Teach English in China without a degree

Teach English in China without a degree

Many fresh grades and fluent English speakers with no teaching experience dream of going over to China. This place is known for its cultural diversity and abundance of offers. Flourishing Chinese economy provides a growth in labor market. The indigenous consider English as an essential second language to fulfil their ambitions and be upskilled professionals worldwide. That is why, so many ESL teachers find it as a great chance to get international practice and start teaching here. It leads to a question, whether it's real to work there without a tertiary education.

There are a lot of myths that exist in terms of legal working in China. Probably, you have met such people, who work there with no degree. They may even think that it's safe and reliable way to work and travel in China. However, it's not. There is not only answer to that question. Let's find out what you must know before packing. 

Is a college degree a necessity to teach in China?

No, it is not a significant point that a language center is interested in. It directly relates to government regulations rather than employer's. You don't need a degree to work at school. But you can't teach English legally without Z visa. Getting such a document is impossible without a degree. According to the fact that 99% of tutors move to China through recruiters, they will tell you everything that you want to hear in order to persuade you. Don't forget, there are a lot of scammers that can assure you that education doesn't mean so much. Obtaining Z visa is a vital point to work in China. If you don't have it, consequences might be so severe including jail time, deportation and fines. So you see, you may have no education and be a perfect candidate for Chinese private schools. But, it won't help you to feel safe in the country. 

If you want to start teaching without a degree, consider a way to teach English online. It will be much safer and legal to teach Chinese students in the country.

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Other ways to get visa without a major

If you don't want to work under the table and hide in a restroom every month, you can be an intern on a student X visa. It doesn't require a degree. That's a good and legal way to teach English in China for non-degree holders. It is unlikely, you will make a fortune doing this job, but you will have a chance to study and choose jobs in any state institution. If you understand, the sum that you earn is not enough, you will be able to teach online and get more money. Such visa is valid for six months. That's enough time to understand, if China meets your needs as a country to live and work. 

There are a few ways to do the sights in the most popular places in the world like Hong Kong and Taiwan. You can calm down and relax having working holiday visa. Such piece of paper allows you to travel around for 1 year and take a part-time job in a high school or a private academy. Such visa doesn't oblige ESL teachers to have a bachelor's degree. In any case, keep other requirements in mind, if you are eager to obtain such visa.

Hong Kong Working Holiday Visa Requirements:

  • Only citizens of English-speaking countries.
  • Travel is an significant reason of your staying in Hong Kong.
  • Sufficient funds for all expenses required.
  • You are not supposed to have a full-time job.


  • A valid passport from one of these countries: Taiwan, New Zealand, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Japan, Canada, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, South Korea, United Kingdom and Ireland.
  • You must prove that you haven't got such visa in the past.
  • Traveling is only reason of your staying in Taiwan.
  • Age must be between 18 and 30 years old.
  • Financial cushion must cover at least NT$ 100,000 (or equivalent foreign currency) for you stay in Taiwan.

So you see, there are several ways to teach English in Chinese-speaking countries without a degree. Some ways will take your efforts and money, some of them won't let you earn a lot. Any way, it's possible to work in the country legally and be sure that you are doing everything in a right way. And teaching English online is also an additional way to make extra money and follow the regulations. 

What other eligibility requirements are there to teach in China?

As we understood, getting Z visa and having any degree are closely tied. There is a great news for those, who have completed a college. It doesn't matter what major you have got. Don't think that your education is irrelevant and doesn't have anything to do with teaching English. Most language centers and public schools don't pay attention to it. Teaching license is also advisable but not mandatory thing. What is more important is teaching experience. Let's dive deeper in cases, when it'll be your advantage. 

Teaching experience

China is famous for its loyal attitude to inexperienced tutors. There are a few reasons of why it's so. The government understands that there will be not many suitable candidates, who speak Chinese fluently. Because of that, they supply English teachers with Chinese native speakers to manage children in a class and help you to feel comfortable. There is the cause, why there aren't such requests in terms of Chinese language. The second reason is more pleasant. Some private schools and academies want their employees to study. And they are ready to pay for your professional development. You will be able to have ESL certification in order to upskill and show your determination to learn teaching.


In spite of loyalty of Chinese employers, there is a thing that you are responsible for. Getting international certification as TEFL/TESOL or CELTA/DELTA will suffice to stand you out of other candidates and show your love to study. As we know, knowing English language obliges tutors to learn English all the time and get new approaches of teaching. CELTA certified teachers considered to be high-qualified professionals according to Cambridge system. However, it's an expensive course that lasts about 2 or 4 months. It's unlikely, you will be able to work during such course, because it takes all day to learn and practice new knowledge. That's the reason why some teachers take a half year break to complete the course and stay effective and calm. TEFL or TESOL certificate is more real in comparison with the previous one. It will also skyrocket you to the top of the recruitment list. You will be pleased to know that such course have different options in terms of duration. But a bare minimum that all Chinese schools want to see is 120- hour TEFL qualification. Moreover, such course is more affordable. If you are not sure in your teaching knowledge, don't hesitate and enroll in TEFL/TESOL course, it will give you an advantage among other teachers around the world.

Other requirements

Coming back to teaching experience, there are no strict requests in terms of it. As we have figured it out, some public and private institutes will be willing to hire you even without ESL experience, especially to teach young learners. China is one of the huge country of the world, and demand in English tutors is increasing each year. This fact can make you think that any working experience might be your merit. It's right. Think of all your professional and even personal achievements that you've got. Work in a local kindergarten or assist in a local University will be taken into account.

Can I work in China if I'm not from English speaking country?

Most employers want to hire only native English speakers. However, it won't preclude you from sending your application. Salary in China seems to be high, but even this option depends on others points. People from such countries like the USA, the UK got used to another cost of living. So, China might be a little exotic for them. Despite the fact, that salaries and other benefits are much higher than expenses, they can not adjust to fast pace of life in China. So, it will be a chance for non-native English speakers to show themselves and their knowledge. If you speak English fluently and teaching is your passion, that is enough to impress a potential employer.

Let's summurize all real requirements to teach in China:

  • A degree required.
  • TEFL/TESOL or CELTA certification.
  • Fluent English speaker.
  • 2 years of working experience in any field will be your merit.
  • Having a Clear Criminal Record.
  • Candidates of 18 and 55 (women) and 60 (men) years old.
  • Passing a Medical Examination.
  • Obtaining a valid Z Visa.
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China seems to be the most attractive country not only for tourists but also for ESL teachers, due to its high demand in English learning. There are a lot of teaching jobs. We've considered possible ways of legal getting visa that allows to work, get benefits and feel safe. And we've flipped through serious consequences for everyone, who thinks of working under the table there. Browsing the Internet you may find a lot of strict requirements that we've discussed. Some of them are not so daunting. Others are loopholes for high-qualified teachers with a degree to prove their ability to teach. Anyway, we hope that our article makes you think of your advantages and disadvantages as an English teacher. It will help you to take an action in order to become an outstanding candidate for any Chinese school.

The first and the most important step for you is to improve your teaching knowledge. TEFL/TESOL certificate supplies you with a theoretical base on how to teach defferent types of students, and what approaches you may use. Also, there will be practice to check your comprehension and enhance ability to teach. Check our homepage to enroll in the TEFL/TESOL course and get an international certificate. You have a chance to purchase an online course at 50% discount! We will be glad to see your feedback in the comments below.

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