Requirements to Teach English in China: Do You Meet Them?

Liz Smith
Liz Smith

Liz Smith left the daily grind in the States to travel the world with her husband. Eventually teaching English in China & loving it, she began sharing her experience with others who are interested in embarking on this new adventure!

 / Dec 31, 2018

Are you an English teacher and looking for a teaching job in China? If yes, then you need to be sure that you meet all the requirements in order to qualify for a teaching job in China. The requirements that qualify a person to offer English lessons in China may vary slightly from province to province, as well as from one city to another. However, there are minimum requirements that cut across all the places in China that you must know about prior to applying for an English teaching job. 


#1: You Must Have (or Can Obtain) a Valid Passport 


You will require a passport so that you can travel from your country to China. If you don’t yet have a passport, then you can still apply for a job to teach in China. However, if you are offered a job right away then the process will be delayed until you get your passport (which can take up to 1 month).


So it’s our recommendation that if you are really interested in teaching in China, you go ahead and begin the passport process if you don’t already have one. If you are a US citizen, here are the steps to get your US Passport.


Apart from having a valid passport, moving to China to teach English will also require you to apply for a legal working visa. In China, you will need a Z visa to teach English.  Our visa services team will help walk candidates through this process and advise on the documentation needed when it gets to that point.


#2: Have at least a Bachelor’s Degree


For you to qualify to teach English in China, you will also be required to be a graduate from a reputable college or university. Therefore, if you do not have at least a bachelor’s degree, then you should not waste your time trying to apply for an English teaching job in China. 


A college degree is required in order to obtain a legal Z working visa to teach in China.


Before applying for a teaching job in China, ensure you have completed your degree or will complete it very soon.  You will need to get notarized / authenticated copies of your degree in order to complete the Z visa process to move to China. If you do not have a bachelors degree, then you will not qualify for a legal working visa in China.


#3: You Must have a TEFL Certificate (if you didn’t get a teaching degree)


In addition to possessing at least a bachelor’s degree, the Chinese government requires that you also have some ability to teach the English language properly. If you have a degree from your University in teaching, then that will usually be sufficient. However, many people who teach in China did NOT graduate with a teaching degree.


If you didn’t graduate with a teaching degree, then you will also need to earn a TEFL i.e. Teach English as a Foreign Language certificate. If you do not have a TEFL certificate, don’t get scared since the process of getting one is not that difficult. 


One of the advantages of TEFL certificates is that there are available in a number of choices and they are normally offered by different providers. Some of the types of TEFL certificates include Cert TESOL, TESOL certificate, Dip TESOL and CELTA among others. 


However, not all firms dealing with TEFL certificates are legit, and some online schools in particular are not accepted in China. You need to be sure that the course is at least 120 hours, and that it includes actual teaching practice. Lastly, if it’s an online TEFL then be sure the certificate does not say “online” otherwise it might not be accepted in China. 


To make the TEFL process easier, Career China actually has a partnership with some acceptable TEFL providers at a discount! Even better, we also have some jobs available that will offer some type of reimbursement for your TEFL expenses too.  So be sure to ask our Career Counselors about this. 


#4. You Must Be From a Native English-Speaking Country


Due to the rapid growth of English-language learning in China, the ESL teaching industry has had a steady demand for English teachers. However, that demand led to some schools hiring teachers who had a limited grasp of the English language.


Therefore, to maintain a standard quality level for English teachers in China, the government has imposed a restriction to only hire teachers from Native English-speaking countries.  There may sometimes be exceptions to this rule based on the quality of the candidate and if they have a very high level of English fluency; however, this would be rare.



Do You Meet All the ESL Teaching Requirements in China?


These are the primary requirements to teach English in China. Some provinces / cities or schools will require at least 2 years of teaching experience, but that’s not always the case. So it is still possible for recent college graduates to get a teaching job in China right away. As long as you have these main requirements, then you are set to begin your next adventure teaching in China!


Ready to begin your adventure. Click here to browse our job opportunities and apply online today!


To learn more about living and working in China, check out The Ultimate Guide for Moving to China



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Liz Smith

Liz Smith left the daily grind in the States to travel the world with her husband. Eventually teaching English in China & loving it, she began sharing her experience with others who are interested in embarking on this new adventure!