What is the NET scheme in Hong Kong? Everything you need to know

If teaching English in Hong Kong takes your fancy then you’ll want to check out the NET scheme. Like JET in Japan and EPIK in South Korea, NET is a government-run scheme that aims to improve the English proficiency of children and teenagers in Hong Kong by placing native (or native-level) English teachers in classrooms.

It’s a great opportunity for TEFL teachers, one that offers a good salary and package of benefits. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know, from requirements to what the job involves.

What is NET?

The Native-speaking English teacher (NET) scheme, has been running in Hong Kong for over two decades. It places English teachers in public-sector primary and secondary schools on 2-year contracts.

TEFL jobs in Hong Kong frequently offer lucrative salaries and packages, and the NET scheme is no different. Monthly salaries start from HK$31,750, rising to HK$73,775 (approx £3,000-£6,800/$4,100-$9,50), and you’ll receive a monthly housing allowance of HK$20,989 (approx £1,950/$2,700) on top of that.

High salaries attract high competition, so don’t expect securing a NET position to be a walk in the park. While teachers with a BA degree and suitable TEFL certificate are eligible to apply, there’s a strong preference for teachers who also have a teaching degree and experience. The more qualified and experienced you are, the more likely you are to secure a role.

What are the requirements for the NET scheme?

NET teachers work in both primary and secondary schools, and the requirements for each are different.

Requirements for primary schools

There are four categories applicants are placed into. The higher the category, the better your chance of securing a position, and category 3 and 4 applicants are usually only considered if there aren’t enough suitable applicants that fall into categories 1 or 2.

Category 1

  • A bachelor’s degree in English
  • A teaching qualification in primary education
  • A TEFL qualification

Category 2

  • A bachelor’s degree in any subject
  • A teaching qualification in primary education
  • A TEFL qualification

Category 3

  • A bachelor’s degree in any subject
  • A teaching qualification
  • A TEFL qualification

Category 4

  • A bachelor’s degree in any subject
  • A TEFL qualification

More information about becoming a NET primary teacher can be found here.

Old and new buildings in Hong Kong

Requirements for secondary schools

The requirements for secondary schools are more stringent and, unlike primary positions, just a degree and TEFL qualification won’t cut it even at the lowest category.

Category 1

  • A bachelor’s degree in English or Modern Language or Education with a major in English or Modern Language
  • A postgrad diploma in Education with a focus on English
  • A TEFL qualification at diploma level
  • At least one year of English teaching experience at secondary level or above

Category 2

  • A bachelor’s degree in English or Modern Language or Education with a major in English or Modern Language
  • A postgrad diploma in Education with a focus on English
  • At least one year of English teaching experience at secondary level or above

Category 3

  • A bachelor’s degree in English or Modern Language
  • A postgrad diploma in Education
  • At least one year of English teaching experience at secondary level or above

Category 4

  • A bachelor’s degree in any subject
  • A postgrad diploma in Education focused on English
  • At least one year of English teaching experience at secondary level or above

Category 5

  • A bachelor’s degree in any subject
  • A postgrad diploma in Education
  • A TEFL qualification
  • At least one year of English teaching experience at secondary level or above

Category 6

  • A bachelor’s degree in English or Modern Language
  • A TEFL qualification
  • At least one year of English teaching experience at secondary level or above

Category 7

  • A bachelor’s degree in any subject
  • A master’s degree in TEFL
  • At least one year of English teaching experience at secondary level or above

More information about becoming a NET secondary teacher can be found here.

What’s included?

NET teachers can expect:

  • A salary between HK$31,750 and HK$73,775 (approx £3,000-£6,800/$4,100-$9,50)
  • A monthly housing allowance of HK$20,989 (approx £1,950/$2,700)
  • Flight reimbursement
  • Medical allowances
  • Retention incentives
  • Paid holidays
Hong Kong pictured from above

What to teachers do on the NET scheme?

The duties of a teacher employed via the NET scheme will depend entirely on the school that has recruited them. This means that it’s hard to say exactly what to expect as it can vary so much, but you should be able to get a good idea from the school beforehand and even speak to current or previous teachers who have worked there. Your duties can range from teaching English lessons and developing a curriculum to conducting class trips and activities.

Do you need a TEFL qualification for NET?

To be eligible for the NET scheme you must have a TEFL qualification at either certificate or diploma level. The scheme accepts CELTA, Trinity CertTESOL, or a TEFL qualification that includes a minimum of 100 hours with a practical component.

Can non-native speakers participate in the NET scheme?

While native English speaker is in the title of the scheme, you don’t necessarily need to be one in order to be eligible. If you’re a non-native English speaker you’ll need to speak English at a native level, evidence of which will be necessary.

Where do NET teachers work?

NET teachers work across Hong Kong and you will have no choice over location. With competition for positions being so high you’re lucky to get offered a position by any school, so unless you fit into category 1 you’re not going to be in a position to try and negotiate!

Do you need a degree for NET?

Yes, a degree is a must for the NET scheme. While it’s possible to apply with a bachelor’s degree in any discipline, there is preference for those with English (English literature, language, or linguistics), Modern Language, and Education degrees.

What does the application process for NET involve?

The application process for NET is quite involved and there are a few stages to it.

First, you need to complete the application form and fax or mail it, along with the required documents, to the NET administration team before the deadline. The 2021/2022 deadline was 19th March, so you can expect the 2022 deadline to be around the same date.

If your application is successful and you’re shortlisted, the next stage involves an interview and written test. Within 4 weeks you should be notified of the result.

For those who pass the interview and written test your qualifications and experience will then be assessed to ensure they’re suitable.

At this point, you’re still not all the way there because getting to this stage doesn’t guarantee you a job. The EBD (Education Bureau) will refer you to relevant schools, who will decide to interview you if they think you’re a good match. Only after a successful interview will you have successfully secured a position as a NET teacher.

For up-to-date info about the NET scheme check out the Hong Kong Education Bureau’s website. And see our Hong Kong country guide for information about other opportunities, life in the country + more!

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