How to Get a Teaching Job in China

Three Methods:Becoming QualifiedFinding the Right JobMoving to China

Educators who learn how to get a teaching job in China make money, meet international friends, and get a unique view of a fascinating country. People in China, and around the world, are choosing to learn English to better engage with the world market. Individuals, who speak English as a first language, are being increasingly hired in places like China to help meet this demand. By completing a bachelor’s degree in any field, earning a TELF certificate, and (ideally) gaining two years of teaching experience, you can become an English teacher in China.

Method 1
Becoming Qualified

  1. Image titled Get a Teaching Job in China Step 1
    Earn a Bachelor's Degree. Hundreds of teachers move to China every year to work in various schools. Most of the teaching jobs available to foreigners require applicants to have earned a bachelor’s degree in any field. Complete a degree at a university or community college before applying.[1]
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    Earn a TEFL certificate. TEFL stands for “Teaching English as a Foreign Language.” Most teaching jobs for foreigners in China require this (or an equivalent) certificate. Furthermore, this course work is excellent preparation for teaching English as a Second Language. TEFL preparation is the best for the demanding duties of a teacher in China.[2]
    • Other companies, such as TESOL, also exist to certify teachers, but TEFL is the most widely known.
    • TEFL tuition varies by location, but a certificate will run between $1500 and $2000.
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    Obtain two or more years teaching experience (preferred). Most jobs will also ask that you have two or more years of teaching experience. This experience may be broadly construed. For example, if you have led a summer camp or worked as a tutor, you may be able to present this work as your “teaching experience.” Additionally, this experience is usually listed as a “preferred” qualification, as opposed to a “requirement.”[3]
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    Complete a TELF internship in China. Another way to gain a teaching job in China is to complete a paid TELF internship. These internships cost between $1200 and $1500, plus the cost of your flights, and some additional living expenses. During this 4.5-month internship, you gain teaching experience and earn your TEFL certificate. You will also get to experience what it is like to live and work in China.[4]
    • When you complete an internship, you do not need a bachelor’s degree or prior teaching experience.

Method 2
Finding the Right Job

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    Determine your desired location. Before you begin applying for jobs, you will want to take some time to consider where you’d like to be. China is very large and offers a diverse range of climates, so it is worth considering what type of climate you’d like to live in. Also, large cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou offer many types of Western food and other amenities. [5]
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    Research available jobs. Search online for sources such as The International Educator and International School Services. International school administrators use these services to list current and future openings. These organizations also conduct job fairs in various locations to recruit teachers around the world.[6]
    • To gain access to the most up to date lists, subscribe to the publications of these international organizations.
    • Conditions vary greatly in foreign countries, and it is advisable to gather information on housing, currency exchange rates, cost of living and local transportation before signing a contract for international positions.
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    Apply to open positions. Each job application will vary a bit, however you will likely be asked to submit a resume or curriculum vitae, a cover letter, verification of your TEFL certificate, transcripts verifying your bachelor’s degree, and a copy of your passport. In some cases, you may also be asked to submit an essay that explains your desire to live and work in China.[7]
    • Compare the provisions of the contract with care. (Fine print could make a significant difference to a teacher in China.)
    • Contracts often require a specific period of service before transportation to the home of record is provided.
    • Early termination of a contract might require payment for the return ticket, which could be expensive.
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    Clarify all aspects of the contract with the school administrators. Every school is going to make a different offer, and in some cases, these can vary widely. For example, housing might be provided in one school while another school provides a housing allowance. Make sure you understand all of the terms of the contract, and compare offers from different schools before signing.[8]
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    Be wary of recruiters. Many recruiting agencies exist to try and fill job openings in China. Although some individuals report positive experiences finding work this way, many others describe being deceived about the quality of their housing, the work requirements, the financial bonuses that were promised, and so on. If you intend to seek the services of a recruiter or agency, do so with extreme caution.[9]

Method 3
Moving to China

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    Secure your passport. You are going to need a valid passport before you can report for work in China. In fact, in some cases, you will need to show proof of a valid passport at the time of application. Obtaining a passport can take up to six weeks, and costs $150-300.[10]
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    Secure your visa. In order to work as a teacher in China, you are going to need a Z Visa. Visit your local embassy in order to apply. You will need to bring information verifying your employment in China, and well as two (or more) forms of identification. Complete this step as soon as possible, as delays could be costly or even violate your contract.[11]
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    Book your flight. Depending on your particular contract, your employer may book (and pay for) your flight. In other cases, you will be given a travel voucher and you will book the flight for yourself. In still other cases (though this is not ideal) you will responsible for funding and booking your own way to China. Understand the travel offer in your contract, and set about securing your flight.
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    Procure a residence permit and work permit. The visa is what allows you to enter the country, but your residence and work permits are what enable you to work. These permits must be obtained in China, within 30 days of your arrival. Your employer must be a part of this process. As such, they will walk you through this process upon arrival.[12]
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    Correspond with an experienced sponsor. School administrators often provide a new teacher with an experienced mentor or sponsor. If the school does not automatically assign a sponsor, request the name and address of an experienced staff member who can provide guidance on your move to China. Ask your sponsor to recommend an online chat group of teachers in China.


  • Join a chat group of teachers already in China. Many teachers working in China have formed support groups online to share strategies, lesson plans and support.

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