Once you start thinking about teaching in China, you want to find out what candidates get the best teaching jobs in the country.
To learn this, you need to be aware of the requirements to teach English in China.
While education, age, international certificates, and citizenship are among the most important criteria, there are more details you want to know.
Keep reading our article to find up-to-date English teacher requirements.
Actually, there are some general requirements for ESL teacher applicants on the governmental level.
However, each province and even school can change common requirements the way they need.
The thing is that learning English in China is becoming more and more popular.
Thus, English classes are in demand everywhere across China – from the largest metropolises to the smallest province towns.
Taking into account the fact that the most qualified English native teachers prefer tier-1 cities over other possible places, small towns often lack ESL teachers.
So, they can lower their requirements in order to interest a teacher who can’t find a job in a metropolis.
Thus, if your education or qualifications don’t meet general requirements, it doesn’t mean you can’t teach in China.
You’ll just spend more time looking for an institution that can offer you a teaching position.
So, what exactly are the requirements to teach English in China? The full list is below.
You won’t be surprised if we say you must be an educated person to teach English in China, will you? Having a degree is one of the most important teaching English in China requirements.
The Chinese government demands applicants for teaching jobs in China to be university graduates, and there are several reasons for it, for example:
- If you’re going to work in China legally, you need to get a Z visa. And one of the requirements for obtaining this type of visa is having a bachelor’s degree.
- Applicants for teaching positions need to have a document that proves they have higher education on the governmental level.
Do you need a bachelor degree to teach English in China?
You need to have at least a bachelor’s degree.
However, the good news is your specialty doesn’t matter. Thus, if you’re an engineer who wants to start a teaching career in China, you have all chances to succeed.
Another question is you’ll have to change your qualifications in order to have the right to teach.
But the topic of the diploma you’ve got at university still doesn’t matter.
One more thing we want to point out here is that sometimes you can work in China without a degree. How is it possible?
The answer is an internship.
If you go to China in order to continue your studies in the field of teaching, you have a chance to do your internship in the country.
However, the conditions vary from university to university, so it’s essential to learn all the details in advance.
Teaching certification (TEFL/TESOL/TOEFL etc.)
Providing a teaching certificate to your school is one of the main requirements to teach English in China.
There are several certificates that give you the right to teach in China. Let’s have a look at the most popular ones.
- As a rule, TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) is in demand most of all. Chinese schools usually ask for a 120-hour certificate that is enough to become a confident English teacher.
We’d like to mention though, that there are two types of TEFL programs – face-to-face and online.
You want to be careful here since not all schools are willing to accept online certificates.
That’s why it’s crucial to find out in advance whether your employer in China acknowledges certificates that were obtained online.
Anyway, obtaining the TEFL certificate is a great advantage for ESL teachers in general as it gives an opportunity to teach English to non-native speakers all over the world.
- TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) is the second popular certificate that can prove your qualifications for teaching English. Although TEFL and TESOL are quite similar exams, there’s a slight difference. With the TESOL certificate, you can teach English in both non-English speaking countries and English-speaking ones.
- CELTA (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) is a certificate issued by the Cambridge University. It proves you have all the necessary skills to teach English as a second language.
CELTA preparation includes knowledge and techniques you need to apply in a classroom. Practice hours help you get ready to different teaching situations that can take place in at a real lesson.
- TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is an exam that is valid in more than 130 countries of the world and proves your adequate ability to use and understand English.
This exam is usually needed if you’re going to study or work abroad. Although TOEFL isn’t a test that determines your professional teaching skills, it might be enough for some educational institutions.
If you have TOEFL certificate, clarify whether your school is ready to accept it or you need to pass TEFL/ TESOL/ CELTA.
Speaking about ESL teaching requirements for applicants eager to work in China, citizenship ones are of great importance.
Chinese schools and English language courses are willing their teachers to be natives. But why is it so?
There are thousands of non-native teachers all over the world who have great teaching experience and hundreds of satisfied students.
They help their students become confident English speakers.
Some of them prepare their students to international exams, let alone entrance examinations for local universities…
Still, natives are in more demand.
So, what are the advantages of native teachers over those whose mother tongue isn’t English?
The thing is that a native speaker can not only teach you how to use grammar and vocabulary.
He/she can help you sound like English. Admit it, even the most talented non-native ESL teacher will have a slight accent.
Moreover, natives can share a lot of cultural experience and broaden the horizons of Chinese (and not only Chinese) students.
Thus, Chinese educational institutions prefer the UK, USA, Canada, Ireland, Australia, South Africa or New Zealand citizens over other candidates.
But again, taking into account the fact that English teachers are in demand all year round, many employers can consider applicants from other countries.
We have prepared step-by-step guides for native speakers on how to get a work Z visa to teach English in China, feel free to check them and learn how it works:
If you’re applying for one of the teaching jobs in China, you need to have 2 years of working experience.
The good thing about this requirement is that it can be experience in any sphere.
In case you have never taught before, it will be great if you have worked at a position similar to teaching.
For example, former nannies or camp counselors are great candidates if they plan to work with young children.
Nevertheless, in spite of your previous experience, it’s possible to get a good offer among many English teaching jobs in China.
Personal and professional skills
Although this isn’t listed among the teaching English in China requirements, you need to be a good teacher. What does it mean?
Well, first of all, it means that you’re prepared for work as an ESL teacher.
You either have a degree in teaching and relevant experience in your home country or TEFL certificate that allows you to teach English all over the world.
Secondly, a good teacher is passionate about his/her job. It’s unlikely that a person who doesn’t like teaching can interest students or improve their level.
Finally, a good teacher is a good person. He/she is attentive to his/her students, ready to help and to explain.
A good teacher is the one loved and respected by his/her students.
Do you feel the above mentioned describes you?
Then, don’t hesitate to start looking for a teaching job of your dream in China.
Here’s our complete guide on How to Successfully Teach English to Chinese Students.
Requirements to teach English in China include age as one of the crucial factors that influence an employer’s choice.
As teaching in China legally implies getting the work visa, teachers (as well as applicants of any other profession) are supposed to fit the 18-60 age range.
However, you might come across other numbers on the Internet.
For example, a lot of online sources say an ESL teacher should be 24-55 years old in order to get the desired position.
It is possibly connected with the requirement to have at least 2 years of experience.
Still, every educational institution in China can have its own requirements as for the age.
So addressing a school where you’re going to teach with this question directly is a sensible decision.
China is becoming more open to the western world, and the demand for learning English is a great example of the broad-mindedness of Chinese people.
It’s a well-known fact that the major Chinese cities are becoming more multicultural, and meeting a foreigner on the street in China isn’t unusual nowadays.
However, you can sometimes come across schools that require a teacher to be of particular sex, race, or gender.
The reasons for this requirement are rooted in Chinese culture. So if you aren’t offered a position you wanted because of gender, don’t take it personally.
Remember that there’re plenty of teaching jobs in China, and you’ll be able to find one.
A federal background check (Criminal record check)
Generally, applicants looking for English teaching jobs in China are required to supply a criminal record check.
Why is it important? Well, employers want to make sure they hire honest and reliable people, especially when it comes to working with children.
So what should your criminal record be to meet teaching English in China requirements?
Those who have a clean record have nothing to worry about. If you’ve never had any problems with the police in your country or abroad, you’re a perfect candidate for a teaching position.
In case you have some misdemeanor records, they don’t necessarily threaten your English-teaching career abroad.
People make mistakes, and it’s normal. Employers don’t care much if you have a speeding or underage drinking records.
That’s why minor offenses aren’t usually obstacles to teaching abroad.
Serious crimes are another story. If you have ever been accused of serious crimes like sexual harassment, domestic violence, or murder, you can forget about teaching in China.
Anyway, criminal check requirements vary from city to city, and even from school to school.
So, our universal piece of advice is to clarify everything with your potential employer in advance.
Only hiring managers of a particular institution can tell you the most truthful, precise, and up-to-date information.
You can find more information about the process of criminal record visiting the official resources:
A medical check is one of the requirements to teach English in China in terms of getting a work visa.
If you’re going to work in the country legally, you’ll have to obtain a Z visa which implies carrying out a medical check.
The check takes place once you arrive in China. You’re required to go to a state hospital within 30 days since your arrival.
The aim of the in-China medical test is to make sure you don’t carry any infectious disease that can threaten other people.
Although the procedure takes about an hour, you’ll need to take a lot of tests. Get ready for blood and urine tests, electrocardiogram and ultrasound, pulse and blood pressure tests, breathing regularity, height, and weight check.
Also, vision test and X-Rays are parts of the medical check.
Once you finish with all medical tests, you’ll get the results within a couple of days.
A medical test this thorough usually saves you the trouble of undergoing this procedure in your home country. But again, keep in mind that different schools have different requirements.
For example, some might ask you to fill out a medical form before you apply for a work visa, i.e. you need to see the doctor while you’re in your home country.
With that said, medical check requirements for teaching jobs in China might differ, so everything should be clarified in advance.
More often than not, Chinese kindergartens, schools, and private English courses offer foreign teachers a 1-year contract. Sometimes, you can be offered a 15-month collaboration.
This very length is determined by several factors:
- Schools usually hire ESL teachers at the beginning of the school year. It gives teachers the opportunity to get ready for specific programs they need to teach.
- It’s supposed that teachers don’t change during the year in order not to cause inconvenience for students. The thing is that English learners in China don’t make friends with new people easily, especially foreigners. It’s not because they are unfriendly, but because of cultural differences. So you can imagine how uncomfortable they will feel if teachers change often.
If you don’t feel like signing a long contract the first time you go to China, it’s possible to find a less prolonged offer provided deeper research. For example, some English schools in China hire ESL teachers only for summer.
It can be a great opportunity for you to try this kind of program and decide whether you’d like to continue working in China.
Whatever contract length you choose, make sure you read everything stated in the contract carefully.
Check all conditions of your cooperation with a school. Clarify the points that seem vague. Sign only a bilingual contract.
Costs to get started
Despite the fact that you are going to China to earn money, you’ll have to bring some amount with you.
Plus, you’ll have some expenses before you get a position at school.
Below, you’ll find the list of three top expenses you need to be ready for.
As a rule, you pay for tickets on your own.
The price can vary considerably depending on your departure and destination points, airlines you use, and travel class you choose.
Let’s consider an example of London – Beijing one-way trip. The first site we found on Google – some Dutch airlines – offers the following option.
You fly from London City Airport to Capital International Airport in Beijing with one transfer in Amsterdam.
This is an economy class flight that lasts 13.35 hours and costs 570£ (or 721.05$).
The price isn’t too high and one can afford it. However, there is great news for you. A lot of schools offer flight tickets reimbursement at the end of a contract. So you have a chance to get all your money back.
Just like flight cost, the visa expenses also differ. The price you need to pay depends on:
- Your country of citizenship
- The way you apply for a visa – in person in an embassy or by post
- The service you choose for getting your visa – regular, express, or rush one
- Whether you solve all visa matters on your own or address for the help of visa agent
- The type of visa you choose. Although only Z visa gives you the right to work in China legally, some employers hire foreign workers with other visa types.
In general, a work visa to China costs from 100$ to 140$ on condition that you do everything on your own and choose regular service.
Living the first month in China
This is where you’ll have the greatest expenses since you’ll have to move around the town, eat something, and of course, live somewhere.
No need to mention that renting a flat is the most expensive thing to pay for. And as you don’t have your first salary in China by the time you come here, you’ll have to bring some money with you.
So, how much money do you need?
It depends on several factors:
- City where you live. It’s clear that tier-1 cities offer the most expensive apartments while smaller ones have moderate rent prices.
- Part of the city. Whether you live in the city center or in the suburbs also influences the price.
- Sharing a flat is definitely cheaper than renting it alone.
- The number of rooms in a flat. The fewer rooms you need, the cheaper a flat costs.
- Additional services like addressing a renting agent for help. If you use this service, you’ll be charged an extra fee.
Once you find a flat that meets your requirements, you’ll need the sum to pay for several months ahead. Landlords usually ask to pay for three or six months – it’s a common scheme in China.
Plus, you’ll have to leave a deposit for your landlord which you’ll take back when you move out.
Finally, if you use rental agency services, it will cost you 35% of the monthly rent cost.
So, how much is that in total?
Let’s say, you choose a one-room apartment not far from downtown in Shanghai. Monthly rent for it is about 4000 RMB. Thus, you need 12,000 RMB for the first three months, 4,000 RMB for a deposit, and 1,400 RMB for agency services.
If you convert this sum to dollars, it will be 2,543$.
The good news is that we provide all our teachers with free accommodation in any city in China.
But the beauty of teaching English in China is that most schools provide you with housing. So more often than not, you don’t need to worry about it at all.
Finally, don’t forget to take some money for transport and food. It will cost you much less than the rent, and 700$ should be more than enough.