Shanghai City Profile

Shanghai is the commercial capital of China and one of the best emerging market cities in which to launch a career. Many of the international careerists featured on this site are making their mark in this dynamic city.


The city of Shanghai is located on the Yangtze River Delta on China’s east coast with suburbs extending to the Pacific Ocean and East China Sea.  The majority of the terrain is flat with a few hilly areas in the southwest corner of the city. Due to its coastal location and warm climate ensuring ice-free waters, along with easy access to interior locations, Shanghai is one of the world’s largest port cities for import/export.


The city’s approximate population is 23 million, with about 9 million migrants.  During the past decade, the city population density has grown from 2,588 people per square kilometer in 2000 to 3,600 for each square kilometer in 2010.  Of the 9 million migrants, about 2 million were in the city for a short stay, mostly to obtain needed medical services, leaving 7 million who lived in the city for longer than six months.

Mandarin is the primary language spoken due to the large numbers of Mandarin speakers in China. Shanghainese is a dialect of Wu spoken by about 15 million people in Shanghai.

Economy and Career Opportunities for Shanghai Jobs

Shanghai’s GDP grew 9.9 percent in 2010 which represents a drop of four percentage points from the national average of 10.3 percent. Analysts attribute the drop to the city’s efforts to restructure its pattern of economic growth to be more service-oriented than manufacturing-based.

Shanghai is the largest port in China in and has evolved into an international center of trade, finance, technology, and culture.

Shanghai has the largest industrial base in China with 166 different types of industries. Oil and chemistry industries are rapidly developing and include more than 20 specialized fields.  The car industry is also growing and Dazhong Car Co Ltd, manufactures about 2000 Shanhai-Sanata cars each year. Other popular products include home appliances, satellite communication equipment, and fiber-optic networks.

Shanghai is the largest commercial center in China. Major employers include Bank of China, Citigroup, Bank of America, Credit Lyonnais, Royal Bank of Canada, Nokia and offers tremendous career opportunities for those interested in pursuing careers in banking and finance, telecommunications, and engineering.

Average monthly disposable income (after tax): $589.67 (as of April 2011).

Job Boards for Shanghai Jobs

In this list we’re only considering English-language job boards. Nonetheless, you may find that some of the Shanghai job positions posted on these boards require fluent- or native-level Chinese — it definitely helps to be bilingual in China.

1 ) CareerEngine

Good variety of opportunities for jobs in Shanghai from well-known employers: HR, engineering, IT, sales, marketing, among others.

2 ) Monster Hong Kong

Also posts listings for Mainland China

3 ) Jobs in China

China’s number 1 international job board

4 ) Zhaopin

This huge government-licensed Chinese job board mixes English and Chinese postings together. Zhaopin Ltd, founded in 1997, originally started as a headhunting firm called Alliance Executive Search in 1994.

5 ) Matchdragon

Caters to jobs in Shanghai for English speakers.

6 ) China

China regional job aggregator

7 ) eFinancialCareers China

eFinancial Careers China is part of a global network of career sites for those seeking jobs in China in banking and finance .

8 ) My China Start-Careers

Great site that lists the links to job boards and other job information throughout China

Chambers of Commerce/Business Associations

There are a wide variety of business associations and Chambers of Commerce in Shanghai that you may contact for networking and job leads. For a list of over 20 such organizations visit: and visit

Cost of Living in Shanghai

What follows is a breakdown of the average cost of utility and apartment various expenses when living in Shanghai by $USD.

Monthly rent

One bedroom in city center: $725.17

One bedroom outside of city center: $368.65

Monthly Utilities

Electricity, gas, water, trash: $36.03

1 minute of Prepaid Mobile Tariff (no discount): $0.04

Internet (6 Mbps, Flat rate, Cable/DSL: $21.75

For a full cost of living including food, transportation, clothing, recreation, visit: This site offers the option of converting USD to different currencies.

Visa Process

Common Chinese visas are the L visa for tourists; the F visa for businesses, the X visa for study and the Z visa for work.  For each type of visa, you need to apply at the embassy consulate with

  • A completed visa application form.
  • A passport photo.
  • A passport that is valid for at least 6 months beyond the date of entry to the country.

For an L visa (which you will need to attend any interviews) you will your itinerary which basically just means where you will travel once in the country.

For a Z visa (once accepted for a job)  you will also need a work permit from the Labor Ministry or bureau of Foreign experts, and an invitation letter from your future employer (your employer should help you with these steps.

Visa duration: The basic length of the visa is 30 days, but you can extend up to 3 months.

A “Z” visa (work Visa) is issued to foreigners who are going to be employed in China, and their family members:

Step 1: Apply for an employment license (11 working days).

Step 2: Convert your current Business (F) or Tourist (L) visa into a 2-month Z visa without leaving China (5 working days).

Step 3. Apply for an employment permit. (5 working days)

Step: 4 Apply for residence permit for one year, (5 working days)

Visa Cost:

U.S. Citizens: $50. For single visa up to 30 days

Non U.S. Citizens: $30. For single visa up to 30 days


In the U.K. and Europe, visa processing generally takes form 3-4 business days. In the U.S. the time frame is typically four business days.  It would be wise to give yourself some extra time for unforeseen events and apply 1-2 months in advance.

Postal Applications

Embassies and consulates in the U.S. , Canada, and the longer accept applications by mail. Postal applications are accepted by New Zealand and Australia but not preferred by those embassies.  You should include a postage paid, self-addressed envelope with your application. Note: some embassies have a separate postal address so check their Web site to be sure where to send you materials.

Where to apply for a Chinese Visa

The best method is to get your visa application process completed in your own country through your embassy.  However, there are embassies throughout the world where you can complete the application process.  For a listing of these embassies, visit:

Web Sites for the Expat Living in Shanghai

1. Expat Shanghai. Comprehensive a-Z listing of services and businesses in Shanghai along with complete guide to relocation.

2. Shanghai Expat.An online resource for Shanghai expats on relocating and living in Shanghai, Also provides expat forums, practical advice and special offers”

3. Allotexpat-Shanghai. Allo’ Expat has designed dedicated online forums and classified section in order for the expatriate community to communicate everyday by posting ads, messages, tips and also to share and trade their own information and goods making their expatriate life a lot easier”

4. Shanghai Expat AssociationNon profit multinational organization established to provide a social and cultural network for expats and their families in Shanghai and is one of the largest groups of its kind in China.”

5. My China Start. Great resource for expats living in China. Contains a wide variety of very useful links about Hong Kong and other cities of China