Teach English as a second language in China

Teach English as a second language in China

Chinese culture has always been one of the most developed and intriduing. As the Chinese are diligent students, there is a huge demand for ESL teachers. The population is so big that there is a constant shortage of professional ESL tutors. However, even newcomers can find a decent workplace to fulfill their ambitions. Thanks to the low cost of living and impressive benefits package, a lot of English teachers come here every year. Also, a typical schedule allows not only to work but also to travel around. Ancient history, beautiful temples, and local food won't let anybody indifferent.

If you are ready to pack your bagpack, you should know some steps how to live and work in China. Whether you are qualified and experienced ESL tutor or not, we are going to tell you how to get a well-paid job in China and live your best life there. Keep reading this article to know what requirements you have to fit, what salary you may expect, and how to find a good position.

Benefits for English teachers in China

When you consider vacancies on the Internet, you pay attention to many factors. As moving abroad even for some time is a big deal, you must understand how much money you are going to spend and earn. In comparison with other countries, where you have to find accommodation and commute to work on your own, China provides everything to make life comfortable. Just imagine that everything you need to do is to commit to a one-year contract and go to work according to your schedule. Isn't it wonderful?

In order to make teachers' life easier and less stressful in China, the local employers offer really decent terms:

  • paid housing;
  • reimbursed transport fares;
  • flight tickets;
  • medical insurance;
  • meals at school where you work;
  • free lessons of Chinese;
  • paid holidays;
  • paid vacation days;
  • decent salary;
  • bonus for a contract completion.

It sounds like a fairytale, doesn't it? Obviously, you must prove that you are a decent candidate, because, probably, you understand that due to those perks, you have many competitors. Let's figure out what you need to impress a potential employer.

⏰ It's time!

🎓 Get a TEFL & TESOL course and certificate with a 50% discount!

And start earning money 💸 by teaching English in your own country, abroad, or online from anywhere on the planet! 🎁 Gifts and bonuses: professional support from your personal coach 🧑‍🏫 and job placement assistant 💼.

Intend resolutely

Eligibility requirements for English teaching in China

Unfortunately, the only wish to become and ESL teacher in China isn't enough to make your life there legal. As usual, everything boils down to visa regulations. There is a list of minimum you must have in order to be employed in China. The others who promise you to make you employed without such documents don't deserve your trust. Be careful, it's a red flag. Working in China without Z visa is under the table, so we don't recommend you such a way. It's better to know all rules beforehand and have some time to prepare yourself.

In order to get a job in China you must:

  • be a citizen of one of seven English-speaking countries: UK, Ireland, US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa;
  • have a bachelor's degree;
  • have one of the international certificates that proves your competence to teach abroad: CELTA, TEFL, TESOL;
  • have a clear background check;
  • fit the age limit, 18-60 for men, and 18-55 for women;
  • pass medical check.

However, there are always exceptions. Even if some requirements seem strict, it doesn't matter that you don't have a tiny chance to get a job if you don't fit the one of them.

Some exceptions:

  • If you have a degree in English literature or teaching, you may be hired without the teaching certification.
  • You may find a job having no experience at all but proving your education with a degree and the certificate.
  • For non-native speakers there is an opportunity to apply for a job having 2 years of teaching experience and being certified in their home country; sometimes it's necessary to pass a test of English teaching ability.

But if you want to be sure that you are going to have a cushy job in China, it's better to boast having TEFL/TESOL certification. It doesn't take much time to get it, but it will convince a potential employer that you are a competent candidate even with no relevant experience. Also, TEFL/TESOL course is way cheaper in comparison with CELTA, so you can study TEFL or TESOL while you are looking for a job. So, as soon as you get there, you will have the international certification that proves your right to teach people abroad. Check out our article to know more about each factor of how to fit the requirements.

Teaching ESL/EFL without a degree

When it comes to the question about if it's strict to have a college degree, there is the only answer: "Yes". The good news is your major may be different, so it doesn't matter what subject you have studied. What is more important that this rule has something to do with the visa. So, nobody can help you find a third way. As you see, being a degree-holder is necessary if you want to work as an English teacher in China.

However, don't get upset too early. There are some ways to check whether China meets your needs staying there no longer than 6 months. Fortunately, there are some programs that allow you to start teaching part-time. It isn't so bad as you have enough time to travel around and get familiar with the new culture. Read the article to know more about such opportunities on how to work in China without a degree.

Subscribe to our e-mail, 📩 to

Receive a 12-step checklist ✅ to increase income for English language teachers.

Discover the secrets to doubling your income from teaching English with our exclusive 12-step checklist! 🚀 This checklist is designed for English teachers who want to attract more students 🎓 and keep their interest for a long time. ❤️

Get a checklist

Types of teaching jobs in China

China is famous for its large labor market. Depending on your qualification and knowledge, you have a variety of choice where to work. You may teach kids in kindergarten with no experience at all. Also, you may work with teens and adults in other institutions. It's up to you. Obviously, each institute requires different things, so it's better to know what type of students you want to work with. Needless to say that the salary changes from school to school too. Somewhere you have only 10 working hours a week, another place provides full-time job. As you see, there are plenty of workplaces. Let's find out what you need to do to get there.

Private language academies

Private school is one of the most preferred workplaces in China. Each year the number of students increases drastically, as the parents want to make their children educated. Hiring period is open all year round due to the lack of ESL teachers. Such schools hire not only native speakers but also the non-native. The private institutions are popular in big cities such as Tianjin, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Beijing, and Shanghai. So, it's quite unlikely to find such a place in a rural area. The class is less than a typical in public schools. You may expect to teach about 15 students at once having a Chinese assistant. All classrooms are equipped with interactive white boards, laptops, and other gadgets necessary to teach English. It definitely makes the learning process more interesting.

Public schools

Despite that public schools pay less than private institutes, they provide less working hours, more official holidays, and other benefits. For example, you will have a flat within a 5-minute distance from school, so you won't have to commute to work having apartment near the workplace. In addition, schools do everything to make teachers involved in extra curriculum activities, you will have a chance to participate in talent shows and other school events. Don't be afraid of the number of students in your class, usually, it is about 50 people. You will be provided with syllabus having some leeway to change and adapt topics and materials.

International schools

The amount of children going to international schools rather than public is more than 100,000. And this number rises each year. The thing is that Chinese people are positive that English is a key to successful life, that is why they are obsessed with Western teaching approaches. You will be provided with everything you need to work. The classes consist of 18 students maximum, so it won't be energy-consuming to calm them down. The demand for ESL teachers is so strong there, so it is likely to become your full-time job. Obviously, the requirements are higher, as it's a cut-throat competition. You must have experience in teaching and some impressive accomplishments.

Private lessons

If you still don't have enough money, you have a chance to work more as a private English teacher. As you have understood, Chinese parents are interested in teaching their kids, so some wealthy families will be happy to hire such a qualified tutor as you. As for merit of being a private teacher, you don't have to spend so much time on preparation, because you can use any materials you want. There isn't paperwork and other boring things as you have at school. So the number of such private lessons depends on you. However, it's quite hard to find private students in China on the Internet. It's way easier to do when you are already there and have some new acqaintences.

Teach English Online to Chinese students

If you ask: "Is online English teaching in China a growth industry?", it's easy to check the answer on the Internet. There are many online Asian schools which are looking for foreign ESL tutors worldwide. Since the pandemic started, the fame of online education has got bigger and bigger. Now we can't even imagine out life without online courses. The advantages of teaching English to Chinese students remotely are obvious, but we would like to list the most popular.

The merits of working online in China:

  • there isn't red tape to get work visa and permit;
  • you can work without a bachelor's degree;
  • you don't stick to one place;
  • you can combine work in different schools to make more money;
  • you have decent salary;
  • you have a convenient schedule;
  • you don't have to think of dress code.

Despite you aren't in China, you still have international practice working with Asian students.

As you know, Asian labor market is huge, and it relates to online field too. You have a choice whether to work on online platform, where you pay some comission fee but choose students to work with; or to be a part of an online school, where you get certain amount of classes a week and have necessary materials.

There are some popular online ESL companies in China:

  • DadaABC;
  • ZebraEnglish.

In order to get an online job, teachers have to provide trial lessons to prove their competence to teach and make lesson plans. The salary varies from $10 to $18 per hour. As usually, everything depends on your confidence, knowledge, and credentials. TEFL-holders get higher salary than teachers with no international certification. If you want to give an online teaching a shot, check out the article, where you will find all information about online companies and applying process.

Average salary for ESL/English teachers in China

It's difficult to say the certain amount of money that ESL teachers make in China, because... well, it depends on many factors. First of all, location plays one of the most important roles, so a private school in Shanghai will pay more than the same in Changsha. In spite of the fact that experience isn't necessary to get a job, it may help to earn more. And it always works like this, experienced workers get more than rookies. In addition, as long as professional development is your focus, you are well-paid.

Let's see how it works in practice:

  • Having a college degree, TEFL certification but no experience, you may earn from $1,500-2,900 a month.
  • If you are qualified enough to teach other subjects in English you can make $2,500-4,700.
  • Working minimum hours (25 hours a week) with relevant background you will be given $1,000-1,500 per month.
  • Working part-time in Chinese University you may get about $1,700 a month.

In order to understand the correlation between cities and average salary for ESL teachers, let's compare the same type of institutions.

How much you get working in language academy in:

  • Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou — $1,700-3,000;
  • Chengdu, Kunming, Wuhan — $1,400-1,800;
  • Yangzhou, Sichuan, Zhongshan, Guilin — about $1,500.

However, there is always a chance to save about $500 a month having paid housing, included meals, and flight reimbursement. That's why the more impressive your resume is, the better terms you will get.

Where to teach English in China?

When it comes to moving overseas, the location is significant not only because of salary but also because of lifestyle. The big cities are hustling and bustling, there is no time to enjoy beautiful views going to work, whereas suburbs appeal with their calmness and stable life. If you need vibrant nightlife, obviously, quiet cities as Guilin and Zhongshan aren't for you due to the lack of facilities.

Let's consider three the most popular destinations in China for ESL teachers.

  • Beijing as one of the busiest city in the world welcomes thousands of people each year. Due to the huge population, there is convenient transport network that helps to get from the capital to any province in no time. As the center of the most delecious food, historical sights, and the most famous pieces of art, Beijing offers high salary and other benefits to ESL teachers. The city will keep you busy on week days, but you may spend your days off walking near the Great Wall of China and other famous sights. It's difficult to catch the time when the city is sleeping, because even at night it suggests you watching plays, dancing in clubs, and singing in karaoke. If it meets your needs, read the article about workplaces and requirements to ESL teachers in Beijing.
  • Shanghai is said to be the second financial and cultural center after Beijing. There are the huge transportation system, skyscrapers like in Dubai, and expensive shopping malls. Needless to say that there is a strong demand for English. Adults are interested in improvement English level to study or work abroad, teens want to apply for a prestigious university, and even kids know that English is one of the most spoken language around the globe. So, you won't have to seek  students, they will find you themselves. This city has a lot to offer, a variety of green spaces if you are tired of hustle and bustle, the international restaraunts if you don't want to eat Chinese cousine, and many other things. Read more if you think to relocate to Shanghai.
  • It's hard to believe that some time ago Shenzhen was a humble fishing village on the outskirts of China. Now it's one of the important comercial centers in the world that attracts businessmen from all countries. This fact makes Shenzhen similar to Beijing and Shanghai. The number of people living here is more than 10 million, apparently, it won't be a problem to find a job. At least the one difference makes Shenzhen more attractive in comparison with other Chinese big cities — subtropical climate, which means the warm weather is all year round. If you consider moving in Shenzhen, read the article to know what to expect in terms of salary and cost of living.

How to find ESL/EFL jobs in China?

Job searching process is difficult enough, so it's better to know what to expect and how much time it takes. Also, it's hard to find a trustworthy employer, especially when most of them post vacancies in Chinese. There is nothing wrong to turn to recruiters, which can help to identify legitimate companies.

Also, if you have already chosen the city where you would like to work, you may search available positions on job search websites. Thanks to the Internet, you have a chance to stay in touch with a potential employer, and clarify all information before commitment to a contract. As usual, the pick of hiring period is November, however schools are constantly in need of professional ESL teachers.

We have compared work terms in diffirent countries of Asia and collected all information about salary and requirements in the article. There you will find trustworthy websites to look for a dream job.


As you see, China has a lot to offer, and only you decide where to work and how much to get. It comes with no surprise that it isn't a piece of cake to get a job there. Obviously, you don't need to have a master program or something like that, but you must prove that you are the best candidate at the interview. The best thing to do is to demonstrate professional accomplishments, recommendation letters, relevant experience, students' cases, and international certificates.

Online TEFL/TESOL course will make you a preferred candidate and won't take much time to complete. In a few months you will become a professional ESL teacher, who knows how to work with people of different ages and make effective lesson plans. You will be able to teach Business English, exam preparation, and English for specific purposes. As soon as you finish the course, you will get the certificate, which is recognized and respected by all employers in the world. Even if you worry where to find a job, you will get help from a personal employment assistant after you finish the course. You will be given useful recommendations on how to make your resume better. Don't waste your time and start studying today. You can purchase the course at the 50% discount.

What are advantages of working in China? Share your opinion in the comments section below. Feel free to leave your questions, we are always glad to help.

Terms used:


Related articles