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15 Top Jobs for Expats in Shanghai

Among the top jobs for foreigners in Shanghai are teaching, IT, engineering, food industry, research, entrepreneurs, marketing, manufacturing, trade and commerce, finance, and more. Shanghai is a booming city that attracts experts in their field to come and excel in China.

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Are you an expat getting ready to move to Shanghai? Do you need a job and are curious to learn what are the best and most popular jobs for expats in China?

This post is exactly what you need. We’ll introduce you to 15 of the most popular jobs for expats in Shanghai. We’ll also give you some tips about how to land a job in Shanghai as a foreigner.

Before you move, you’ll also want to learn what you can about the healthcare system in China and look into the top international insurance available for expats in Shanghai.

If you have any questions, be sure to reach out to us!

15 Most Common Careers for Expats Living in Shanghai

Image of Stunning View Of Shanghai City Skyline with text overlay of "Most Common Careers for Expats"

Here are 15 of the top jobs for expats who live in Shanghai:

  1. Teaching
  2. International Trade and Commerce
  3. Technology / IT
  4. Writing and Media
  5. Marketing
  6. Engineering
  7. Manager Positions
  8. Hotels and Tourism
  9. Food Industry
  10. Art, Music, and Performance
  11. Finance
  12. Research
  13. Manufacturing
  14. Entrepreneurs
  15. Pilots

Let’s discuss each in a bit more detail.

1. Teaching

Perhaps the very most common career for foreigners living in Shanghai is teaching. Expats can teach just about anything, from English to kindergarten to university courses to mathematics. Teaching is always in high demand because Chinese culture has such a strong emphasis on childhood education.

2. International Trade and Commerce

China is a huge global manufacturer and trader, and as such, foreigners often find jobs in the international trade and commerce field. Positions such as foreign trade specialist, distribution specialist, senior customs specialist, or supply chain manager are excellent for foreigners.

Employers in Shanghai and all of China love to hire foreigners they can consult when making decisions about global commerce transactions.

3. Technology / IT

Shanghai is a hub for technology and IT innovation and expansion. As such, expats in Shanghai commonly thrive in careers suited for software development, data analysis, cybersecurity, network engineering, project management, and more.

4. Writing and Media

As the world, China, and Shanghai shift even deeper into our modern era of digital creations, job positions in writing and media are on the rise. English-speaking foreigners in Shanghai can find jobs in news, media, content creation, editing, SEO, and more. Freelance writers and editors are needed!

5. Marketing

Some top market jobs for Shanghai expats include marketing manager, specialist, product lead, marketing executive, senior digital manager, influencer scout, foreign managing consultant, communications specialist, management trainee, and more. Foreigners in marketing are a hot commodity!

6. Engineering

A career in engineering is another strong career for expatriates abroad in Shanghai. China is always looking for experienced experts in engineering and architecture, including any of the engineering specialties: civil, mechanical, electrical, chemical, and industrial.

7. Manager Positions

In more general terms, Shanghai is on the watch for foreign residents with the skills it takes to fill managing positions. Regardless of the field or industry, expats who have the skills for leadership, communication, decision-making, team-building, and organization are wanted in manager roles.

8. Hotels and Tourism

Shanghai is a hotspot for tourists. As a result, there are plenty of jobs for tourism and hotel maintenance and management. Foreigners who speak English or other foreign languages are always wanted in the tourism industry because they can communicate with tourists from around the globe.

9. Food Industry

Do you like to cook? Jobs in restaurants, bars, clubs, teahouses, and more are always on the lookout for workers. Expats in Shanghai can be a good fit for these jobs because they have foreign communication skills. You can also start your own restaurant and serve food from your part of the world!

10. Art, Music, and Performance

Foreigners living in Shanghai can get a position as an art, music, or dance professional. The performing arts have always been well appreciated in China, and you can share your expertise and lifestyle as a music creator, music director, performer, artist, music teacher, art marketer, or more.

11. Finance

Finance, accounting, and banking skills are needed in Shanghai. Expats who have training and experience in finance could work as financial analysts, supervisors of finance, finance coordinators, accountants, managing consultants and strategists, senior financial managers, and more.

12. Research

Expats interested in doing research in Shanghai should consider working for places such as Shanghai Advanced Institute of Finance, NYU Shanghai, ShanghaiTech University, Shanghai Normal University Tianhua College, East China University of Science and Technology, or other local colleges.

13. Manufacturing

China has a booming infrastructure and economy. As a result, they can always benefit from a well-trained expert in the manufacturing field. Expats in Shanghai can consider applying for manufacturing jobs in food, clothing and textiles, metal, electronics, transportation, wood and paper, and more.

14. Entrepreneurs

Shanghai is a huge hub for visionary expats and entrepreneurs. You can begin your own company in just about anything! You can start your own restaurant, firm, medical clinic, tai chi studio, or boutique. If you can dream it, you can live it!

15. Pilots

Pilots, flight attendants, and other airport-related jobs are very popular among expats living in Shanghai. Not only can you get great deals for your traveling adventures, but your bilingual skills can make you an attractive candidate for a position that requires you to interact with foreigners.

Tips for Getting a Job in Shanghai as an Expatriate

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Expatriates applying for a job in Shanghai should try these tips: network, network, network; learn Mandarin; understand visa regulations, tailor your resume/CV to Chinese standards; and consider language teaching or internships to get your foot in the door.

  1. Research the Job Market: Understand the demand for your skills in Shanghai or China. Certain industries like technology, finance, and education might have more opportunities for expats.
  2. Network: Networking is crucial in China. Attend industry events, join expat groups, and connect with professionals on platforms like LinkedIn. Personal connections can often lead to job opportunities.
  3. Learn Mandarin: While not always required, knowing Mandarin can significantly boost your job prospects in China. It shows your commitment to the country and makes communication easier in the workplace.
  4. Understand Visa Regulations: Make sure you understand the visa requirements for working in China as an expat. Ensure your visa status aligns with your job search and eventual employment.
  5. Utilize Online Job Platforms: Explore job portals and recruitment websites specifically catering to expats and international job seekers in China. Websites like eChinaCareers, SmartShanghai, and LinkedIn can be valuable resources.
  6. Tailor Your Resume/CV: Adapt your resume to Shanghai standards and highlight relevant experiences and skills. Research cultural norms regarding CVs in China to ensure yours stands out positively.
  7. Be Flexible: Be open to different job opportunities and industries, especially when starting out. Flexibility might lead you to unexpected but rewarding career paths.
  8. Understand Cultural Differences: Familiarize yourself with Chinese workplace culture and etiquette. Understanding hierarchy, communication styles, and business customs can help you navigate interviews and interactions with potential employers.
  9. Consider Internships or Language Teaching: If you’re struggling to find a job in your field immediately, consider internships or teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL). These opportunities can provide valuable experience and connections.
  10. Prepare for Interviews: Research common interview questions and prepare thoughtful responses. Practice interviewing in both English and Mandarin if possible. Emphasize your adaptability, cross-cultural communication skills, and willingness to integrate into the Shanghai work environment.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the highest-paying jobs for expats in Shanghai?

The highest-paying jobs for expats in Shanghai often include roles in finance, technology, management consulting, and multinational corporations. Industries like banking, IT, and manufacturing also offer competitive salaries for expatriate professionals.

What qualifications do I need to work in Shanghai as an expat?

The qualifications required for expats to work in Shanghai vary depending on the industry and position. Generally, a bachelor’s degree is a minimum requirement for many jobs, but others can require relevant work experience, language proficiency in Mandarin, and specialized skills for your role.

Is it easy for expats to find jobs in Shanghai?

While the city offers a range of opportunities, competition can be stiff, especially in certain industries. Networking, language proficiency, and adapting to local cultural norms can significantly improve your chances of success.

What are the most in-demand jobs for expats in Shanghai?

The most in-demand jobs for expats in Shanghai often include positions in industries such as finance, technology, education, healthcare, and hospitality. Roles in these sectors may require specific skills, so it’s essential to research the current job market and tailor your job search accordingly.

What challenges do expats face when looking for a job in Shanghai?

Common challenges expats face when looking for a job in Shanghai include language barriers, cultural differences, intense competition, visa restrictions, and unfamiliarity with local job market dynamics.

Do I need to speak Mandarin to get a job in Shanghai?

Expats are not always required to speak Mandarin to be able to get a job in Shanghai. Being able to speak Mandarin proficiently, however, greatly enhances your job prospects and simplifies your integration into the local workplace culture.

Conclusion

Now that you know what careers are the most common for expats in Shanghai, and you have an idea of some strategies you can take to get hired, you’re ready to start your job hunt!

If you want to learn more about international health insurance for expats, Pacific Prime is here to help you. Talk to one of our insurance experts anytime, and we’ll talk you through your options!

You will also want to check out our blog posts about Life in Shanghai as an Expat in 2024 and Expat Hospitals in Shanghai China.

Senior Content Creator at Pacific Prime
Serena Fung is a Senior Content Creator at Pacific Prime, a global insurance brokerage and employee specialist serving over 1.5 million clients in 15 offices across the world. With 2+ years of experience writing about the subject, she aims to demystify the world of insurance for readers with the latest updates, guides and articles on the blog.

Serena earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the University of British Columbia, Canada. As such, she is an avid advocate of mental health and is fascinated by all things psychology (especially if it’s cognitive psychology!).

Her previous work experience includes teaching toddlers to read, writing for a travel/wellness online magazine, and then a business news blog. These combined experiences give her the skills and insights she needs to explain complex ideas in a succinct way. Being the daughter of an immigrant and a traveler herself, she is passionate about educating expats and digital nomads on travel and international health insurance.
Serena Fung