Am I Qualified to Teach in China?
A question many potential applicants will ask themselves (and Google!) when considering a role teaching in China. Also a question that isn’t made easier when browsing through conflicting search engine results and TEFL forum postings!
Here are some of the most common asked questions and the cold hard facts about eligibility for teaching in China…
What are the requirements to work as a teacher in China?
The answer to this question depends on where you want to teach in China (more on this later), but broadly speaking, the requirements to apply for a Z working visa to teach in China are as follows:
-Bachelor’s degree in and subject
-Two years relevant work experience /or a TEFL, TESOL or CELTA
-Clean criminal record
-Passport from a Native English Speaking Country
Many schools also have a minimum age requirement of 22, but this is certainly not the case across the board, with an increasing number of cities relaxing minimum age requirements to 21, widening the opportunities to more recent graduates.
Remember different schools have different requirements to match their own needs. Find out detailed information on our Job Board.
Is there a minimum grade classification for the Bachelor’s Degree?
Schools in China do not require minimum degree grade classification. They are keener on hiring teacher with the right kind of personality in addition to their degree. You could have a 1st class honors or a 4.0 Grade Point Average but fall short of the personal specifications required by most schools. In the same way you could have attained a Pass or a 1.3 GPA and match the requirements perfectly. Great success in your degree does not necessarily conflate to great success in a teaching role in China.
What will put me ahead of other candidates?
Personality, personality, personality. China utilizes a rote system of learning, meaning students are taught to memorize and repeat huge amounts of information when learning English in their regular schools classes. Your role is to make up for the shortfall this causes in communication skills among students in China.
If you are an energetic, enthusiastic and passionate individual who is able to both, command the attention of those around you and inspire and motivate them to communicate with improved confidence, then you’re exactly the type of person a school will be looking for.
See our guide on Nailing your TEFL Interview for more information.
What if I don’t have 2 years relevant work experience and/or a TEFL Certificate?
First, lets cover the 2 year rule!
Many of the rules affecting visa legislation for foreigners are set by the cities not by the central Ministry of Labor. So attaining a Z work visa as a teacher without 2 years of experience in a very large first tier, such as Beijing or Shanghai would be tougher than in smaller (by China standards!) first or second tier city, such as Fuzhou or Hangzhou.
Now for TEFL, TESOL or CELTAs.
Due to the high demand, the 2 year rule is relaxed by the majority of cities and provinces in China, allowing teachers to attain a Z visa by completing a TEFL qualification in its place.
Most candidates do not hold a TEFL certificate when they apply for a role, which is absolutely fine. The minimum requirement from most schools is a minimum 120 hour online TEFL certificate, which can be completed after being offered and accepting a role at a school.
Many cities now allow graduates of English Language of Education based bachelor’s degrees to forgo both TEFL qualification and 2 years experience.
Some cities may require candidates to complete a specially devised TEFL in China course to meet their requirements in lieu of 2 years experience.
I have no teaching experience at all, and no experience related to teaching, is it worth applying?
Absolutely! As mentioned earlier, it’s not about grades or practical experience, some entry level roles and schools will work to train support you in your role as you progress. The most important thing is your drive, determination and personality.
Relevant experience is also not just confined to practical in-class teaching experience. Have you ever supported a younger sibling or family member? Have tutored a musical instrument, coached a sports team or led a workshop, or trained colleagues? These are all relevant and vital bits of experience, proving you have been able to motivate, impart knowledge and inspire.
I am a non-native speaker, can I still teach in China?
It’s tough, but not impossible! It used to be that a degree from a native English speaking country was enough, but an increasing number of cities in China are implementing tighter rules regarding non-native applicants.
It is still worth applying if you fit the profile, but unfortunately you wouldn’t be able to expect the range of opportunities available to native speaking passport holder.
What will I need to do to apply for a work visa?
Schools in China now require evidence of your qualifications and criminal record background to authenticated. This is a bit of a bureaucratic process that involves several steps. Please see Opportunity China’s Guide to Authenticating Documents for China for more information.