an Ayi (RMB500) cooking at home you are still eating shit, then an average Chinese must be eating feces of shit.

    Absolute US lifestyle is impossible to obtain in China. You cannot clean up the air, you cannot force people not to spit, etc. When you live in a foreign country, you have to let go your old lifestyle and adapt to the local way, or at least attempt to adapt. Otherwise you gonna be misrealbe. Say I live in the US and I want to maintain my Chinese lifestyle which includes having authentic Chinese food everyday. Then I would need to buy a farm, hire Chinese farmers to grow fresh Chinese local veggies and free-range Chickens and pigs, bring in personal Chinese chefs, import all kinds of Chinese ingredients, etc. Not even $12,000/month can sustain that.

  41. That’s just it. Eating is it, the (maybe only) undisputed quality element of chinese culture. If you enjoy it, the many varieties of it, it prepared by your own dirt-cheap cook/maid, and at the same time can tolerate driving or walking in a sea of people, being spat on on the street and all that shit, then this would be a dream job for you. It may not be a king’s lifestyle, but it sure would be exotic, a different kind of exoticity than, say, going to africa.

    My question is, John, whether this 12,000RMB is a slave, a master, or a king’s salary for a north american (who of course is worth a shitload more than the brits or any other caucasians, not to mention Phy) in Shanghai?

  42. someone said that you want to learn,how is it going?i’ve no intrests about this job,but could we be friends anyway?
    this is my blog,and i wonder if you use QQ or not.anyway,my QQ is 66436545.

  43. someone said that you want to learn,how is it going?i’ve no intrests about this job,but could we be friends anyway?
    this is my blog,and i wonder if you use QQ or not.anyway,my QQ is 66436545.

  44. someone said that you want to learn,how is it going?i’ve no intrests about this job,but could we be friends anyway?
    this is my blog,and i wonder if you use QQ or not.anyway,my QQ is 66436545.

  45. Check out my resume and get back to me:
    It’s huge and not well formatted;


                   Canilx Modern English School
                  Ningbo, Zhejiang Province, China
                            Head English Teacher (Teacher Manager)

    Foreign Teacher Trainer

                            Senior Course Designer
                            Teacher of adults from beginners to advanced business levels
       2003 - 2004
                  California Sunshine International Language Center
                   Jinan, Shandong Province, China
                            Head English Teacher (Teacher Manager)
                            English teacher for adults and teenagers
                            Teacher Trainer For Local Chinese English Teachers
                            Head Program Developer
                            Cambridge English School Coordinator
                   Courses of Instruction:

    Beginner to Advanced Conversation, Primary School Grammar & Conversation, Business English, Chinese Teacher Training, Foreign Teacher training

       2003 (Summer)
                   Ray's English School
                   Tokyo, Japan
                            Conversational English teacher for adults in a casual language center


                  Aipusen English Training Institute
                  Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, China

    ESL teacher for grades Kindergarten through Middle School

    Responsible for daily lesson planning and materials preparation

    Responsible for quarterly reports pertaining to individual student progress

    Engaged in the summer and winter special teaching programs


    Saint Joseph¡¯s Convent School

    Bangkok, Thailand

    Teacher in a bi-lingual private school

    Developer of programs teaching general knowledge and English

    Instructor of History, Social Studies and Intensive ESL courses

  46. so anyone know of any US-paying jobs in China, around shanghai preferably.

    I am 2 years out of college (math/stats/econ) working as tech consultant. Fluent in english, french, german, mandarin and wu. Probably cannot count as native in any.


  47. vivien zhang Says: February 14, 2005 at 3:13 pm

    have to be a native american . i am a shanghai girl who have quit good english not only daily english but only business english. i am not sure if you are intersted in a shanghai girl, 24y\o

  48. I am a native Chinese speaker from Shanghai, and speak native level(almost native level english). I have a degree from NYU and currently working in NY. Will be back this July, if you think i am suitable for this job, give me an email and we will talk more. I mainly focus in Shanghai. If not, we can still be freinds by then and i can tutor you chinese for free.


  49. Sorry, people, this position has been filled for quite a while now. I guess I should close the comments.

Leave a Reply