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What is the NET scheme in Hong Kong?

Teaching English through the NET scheme in Hong Kong gives you the chance to explore, live and work in the Pearl of the Orient, with lucrative salaries and unbeatable benefits.

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What is the NET scheme in Hong Kong?
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If you dream about teaching English in Asia and making some serious cash at the same time, the NET scheme in Hong Kong might be just what you are looking for. Running for more than 20 years, NET is one of the most lucrative ways to teach English in Hong Kong, with impressive salaries and benefits. 

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. Each year, the scheme offers positions to hundreds of teachers throughout the region in both secondary and primary schools, with strict entry requirements and fierce competition for places. 

If successful, NET teachers in Hong Kong can enjoy benefits like a generous housing allowance, paid holidays, free return flights and a salary of between $30,000 - $70,000 HKD (£3,190 - £7,450 GBP / $3,820 - $8,915 USD)

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.

Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about the NET scheme in Hong Kong, from requirements to benefits and the application process. 

What is the NET scheme in Hong Kong?

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. Common duties range from teaching English lessons and curriculum development to conducting class trips and activities.

NET teachers work across Hong Kong and you will have no choice over location. With competition for positions being so high, you’ll be lucky to get a position at any school, so (unless you’re a top Category 1 candidate) you probably won’t be in a position to try and negotiate!

First up, you might be wondering what exactly the Native-speaking English Teachers (NET) scheme in Hong Kong is? Officially, it’s the Government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region’s scheme to enhance the teaching of the English language and increase the exposure of Hong Kong students to English in public-sector primary and secondary schools.

What this means in practice is that every year, the government places English teachers in schools throughout the region with the hopes of improving general English fluency levels in children through both English lessons, interaction with English speakers and an English-focused learning environment.

Unlike many government-backed schemes in other countries, NET in Hong Kong is extremely well paid, which makes it highly competitive to get into. The application process works from a points-based system, with those who have an English or Education-related degree and a teaching qualification from their home country seen as the most desirable candidates.

NET scheme teaching contracts last for two years, with percentage-based salary increases for those who decide to extend beyond their initial contract. The scheme is split into two sections - PNET (placements teaching primary school students between the ages of 6-12) and SNET (placements teaching secondary school students) 

The history of the NET scheme in Hong Kong

When Hong Kong was handed back to China in 1997, there were real concerns from both the education and business sectors that English language standards in the country would start to slip. Up until that point, education had been conducted mostly in English but, to match the policies of Mainland China, Chinese (which in Hong Kong means Cantonese) became the main language of public sector schools. 

To appease these worries, the government decided to launch the NET scheme in 1998, providing public secondary schools with a native-speaking English teachers. After a successful first few years, the scheme was expanded into public primary schools in 2002/03. 

The main aims of the NET scheme, according to the official website, are: 

  • To support and strengthen English language learning and teaching in local schools.
  • To provide an authentic environment for students to learn English and develop their confidence in using English for communication.
  • To develop innovative learning and teaching strategies, materials and activities suited to the needs of local students. 
  • To promote the collaboration between NETs and local teachers. 
  • To strengthen the professional development of local English teachers.
  • To encourage effective networking amongst schools.

What are the requirements for the NET scheme?

Unlike some other Teach English Abroad opportunities in Asia, the teaching requirements for NET in Hong Kong are considered quite complex and fairly strict. Although this can put some new TEFL teachers off, it makes sense when you consider both the high salaries and the competition for placements.

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 TEFL courses that include a minimum of 100 hours with a practical component.

A degree is a must to teach English with NET. While it’s possible to apply with a bachelor’s degree in any discipline, there is a preference for those with English (English literature, language, or linguistics), Modern Language, and Education degrees. If you have an MA or post graduate diploma, you'll have an even better chance to secure a job teaching English.

While it might be in the title of the scheme, you don’t necessarily need to be a native speaking English teacher 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.

The NET scheme grades applicants according to their qualifications, placing them into different categories. For PNET candidates, there are four categories, while for SNET candidates there are seven. Category 1 is where the most desirable candidates will be placed. But don’t worry if you don’t fall into the top categories - the scheme works on a roll-down system. This means that if there aren’t enough teachers to fill positions from the top categories, teachers from the next category down (and so on…) will be considered. 

Requirements differ slightly between the PNET and SNET placements, with SNET generally requiring more advanced qualifications. Keep reading to find out the requirements and categories for each in more detail below. 

Requirements for primary schools

Landing a PNET job is sometimes a little easier than securing a placement at a secondary school. There are just four categories in contrast to SNET’s seven. The higher the category, the better your chance of securing a position. Category 3 and 4 applicants are usually only considered if there aren’t enough suitable applicants that fall into Category 1 or 2. Let’s break down each category’s requirements below: 

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

Category 1

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

Category 2

  • A bachelor’s degree in any subject
  • 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

Download our teaching English in Asia guide

What salary do NETs receive?

One of the main reasons the NET scheme in Hong Kong is so popular with English teachers is due to the excellent salary and benefits that come with the job. While there are lots of great-paying TEFL jobs in Hong Kong with similar benefits, few are quite as lucrative as the NET scheme. 

Salaries for PNET and SNET placements are paid in accordance with the government’s Master Pay Scale (MPS). This means that your initial salary amount will be based on your teaching qualifications and experience, with a performance review at the end of each year to determine if you’ll move up the pay scale. And for teachers who want to stick around beyond the standard two-year contract, there’s the chance to earn seriously impressive salaries. 

But how much exactly do NET placements pay? For PNET jobs, teachers can expect an initial salary of between $30,000 to $58,500 HKD (£3,190 - £6,200 GBP / $3,820 - $7,450 USD). On the other hand, SNET placements can pay up to $70,000 HKD (£7,450 GBP / $8,915 USD).

What benefits are included in the NET scheme salary?

Alongside highly attractive salaries for both the PNET and SNET schemes, NET placements also come with a fantastic benefits package. On top of your monthly salary, you can also expect:

  • Induction and support upon arrival in Hong Kong. 
  • A secure two-year contract. 
  • Retention incentives for contract extensions beyond the initial contract (usually 5% for a third and fourth year and 10% for a fifth year) 
  • A ‘special allowance’ for housing of $20,989 HKD (£2,235 GBP / $2,674 USD) per month (if your normal place of residence is outside of Hong Kong)
  • Return flights to and from Hong Kong (including baggage allowance)
  • Paid holidays including all public holidays such as Chinese New Year, school summer holidays and Christmas. 
  • Medical insurance. 

While Hong Kong might be one of the most expensive places to live in Asia, with such high salaries and great benefits, NETs usually have no problem living comfortably and saving at the same time. 

The application process for NET

The second part of the interview is the written component, usually lasting around 20 minutes. During this section, you’ll be required to write about one of three given topics. The written component gives applicants the chance to showcase their English language, grammar and writing skills and it’s just as important as the spoken part of the interview. 

For those who pass the interview and written test, your qualifications and experience will then be assessed and you’ll be placed into a category.  At this point, you’re still not guaranteed a job. Instead, your details are placed into a pool with all the other successful candidates. The Education Bureau (EBD) will then refer you to relevant schools, which will screen and choose their own candidates for interview. Only after a successful interview with a school will you have successfully secured a position as a NET teacher! 

The application process for the NET scheme in Hong Kong is quite complex, with several stages and rounds of interviews. But don’t let that put you off! If you take each section at a time, have your paperwork organised and prep ahead for interviews, you’ll discover it’s not quite as complicated as it may seem! Let’s break it down below. 

First, you need to download and complete the NET application form, then send it, along with the required documents, to the NET team. You’ll usually need to send copies of your degree, TEFL certificate and any other teaching qualifications, as well as your CV. You can either download the application form yourself or it’s also possible to apply directly online through a recruiter. The deadline for this is usually between February and March, but most schools won’t hire any new teachers until they know how many vacancies they have at the end of the school year in May, with new NET contracts starting in August.

If your application is successful and you’re shortlisted, the next stage involves an interview lasting between 45 minutes to an hour. The interview stage is divided into two sections. The first part is spoken, usually lasting around 30 minutes. You’ll be asked about your own teaching philosophy and experience as well as your knowledge of the local curriculum in Hong Kong. Don’t worry if you don’t know this now - it’s easy to find information on both primary and secondary school curriculums. 

NET scheme in Hong Kong FAQs

  • Q. What is the NET scheme in Hong Kong?

    NET is a government-run scheme in Hong Kong that places English teachers within public sector primary and secondary schools on two-year contracts with the aim of improving English learning and language skills. 

  • Q. How do I apply for the NET scheme?

    The application process for the NET scheme is broken down into several stages. First, you need to download and send the application form after which, if you are successful, you’ll be invited for an initial interview. This forms two parts - with a spoken and written component. Successful candidates are then assigned a category and recommended to relevant schools, who choose which candidates they wish to interview and, ultimately, hire. 

  • Q. How much do NET teachers earn in Hong Kong?

    Teachers on the NET scheme in Hong Kong can expect an excellent salary, usually between $30,000 - $70,000 HKD (£3190 - £7450 GBP / $3820 - $8915 USD). Don’t forget the placements also come with great benefits too, like housing allowance and yearly performance-based increases. 

  • Q. Are non-native English speakers accepted onto NET?

    Yes! While the name might suggest otherwise, it is possible to apply even if you're not a native English teacher. You’ll have to evidence your fluency level and may find it trickier to secure a job but non-native speakers have gone on to land NET jobs in the past.

  • Q. Do I need a degree for NET?

    Yes, a degree is a must for the NET scheme. It’s possible to apply with a BA in any subject, however, those with a relevant qualification (including English or Education) are strongly preferred. 

  • Q. Do I need a TEFL qualification for NET?

    A TEFL is another non-negotiable requirement for joining the NET scheme. You must have a TEFL qualification at either certificate or diploma level, with a minimum of 100 hours and including a practical component. 

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