China is one of the top destinations for teaching English abroad due to high salaries and high demand. In this blog post, I’ll share the basics of what it takes to teach in China to help you decide if this is the right country for your teach abroad adventure.
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Requirements to Teach English Abroad in China
The basic requirements to legally teach English in China are:
- a 4 year bachelor’s degree (unless you studied in the UK, Australia or NZ in which case a 3 year degree is accepted)
- citizenship from the US, Canada, Australia, NZ, the UK, Ireland or South Africa
- be able to pass a criminal background check
- be under 55 years old for women and 60 for men because this is the official retirement age
- A TEFL certificate of at least 120 hours
If you don’t have a TEFL certificate yet, check out this blog post for TEFL courses I recommend.
If you want to teach in international schools, you may need a teaching license from your country such as a US teaching certificate or QTS in the UK.
These are the requirements to get a Z visa which allows foreigners to legally work as English teachers in China.
If you don’t fit this criteria, for example, you are a non-native speaker, it may still be possible to teach in China, but you will need a different visa and will need to teach a subject that isn’t English.
Types of Schools in China
There are a few different types of schools in China where foreign English teachers can work.
If you are a new teacher, then it’s best to start out at Training Centers. These schools are essentially English language schools and class sizes are much smaller than other school types which makes them ideal for new teachers.
You can expect to teach a variety of class types like one and one and group classes as well as different age groups. These schools are typically open outside of regular school hours so you may be teaching at nights and on weekends.
Note: Due to the “double reduction” policy in China, most of the training centers in China have closed. The ones that are open are typically for adults or they may have been converted into private kindergartens.
Public Schools and Kindergartens
Public schools and kindergartens are also options if you have a degree and TEFL. Class sizes are much bigger in these schools, often up to 30, 40 or 50 kids in a class, so this option is better if you already have some teaching experience.
International Schools and Universities
To teach in International Schools and Universities you need to be a certified teacher, not just have a TEFL, in most cases. This means that you have something like a US teaching license. PCGE, Master’s of Education, etc.
International schools typically pay well but it’s better to teach a different subject than English because you’ll be more in demand. Not all international schools are equal in quality, so research the school carefully before accepting a job offer.
Universities don’t pay well, but you’ll work fewer hours so this could be a good option if you are more interested in learning the language or traveling.
Salaries to Teach English in China
Pay varies depending on school type and the school’s location. International schools and training centers in larger cities tend to pay the best whereas universities pay the lowest, with public schools and kindergartens in between.
According to a blog post from International TEFL Academy, first-time teachers in China can expect to make between $1,250 and $2,850 USD per month and some teachers being able to save $20,000 USD per year.
Teachers in China typically receive benefits which may include free housing, flight reimbursements, health insurance, bonuses or paid vacation.
How to Find a Job & Get a Visa to Teach in China
To find teaching jobs in China you can either do it yourself or go through a recruiter.
If you want to do it yourself, you will want to look for positions on job boards or apply directly to schools. You can also join FB groups for teachers in China and if you know anyone who is teaching in China right now, they can refer you to their school.
Finding a teaching position through a recruiter saves time and is free for you. They can also help you with interviews and the visa process.
Whether you are finding positions yourself or going through a recruiter, always read reviews about your school and/or recruiter and ask to speak to a current foreign teacher working at the school.
Recruiters and Job Boards
Z Visa Process in China
Your school will sponsor your work visa which is called a Z visa. In some cases, they may try to give you a different visa if they need you to start quickly, but be careful. The Z visa is the most common visa for teaching English in China.
Once you’ve been given a job offer, your school will be able to sponsor your visa and then you can apply for it at your nearest Chinese consulate. There are a lot of different documents that you need to gather, including getting some documents certified, so to learn more about this process, you can check out the blog post from International TEFL Academy.
Pros and Cons of Teaching in China
China is a popular destination for teaching abroad because of high salaries, the ability to save money, a variety of ways to teach, travel opportunities and demand for English teachers.
If you want to immerse yourself in a completely different culture, then teaching in China is a great option. If you are a foodie, China is a fantastic location for trying new things.
Some of the cons of teaching in China include pollution levels in larger cities, difficulty learning local languages, long hours depending on where you are teaching, and culture shock for new teachers.
Videos About Teaching in China
Andre – Expat on Teaching in China
Sbahle Mkhize – Ways to Get a Teaching Job in China
Jeremy – Should You Teach in China?
ITTT – Teaching English in China
Lwazi M – Apply to First Job in China