Being an English teacher is a great way to see the world and teaching English in China is one of the most rewarding experiences a person can have. There are a lot of resources online but first you need to answer some basic questions.

Can I teach English in China without a degree? Can I choose where to teach? How do you find a reputable school? Which areas of China are the best to teach in? How many students will I teach? Do I need TEFL or CELTA to teach English in China? How do I get a work visa?

These are all questions that we asked before moving to China and are now here to answer in this article, and in the articles to follow.

teaching english in china frequently asked questions

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1. Can I teach English in China without a university degree?

This question often comes up on forums all over the internet and the replies are often vehemently defended by opposing parties. The real answer is yes! Teaching English in China without a degree is more common than you may think.

**UPDATE 2018:

You must have a degree to teach English in China, this is now the law. Given the fact that the degree doesn’t need to be in an education related field, we think this is a bit bizarre, but, it’s the law.

Not sure if you want to pack up your life and move to China? There’s another option – you can Teach English online from home, or anywhere in the world! If you’re from Canada or the United States, check out VIPKID and get paid to teach English online to Chinese students. If you’re not from North America, don’t worry, you can still teach online. Check out our article for details:

Teach English Online: Get Paid With These Top 5 Companies

2. What is TEFL/TESOL/CELTA? Do I need one to teach English in China?

There are many different forms of these certificates all with different acronyms. TEFL stands for “Teaching English as a Foreign Language”, TESOL stands for “Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages“, and CELTA stands for “Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults.” Basically they are all the same. They give you the credentials to teach English as a second language.

TESOL CELTA TEFL ESL for Teaching English In China
TESOL Is Useful, But Not Obligatory For Teaching English In China

CELTA is definitely the most recognized as it is a Cambridge university administered course. But all of these certificates are internationally accepted. It is recommended that you have such a certificate to teach English because the course will teach you the basics of classroom management, lesson planning and new language introduction.

By law, you need to have one of these certificates in order to teach. It will also help your odds of getting a job.

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3. How do I find a job teaching English in China?

Dave's ESL Cafe For Teaching English In ChinaThere are a lot of resources for finding jobs teaching English in China. If you get your TEFL certificate through MyTefl and save up to 35% off of courses. They will help you with job placement.

If not, you can check out Dave’s ESL Cafe or Here you will find hundreds of job postings for places all over the world, but because you are looking for a job teaching English in China, you will want to click on the appropriate job board.

Have your resume ready (preferably with some kind of previous teaching experience) and send it off to as many schools you wish. Keep in mind that there are a lot of bad contracts out there, so be diligent in choosing your employer.

**UPDATE, 2018: We are now recruiting teachers for schools in China. If you hold a University Degree, TEFL Certificate and come from an English speaking country, please send us an email.

4. What is a recruiter? Are they free? Should I use one?

Recruiters Can Be Useful When Starting Teaching English In China
Recruiters Can Be Useful

A recruiter is an agent hired by the school to help them hire new teachers. Because the demand for foreign teachers is so high (and constantly rising) schools have had to resort to employing recruiters to help bring teachers in from abroad.

The recruiter will be paid 100% by the school and this will in no way be reflected in your contract (If the recruiter expects payment by you, look elsewhere).

There is no harm in using a recruiter and if you find your job on ESL Dave, then you will likely be in contact with many.

**UPDATE, 2018: We are now recruiting teachers for schools in China. If you hold a University Degree, TEFL Certificate and come from an English speaking country, please send us an email.

5. How do I make sure that the school is reputable and legitimate?

Teaching English In ChinaThe biggest concern for teachers finding jobs in China is the reputation of their school. The web is full of horror stories about teachers signing horrible contracts that inevitably have them working too much for too little.

Despite the gory details of such claims, keep in mind that you are signing a legal document that requires you to teach, you are not signing away your soul to the devil. The best way to check the legitimacy of a school and its contract is to ask for the contact details of other foreign teachers who work there. Send them an email or give them a call, chances are they will be very honest with you and they can help you with your decisions (this is common practice).

Remember, if you don’t like the job, you can always quit and find another. You will have to forfeit any bonuses, but there are so many jobs in China that once you move here, you will probably be offered new jobs on a monthly basis.

6. How do I get a working visa to teach English in China?

Getting a working visa in China is not as straight forward as you may think. You first need a Z-VISA. This visa is transferable into a Foreign Expert’s Certificate (Working Visa) once you arrive in China. To obtain the Z-Visa you will need to complete a series of medical tests in your home country (see below for details) or a country besides China (they can be done in Hong Kong).

You will need to present the filled out medical forms, visa application forms, signed invitation letter (sent by your school), 2 passport photos, your passport and the appropriate funds to the Chinese embassy at which you apply.

Once you have obtained the Z-visa, you will be able to enter China for 30 days. During these 30 days you should head to the school that has employed you and they will help you complete another series of medical tests with a Chinese doctor (mandatory), as well apply for your Foreign Experts Certificate.

This can all be completed within a week with help from the Chinese staff at your school. After that, you’re ready to work in China!

Example Of A Chinese Z-Visa Needed for teaching english in china
Example Of A Chinese Z-Visa

7. What sort of medical tests do I need to complete to teach English in China?

Medical Tests Required for teaching english in china
Medical Tests Required

Everyone needs to complete 2 sets of medical exams in order to obtain a working visa for China. The first MUST be done in your home country or in another country besides China. The second series of exams will have to be completed once you are in China.

You will need these forms completed by your doctor at home. The tests include: ECG,  chest X-rays, blood tests, urine samples, HIV and hepatitis tests and a few others. Blood test results can take a long time so if your start date is sudden, get on these right away and tell your doctor you need them back ASAP.

Many doctors will simply sign off on the forms without questions, while others will insist you complete all of the tests and pay a fee before they return the signed document to you. The medical forms can be a bit of a hassle to complete but they ARE required.

8. How do I know if I’ve been offered a good teaching contract in China?

Signing Contracts For Teaching English In China
Signing Contracts

Teaching English in China is a great job … if you sign a great contract. New teachers definitely have to be weary of misleading and poorly written contracts.

The best types of contracts will be written in both Chinese and English on the same pages (so you don’t sign a Chinese version and English version separately). They should be written in proper English and they should clearly outline all hours, bonuses and salary. There should be no points where the contract leaves “possibilities for more hours”.

It should clearly state the maximum required working hours and the minimum salary as well as any bonuses and living allowances you are entitled to. Stay away from contracts that sound vague, require too many hours or leave too much up to the discretion of the employer. (ie: more hours required by teacher if needed).

Typical contracts will be for 1 year minimum, require 15-30 hours/week, offer living allowance, flight reimbursement, completion bonuses, medical insurance, retention bonuses, free Chinese lessons and a competitive salary (see below).

If you have a bad feeling about a contract, or you are unable to contact a foreign teacher associated with the school, look elsewhere. There are plenty other contracts waiting for you to sign.

Typical Contract For Teaching English In China (A Good One)
Typical Contract For Teaching English In China (A Good One)

9. How many hours will I work when teaching English in China?

Hours Teaching English In China

Typically, teachers in China are required to work between 15-30 hours per week total. Many schools require minimal teaching hours, while the rest is made up with “office time”. A contract that includes office hours is not a bad option because it often gives teachers time to write lesson plans and mark tests (time usually unpaid in other contracts).

10. How much do English teachers make in China?

Salaries can vary greatly in China depending on where you work, how many hours you work, which levels you teach and which school employs you. The lower end of the spectrum is around 5000RMB/month. This would be considered a poor salary.

Some teachers make as much as 20,000/month but these types of jobs are often full-time hours and can be very hard to find (as well as being reserved for experienced teachers with degrees). A good wage that you should expect to find quite easily is around 8,000 – 10,000 RMB / month. Usually, teachers also receive a living allowance (500-2,000 RMB depending on location) on top of their wage.

The taxes in China are very low, so you can expect to take home as much as 98% of this after tax. We were able to save $21,000 after just a year of teaching English!

Teaching English In China Salary
Teachers Pay Really Isn’t That Bad!

11. What are the best cities to live in when teaching English in China?

Best Places For Teaching English In ChinaThis of course depends on what sort of experiences you want to have and the type of lifestyle you hope to live. If you like the city life, then eastern China is definitely for you. You can live in the modern, hectic cosmopolitan cities like Shanghai and Beijing, or you can live in a small Chinese city of 5,000,000 people like Yangzhou or Nanjing.

Keep in mind that bigger cities usually pay more but this extra wage usually isn’t enough to cover inflated living expenses. Northern cities can be beautiful but temperatures drop to -30 degrees celsius for months at a time, so if you’re used to tropical weather, beware!

12. How much do apartments cost in China? How do I find an apartment in China? What are they like?

Finding an apartment is usually pretty easy. The costs will vary greatly depending on where you live. Try to get a contract that includes a living allowance but not one that supplies living quarters (supplied apartments are often small and uncomfortable). When you arrive in China, you should stay in a hotel for a few nights while looking for apartments. Your school should provide you with a ride and an agent who will help you pick the perfect place for you.

Don’t make the mistake of rushing into a place, find one you like and make sure you will be comfortable for the duration of your stay. In big cities like Shanghai, small one bedroom places can be as much as 3000 RMB but outside of the major cities you should be able to find a nice apartment (around 80 square meters) for as little as 2000 RMB.

Your apartment should be clean, modern and fully furnished. Try to find one with an en suite washing machine (very common in China) and a comfortable bed (not common in China). Most modern apartments have a wall mounted LCD tv in the living room and A/C / heating units in every room.

apartment in china
Moving in to our new apartment in Yangzhou, China.

13. Will the school help me get settled in China?

Wood CarvingThis is an important question that you should ask your potential employer during the interview process. Ensure that there is a good welfare program (foreign teacher help) at the school. Good schools will have designated welfare officers who are simply people who are employed to help the foreign staff. A school who is proud of their welfare program is often a good school to work for.

Our welfare assistant, Standy, helps us with everything from paying bills to translating menus, he is on call 24/7 and is always willing to drop what he’s doing to help the foreign teachers. Not all schools will have this type of amazing aid, but ensure that your school offers you some sort of help, at least when you first arrive.

Your assistant will likely become a good friend as well. Standy has been there for us from the start!

You will need help finding a place, setting up utilities, buying a cell phone and getting to know your new city. There should be someone at the school  to help you do these things once you arrive.

These were the questions we found ourselves asking before coming to China. Of course there are plenty more that we will think of and we will add them to Part 2 of this post in the weeks to come. If you have any questions you’d like answered, feel free to comment below and we’ll reply. China is an amazing place and if you have questions before coming, they’ll be answered when you get here and start experiencing your new life. We hope this helped answer a few of the questions you had!

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Nick Wharton & Dariece Swift

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Nick Wharton and Dariece Swift are the owners and founders of Goats On The Road. Together they have been travelling and working abroad since 2008 and have more than 20 years of combined experience in online business, finance, travel and entrepreneurship. Their expert advice has been featured on the Lonely Planet, CNN Money, Business Insider,  WiseBread and Forbes and they also spoke at the World Tourism Forum in Istanbul about the business of travel blogging.

Learn more about Nick Wharton and Dariece Swift on their respective author archives on this site and on the Goats On The Road About Us Page.

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141 thoughts on “Teaching English In China: Getting Started FAQ’s (Updated 2018)

  1. Hi there! My partner and I would like to start teaching English in China. Is it easy to get a job at the same school and have arrangements made in regards to sharing the same apartment etc? I would really appreciate any feedback, so that I will know what to point out during application. Thanks

  2. Hi Rochelle,

    It’s very easy to get a job at the same school as your partner. Often, they are looking for more than one teacher anyways. You can get an apartment together as well, no problem. Typically in China, you will be given a housing allowance, so if there are 2 of you, you can get a more expensive apartment (in Yangzhou, we chose where we stayed, it wasn’t chosen for us)

    Where are you guys wanting to teach?

    Hope this info helps!

  3. Hey there! Thanks alot for your reply, any advice at this point will be great as been reading alot of negative comments on the internet about scams etc and just dont know where to start from! I dont exactly know whereabouts in China we are looking to teach, its really just a matter of finding a professional school. Your blog has helped alot though. Do you have any advice regarding good schools? Maybe you can suggest a few! Cheers

  4. Hi Rochelle,

    We felt the same way when we were looking online. Check out Dave’s ESL Cafe, usually the schools on there are legit. We recommend Shane English School. They have a lot of them across China. They were professional and we had a great experience with them. Rocky Mountain English School is supposed to be pretty good too (we emailed with a guy that worked there) and our friends work at ILTS (International Language Training School) it’s more of a one on one situation though, not really classroom style.

    Let us know if you have more questions.


  5. Hey! Thanks once again for all the information. Your one of the first who actually bothered to reply. Have been sending out loads of emails to embassies etc for visa, but no luck. I am a Maltese/British Citizen, and finding it really difficult to figure out if I need a 4 year degree or not. I’ve contacted a Chinese Job Post for teaching and a person replied saying that in order to get a visa you need the degree. I actually thought china was one of the countries in which you don’t need a degree to get a visa. Otherwise was also thinking of Japan. But this whole degree thing is so vague, don’t know! I do not have a degree so getting a job from here before coming to Asia is close to impossible I think!

  6. Hello! Your post is extremely helpful in the process of moving to China. I do have a question about the visa and flights. Is it common for the school to pay for airfare or reimburse you after arriving? Also, if you are coming on a tourist visa, is it required to have a return flight? I plan on staying for a year and don’t want to cancel my return ticket after arriving and deal with the hassle or loss of money.


  7. No problem.

    We don’t have degrees either. Technically you are supposed to have a degree and a TESOL certificate – we have neither. Schools are very lenient when it comes to these things, they can easily forge the documents. China really wants English teachers at the moment, so it’s definitely possible without the degree. Contact a recruiter that has posted on Dave’s ESL Cafe and tell them you don’t have it, they should be able to work something out for you.

    It’s not the schools that want you to have the degree, it’s the government and the laws surrounding getting a working visa. Just because you don’t have a degree (which, by the way doesn’t even have to do with teaching, it could be a degree in economics!), doesn’t mean you aren’t a good candidate for the job!!

  8. Hi Aaron,

    It’s common for the schools to reimburse your flight costs after you arrive. With our contract, we received 1/2 of the airfare after 6 months of working there, and the other 1/2 once we completed the contract.

    If you’re coming to China on a tourist visa, no, you don’t need to have a return flight. Make sure that you school has a plan to get you a working visa (Z visa) asap though. You don’t want to have the hassle of doing border runs all year, or not having the proper legal visa for working in China.


  9. Thanks for the reply! Your blog has helped me tremendously during my process of finding a job. I accepted a position and am working on the documents to send to the school. The physician I saw completed my medical form without performing the tests. They left the boxes empty as there were no abnormal findings. Is it ok that the boxes are blank?


  10. You want to make sure that there are no issues, so we would recommend trying to get the boxes filled in – just even saying “no” or n/a or something like that.

    You’ll have to do another set of medical tests in China – fyi. In order to get the working visa, you’ll need to have a medical test done by a Chinese doctor. Basically the one done at home is just so that you can get the Invitation Letter from the Government.

    Hope this helps. Where in China are you teaching?


  11. Hi Guys,

    Thanks for the detailed info! I’m looking at doing a 6 month contract in China, but am finding it somewhat difficult to find companies offering less than the 1-year deal. You mention it’s pretty easy to find a job once you are ‘on the ground’. Would you recommend I visit China first and then apply? Also, what is your recommendation for the city with the least air pollution 🙂

    Cheers, Sarah

  12. Hey Sarah,

    6 month contracts are pretty hard to come by in China. Depending on how badly a school needs an English teacher, you may be able to persuade them to have you stay on for only 6 months.

    Have you checked out Dave’s ESL Cafe? After applying to some of them, and provided they write you back, you could express that you only want 1/2 year contract and see what they say.

    If you are able to, we would suggest travelling to China first to get a feel for the place and to scout out which city you think you could live in.

    As for air pollution, the east of China is quite polluted…that’s where most of the population and factories are. Yunnan Province is less polluted and basically anywhere in the west would be your best bet!

    I hope this helps, let us know if you have anymore questions.

  13. ***Update***

    Hi Aaron,

    We’ve recently been updated about the Visa situation in China. Some people are saying that you do need to have a flight out of China in order to get a tourist visa. There are ways around this though.

    You could just book a flight from China to somewhere nearby, like Bangkok, Japan, etc. wherever is cheapest (check out or Spring Airlines) and then cancel it after you have your visa in your passport.

    Check with the embassy that you will be applying with though, but just wanted to give you the updated info that we have heard.


  14. Hey Goats,

    I wanted to ask you a few general questions on your experience. Thanks in advance.

    – What made you decide to live where you did, as opposed to say Beijing or Shanghai, and what was your experience like? Was there a very limited amount of english speakers in your city? Did you feel isolated? Do you speak mandarin?

    -Did you negotiate at all after receiving your offer? Why are you wearing jackets in the classroom :)?

    -Would you be weary of an offer that required you to pay 4% in taxes as a holder of an F-Visa, even though im’ not sure if F-visa holders are even legally allowed to be paid for work.

    -How hard was it to secure a working visa once you arrived?

    I look forward to hearing from you. (@)

  15. Hi Michael.

    Thanks for your comment.

    We decided to live in Yangzhou rather than Beijing or Shanghai because it’s smaller, less crowded, less westernized and has a more authentic Chinese feel to it. Also, Nanjing (the capital) is great and is nearby, Shanghai is also only about 3 hours away. Basically no one spoke English in our city apart from the foreign teachers and some people who were studying at the university there…which added to the experience. We did learn some Mandarin, but not too, too much. Just enough to get around and conversate a little bit.

    No, we didn’t negotiate, it was a great offer for China – good benefits and salary. We’re wearing jackets because in the winter, Chinese people don’t believe in putting on the heat. They just wear more clothing!

    We paid about 3% in taxes (250rmb)/month. We were working on a Z visa, which is the visa you want for employment in China. An F visa is for business, scientific studies, etc. for no more than 6 months.

    It was easy to get the Z visa when we arrived. The school helped with the whole process. We arrived on a tourist visa and then switched it over with their help.

    Hopefully this helps you out! Good luck.

  16. If the schools are hiring more than one teachers, you could ask the schools to arrange it for you. Not a very difficult thing.

  17. Another wonderful post, thank you guys!

    I was frequently told by people I met along the way while traveling in Thailand that I should teach English, so I could travel and still earn some $$. I’m not a native English speaker, this might decrease teaching opportunities, although I’ve lived and studied in the USA and UK where I did some college. I wonder if you know anything about summer camps? I’d rather search for a short term position than staying at the same place for a whole year.

  18. Thanks Yara!

    We usually direct people to Dave’s ESL Cafe online. There you can find jobs all over the world, at all times of year and for all different lengths. I’m sure you would be able to find a short term one. Also, if you’re in Thailand or China or somewhere, you could always look around for advertisements requesting teachers for a short people of time.

    Good luck. It’s a great way to earn money while on the road, as well as have amazing experiences.

  19. Fantastic post which has answered a lot of questions i have had.
    There is far too many sites with vague information out there!
    One question, I plan on moving to china to teach in April, what do you think my chances are for finding a teaching job in Shenzhen even without the degree? I hear that in the bugger cities it is much harder without a degree
    I do have my tefl and some experience
    Thanks and well done again on a great post 🙂

  20. Hey David,

    It’s really hard to say actually. You’re right that in the bigger cities it can be a bit more difficult to get a job with or without a degree. However, there’s definitely a good chance that you’ll find something, especially with having a TEFL!

    We don’t have a TEFL or a degree, and we got a job. Check out Dave’s ESL for sure. If you’re really set on only one city, then you may or may not find something, but if you’re open to teaching anywhere, then you’ll definitely find something.

    I hope this helps somewhat!
    Cheers and good luck finding a job.

  21. Hey Dan,

    I’m not sure, but for us, we got paid the same as the other teachers who had both a Uni Degree and a TESOL.

  22. Hi there,

    You’ve called the Z visa a Tourist visa– Tourist is quite different. Foreign teachers must come in to China on a Z (Working) visa, not on a tourist visa. In the past, they were able to change it within the country, but that’s no longer true. Just wanted to point out the typo!

  23. Hi guys!
    First of all, let me congratulate you on your website, it’s amazing, so full of useful information, and so inspirational. I don’t have a degree or a TEFL certificate either. Problem is, even tho I’m fluent in English and consider myself perfectly capable of teaching it, I’m not a native speaker. I’m originally from Portugal, and have been living in the UK for a few years now. Did you meet any non-native speakers teaching in China? Do you know if this is at all possible? Do you reckon I could still do it by getting a teaching certificate?
    Any help/advice you could give me on this would be much appreciated!

  24. Hello Maria,

    If you have a teaching certificate, you will definitely increase your odds of finding a job in China. However, we didn’t have a teaching certificate or a university degree and we got jobs. Provided there is on the job training, you would be fine without the certificate.

    As for being a non-native English speaker, it’s not as easy to get a job, but most definitely possible! We know of people from Colombia (who lived in the UK for a few years) and from Poland who are currently teaching in China.

    I hope this helps you out 🙂


  25. First, great website has helped me decide to try and become an English teacher. I was just wondering do schools often renew your contract or do you have to go back to your home country and apply for another job every year?

  26. It depends on the company. Our school was really hoping that we would stay on with them, it’s much easier for the school to just keep teachers that they already have rather than training new ones.

    So, most likely, you would be invited to stay.

    Hope this helps!

  27. Do you have any estimates on how much the tests, etc, cost if you go to Hong Kong and have them done? (I’m already in china)


  28. Hi Alexandra,

    I’m trying to remember back to when we were there….I remember it being a few hundred USD for the tests. Quite expensive actually.
    Make sure to contact the Chinese Embassy to get a list of approved hospitals in Hong Kong. You don’t want to have all of the tests done and then have the Chinese Gov. say that you used the wrong hospital!

    I hope this helps. Good luck!

  29. I’m glad I’ve found your site — very informative. I’ve been doing fairly intensive research now for the last month or so toward the possibility of teaching English in China in the fall. I’ll definitely be referring back here often. Thanks!

  30. Hi Peter,

    We’re glad you found our site useful. Teaching English in China was a great time in our lives, we recommend it for sure!


  31. Hi Goats, love the website, its nice to see fellow brave adventurers living such a different and interesting life. I started teaching English in China strait from University in England and when i had just turned 22 to suddelny be immersed in Southwest Chinese culture was tough to say the least. But after the initial culture shock i have loved it ever since. To help any others who are thinking of coming to China to teach i made a site about living and teaching in china along with lots of my travel pics. Since coming to china ive been all over south east asia and Asia and been to so many destinations i otherwise would never of had the chance to go. Its a great life we have. All the best 🙂

  32. That’s great Ben! Thanks for the comment and for creating your own teaching resource.


  33. Hi Nick,

    This has definitely made my mind up as I have not been able to decide on what to do about working abroad. Very informative buddy and so I think I am going to go for it!

    If your still available to answer some questions that I have that would be great.

    I have an interview on Saturday, I am UK based. My recruiter is with, ESLemployment. The agent I have been speaking with also has this title, GT Union (Great Teachers Union) under his name . So are you able to tell me anything about these guys? Being legit or not? I am going to take all your tips on board for Saturday with the questions I will ask anyway! (The interview is via webcam using Skype)


    They already have a starting date which is the 5th of September… Do you think this enough time for me to get the visa and everything else sorted out by? And also are schools pretty lenient with say… I actually started on the 5th October or do they require all teachers to start by September every year?

    Thanks in advance if you can help me out here buddy!


  34. Hi Adam,

    I apologize for the late reply, we are on holidays at the moment.

    I’ve never heard of this recruiting agency and the only person I can 100% recommend is our friend/colleague in China named Standy. He has now started a recruiting business and is a very legit guy. His email address if you’re interested is:

    I hope the Skype call went well and that you were able to get a good sense of who these people are. Where in China are you planning to teach?

    You can start at any time of the year actually. We both started in July. It just depends on when their current teachers are leaving, so you can fill those positions. You’ll need to get your medical check done and get your visa sorted, so hopefully you can have that all done in time!

    Hopefully the Skype call went well and you’ve got everything sorted now. Let us know if you have more Q’s.


  35. Great info Nick!

    I have already contacted Standy now and he is on the case 🙂 Thanks very much.


  36. hey I was wondering if the time of year matters when finding a job. I just applied for my passport so I wont have it, or any of the paper work done, by september (when most of the places on daves ESL cafe want you to start)
    I was wondering if anyone has, or has heard of someone, finding a job mid way through the school year and those experiences.

  37. Hi Jon,

    You can definitely find jobs throughout the year in China. They want new teachers when old teachers quit, are fired or their contract is up – which could be at any time in the year. We started at the beginning of July and finished in the middle of the following July.

    Good luck 🙂

  38. Hi,
    I am very interested in teaching English in China but I am not a native speaker and I don’t have a degree, but on the other hand I have a one year teaching experience and a TEFL certificate, I know my choices are limited still, nevertheless, I have been offered some teaching positions but I am weary about the visa thing.
    Should I direct my effort to finding schools that can find a way to get me a working visa despite having no degree? How can they do it and where should I look?

    Thank you !

  39. Hi Tarek,

    We know of a few teachers who are teaching english in China and they aren’t native speakers. I think it all depends on how strong your accent is (Chinese people are really wanting to have proper oral pronunciation) If a school in China really wants to hire you, they will figure out a way to get you the visa – even though you don’t have a degree. A TEFL and a year experience is great!

    Check out Dave’s ESL Cafe and speak to some recruiters. Through TEFL 247, you can look for jobs too and also, check with your TEFL company to see if they can help you find a job. Most TEFL courses should do that.

    Good luck to you 🙂

  40. Hi Goats, an excellent cite!!!!!!!……thanks for taking the time to use your experience to assist us all.
    My husband and I are interested in teaching English in China, however, there are a few concerns. we do have three children and would like to know what is the procedure for getting them into china with us as well as getting them into school. in addition, do you know of any excellent schools for the children? Also, what happens after I am accepted by the school where I will be teaching English, how do I precede from there in regard to the Z-Visa? Will the school that I will be working for provide allowance for my children’s education? Thanks in advance. Again great job.

  41. standy is he still a recruiter ? I trying sending him a email but it did not work

    Looking for a hood recruiter

  42. We had a very different experience from you. We got our TESOL certificates and found jobs through a recruiter we found on Dave’s ESL Cafe. We worked for a University, so we had no problems with having to guess whether they were legit or not. When we tried to get a working Visa in Canada, the clerk at the Chinese Embassy, very firmly kept saying “so you are going to see the sights in China?” and handed back all my documents from the University. We got Tourist visas at his insistence and it was no problem at all – the school changed them when we got there. Also, we didn’t need to get medical exams in Canada. The school rounded up all the foreign teachers from their various campuses (about 10 of us) and took us all to the hospital to get the most thorough medical exam I have ever had in my life. It was great. I think we got preference for being a couple because we could share the beautiful three-bedroom apartment that was provided on campus (very convenient). We thought we were having real translation problems when we got our schedules, but it was true: I taught Tuesday and Thursday mornings only – two 1.5 hour classes each time. My husband taught one class each morning Monday to Thursday!!!!! We travelled on tickets with an open return date. We don’t have degrees, just college diplomas. We provided a resume of all the different types of teaching experiences we have had during our careers and volunteer work, which combined with our diplomas to give us Foreign Expert Certificates. Our pay was low, but we were living in the west and expenses were so low that we couldn’t possibly spend all our money – we saved a lot. I encourage anyone with an interest to just go ahead and try it. It was both the most wonderful and the most terrible experience I have ever had, and we have no regrets. The people were amazing, there is always something incredibly weird, interesting, scary, exciting, or fun going on. You will be stretched to the limits of your abilities and find yourself doing things you never imagined you could do. (e.g.. I sang in front of over 1,000 people and I’m in no way a singer, my husband joined a rock band and we were treated like royalty. I performed in a huge Ti-chi display in the arena downtown with months of preparation – all with people who didn’t speak a word of English – and they had two outfits tailor made for me for this purpose and took me on unrelated outings) etc, etc, etc. You will definitely have an adventure to remember – good or bad, it’s worth it.

  43. Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us!!!

    Isn’t China fantastic? We feel the same way as you – people should just go for it and enjoy all that China has to offer, both good and bad. We had some crazy experiences as well and things that aren’t “normal” at home are very normal in China and you just get acustomed to them – like wearing a jacket, boots and mitts to teach a class because Chinese people don’t like to turn the heat on in the winter. Nick taught a class on stage in front of 500 people and we both got paid to be “White” during a business photo shoot..haha.

    Thanks again and glad to hear you loved China 🙂


  44. Hi! I have been pouring through yours and other websites and I have decided that I want to teach in China! I am very overwhelmed by all the information that I am seeing and I honestly don’t know where to start! Also, I didn’t find as many jobs at Dave’s ESL cafe as I thought I would. I am a single bi-racial American female. I am 22 years old and I do not have a degree, although I do have some college under my belt. I have never traveled abroad before and I am wanting to teach English to save for more money to travel while I am young with no commitments. Can you give me some advice on where to start?!

  45. Hi there I am surprised you didnt find much on daves esl cafe. There are others like ESLemployment and etc etc that will find you lots of jobs in china. Just beware though china law has gotten a lot more strict lately with a lot of the higher tier cities rejecting anyone without a degree beijing and the likes etc etc. There are so many scams going on that will bring you over on a tourist or business visa promising a z visa upon arrival. Some cases it can be done most times it seems you will be conned out of alot of money. I was promised a job by valley recruitment, david valley also known by rebecca tang from eslchina or new life esl/china, i am so glad i did not take it as I found it strange with the way david dealt with and spoke about things… turns out it was all a big scam…. What i am trying to say is be very careful and do your research! I changed my mind and decided to go somewhere more warm in spain rather than china but china will be my next destination for sure.

  46. Hi there,

    I haven’t read all the comments just yet. In hurry to reply. I have found myself in the same “no degree situation.”

    The thing is, will you not be illegal doing it this way? I am so concerned about working illegally. A recruiter was not prepared to help me recently as they “don’t work with schools that don’t do things by the book,” which is fair enough. But surely this is not the end for me.

    I have now come across this Foreign Experts Certificate. Is it true that I can get a Z visa by first getting a school to apply for an FEC on my behalf?

    There is is so much info online, I’ve become so lost.

    I do have a 120 hour TEFL certificate and I’m keen to leave as soon as I can.

    I am a white South African woman, 22 years old if that means anything?

    Anyway! Thank you in advance!

  47. Hi Adam,

    Just thought I quickly ask you a question. I commented earlier on in the comments and finally saw yours.

    I have a 120 hour TEFL certificate, no degree (only a national certificate in Journalism), white South African, female and I’m 22 years old (mentioning this as people seem to do so). I have been reading SO much on the whole Z visa situation and how I legally won’t be able to work in China…

    I have come across this Foreign Expert Certificate, which apparently the school will organise and *then* sort out my Z visa. Is this true?? I honestly don’t want to go over with anything else other than a Z visa as I’ve also been reading up a lot about this and it