Teaching English in China: Getting Started FAQ’s

Nick Wharton Author Bio Picture

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 cities in 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 will now answer in this article to help make your move to China easier.

teaching english in china frequently asked questions

Can I teach English in China without a university degree?

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! Check out our article for details:

Teach English Online: Get Paid With These Top Companies

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“,

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. Have a look at this list of affordable, reputable TEFL courses you can take online.

How do I find a job teaching English in China?

Dave's ESL Cafe For Teaching English In China

There are a lot of resources for finding jobs teaching English in China. If you get your TEFL certificate through MyTefl, they will help you with job placement. use promo code GOATS50 for 50% off.

If not, you can check out Dave’s ESL Cafe, GoAbroad, or TransitionsAbroad.com. 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.

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.


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

Teaching English In China

The 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.

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.

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

Getting a working visa in China is not as straightforward 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

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.

The medical forms can be a bit of a hassle to complete but they ARE required.

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 wary 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 a 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 of 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)

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 in 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).

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!

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

Best Places For Teaching English In China

This of course depends on what sort of experiences you want to have and the type of lifestyle you hope to live.

If you like 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. Guangzhou is another popular spot.

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! Have a look at our full list of the best cities to teach English in China.

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.

Will the school help me get settled in China?

Wood Carving

This 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 that 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.

So you’ve read our article about getting started teaching English in China, and now you have questions about the job itself. Here you will find the answers to your teaching in China questions, but if you finish reading and you still have more questions, you can feel free to comment below and we will get back to you ASAP.

Note: Teaching English was one of the jobs included in our epic list of 101 Best Travel Jobs. Check it out for more amazing jobs that you can do while you’re travelling so that your trip never has to end!

There is no doubt that teaching English in China is a great job, but what makes it so great? What should you expect? What will you be expected to do? Here you will find the answer to those questions and many more.

teaching in china with shane english school
Cost of living in Yangzhou China vs. Philadelphia, USA

How many students are in a classroom?

The number of students in a classroom when you’re teaching in China will vary depending on what kind of school you work for.

Public schools have as many as 50 students, while many private schools limit class numbers to around 12. You should ask the school how many students are in a class before you sign the contract. Teaching English can be exhausting and if you are not used to controlling 50 students, you should probably search for a school with limited class sizes.

teaching in china a class of CL07 students
Nick with one of his primary level classes. Yangzhou, China

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

Is there anyone else in the class with me? Do I get help while teaching in China?

teaching in china you will have help from your teaching assistant
T.A Helping With Class

Generally, there will be a TA (teaching assistant) with you in every class that you’re teaching in China. The T.A. is NOT there to translate to the students, although they sometimes do as a last resort teaching method.

The assistant is simply there to help you control the class, keep the kids in line and supply you with any teaching materials you may need before and during a lesson. The T.A’s are your best friends so treat them well and communicate with them to keep the class running smoothly.

How do I teach if I don’t speak Mandarin? Is there a translator?

If you are teaching English in China at a reputable school (such as Shane English School), there will likely be rules in place to ensure the students learn in a 100% English environment. You will not need to speak Mandarin or translate the language to the students if you present it in such a way that they can understand.

For this, proper planning and use of realia can be crucial. If worse comes to worst, the students often have a separate Chinese class, where they are able to catch up on any language they did not understand in your class. There are two words you will find yourself calling out to your students frequently: “NO CHINESE!”

What is a lesson plan and how do I write one?

Teaching In China Lesson Plan
A Typical Lesson Plan. Basically Shows A Timeline Of Games And Drilling

If you took a CELTA/TEFL/TESOL course, you should already have a firm grasp on writing lesson plans. Basically, a lesson plan is a detailed timeline of what you will teach in your lesson.

There will likely be a beginning or “entrance” to your class, a warmer to get your students interested, a review of the previously taught material, phonics practice (B = banana etc.), an introduction of new vocabulary and language or grammar points (sentences).

The photo below is a lesson plan written for a primary class and although it’s messy, it’s concise and it follows the class structure required by our school.

During your first week at your new school you will likely be offered a training schedule, where you will learn all of the basics of lesson planning, classroom management and the details of the curriculum that your school requires you to follow, as well as other helpful pointers that will aid you while teaching in China.

What other duties will I have besides teaching English?

This also depends on your school and contract, but if you’re teaching English in China, you’ll probably have to do more than just teach English. Many jobs will require you to do some promotion work, level checks, office hours and demos.

Promotion work is basically just going to a public place like a mall or a library (accompanied by your T.A) and using your foreign face as an ad campaign for the school. You will be expected to talk to kids, smile and maybe do some level checks for potential new students.

Level checks are basically just a series of questions that you will ask students before they start with your school, these questions are written down in such a way that you can discover what level a student should start at, depending on which questions they were able to answer.

teaching in china flashcards with my student

Office hours are basically just filler hours, if you’ve signed a contract to work 20 hours/week but there are only enough classes to have you teach for 15 hours then you will likely have to make up the extra time by hanging out in the office, doing level checks, writing lesson plans and doing demos.

Demos are classes created for parents to see what the lessons are like in your school before they pay the enrollment fee. It will generally just be a regular class with parents watching and if you’re good, they will sign up and enlist their child with the school. NO PRESSURE!

How many paid holidays will I receive each year?

Again, this depends entirely on your contract, but generally speaking, there are around 11 national holidays throughout the year, and most contracts will offer another 10 days on top of this.

So you will probably get 2 weeks of holidays (including the weekends) and 1 day/month on average paid holiday. If you work for a school that shuts down during the Spring Festival then you may have as much as 5 weeks off, but this time may or may not be paid, depending on your contract.

Are there tutoring jobs available for extra money?

teaching in china students in the classroom
Dariece With Her Students

Yes. Once you have started teaching in China at your school you will probably learn about multiple opportunities for tutoring and other ways to make some quick cash. If you live in a place with few foreigners, your face will stand out and ultimately land you some good opportunities.

Most teaching contracts will require you to inform your employer of any extra tutoring jobs you pick up and almost all will forbid you from tutoring your own students or students that go to your school. Tutors usually charge between 100-250 RMB / hour. A better option, however, is to teach English online with companies like Cambly or Preply from the comfort of your apartment!

Will I receive a bonus for completing my contract?

Most likely, yes. Almost all contracts signed for teaching in China will include some sort of end-of-contract bonus. There are often flight reimbursements that can be as much as $1500 as well as retention bonuses (for keeping your students) and attendance bonuses.

Will I be required to work at outside locations?

This will depend entirely on your contract, but many schools do contract out their teachers to other schools in the area. Especially if you are teaching in a rural part of China where foreign teachers are few and far between. We personally had to work once a week at a nearby school for an hour.

teaching in China at a Kindergarden Outside Location
Kindergarten Outside Location

Teaching in China – The Best Job!

We highly recommend this job to anyone who is looking to live and work abroad, while learning about a new culture.

These were the questions we found ourselves asking before coming to China. Of course, you probably have more!

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. 

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Do you think your way of living needs to change? Perhaps a career as an English teacher in China is perfect for you! We answer your frequently asked questions about teaching English in China - wage, visas, hours, contracts, living expenses and more! | #tefl #esl #travel
Here is an overview of our teaching in case any of you are considering teaching English in China or are simply interested in what it might be like! To help you get started, we answer your frequently asked questions regarding teaching in China in this post! | #costoflivinginchina #teflchina #travel
Do you feel like your life needs to change? Perhaps a life of teaching English in China is the ideal one for you! You'll find all the inspiration you need right here! Are you ready? Here are all the FAQ’s on getting started! | #china #teachenglish #eslchina

Nick Wharton Author Bio Picture

Written by

Nick Wharton

Nick is the co-founder, editor and author of Goats On The Road. He contributes to numerous other media sites regularly and shares his expert knowledge of travel, online entrepreneurship and blogging with the world whenever he can. He has been travelling and working abroad since 2008 and has more than 10 years of experience in online business, finance, travel and entrepreneurship.

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141 thoughts on “Teaching English in China: Getting Started FAQ’s”

  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 AirAsia.com 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. 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!

  22. 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!

  23. 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 🙂


  24. 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?

  25. 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!

  26. 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!

  27. 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!

  28. 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 https://www.chinatefler.com 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 🙂

  29. 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!


  30. 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: wuwei@1201133@hotmail.com.

    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.


  31. Great info Nick!

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


  32. 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.

  33. 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 🙂

  34. 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 !

  35. 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 https://www.tefl247.com/tefl-tesol-courses/?affiliates=ac627ab1ccbdb62ec96e702f07f6425b 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 🙂

  36. 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.

  37. wuwei@1201133@hotmail.com. standy is he still a recruiter ? I trying sending him a email but it did not work

    Looking for a hood recruiter

  38. 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.

  39. 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 🙂


  40. 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?!

  41. Hi there I am surprised you didnt find much on daves esl cafe. There are others like ESLemployment and TEFL.com 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.

  42. 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!

  43. 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 just makes things feel/seem dodge. Yes, it’s possible I know, but I won’t take that risk (and I doubt my parent will be happy with it, haha).

    Thank you, I’ll appreciate any comment!

    P.S there’s lots of jobs on Dave’s ESL cafe, but oh boy have I come across scams!

  44. Hi Shannon,

    Sorry I just saw your post.

    Most of the time now due to the laws being tightened it is harder to get the z visa without a degree, that being said, it can and does happen regularly still.

    Tier 1 cities like Beijing and Shanghai are most definitely going to need you to have a degree of some sort in order to work there, it is in very rare cases that you will find a position willing to sort you out with the Z visa in a tier 1 city. Some of them genuinely need teachers and do not want to pay an expensive rate so will get you in “through the back door” it may be illegal, but they need you as much as you need them and you should have no problems… That being said there will be schools and agencies who promise you this and that and extort a crap load of money out of you until it becomes unbearable on your wallet. They will hijack your passport and keep you working as a slave for the full contract term, as if you try and report them… well, your the one working illegally right?

    Now tier 2 and 3 cities are much easier to obtain a Z visa for you as they are crying out for legit teachers to help them and there students out. Recruitment and schools in these type of places will no a friend of a friend and really try and get you the Z visa and everything will be hunky dorey. You just need to know where to look.

    It can be done so dont get to disheartened. As long as your English is fluent, native European or American or whatever then you will be fine regardless of skin color, gender and age.

    China can be funny though…

    Check out daves ESL cafe china jobs board. Horizoneslchina.com – jobsabroadbulletin.co.uk

    Also on Skype contact Avis, vincy.horizon and Nuo and Derlin… Some china contacts that may be able to sort you out tier 2 and 3 city jobs.

    All the best.

  45. Hi Carissa,

    There are quite a few on Dave’s ESL Cafe, TEFL.net and TransitionsAbroad.com. If you get a TEFL certificate, the company will typically help you find a job.

    Having a TEFL certificate and a university degree will give you more options for a job, but it’s really only obligatory in the bigger cities.

    I hope this helps. Enjoy!

  46. Hey Adam,

    Thanks for sharing your experience with us. There are sooo many scams going on, you’re right about that. People just have to have a few Skype conversations with the respective employees, and we really recommend asking for the email addresses of current employees at the school and asking them questions and voicing concerns you might have.

    I would love to teach in Spain!

    Cheers 🙂

  47. Hi Adam, Just wondering how GT Union were? I have been in contact with them about a job but I’m unsure how legitimate they are?

  48. I was wondering could you recommend any lovely relativity small cities to work in china as opposed to Beijing where the rent and cost of living would be very high, and where there would no be much pollution and lovely scenery, and climate would be relatively warm. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  49. Hi Fran,

    Check out Chengdu in the west, Yangzhou, Hangzhou or Nanjing in the Jiangsu province, or Dalian in the north. Beijing and Shanghai probably have the highest cost of living, but they usually pay more as well.

    Good luck!

  50. HI Sir n Mam
    I’m from India. A mother of a year n half kid. I neither have a degree or any professional certificate but have a small prior experience working as english trainer fr a short tym.
    Being a home maker frm past 2 Years I wanted to starying working again but in teaching n exploring different places. My concerns are: Will I be able to get a good job in one of the mentioned places in Dave’s esl cafe to move with my kid and get a comfortable stay n education fr my kid?
    Is it possible to clear visa problems with a low cost as u see Im.just a homemaker who has very less Savings.

    Ny encouragement or guidance is appreciated!

  51. Hi I am interested in teaching English in China and I was wondering how early I need to start talking and commit to a school? I would want to start in Fall of 2015. Also, do you have any recommendations about how to find out which cities are polluted and have bad air quality? Thanks!

  52. Hi Alexis,

    The sooner you can agree and commit to a school, the better. However, we found our job just 1.5 months before starting, so it really depends on when the school needs you 🙂

    Here is a link for the Air Quality Index website – you can also get a “real time” app for your phone.



  53. Hello Shruthi,

    Thank you for your comment. Is English your first language? That is a requirement for those wanting to teach English in China. If not, it still may be possible for you to find a job, but typically native English speakers are preferred/required.

    Have a great day 🙂

  54. Thanks fr ur precious reply Sir.
    Yes sir. English z my first language but from what I learnt is dat mostly native english speaking people are given opportunities.
    May i know what are my possibilities, coming from India?

  55. Dear Goats on the Road,

    I have been offered a job at what seems to be like a pretty great school in Beijing. The school is working through my visa requirements and such now. I am a bit concerned though, because they mentioned that they typically have teachers sign their contracts once in Beijing. It seems that I would be going to China with a Z visa but without a contract. I guess there could be some freedom in that for me too, should I decide it’s not a good fit. I don’t think that would be the case though. I’m just concerned that the school could decide to screw me over once I’m there. I guess if that happens I would have the Z visa and go easily find employment elsewhere though. Any help with this would be great appreciated. Thanks so much!

  56. Hi Jordan,

    Have your read reviews of the school online? Have you spoken with other foreign teachers that work there? That’s always a good way to get a good feel for the place and find out if they pay on time, expect more of you than the contract states, etc.

    We had signed our contract beforehand, but we did sign for some changes to it when we got there.

    Definitely ask them to send over the contract for you to look at, and make sure all is legit with it.

    Worse case scenario, you go and find a different job, like you said.

    Good luck!

  57. 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!!

    This is terrible advice. You are advising somebody to come and work illegally…all the while working illegally yourselves?
    You are aware that while in the past this was common…China is now really cracking down on this. Google “1600 expats kicked out of China” if you want to know more.
    And if you work for a school that is willing to bend the rules to the extent of forging degrees…it will also likely have no problems in bending the rules in their favor should problems arise between you and it. Do you really want to work for a shady employer? And as for your argument that not having a degree doesn’t mean you are a bad teacher. Well you are correct, but consider this. Someone who is willing to forge documents and work illegally probably means they are a crappy employee working for a crappy employer. It definitely means they are a criminal. Yes forgery IS a crime in China and if you get caught…you can not expect much leniency.

    Sorry if these comments offend but as someone who went and jumped through all the hoops to work in China LEGALLY…people like you make my blood boil.

  58. So bottom line. If you do not have a degree…you will not get a Z visa. If you do not have a Z visa then you are working illegally in China (if you are here teaching English). Yes in the past it was common, Yes the odds are you will get away with it. But bear in mind that China in the past year and this one as well, has and is making a concentrated effort to clean up the English teaching industry here.
    And that being said if you get in a bad situation and worse yet keep your passport so you can’t leave…what happens then? You are working illegally and have no protection.
    Be very wary of taking the advice of illegal workers on here.

  59. Hi Reilly,

    You’re right. The laws are changing. We wrote this article in 2012 and unfortunately, it is getting harder and harder to teach without degrees.

    But you still can work in China without a degree. Thousands do it and it’s been said for years (including when we started) that they are cracking down. The fact is, a large percentage of teachers don’t have degrees. We completed a one year teaching contract in China without degrees, we had a z-visa first and then a residency permit. We worked legally.

    Those who have degrees are not better teachers because they have degrees and it’s always the ones with degrees that get angry. Just be happy that there are more teachers to fill the positions and that the children of China are learning English and not cramming into language classes with 100 students just because there are not enough foreign teachers that have degrees in completely irrelevant studies. If you have a degree, you’ll get better jobs.

    But in our experience (and in the experience of the school we worked for), it’s usually the teachers fresh out of University, who have never worked before, who have no idea what the workforce is like, that end up missing work because they were on a college bender the night before.

    But you are right, the laws are changing and things are more strict now than in the past. The laws will change in the future, unfortunately.

    Ps. our “shady employer” is an institution with over 20,000 students worldwide and it was founded by the company that administered the first CELTA courses.

    Enjoy your time teaching.


  60. A lot of my coworkers complained about the office hours we were required to do, but it never bothered me. A good teacher has to plan lessons, mark papers, and so forth anyway, but with office hours, you’re provided with a desk, computer and internet while you get paid to do those things.

    For me, the most important thing to negotiate in an English teaching contract is having a regular schedule. Some training centers expect teachers to be permanently on-call for last-minute classes, which can be a real strain on your other activities. Of course, teachers are always going to need to substitute for other teachers from time to time, but having a fairly regular schedule makes it easier to plan lessons, prep for classes, arrange to study Chinese outside school, and do all the personal things you came to China to do.

  61. It may be true that thousands of people are teaching in China without a degree.
    And it may be true as you say that “You can still teach in China without a degree”

    But that is missing the point. You can NOT do this legally. Not anymore. You ARE required to have a degree. If you don’t you are teaching illegally.
    As for China cracking down
    Here you go. Over 1000 teachers were deported last year alone for not having the proper visa.
    Sorry but the bogyman is real. There is also a chart which shows that for the last five years the number of teachers deported has been increasing every year from a couple hundred (when they started keeping stats) to over 1200 (a six-fold increase).

    And the argument about teachers having a degree doesn’t mean they are better teachers is so old it has long since expired. They were saying the same thing in Korea back in 2001. No, it doesn’t mean they are better teachers but it does mean they are legal. Oranges and apples.

    Finally please spare me the song and dance about more Chinese people being able to learn English. That is not the primary reason people come over here. Would you teach for free? No? No more would I. We come here to earn money. And that is the difference between illegal teachers and I. I earn my money legally. I do enjoy teaching but I still wouldn’t do it gratis.

    As for teachers with degrees getting angry…it’s justified. In Korea, the ever-increasing supply of illegal teachers enabled Korea to steadily raise the requirements until they are similar to the requirements in many Western countries. Is this a good thing? Yes but it means that legal teachers such as myself are forced to jump through ever more hoops, provide ever more documentation and spend ever more money on all the bureaucratic nonsense.

    And now China is slowly following suit. THAT’s what annoys me…that I have to meet ever increasing requirements which are at least partly due to illegal workers.

    Last but not least. You are doing the people on this site a disservice by telling they they don’t need a degree. Yes you can teach in China without a degree. But it’s also illegal.. That should be mentioned as well.

    P.S Your employer may be well known and famous world wide. But if it did or does forge documents…that still makes them “shady”. To use an analogy, TIger Woods may be the world’s best golf player (at least at one time)…that doesn’t make him a great husband or human being for that matter.

  62. Hey guys

    Such a great informative article that I enjoyed reading.

    I have a question though, me and my partner are interested in moving to Hong Kong, she would teach as that’s what she does now. However how difficult would it be for me to get a job? If at all possible?

    And she has seen jobs that offer accommodation but would I be eligible to stay in that accommodation with her?


  63. tee-hee. Sorry, but I just have to say this: Maybe when you learn that the correct form is “My partner and I are interested in moving….”
    It’s the difference between a subject and an object. There are lots of little grammar books for a quick brush-up. We are talking about teaching English after all.

  64. I do not have a degree, but have a TEFL, how do I find short term work, 3-4 months? I have been looking non stop for days and can’t find anything but internships paying next to nothing, any advice?

  65. Hello and thank you for so many informative answers. I have a few questions if anyone can help answer I would be very grateful.

    Im 39 year old British woman with no regional accent, I don’t have a degree but I have taught English many times in various places including Brazil and S.E Asia – mostly on a voluntary basis. I also have other teaching experience through running retreats/workshops.

    I really want to go to China to teach English as I want to earn some money whilst being able to save also + experience living in a totally different culture. I’ve traveled a lot and lived in Bali, Brazil and Thailand for 6 moths at a time. I love meeting new people and learning.

    Im not keen to commit to 1 year before never having set foot in China – so Im wondering if its possible for me to go on a tourist visa, explore a little and then look for a job whilst Im there? would a medical only done in China be ok or would I have to get one here in UK before I leave. Save for the police check? are they super strict on this? Im not sure I could apply from China to get one…

    I would prefer to be in a smaller city, I love to walk and be in nature as well as explore the towns/cities – any recommendations for places I can research to start with?

    I would love to work with kids but im very open to to anything else.

    I don’t have a TEFL etc either but am thinking to do this in the next couple of weeks if its really necessary.

    Thank you in advance for any answers.

    Happy Travels

  66. Hi Meg,

    Thanks for commenting. I completely agree. We didn’t mind “office hours” at all, unless they were smack dab in the middle of the day, which can really throw off your plans! Substituting, doing office hours, marking papers, writing lesson plans and doing promotions are all part of the job in China 🙂

  67. Hi Jake,

    If you have your TEFL certificate and have a degree in something, anything, then you can apply to be a teacher as well. If you don’t have those things, you could attempt to find a job, but it will be more difficult. If you do somehow find one, make sure you are teaching legally, with the proper visa.

    As for accommodation, we had friends who had spouses that lived with them in their apartment and it wasn’t a problem. You would probably have to run it by the school though.


  68. Most companies want you to work for a year, or at minimum, 6 months. Perhaps you could find some work over the summer though. Who did you take your TEFL with? Typically they help you find a position. If all else fails, you can go to China and start knocking on doors!

    Also check out dave’s esl cafe, tefl.net and transitionsabroad.com

  69. I am a Filipino ESL teacher and one of the schools in china already contacted me and send me the invitation letter. I also submitted the documents and will have an interview in the embassy. What questions do they usually ask and is there a high percentage that my z visa will be approved? Also, i want to know how chinese students deals or react with non-native teacher especially filipino teacher. I am very excited and positive about it but i also have some worries . Hope you can help me. Thanks

  70. Hi Ange!

    You will need to have a medical check done at home. Once you get the job, you will need to have another check done in China – so silly, I know. You can definitely arrive in China on a tourist visa, explore a bit, get a feel for it, figure out which city you want to live in and then apply for jobs. Just make sure that your school will pay for and help you with transferring your tourist visa over to the legal working visa.

    A TEFL is becoming more and more important to have. You can obtain it through i-to-i, who are one of the most recognized ones:


    If you use that link and enter “GOTR10” promo code, you will get 10% off 🙂

    There are many cities you can teach in, but if you want nature then avoid the bigger cities of Shanghai and Beijing. Hangzhou is relatively small with a nice lake/park, Yunnan is gorgeous, Guilin and Yangshou are fabulous, but do your research before going.


  71. Hello,

    Don’t worry about the interview. They will want to know any experience you have with teaching, what qualifications you have, why you want to teach in China, etc. I’m not 100% sure what they will ask as we didn’t have an interview at the embassy, just with the school.

    The students will be fine with you being Filipino.

    Have fun!

  72. I really would not advise teaching with a degree, I know someone who the locals copped on, the education department investigated. 5,000 kuai fine and off he was back home with a 5 year ban on entering China. Another few tips I would offer; don’t use a recruiter they’re gonna take a 3,000 kuai chunk of your salary a month on top of an already likely low salary (10,000)~. Find the institution yourself and make an offer directly to them. Two years experience is not necessary if your employer is willing to write you a recommendation but a degree as stated is mandatory. Being a native english speaker is likely not good enough, being white is actually just as important as being native (I know ridiculous).

    I have two experiences in China; One year as a highly specialized engineering professional and 6 months as an ESL teacher. On the one hand teaching children in China which I honestly loved and enjoyed every day and having a lot of free time during the weekdays was kinda cool for a while. I really don’t think it’s a long term prospect though, the money never really gets “good”. I think the best time I had in China was when I was employed by an American company to train local employees in China. I see too many people jump straight into this ESL thing with a good degree and essentially throw away careers. I was never paid that much as an esl teacher around 12,000 monthly but I’ve heard the high end for international institutions is 20,000 kuai. Compare that to an expat wage of something in a global company and you’re looking at triple that at minimum + a nice bonus on top.

    I would especially try to sell this to non white folk who I am sure this would benefit much more than myself. You’d get a much more fair package.

  73. Hi,

    I have been reading these posts as I am considering teaching in China and I have no degree. I just need to point out that the teachers in the link you posted were on tourist Visas or other visas and not Z Visas, this is why they were deported and deemed illegal. As long as you have the Z Visa you then apply after 30 days for your permit to live and work in China. This is all legal and done via your employer and the government.

  74. Loving these blog posts! Might be a bit too late for a response but I was wondering if a college diploma would be okay for some institutions to teach English in China legally? Or its really slim from the looks of it?

    As well, I’m Chinese born Canadian with English being my first language, would that affect me chances of even getting a job of picked for an interview? I have been told they prefer Caucasian people for English teachers.

    Thank you!


  75. Hello!!!
    This was very helpful thank you! 🙂 I had some questions on applying to ESL jobs in China.
    I emailed couple of the agencies and told them about my situation but none of them emailed me back…
    and I was wondering if this has anything to do with my nationality.
    I’m a Korean-American. I’m fluent in both languages and have about 2 year experience.
    I didn’t have any problem finding a teaching job in Korea, but do you think me being a Korean could be a problem?

    Thanks in advance!

  76. Hi Diana,

    Unfortunately, it’s true, for some reason the Chinese parents don’t think it’s possible for Asian people to speak English as well as Caucasians! So crazy. However, I would never say never and would try to get a job in the bigger cities like Shanghai or Beijing 🙂 You could definitely try with your college diploma, but they are cracking down over in China and it’ll be easier to get a job with a Uni degree – either way, make sure you’re there on a Z (working) visa, and not as a tourist. Good luck to you 🙂

  77. Hi Grace,

    We are now recruiting for teaching positions at Shane English school in China. If you would like, send your resume, TEFL, uni degree and photo of yourself to us by email nick (at) goatsontheroad (dot) com.

    The parents in China can be funny about having their children taught by an Asian person…they just don’t think that there’s any way that Asians can speak English as well as Caucasian! It makes no sense, I know.

    Don’t give up!


  78. Thank you for information! I’m also going yangzhou but on my own I have been offered a job however how does the accomadation system work? Do I have pay 2 months of rent (deposit) upfront and Pay monthly?

  79. Hi Goats On The Road,

    You keep saying you need to have a medical check done in in your home country and then another one done in China. I have to say, this is the first I’ve heard of anyone being forced to do the tests twice (other than for not using the correct standard form, not getting the correct medical stamps, etc, the first time).

    I’m a UK citizen and applied for a Z visa in mid-2011 and worked in China for 3 years thereafter (albeit in financial services, not as an English teacher). I also applied for an X visa in the middle of last year to study Chinese long-term. In neither case were two medical tests required, and I don’t know of any of my expat colleagues (when I was working) or fellow long-term students (under my current arrangements) who had to do this.

    A medical test is required in order to convert an X or Z visa (which initially only allows a 30-day stay on entry) into a 1 year temporary residence permit (which indicates whether the purpose of your residence is work or study based on your entry visa type).

    I’ve heard that the visa offices in some countries may demand the medical certificate as part of the visa application process (and maybe the Canadian application centres do this), but other visa offices (such as in the UK) don’t require the test as pat of the X/Z visa application process. Personally, both times I got the test done in the UK before leaving (more expensive than doing it in China, but better to know of any issues before relocating!). Both times, the UK tests were sufficient for obtaining the residence permit once in China.

    Clearly, you were made to do the tests twice. But I wonder whether this was more a factor of the local registration process in the city you relocated to (or the processes of your local employer), rather than the ‘norm’ per se.


  80. When I taught at Zhenjiang Ocean University, all the new teachers came in on tourist visas. There were about ten of us who had to spend the day doing everything required to change to a working visa, including a trip to police headquarters and a trip to the hospital for our medicals. The teacher from New Zealand had already had his medical completed at home and it wasn’t accepted. He had to do it over again at the hospital. I can see why, as the medical exam we had in China was FAR more thorough than any physical exam I have ever had back home in Canada!

  81. Just started thinking about teaching in China. Had some interview but really not sure on the details. How do I know if I am talking to the school or an agency? Had two interviews and couldn’t say if the people were school employees or employees of an agency. “Joy World Education” and “Shenzhen City College” – latter sounds more legit.

  82. Do you have any contacts that are 100% legit where I can teach in less populated and more like the real traditional China where I can experience culture.

  83. Totally. The recruiter fee should be paid for by the school and never ever come out of teacher’s salary. If a recruiter asks for money or the school deducts any pay from your salary, look elsewhere.

  84. Thank you both for your helpful breakdown. Q. I hold a degree and currently work in a library where I do story-time with children. However, I have no tefl or tesol. I’m really having trouble choosing the best option; I can’t take time off work for the TESOL but don’t want get a cert which is of little value. Please can you advise me? I’d like to go to China ASAP so I can save money and learn a new culture. Thanks again.

  85. Yes, they were on tourist visas BECAUSE they (some of them anyway) did not have degrees…so they were unable to get a work visa. If you do not have a degree you will not get a Z visa… unless the school provides the visa issuing agency with a forged degree or copy of a legit degree of another teacher…both of which have been known to occur in the past. Yes there are workarounds the Z visa (I’ve just described two) but there are NO legal ones. Not anymore anyway. And that holds true whether you work in a 1st or 2nd or 3rd tier city.

  86. Yes, they were on tourist visas BECAUSE they (some of them anyway) did not have degrees…so they were unable to get a work visa. If you do not have a degree you will not get a Z visa… unless the school provides the visa issuing agency with a forged degree or copy of a legit degree of another teacher…both of which have been known to occur in the past. Yes there are workarounds the Z visa (I’ve just described two) but there are NO legal ones. Not anymore anyway. And that holds true whether you work in a 1st or 2nd or 3rd tier city.

  87. Hi Goats,
    Love your website. Thank you for all your relevant and interesting info.
    I just received a contract for a kindergarten job in Haikou, China, that starts next month. I feel concerned over the legitimacy of this contract, and would love your input to know if this is standard practice in China, and any advice you may have about proceeding. I really appreciate it. I’m excited about the opportunity to work in China, yet certainly don’t want to get stuck in any sketchy situation.
    I was told I would be paid a total of 15,000 RMB including housing allowance and all benefits. (I have an MA in teaching and a CELTA) The contract, however, has only promised a much lower “base salary” and the rest of the salary is grouped into “monthly bonuses”. The red flags for me are the language “CAN BE awarded” and “UP TO the following amounts”. There are a couple other red flags that are concerning me, mainly holding me liable to pay the company copious amounts of USD if I terminate the contract early, and that the contract is fully in Chinese with a translation on a separate paper that holds no legitimacy. Thank you for your input. I posted those parts of the contract below:

    The monthly bonus can be awarded up to the following amounts: Accident warning 2,000 RMB, Public events and teaching meetings 2000 RMB, Managers assessment 2,000 RMB, Cooperation Assessment 500 RMB, Office Manner 1,000 RMB.

    Party B (me) should pay Party A (the school) 2,000 US dollars in compensation if Party B cancels the Contract or leaves the post within one month after the end of probation. (the contract goes on to state slightly lower dollar amounts to be paid for the duration of the year, if I were to cancel later than one month up to a year)

    There are 4 originals copies of the Contract, written in Chinese only. If Party B needs the English translation, he/she can ask Party A for it. However, the English translation is for reference only and does not have legal binding force.

  88. Hey there,recently got a job in Hozhou,china,even sent all the documents for my work permit in Dec,its been 3weeks now and i have not heard anything from them,how long does it take for the work permit to be issued?now worried.

  89. Hey guys,

    Your website is great and I’m so glad to have come across it. I’ve found it to be incredibly informative even though I’m sure I haven’t even read a quarter of your articles…yet!

    I simply have 2 questions which I would be very grateful for you to answer or shed some light on. The first being that I’m a black woman from the UK with a degree and currently working towards my 150 hour TEFL certificate. Having done some research on teaching English in China, I’ve found that many if not all people (that chose to share their experience online) from black or other ethnic minorities have found it quite difficult to find a good job there. It seems there might be some preconceived notions that are held as to whether people of non-Caucasian descent can speak just as good English. I was wondering if you know of any schools or agencies that are ok with having ethnic minorities on their staff? I hope this doesn’t come across as rude but having done some research into it, it has got me a bit worried if I’m honest.

    My second question is that my boyfriend is Caucasian, he doesn’t have a degree but is also working towards getting his TEFL 150 hour certificate. In your experience, have you known of couples to find jobs in the same school/area with one not having a degree?

    I understand you guys are probably bombarded with questions on a daily basis but appreciate any advice you may offer.

    Peace and love from not so sunny Glasgow 🙂

  90. Hi Steff,

    You are correct. Unfortunately, there is some discrimination towards coloured people in China…and towards Asians as well. For whatever reason, the Chinese parents do not believe that anyone who is black, brown or Asian could possibly speak English as well as someone who is white. Crazy, I know.

    However, our school had someone working there who was Latin American, and in Shanghai, we met an African-American teacher. So, it’s defintely possible to get a job.

    Send us your details, we are now recruiting teachers for Shane English Schools around China.


  91. Hi there,

    I am wondering, is it possible to get a job if both(we’re two, willing to teach in China) are non-natives, white/European? He has a bachelor degree and I have only a high school diploma. He’s a teacher, just made his BA(not referring to TEFL).
    We’ve been lurking on ESL cafe, but haven’t seen any agencies that would be willing to hire us. lol We have been trying to find opportunities in smaller cities, but the sad truth is, I am blind. Finding agencies/schools has been difficult/traumatic, it’s my 8th day online(n a row) and today is blog day(just found your blog). The crackdown along with new regulations has made it tough to find anything. Being the blunt-y that I am, I gotta say we’ve been looking to find something in a smaller city because of China’s unique bureaucratic environment”(it is obviously harder to get Z’s in bigger cities). If you know any resources(agencies/schools)… help is muuuuuch appreciated! We’ve been looking into souther provinces- Shanghai, down to guangdongGuanx/yunnan/etc.

    Thanks! Have fun!

    My mail is: sheikai@openmailbox.org

  92. Oh guys, now I really miss China a lot!! Teaching English there was a great experience and I wish I could come back there soon!! Are you planning to teach English anywhere else?

  93. Hi

    I want to come and Teach English in China, I have a diploma, TEFL certificate, 3 years work experience and Teaching English Experience (3 months).
    Can you please refer me to a school which will hire me?

  94. Hi Agness can you please help me out, I want to come and Teach English in China.
    I need a school

  95. Reilly SHUTTTTT UPPPPPPPPPP, everyone cant afford a DEGREE like you, some of us have no choice but to cut corners, just be glad people are trying to get a JOB instead of RELYING on the welfare system.
    Its always somebody like you that has some old stupid played out speech to say. Im thankful for this site and how it helps people, If people want to go and teach in china without a DEGREE its their BUSINESS not yours, so again Reilly SHUT UP and mind your own BUSINESS.

  96. If you have no choice but to “cut corners” as you say….whose fault is that but your own? I had to work two jobs just to afford my degree and to go to university. I still did it. It still took ten years afterwards to pay off my loans but again I did it. And if people want to go and teach in China without a degree it is is EVERYONE’s business, most of all the government’s which says that is ILLEGAL. And it is the legal teachers (such as myself) business as well since you are competing unfairly with us and taking jobs away from those who have a LEGAL right to be here. Kindly please take your own advice and be quiet since as an illegal teacher you have no right to be in China and therefore no say in the matter.


  98. Hie guys

    I have been chatting with a certain agent in China of late, she sent me a contract which l signed. My worry is, l’m not sure how legit they are, all the communication was via email. My family fear the issue of human trafficking there, l don’t know how true and risky that is but l really need the job. The offer is not that colourful, 6000rmb/month but the penalties are tough. Basically the contract is a bit stringent, for example:

    1). (On this article: Expiration and termination) Any reason to breach the contract , the employee will be fined 10000rmb. This will be deducted for five months (2000rmb) when the teacher has begun but after the contract completion it’ll be given in full by the employer.

    How legit is that? Probably it’s common.

    Also, l don’t if you have ever heard of the Smile Education (my employer). The Employer has entered into the franchise agreement with Global Communication Center for the establishment of a foreign language-teaching center under the Government Culture Bureau system.

    I really need to know if this legit, l don’t any contact details, website or anything. Visited the Embassy, it’s not as helpful as thought.

    Thank you, will appreciate your response

  99. …by the way, the contract states that my working location will in a town called Daqing and in Heilongjiang province

  100. Hey there,

    I am from Nepal, a neighboring country of China. I have completed Bachelor in English Literature and Social work in 2009. Thereafter, I started working in different areas including government agency, NGO and also in academic sector as a lecturer in bachelor level (I taught Social Work). I was wondering if I would be eligible to teach in China?

  101. I don’t know much (anything) about human trafficking in China. You would have to do your own research on that.

    6000 / month is quite low to be honest. 8,000 should be the minimum, and on top of that, free housing, insurance, some transport, flights to and from China, etc.

    I don’t like that bit in the contract about breach whatsoever. That means that you only have 4,000 left each month for living expenses? We haven’t seen this before.

    If you’re looking for a job still, contact us as we are recruiters for a reputable school in china.

  102. Anonymous,

    I am a maltese citizen aswel and I am looking to teach in china.

    Did you found something? Hopefully yes since 2013.

  103. The contract you showed, from Shane English School also comes with a second document called a “Directive,” which contains several illegal clauses. The state that overtime will be paid at 100% of the base salary. However, Chinese labour law states that overtime must be paid at a rate of 150% regular salary.

    • For overtime worked during normal working days – not less than
    150% of the hourly salary for each overtime hour worked
    • For overtime worked during any rest day (generally Saturday and
    Sunday) and if no extra rest could be arranged in lieu thereof
    – not less than 200% of the hourly salary for each overtime hour
    • For overtime worked during the legal holidays (i.e., public
    holidays) – not less than 300% of the hourly salary for each
    overtime hour worked

    Additionally, they claim that they will reimburse half the flight cost at 6 months; however, the co tract states that this money, plus the cost of any paid vacation time taken will be deducted from the final salary if the contract is terminated early. Chinese labour law states that if the contract was terminated due to the employer’s violation of labour laws, the employee is entitled to severance pay, not salary deductions. I have read that the labour bureaus are very strict and aggressive in investigating labour law violations.

    The Shane English School contract is actually very strict and I will not be signing it.

  104. Hello, I am contacting you because I am really confused about a teaching job in China.
    First of all, let me thank you for the valuable information, all what you mentioned is very important, especially when it comes to contracts.

    I am concerned about the contract. I am a non-native English but I have studied in English.
    The problem is that it’s really vague when it comes to office hours.
    Can you please help me. Here’s a excerpt of the job offer details:
    Our schedule is Wednesday 5:30-7:30pm,

    Thursday 5:30-7:30pm,
    Friday 5:30-7:30pm,
    Sat 9am-12am 2:00-5:30pm
    Sun 9am-12am 2:00-5:30pm,

    18-25 teaching hours a week ,However the schedule is flexible. Monday and Tuesday are off. Also consider non-native with good English ability and good pronunciation.

    our range is from 10,000-17,000RMB /month , we also assist you in finding an apartment around the school.and either cover the apartment rent,or give you apartment allowance.we provide z visa and other benefits.like paid holidays and airfare subsidy.we have overtime pay for the teacher,and extra bonus upon teacher’s work as well.

    we will offer high salary as long as you are a good teacher.We have teaching materials such as projectors,textbooks etc to offer we have Chinese assistant to help with managing the discipline of the class and assist in foreign teacher’s work requirement : we need experienced teacher with kids 3-12 years old.qualified and also good english pronunciation,we want a reliable teacher who is responsible for the job.we also provide working visa,
    we have chinese assistant to help with managing the discipline of the class and assit in foreign teacher’s work English language schools.

    They say a non-native is also considered but then they cite that about natives;it seems vague.
    What do you think about it? I really need your answer and please understand that no country accepts non-natives except China, so the chances of getting any job are very slim for me.


  105. Hi Goats on the Road,

    I am a female from India, I am completing my graduation with specialization in English from Pune University. If I complete TEFL course will i get a teachers job in China. Can you please help me with what I need to prepare.


  106. Hi goats on the road. Tell me do they still get exparts tested for HIV and deport them if they HIV+?

  107. Hi! I’m intrigued by your blog! What program did you go through to land the teaching position in China?

  108. Excited for a new role and to be the part of the system by sharing the English language with the children Thanks to TeachinChina for providing me such a wonderful platform.

  109. Hey guys, I really enjoy your blog! I have a few questions. How long is the hiring process? I’m thinking about starting next spring, is this a good time to apply?. I don’t have TEFL at this point. Do you recommend I get it prior to applying, or can I obtain it during the process? Lastly, which level of TEFL courses should I take to be able to work? Do I need to get to professional level, or is basic OK? Thank you in advance! By the way, I’ve been thinking about going back to China every day for last year since I traveled there for a month. I finally decided to do something about it. Thanks for the inspiration! Best, Jelena

  110. The best system to be part of it by offering education to the students which provides me a satisfaction not only with students but the people of these place are very cooperative, the way of living are high standards. Thanks to Teach in China providing me an opportunity to be part of it.

  111. Thanks for your detail clarifications. A few days ago I had a lot of doubt but now all has been cleared. Some days before I sent my resume to Seven Education Technology Co., Ltd which is a leading provider of kindergarten live online English class. I hope they will select me.

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