Requirements for English/ESL teachers in China

Requirements for English/ESL teachers in China

China has always been attractive for people with itchy feet. Competitive salary, awesome locations and decent work conditions are such things that create the most lucrative market in the world for English/ESL tutors. There are so many vacancies, which you may look through on the Internet. Focus on your preferences and key points to choose an appropriate. There is the biggest amount of English learners. Chinese population is so big, so there is a fat chance, you won't find a job. Every company and school there has their own vision and perspective regarding a diligent candidate. Required qualification and other things change from institution to institution. But once you have decided to move to China, you must get familiar with some points that you shouldn't look the other way. In order to be locked and loaded, it's better to weigh everything up. We have chosen the most important requirements, which help you get ready. Don't forget, there is something else beyond a list of advisable elements, it's your personality. Don't hesitate to stand out of the crowd with some professional or personal achievements.

Video about requirements for ESL teachers in China

Citizenship requirements

Satisfying this criteria seems to be biased, especially for non-native English speakers. Why is having a passport from approved countries so important? There are a lot of professionals around the world, who have great teaching knowledge, proven competence and even international experience. So, why does Chinese government stick to the idea of hiring only passport holders of certain nationalities? It is believed that native speakers know a little more in comparison with non-natives. Accent, humor and other historical bits and bobs play important role. Tutors from English speaking countries can teach not only grammar and vocabulary, but also pronunciation, collocation and cultural details. A famous motto, sound like a native, is getting popular each year.

You will go through the first stage of consideration if you are from those countries:

  • UK,
  • Ireland,
  • US,
  • Canada,
  • Australia,
  • New Zealand,
  • South Africa.

If you don't fit it, it's not the end of the world. You always have a chance to try and send your resume. Describe your professional development and results in the best way to prove your competence.

Course for English teachers


Process of obtaining a work visa seems to be daunting at the first glance. You just need to follow main points. Teaching ESL in China is so popular, so there are a lot of scammers. Everything in this article is vital to get Z-visa. Don't fall into a trap, when agencies promise way too much. You can't work legally in China on tourist or another type of visa. You will be deported and fined. When it comes to nationality and mother country, such criteria is pretty flexible.

Steps of obtaining the visa after you've got a job offer:

  • Sending your documents such as copy of your passport and a notarized copy of any degrees and certifications.
  • Then you receive a foreign work permit and Z-visa application process starts.
  • The Z-visa takes 3-7 business days to get accomplished, and you’ll need it to move to the country.
  • You’ll have only 24 hours in China to apply for a Residence Permit at a local police station.

An institution, where you are going to work, must sponsor your visa application. Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic situaton, you need to check travel restrictions and accepted vaccines in China.

Bachelor's degree

Bachelor's degree

Applicants for teaching in China must prove their right to work abroad. The shortcut to do that is a bachelor's degree. Your specialty might have nothing to do with English. If you have a diploma of engineering, you are still eligible to teach English in China. There is no way to obtain the Z visa without proven education. Before moving, you will be required to send a copy of your original diploma from your university. A kind of degree doesn't matter. It must be notarized by the institution to prove its originality.

Is it possible to teach without a degree?

If you don't fit such requirements to teach ESL in China, there is only way to get a part-time job and do that legally without education. It's internship. There are a lot of programs, which can offer some terms and conditions, while you are studiyng. It's not the best way to make a fortune, however it's a plan to get international experience. Be careful, if you face some schools, which are ready to bend the rules regarding the work visa. We don't recommend you working under the table. We suggest non-degree holders checking out our article about it.

Teaching certification

Another strict requirement that any applicant must fit to work legally. As you know, your major isn't important, you can be English tutor. But, it doesn't exclude a necessity in having teaching confirmation. There is a variety of exams you can take in order to prove your excellent English and teaching comprehension.

  • TEFL certificate is the most popular and accepted around the world. 120 hours of it is enough to become a professional. Due to the pandemic restrictions there are two ways to get it completed. Online and offline courses are equal in terms of knowledge. It gives you an opportunity to teach English to non-natives worldwide.
  • TESOL certificate is similar to TEFL. There is one difference. Having the last one you may teach in both types of countries, English speaking and non-English speaking.
  • CELTA is a Cambridge exam. It is considered one of the most complexed tests. Theory and practice will provide you with possible situations and difficulties, which your learners might have.

Whatever you choose, all of them are accepted around the world.

Can I teach there, if I'm a non-native speaker?

The short answer is no. As we have figured out, it's a must-have to get Z-visa. Applicants must be passport holders of particular countries. Some schools have no such requirements. Institutions in small cities can hire you regardless your nationality. It has nothing to do with schools requests rather than with government ones.

More about non-native speaking teachers of English.

Background check

Visa getting process includes supplying with a criminal record check. Why is it so vital? It is reasonable to employ easy going and careful people, who will be able to communicate with children. That's is a standard thing. Don't be afraid of anything, if there is nothing to hide. It's doesn't change a lot if you have made some small mistakes. Nobody cares about such records as speeding and underage drinking. Such misdemeanor doesn't ruin your career. Criminal background check varies from city to city. And minor mishaps don't prevent you from teaching overseas.

Sex and age

Such things are crucial for employers to make a final desicion. The common age range is from 18 to 60 years old. All applicants must fit it, in order to get any job in China, whether it's nurse or dentist. Institutions have right to change this requirement. It depends on duties. Some schools are looking for people, who are between 20 and 55. Their house, their rules.

China is getting closer to the western world and broadens horizons. People are trying to become open-minded and unbiased. Nobody cares of your religion and gender. What is more important that you are a high-qulified professional. Don't take it personally, if a school wants to hire only women or men. The reasons may stand for ancient Chinese culture.

Medical check

It happens, when you arrive in China. Institutions want you to carry out some tests, to prove you don't have any contagious disease, which might spread across China. There are different tests to check your immune system, mental health, blood pressure and breathing check. You have to visit a state hospital for 30 days since you got there. And you will get the results in a couple of days. Medical check may differ from school to school. It's better to check in advance, whether you can go through it in your home country or not. Sometimes, employers insist on taking 2 steps of medical check. The first just before you move to Chine, and the second as soon as you arrive.

Teaching experience

It's not an official part of visa rulations. Getting visa doesn't depend on such a detail. Don't forget, that this is the ace up your sleeve. Anything that you have done might be considered work experience. Think it over and find something, which relates teaching English or work with children. Getting back to strengths and weaknesses of candidates, it's better to be locked and loaded to an interview. Let employers know, that you are a decent applicant with outstanding attainments. Some personal traits will fit the bill to help you do that.

Personal and professional skills

A lot of schools are waiting for not only a brilliant professional, but also a good person. You may wonder, what a good person means. Despite the fact, that any ESL teacher must have either teaching degree or international certificate to prove an ability to teach, there is something else. If you pay attention to job description, you will find a line like, a passionate and outgoing person. It's unlikely that someone, who doesn't love children, will be able to make a rapport with them. Teaching is not the only duty. Tutor must spark interest in kids, help and encourage them. It is necessary to evaluate your positive traits.

Contract length

A 1-year contract is an average offer. Sometimes, you may face a 15-month project. It might take a while to adjust for foreign teachers, who have just arrived. Kindergartens or other schools have such terms and conditions on the purpose.

There are some reasons of that:

  • Schools hire staff at the beginning of a new academic year to be sure that all year is planned and everything goes right. Any program must be taught for this time.
  • It's stress for children to get used to a new teacher. So, academies try to get rid of it.

If you aren't still ready to commit to such a long period, choose another option. There are many programs and summer camps, where you can get teaching jobs with no experience and get used to another culture. A couple of months in China will lead you to the right decision.

Resume/CV for English teachers

One of the most significant step to get a well-paid job abroad is an impressive resume. Requirements for teaching like professional and personal accomplishments play an important role in this process. It's a high time you wrote it down in a good structure. You may have international certification, overseas experience or constant development, but nobody knows, unless you make it happen. Writing CV isn't the easiest and fastest thing, however if you want to make a lasting impression, you should work hard. We have prepared some templates and strategies to simplify this process. Check it out in our article.


Requirements for teaching English may vary depending on type of institute. There are crucial points, which you should take into account before start packing. Needless to say, that whether you teach English online or on the spot, you must be confident and qulified enough. Work with children or adults is a responsibility to help them go over obstacles and struggling during learning process. There is always a room for improvement for every tutor. Enroling in TEFL/TESOL course, you have a chance to understand and use some strategies of teaching language. Then you will be able to analyse any problem that your pupils have. Don't miss an opportunity to purchase online course at 50% discount. We will be glad to read your feedback in the comments below.

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