Ok, this is not a DEFINITIVE guide or complete truth about the TEFL prospects in Hong Kong, but it is only something which I have observed myself after being in Hong Kong for the last 2 months...so here goes.
Education requirements -
Most organisations do not specify the precise TEFL requirement needed, but I would go with a CELTA requirement (although I have seen some taking TEFL online certifications).
They do however like experience, especially with very young children (teaching experience of Phonetics seems to be massive plus) or with educating English for use in Business users (this also seems to be a big YES over here).
Job Prospects -
Allegedly, on the websites and newspapers, there are MANY English teaching jobs (included in this is an abundance of Native English teaching roles). Organisations range from Schools or many primary school tuition centres.
Working Conditions -
LONG! My working hours are 9am to 7pm, Wednesday to Sunday. And I can tell you now that Saturday and Sunday are the busiest days of the week! Long, busy, but time does seem to flow by quickly and if you like teaching, I don't think you will mind. The kids can be a real nightmare, but you learn tips and tricks in how to deal with them along the way.
I guess I need to make things clearer now. I am a BBC (British Born Chinese) and speak the language in Hong Kong (cantonese). I am a Medical Biology Graduate with a CELTA under my belt.
I came to Hong Kong in June and have found finding a Native English Teaching job very difficult to come by. Fortunatly, I am working, but not in my ideal English teaching role (working for Kumon teaching English). I'm not whinging about things being unfair or anything, but hoped that this would provide those out there who wanted to follow in my footsteps with a better understanding of what they were getting into. Points I would like to make:
Salary - You're looking at about HKD$7000 plus a month. Apparently, Schools offer better working conditions but tuition centres offer a much higher wage (allegedly starting at HKD$16,000 per month!).
When to apply? - As soon as possible. And I'm talking about February or March! I've more than likely learnt the hard way but hoping to apply for jobs in Hong Kong in May and get one with a month or two. All the good jobs will have been taken.
Education Requirements - As I've said before, the TEFL isn't 100% specified...but my personal opinion would be the CELTA.
Note - I have been informed by many close friends that as of 2010, a PGCE is a must for many schools in Hong Kong due to recent regulation changes to teach English in Hong Kong schools...which I found to be a real shame. Again, salaries for these schools can range from HKD$10,000 to HKD$16,000.
Other facts - I don't want to start any racial discrimination flamming, but to increase your chances of getting a job in Hong Kong, ONE way is to be as non-chinese as possible )please bear in mind one way).
Imagine the scenario. If you are a parent in Hong Kong and you are sending your child to a tuition centre to learn English, you expect the teacher to be someone who speaks English, and what better way to do that than by having a Teacher who looks as non-chinese as possible.
Now please don't get me wrong, I'm teaching English at the moment and have shocked (with a little satisfaction) some of the parents with my English as they were not expecting this and many parents have encouraged their children to speak only English with them (which I do anyway!). But the point I'm trying to make is that the HK employer who accepted me saw past the appearance for which, I am very grateful for. Many agencies do not see things this way, which I guess is unstandable in a way.
So, a break down of my personal opinions about getting a Native English Job in HK:
1. - TEFL (I prefer a CELTA) AND a PGCE.
2. - Working Conditions are very long, but time flows by quickly during busy times and teaching is a real joy when you notice the students learning.
3. - Salary isn't so bad at an average of HKD$8000 per month, but bear in mind that the average rent in HK is about HKD$4000 for a single flat (bedroom, toilet, kitchen, living room = TINY), but living standards in HK are quite low and should be able to get by quite easily on the remaining wages.
4. - Your employments chances do increase if you are caucasian or non-Chinese. But it doesn't mean it is impossible for a Chinese person to get a English job in Hong Kong. It just requires more effort and greater networking!
Just my personal opinions! I'd love to hear yours! Hopefully, I can update this in the future with more about my experiences!