About Teaching English in China

Countless teachers decide to relocate to China every year, drawn by the competitive salaries, appealing perks, and awesome locations.

With over 300 million English learners, it’s no wonder that China is one of the biggest ESL markets in the world whose demand for English teachers seems to be virtually never-ending.

It’s estimated the country is currently experiencing a shortage of ESL teachers that, according to some, is only destined to grow. So, if you’re an English teacher, there’s good chances China needs you. 

The truth is, as you might have seen for yourself, finding job offers for English teachers in China is not an issue – just open any job search engine, type “ESL teacher China” and you’ll be inundated with offers.  However, not all positions are created equal and before you start sending out your TEFL resume, it’s important you understand how the hiring process works, what requirements you have to meet and what you can expect in terms of pay, benefits and schedule. 

What are the requirements to teach in China? 

Over the last few years, the Chinese government has imposed stricter requirements for those who wish to teach English in China.

As of 2020, these are the conditions you have to meet:

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If you don’t meet all the requirements, don’t get discouraged; some schools, cities and provinces are more flexible than others so, before you throw in the towel, it may be worth inquiring directly with the school where you’d like to teach and see if they could make an exception for you.

For a more in-depth explanation of the requirements to teach English in China, you can read this article.

What does teaching in China pay? 

One of the top reasons why China is such a popular destination among ESL teachers is because of the competitive salaries and benefits offered by schools.

Even though the average salary for an English teacher in China is estimated at around 15,000 RMB (~ $2,000 USD a month), your actual monthly stipend can vary widely and it will mostly depend on the following factors:

For an in-depth breakdown of how much you can expect to make based on the city tier and type of school you’d like to work in, you can check out this detailed guide we’ve put together.

What is the visa process for teachers in China? 

In order to be legally authorized to work in China, your only option is to secure a Z visa. Unfortunately, many schools out there try to take advantage of naive and less qualified candidates and get them to accept to work for them on a student or tourist visa.

Do not fall into this trap!

Getting caught working on anything but a Z visa in China will get you deported and even fined so be wary of any school that’s offering you a position that sounds too good to be true.

The good news is that getting a Z visa is not all that difficult and can in fact be a fairly easy and straightforward process since most of the heavy lifting will be done by your employer so, at first, the only thing you will really need to worry about is getting a job offer.

Now that you’ve found a company willing to sponsor you for a Z visa, here’s what you can expect to happen next:

Here you can find more information on the process to obtain a Z visa. 

What is the job like?

Everything, from the benefits to the schedule, varies widely based on the type of school where you’ll be working. Here’s a quick overview of what you can expect in each type of school.

Types of schools & Schedule

ESL teachers working in China can find work in the following institutions:


One of the aspects that makes ESL teaching in China so enticing is probably the great benefits that most positions come with. 

The benefits offered to you will depend on the type of institution you work for – international schools usually present some of the best benefits packages. Regardless of where you work, benefits often include the following:

How do I get a job?

If there’s one thing the Internet isn’t short of is job offers for ESL teachers in China. 

Most postings will include a detailed list of the requirements you need to meet as well as a salary range and a list of benefits you can expect for the position.

If you’re just beginning to look for work, here are a few good places you can check out:

If you want to see what a day in the life of an English teacher in China looks like, this video covers it all – accommodation, schedule, transport, food etc.

Resources & FAQs about Teaching in China

Can you teach without a degree?

Technically no, since a Bachelor’s degree or equivalent is a strict requirement to obtain a Z visa. However, some schools may be willing to bend the rules.

Do you have to be a native speaker?

The short answer is yes but, in reality, it depends on where you’d like to work. If your goal is to land a job in a tier one or tier two city, you will most likely need to hold a passport from an English-speaking country, but some schools in lower tier cities may accept teachers with a clear, native-sounding accent, regardless of their nationality.

Do you need a TEFL?

Yes, some sort of teaching certification is required by most schools, but for some schools having two or more years of teaching experience will be considered enough.

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