One of the easiest jobs to get in China is English teacher. You don’t even have to speak Chinese to get such a job. But as time goes on, the market for English teachers is likely to change and jobs will probably be harder to get. Therefore it is best to at least know some Chinese before you go. As a matter of survival knowing how to count to ten and ask where the bathroom is would probably be a good idea. Fortunately, there are any number of ways to pick up the Chinese language. You could make friends with someone from China and get them to tutor you. By the way, there are different dialects in China. So getting a person who speaks Cantonese to tutor you could be useless in most of China since the principal language is Mandarin. But if you are going to a province where Cantonese is the main language, learning that language could be a good thing.
If you are ever on iTunes to check out the music, wander on over to the iPod section and check out the language instruction. You may find some free beginning instruction in Mandarin. If you want to learn to speak, read, or even write Chinese, Google is your friend. Another place to pick up the language is at various travel forums around the web.
A more recent way to get employment is open mainly to Caucasian foreigners. If someone wants to say this is racist I won’t argue but these are the facts. Again, you don’t need to speak Chinese to do this job. What you will need is to be a man–yes it’s sexist too–and to look half way decent in a suit. You will play one of two roles. Either the corporate slave master or the foreign Angel. As a corporate slave master you stand around sweating in your ill-fitting suit looking angry and impatient. The foreman brings some complaining workers together and points at you and says something like “I would like to meet your demands but our European owner is a slave driver. He demands more work and is thinking of paying you less or even firing you if you keep complaining.”
Or you could play the part of the foreign Angel. The foreman brings together some slackers who need a little incentive and says: “See that American over there? He is thinking of investing in the company and making all our jobs better, and giving us raises and better working conditions but only if we can show him we are worth the money by doubling our output.”