Understanding the Requirements to Teach in China Legally


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If you’ve spent even a little time looking for teaching jobs in China, you’ve likely already realized there is a wide variety of teaching English in China requirements.  No, this is not a mistake and is the product of a system that is both hard to understand and changes on a school, city, and even province level.

What You Need to Know

  • On a national level, the requirements to teach English in China are overseen by the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs, or SAFEA.  This state body sets the recommended requirements for all foreign workers looking to work in China.
  • On a local level, each province is free to enforce and interpret these requirements as they see fit, something that leads to some cities being more lenient than others when it comes to allowing foreigners to work.
  • In order to work legally in China, you need a Z Visa, and the primary goal of these requirements is to ensure that you are eligible.

The Basic Requirements to Teach in China

As of 2020, there are 4 primary and common requirements to teach in China:

  • A Bachelor’s Degree
  • Two Years Work Experience
  • Native English Speaker
  • Criminal Background Check

These are what SAFEA recommends and the ideal candidate will usually need to meet all four.  However, meeting these requirements does not ensure you will be able to get your dream job right off the bat, different employers are free to impose their own requirements (more on this below) and it’s not uncommon for the best jobs to be just as strict as those back home.

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What They Mean

Bachelor’s Degree

The Chinese government wants to ensure that the teachers who are educating their youth have gone to school as well.  With this goal in mind, they prefer teachers have at least a bachelor’s degree, though the subject does not matter.  In the US this is generally referred to as a 4-year degree whereas in the UK it only takes 3 years.

Two Years Work Experience

China prefers their teachers have a bit of work experience under their belt before jumping into a classroom.  However, there are plenty of schools and recruiters, including powerhouse EF, that accept less or are willing to trade experience for a teaching certificate.

Native English Speaker

In our experience, this is the most enforced of all the requirements, but not for the reasons you’d think.  It’s usually the schools that insist their teachers be native English speakers due to the fact that the students and their parents demand it.  If you’re a good teacher then the work experience might not matter so much, but if you can’t speak fluent English or have a thick accent, you will find it harder to get a job.

It is not, however, impossible, and if you fall into this category we don’t suggest giving up hope – there are plenty of good (and bad) teachers in China that can’t claim English as their native language.

Criminal Background Checks

Over the past couple of years, the Chinese government has tightened its border security measures and has now imposed a mandatory background check for anyone applying for a Z visa. 

This is slowly (still province-dependent) becoming a national criminal check (much like the FBI check for South Korea), though some areas still accept a statewide check.

Other Requirements

As we mentioned above, there are often other requirements imposed at the school level for their incoming teachers.  They are generally a result of the immediate area in which the school is located and not city- or province- wide.  For example, if a school is competing for students with another school that employs native English teachers with verified teaching experience, you can bet they will want to hire teachers that are at least comparably qualified.

TEFL Certificate

This is a certificate that qualifies a person to teach English as a second language and is often accepted in lieu of the needed two years work experience.  While it’s always a good idea to get some form of training, these certificates (also known as ESL, TESOL, CETLA, DELTA) have the added benefit of removing the need to work for two years after graduation before you can apply.

Teaching Experience in Your Home Country

While this isn’t’ common to see for new teachers, those of you applying to university teaching jobs or test prep like IELTS should expect this to be a normal requirement.


Unfortunately, there are still schools that prefer one sex, race, or gender over another.  But before you go bemoaning what an injustice this is and vowing to teach in another country, I hope you’ll take solace in knowing that is becoming less common and is usually to appease the parents.  China is a big place and there are still some cities and neighborhoods where they think a teacher has to fit a certain profile.  If you believe you are getting turned down because of the color of your skin or sex, please don’t get too down and trust that there are plenty of welcoming schools out there.

Too Good to Be True?

While many of these requirements are subject to interpretation, be wary of a job that has little to no requirements or says they can hire you no matter what.  The reason many of these requirements exist is to ensure you are eligible for a legal Z working visa and any school or recruiter that seems too good to be true may be expecting you to work illegally.


What if I’m not a native speaker?  

Surprisingly enough, finding work in China as a non-native speaker is not as hard as one may think. Although it’s true that holding a passport from an English-speaking country can represent a huge advantage, some schools are open to hiring non-natives as long as their English is fluent and they don’t have a thick accent.

Just bear in mind that as a non-native speaker, your chances of landing a job will probably be greater in second and third-tier cities where competition is not so fierce.

What if my country doesn’t use a Bachelor’s Degree?

If you are from a country that uses a different qualifications framework and are unsure whether or not your degree corresponds to a Bachelor’s Degree, the easiest thing you can do is check what the equivalent of your certification is on a website such as this one

If you’re from Australia, New Zealand or South Africa, just know you’ll need a level 7 AQF, NZQF or SAQA to meet the visa requirements.

What if I’m past retirement age?

The current retirement age in China is 60 for the men and 55 for the women, and regardless of whether you’re a Chinese citizen or a foreign worker, schools are unlikely to hire you if you’re past that age. If you are already working for a Chinese school and would like to continue teaching there even after turning 60, you can ask your school to see if they’re willing to make an exception although that’s not the norm.

What if I don’t have a degree?

Unfortunately, the Chinese government has been tightening their requirements to work and teach legally in the country and a Bachelor’s Degree is now required if you want your Z visa application to be successful. Nonetheless, you may come across job offers that advertise positions that do not require a Bachelor’s Degree – if you do, be cautious and do a little more research before applying. If you’d like to work in China, you should not consider going on anything other than the Z visa and if a school cannot guarantee that to you, just keep looking.

What if I don’t have any experience?

Although some classroom experience can definitely give you a head start when it comes to looking for a job in China, some schools are willing to forgo this requirement as long as you have a TEFL certificate. 

What if I don’t have a TEFL?

A TEFL certificate is not considered a strict requirement and, for some schools, proving you have at least two years of teaching experience may be enough to hire you anyway. However, getting a TEFL degree nowadays has never been easier and a small investment of time and money can go a long way both in helping you find work and giving extra support throughout your teaching career.

If you would like to get your Z visa application started but are still in the process of completing your TEFL course or you have plans to finish it before moving to China, you can always do so. 

What if I’m already in China with a different visa – can I change it to a Z visa?

The short answer is yes – going from an M or L visa (business and tourist) to a Z visa is possible but it might be a little trickier than you think. First of all, keep in mind that you can only hold one visa at a time, meaning if you decide to apply for a Z visa, this will automatically cancel your other permit. 

Now, as we mentioned above, in order to get a Z visa you will need to present a few supporting documents, such as a background check and a copy of your degree and, in order to get all these papers, most people will have no choice but to travel back to their home country, which can end up being pretty expensive. 

A workaround that some people seem to have found and had luck with is to apply for the working visa through an agency in Hong Kong, which would spare you a 10+ hour return flight and quite a bit of money.

What if I have a blemish on my criminal record check?

Our research shows that any infraction, no matter how small, will likely disqualify you from a visa if it shows on your background check.  It doesn’t matter if you weren’t convicted, even an arrest will be a red flag and China is very strict in these matters.

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160 Responses

      1. Hi, I am 32 years old male from Zimbabwe and currently living in South Africa. I hold a diploma certification in Travel and Tourism and hospitality industry. I have been in the teaching industry for 7 years now. Do I qualify to teach in China?

        1. If your diploma certification is the equivalent of a 4-year bachelors degree then you should be ok.

          1. Is Zimbabwe accepted as a native English speaking country by the Chinese? From all accounts I’ve been told no. So unfortunately Lucas won’t be able to get a legal work visa as a teacher.

          2. Ah, looks like we misread the question – you’re right – it will be difficult for a Zimbabwe national to work legally, but not impossible as visa agents can get pretty creative when applying for a work visa.

    1. Is Early childhood education degree + 2 years experience considered as a SUBJECT to teach kindergarten curriculum IN english??

      If not, if it is still illegal, would getting hsk 2,3 or 5 results be helpful??

      I read 2017 visa regulation but i cant find this.

      Thank you

      1. Hi Met – I don’t fully understand your question but HSK results will not have an impact on most application – employers care about your English ability much more than you Chinese.

      2. I’m a non-native European. I have the celta certificate. Additionally, for the last 2 years I have been teaching in an international school in Indonesia. How big are the chances that I will obtain a working visa in China?

  1. I’m a veteran World Language teacher in the US–does the teaching experience have to be in English in order to circumvent the TEFL certificate requirement?

      1. Hi, I’m from Namibia (country that borders South Africa’s north) and recently began looking for exciting opportunities outside the country and I am very interested in teaching in Asia in general. I have 3 years teaching experience with children aged 3-10 and have an honours degree in accounting.

        1. Sorry, I forgot to ask the question.. Would it be possible for me to teach in China (or other Asian countries) being from Namibia.. With teaching experience and a qualification and potentially a TEFL qualification?

          1. It will be difficult as you’re not a “native speaker” as defined by your passport. However, if you have experience + TEFL you will likely find something, but it might not be the best job.

          2. I suggest on you , you can find a job in echinajobs link ,its reallu easy to find a job there whatever youre a non natibe speaker, as long as your a deegree holder and obtain a teaching cert.

  2. I work as a trades lecturer in Australia for the last 7 years teaching apprentices .I don’t have a degree but have a Cert IV in training and assessment would that qualify for anything.

    1. Hi Jamie – unfortunately, this would not count for much in China – they are getting pretty strict on requiring degrees in order to get a legal teaching job (and visa).

    1. Hi Kay – we don’t know of any, sorry. I believe the retirement age of 60 is country-wide so it likely doesn’t vary by province.

  3. Hey – where is this information from? I can’t find information on Chinese embassy websites about needing a degree to get a Z visa.

    1. Hi Jennifer – I can’t speak for the embassy website but every legitimate job we’ve seen requires a bachelor’s to get a legal Z visa.

  4. Is Z type visa enough to teach or must it be of a certain category? I am a non-native speaker who has a bachelor and master degree, 120 hrs TEFL certificate and a bit of teaching experience. Can I teach legally in China?

    1. Hi Maya – unfortunately, it’s going to be difficult without a passport from a native-speaking country. What are your degrees in?

  5. Hi, I have B.A., M.A., and a Ph.D. in English language and literature. My Ph.D. is from New Zealand, but I am a non-native speaker and my B.A. and M.A. are from non-English speaking countries. Do I qualify to teach in China?

    1. Unless your passport is from an English speaking country you are going to have a hard time, though you can still reach out to some jobs to see what they think given your credentials.

    2. Hey! I am a non-native speaker from Spain, which a Bachelor’s in Education and two years of experience working as a primary school teacher in London. I am moving to China in September, because I found a school willing to hire me and sort out my Visa. I can pass you their email. You won’t be able to working in Beijing or Shangai, but you can work in a smaller city like Xuzhou. If you are interested my email is rebeca0092@hotmail.com
      My facebook is rebeca agoiz tabuenca… I don’t use it much, but you can’t see I am a normal girl XD

    3. Hie ,I am a Zimbabwean with a 5 O’level certificate can I be eligible to teach English kindergartens in China

      1. It will be difficult as English is not the national language of Zimbabwe and China prefers native English speakers.

  6. Hello i am An Egyptian who has 2 years of experience in teaching but i am not carrying a TEFL certificate . and i am a LAW GRADUATE . I reached an agency and they told me they will apply for me a Lawyer visa then i will work as an English teacher is this possible ??

    1. Hi Amr – I don’t think there is a “lawyer” visa – to teach legally you need a Z visa that is tied to your school. If they cannot provide that then I would extremely hesitant.

      1. Is a non native speaker with a degree from an English speaking country qualified fo r a working visa?

        1. That really depends on the city – but you should be able to find a job if you have a degree from a native speaking country.

      2. My nephew is due to leave for china in a few days…he has been issued with a holiday visa….the school has promised to help him change it when he arrives….this dont sound right…what should he do

        1. Hi Regan – this is a huge risk for your nephew but only he can choose what to do. While it is possible to change a tourist visa into a working visa once he arrives, it will be illegal for him to work until this is completed.

  7. I have three years of experience teaching in China with a Bachelor’s Degree in English.
    I do not have a TEFL. I would like to continue teaching in a different school.
    Is it required by the Chinese government now to have a TEFL in order to teach? Some schools request it, and some do not.
    Also, are online TEFL certificates accepted? If not, where could I find an institution which offers TEFL courses in specific provinces (or cities)?
    Thanks much for any help! Happy New Year

    1. Hi Richard – the best of my knowledge China does not require a TEFL certificate yet. Yes, some schools may require it and even some cities or provinces may ask for it, but I don’t think it’s a national requirement in order to get a work permit. If you need one then your best option is to ask the schools which they prefer – many will have no issue with an online certificate but others will want some in-class observation, completely depends on the school. If you’re looking for in-person courses I believe ittt still has some options within China.


    1. You’ll likely need a 4-year degree to get a proper Z visa – is the NQF 4 comparable? If not, it’s going to be difficult.

  9. Does the 2 years work experience need to be post-graduate work? I graduate with my bachelors in a year and have been working for the last 5 years in various places. Will that work experience count toward the requirement?

      1. Hey Mr Smith..I have a 3 year diploma in financial management from a college and a tefl certificate..is it possible for me to teach in china or to get the Z Visa? I am from SA

  10. Hi there, I am South African and fulfill the basic requirements to teach in China, however I am still waiting for my police clearance certificate to come through. Will I be unable to interview for specific jobs until I have received this? Your advice is appreciated.

    1. Hi Laura – interviews shouldn’t be an issue (unless they require the cert up front) but you might not be able to move forward with the visa process until you have it.

    2. Hi there, I’m Mimi from South Africa.I have a Bachelors degree in English and Media studies, but I don’t have any teaching experience or certificate. Will that be a problem teaching in China? If that’s the case what can I do to improve the chances of qualifying? Thanks

      1. Hi Mimi – you don’t need any teaching experience or a certificate but you will need 2 years of any work experience (doesn’t have to be teaching related).

        1. Hi my name is rabia and i am from south africa i did early childhood development on college and recieved my NQF 6 certificate can i obtain a Z visa with this degree

          1. Hi Rabia – I believe a bachelor’s degree is NQF 7 so you will have a hard time with NQF 6 as it’s not equivalent.

  11. Hello, I am Zimbabwean with a degree from South Africa which is considered to be a Native country. I do not have a TEFL certificate. Will i be able to get a job in China?

    1. You will probably find something but it might not be the best job and they may try to get you to come on a non-Z visa. The biggest issue you face is that your passport is not from one of the core English countries (US, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Australia, South Africa or New Zealand).

  12. Hi, I’m a native speaker(from the UK) with 2 years teaching experience in Vietnam. I also a bachelors and a TESOL. However, my bachelors isn’t related to teaching. Will this make it difficult to obtain the Z Visa?

    Also, can you tell me if schools hire all year round or are there specific hiring periods. For example before the school year starts in September?


    1. Hey Matt – the focus of your degree doesn’t matter and you look to check all the other boxes so you should be good to go. Regarding hiring, there are lots of schools in China that hire year round but the majority of them aim for an Aug or Jan/Feb start to coincide with the new terms. So, you should be able to get a job anytime, but you’ll have more selection if you’d like to start during those periods.

      1. I am a Ghanaian shs graduate who is cluent I English and have been teaching English in Ghana for about seven years. Do I qualify to teach in China, either aith or without tefl certificate

        1. It will be difficult to find a job but you could find someone to hire you – I suggest contacting some recruiters to see about your chances.

  13. Hi, I am from South Africa and have tesol certificate and currently studying 4 year degree to become a teacher. Im also a mountain guide and used to work with at school camps. I have a wife and 3 kids, she will be home schooling all kids. Do I stand a chance to find work in China that can support us all (we happy with frugal lifestyle for the first few yers to get the experience)

    1. Hi Martin – yes, it’s possible to live frugally in China but a salary split 4 ways can still be a bit thin – make sure to aim higher than the 10k-15k jobs that are heavily advertised and pursue something that is 20k+ – if you have a teaching degree it should be possible.

  14. Hi, I am presently undertaking my TEFL training, I have M.A. & M.Sc and over 4 years professional working experience relating to my degrees albeit not in teaching, will this affect my ability to obtain a Z visa for teaching in China?

      1. Okay, now im officially confused more than ever. I searched all over the internet and different sources give me different output. This one looks somewhat modern so please, oh please, answer this question once and for all.

        Im non-native, looking for a job in china. I hold my clear background, bachelor degree, all legalized at china’s embassy. I also carry tesol/tefl certificate. Do i have any chance to get this ethereal z visa+work permit? I mean without being scammed?

        Best i got by now is “come, come here any visa, we do you work visa heare, we promise” :/

        1. Hi Greg – first, do not go to China on anything but a Z visa if you intend on working – it is a huge risk and most schools that promise that are less than desirable anyway. Second, yes, it’s possible to get a legal Z visa + permit, but it won’t be easy. Id recommend contacting as many recruiters & schools as possible and casting a wide search net – some will tell you no, others will tell you to come on a tourist visa, but a few will likely be able to process a legit visa (don’t ask me how as almost everywhere insists applicants have passports from native speaking countries). Third, realize that visa and immigration laws in China are fluid and confusing – they often vary from province to province and even city to city so don’t get discouraged if you hear a bunch of no’s – just keep searching.

          1. Hi, I’m a 27-year old girl who studied English Literature, M. A degree in Iran. Recently I got interested in teaching English in China. I have an almost 3 years of experience in a cognitive school, teaching English. I also know three other languages other than English including Spanish, French and Korean. Based on my resume, do you think is there any chance to find a reasonable teaching job in China for me?
            Considering the fact that I am a non-native English speaker.

  15. Hello sir,
    I have a bachelor and Master oboth in English. Although I have graduated from Iran, (a non native English speaking country)
    With more than 15-year teaching experience, would you help to how to apply for English teaching?
    Best Regards

  16. I have a TEFL certificate and I’ve been teaching for 3 years as a English translator. I do not have a degree but I am from South Africa and my first language is English. Would that be possibly acceptable

    1. Hi Candice – yes it’s possible. You can start by browsing our China job board and contacting schools and recruiters directly – many of them advertise jobs for non-degree holders.

    1. Hi Amy – I believe all teaching certificates need to be notarized and then authenticated by the Chinese government in order to be deemed legitimate.

  17. I have recently retutned to England after teaching English in China for 11 years.
    The reason that I returned was that the last school I went to work for invited me, promising to arrange my RP / Visa etc. but
    although I did not teach whilst waiting for the documents to be issued, I just sat in my room for 3 weeks….I was forced to leave China.
    My advice is to ensure EVERYTHING is in order BEFORE you travel to work in China.
    Be 100% sure the school are able to apply, on your behalf, for the documents required.
    Also, it really does depend where you are going to work, the “laws” vary in each village, town, city and Province.

    1. Hi Mark – sorry to hear that – what did the school say? Did they give a reason why they couldn’t deliver on their promise?

  18. Hi, i’m a non native teacher of English; i hold a BA in English language translation from a non-english speaking country and an MA in TESOL from London; am I eligible for a Z visa?
    A recruiter said to me that the new rule is that if I pass the online government test of English ability for non native teachers, they can provide me with a work permit.

    1. Hi Mary – we haven’t heard of the online test but based on your qualifications Id bet you could find a job that provides a Z visa.

      1. Please could you advise me how to find recruiters who can hire non native (qualified) teachers? Which cities in China should i consider most? Most of the ads on the internet require native teachers.

          1. Hi i am a non native i have a bachelors degree and a Tefl certificate and 8 yrs working experience. Is there a chance i can get a teaching position in china. If so what provinces do you recommend

          2. There is always a chance in China – Im unsure of what provinces to target and suggest you start contacting recruiters and jobs to see what they say.

  19. Hi i am Zodwa Ntanzi from South Africa, i would like to further my teaching experience in China. i have a post graduate certificate in education and 4 years teaching experience in English and other subjects and i am registered as a qualified teacher with a certificate am i eligible to apply?

    1. Hi Zodwa – if your passport is from South Africa and you meet the other requirements regarding degrees, etc, then you should be fine.

  20. Hi Quincy! Yous seem to know your stuff. I am in the process of applying for a Z-visa with a company in China.

    One of the requirements is to have a bachelors degree, I have a 3 year diploma which is equivalent to a degree in the field of choice.

    Am I okay or who do I need to contact to check if my diploma is legible?

    Thank you for your time

    1. Hi Tamsyn – thanks for the kind words! If your hiring company says they can get you a visa that is all the confirmation you need. They are the ones that will need to submit your docs for verification so as long as you are good with them then I dont forsee any issues.

  21. Hi!

    I’m from Sweden and have a bachelor degree from the US and a TEFL from the UK. Can I get a TEACHING work visa in China? My passport is from Sweden. Since my degree is from the US (and authenticated there), I think I should be able to get a teaching visa but I’m not sure…..thanks.

    1. I think you’ll be fine but you may need to look a bit harder to find a job (or really explain up front that you have a US degree as some jobs might dismiss you outright for your passport).

  22. Hi! So my boyfriend and I want to teach in China. However, he is a Dutch citizen. He has lived in the United States and gone to American schools since he was 4 years old. He has also graduated from UC Berkeley, so he has over 18 years of education in America. Will he have problems with his Visa, and would he be able to get a job in a T1 city like Shanghai?

    1. Hmm, good question – I wouldn’t think he’d have an issue but he should contact a few schools/recruiters to see what they say. There still might be a few who have an issue with his passport despite his education.

  23. I am a non-native teacher of English from Iran; I hold a BA in English language translation from iran and an MA in TESOL from London Metropolitan university. I am fluent in English and my accent is very clear. I would like to be considered for any teaching positions available in any city of China. Please kindly let me know whether or not i am eligible for a work visa? A school in shanxi accepted me, they applied for a work permit for me, the visa section asked the school to submit the notarization of my BA degree and my non criminal record. I did those and the school resubmitted my application. They lastly requested for the notarization of my MA degree, so they rejected my application and said i wo’nt be able to apply again until 6 months. I’d like to know if i would still have a chance to resubmit my documents?


    1. Hi Maryam – did the school or visa office reject you? If it was the latter then it’s likely you didn’t meet the requirements for a visa. I’ve never heard of being asked to apply again in 6mo so Id confer with the school on the best path forward – see what they suggest and feel free to reach out to other institutions to confirm everything – it seems odd that the school believed they could get your application approved only to have it get denied.

      1. The school said to me that the visa office has rejected me; this is the message the school sent me:

        We have today received notification from the Education Bureau regarding your work permit application. Unfortunately your application has been rejected. The reason they have given is “Applicant does not currently meet the qualifying standard. Please submit consular verification of masters degree and apply again in six months time. No further appeal before 30/11/2019”.

        1. Hi again Mary – interesting – thanks for sharing. Unfortunately, I dont have any advice other than to try another recruiter or school – make sure to explain the situation and see if they think they can get another outcome.

          1. Thank you so much. You’re really helpful to all candidates here, very much appreciated.

  24. Hi,

    I hold a BEd in Teacher of English Language & Literature but I graduated in Ukraine. I’ve been living in the UK for 5 years now and I’m a Hungarian citizen. Would I be able to apply for the notarization of my degree in the UK or it has to be done in the country where the document was issued? I have received a job offer from a recruiter already.

  25. Hi, my name is Onkgopotse Motang from South Africa. I have bachelors degree in development studies. I would like to know if i qualify to teach at China.

  26. Hi
    I have a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration and about 2.5 years experience working (not teaching related). Can I find a teaching job in China or do I need a TEFL certificate to secure a job.

    1. As long as you have a passport from a native-English country you will be able to find a job.

  27. Am from Swaziland and poses a bachelors degree in Psychology and Criminology from a native-english country South Africa, do i qualify for teaching position in China?

    1. Hi Sizwe – I assume you hold a passport from Swaziland which could make it quite difficult to find a legal job. However, it won’t be impossible and you might have more luck searching outside of the main tier 1 cities.

  28. Hi,

    I have a bachelor degree in International Management from the UK and I am a Bangladeshi passport holder. I have a TEFL and experience of teaching for two years. Do I qualify for the teaching work permit in China?

    1. Hi Ismail – your passport will make it difficult but you will probably be able to find a company to hire you if you search outside of Tier 1 cities.

  29. Hello, I am a senior in high school now and really would like to do this as a creear. What is stuff i should look for in college for this to help me get to china faster?

    1. Hi Thomas – good question – Id suggest getting some teaching experience at the bare minimum, you can do this via tutoring, volunteer teaching, or even working towards your teaching degree and being observed in the classroom. If you’re sure you want to make teaching a career, you can also look for teaching degree programs that should include lots of time in the classroom.

    2. Hie. Im a non native speaker but have a degree in English and experience in teaching English as a second language in a french speaking country. How can i get in touch with recruiter or English schools in China particularly in the 2nd and third tier cities?

  30. Hello, I’m a US citizen living in Florida with my wife (Chinese citizen). We wish to teach English to Chinese students privately online. Is this possible? Do we need the standard (Z) work permit to work online?

    1. Hi Jim – this is definitely possible and you wouldn’t need a Z visa as you wouldn’t be working in China. Instead, you’d just need to meet the requirements of one of the main companies like Dada – good luck!

      1. Hi am a Ghanaian I hold a certificate of Professional Diploma in Management Science +TEFL do I qualify to teach English in China ?

  31. Hi Quincy I am a South African who holds a Bachelor’s degree in Physics and Chemistry. Recently did my TEFL, I have 2 years of teaching experience. I am currently only doing my Post Graduate Certificate in Education now which I will complete in October. I want to go teach English in China immediately after completing the course. I have heard that if I want the pgce qualification to be taken into account I’d have to wait for graduation next year. I was asking if I cannot use the study record upon completion?

    1. Hi Mathapie – as you already meet all the government-required qualifications I believe it will be up to the school or university as to what they will accept for proof of postgraduate studies. Im betting most reputable institutions will be willing to accept transcripts or another form of course completion in lieu of the actual certificate.

  32. Hello, do you have to be a certain age to teach in China, I have a Skype interview coming up to be a dance teacher in ningbo. I have seen some sites saying you need to be at least 22 and some at least 24. I am 21 and wondering if I am actually old enough to teach legally, could anyone help me?

    1. We can’t say for certain what the requirements are in Ningo (they often vary city by city) but in general, there is no age minimum as long as you have a degree and the 2 years experience needed to get a visa.

  33. 4 Sep 2019 – (1) Can a UK citizen (Class B profession) enter China on Tourist Visa and have this converted to Work (Z) Visa by potential employer? (2) Is there an age limit (over 60) to obtaining Work (Z) Visa, whether before leaving the UK or after entering China on Tourist Visa? Thank you.

    1. Hi Wyr – yes, it’s possible in most cities to transfer a tourist visa to a work visa, but it will depend on the city/region as well as the school. Regarding age, you will find it very difficult to get a job if you’re older than 60 – this is the retirement age for China and it almost always applies to foreigners too.

  34. I am a Canadian native English speaker with a TESOL but no bachelors degree. I have experience teaching English as a volunteer in several Asian countries, including China. Is it possible for me to get a Z visa?

    1. It’s possible but won’t be fully legal – there are plenty of jobs out there for people without degrees but they aren’t always the best (or in the best locations).

  35. Hi, I am Bangladeshi citizen.I obtained honours and masters degree in English Literature.I have been continuing my job as a lecturer in English in a degree college for 15 years. I have all documents and a valid passport as well.Can I apply for a job as English Teacher in China?

    1. Hi Biplab – it will be quite hard with a Bangladeshi passport but there are jobs out there that hire non-native speakers. Have you contacted any recruiters yet?

  36. I’m soon to be 53. I’ve read that age limit is 55. If I were to accept teaching job in China, would I be forced to stop at 55 or is it likely someone with experience would be able to continue teaching after 55?

    1. There is no guarantee you’ll be able to continue – Ive read accounts of both people being unable to renew their visa once they hit retirement age and others who have no issue.

  37. Hi Quincy, I’ve read all the comments, I’m a non-native speaker, with a Master degree in South Korea, few experience teaching and currently getting a TEFL certificated, so my chances of getting a job are lesser but not impossible?

    1. Correct, definitely not impossible! And thanks for reading all of the other comments – there are a lot of good questions and information in this thread!

  38. Hi, I have a Bachelor’s degree from a United States University in Network Administration. I am currently a supervisor but looking for a career change to teach English in China. I graduated college May 2010 so I have 9 years work experience in computers and information technology. Would I need to get the TEFL certification to teach English in China? I was born and raised (native speaker) in the United States.

    1. Hi Eric – as a native speaker with a bachelor’s you’re golden – a TEFL isnt necessary but would be advantageous to help you get a feel for teaching.

  39. Hi, I’m from the UK. I have a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Cumbria in England, but it’s unrelated to teaching. I have a 150 hour in class TESOL and two years of teaching experience in Vietnam but I’ve been travelling for nearly a year so I’ve been away from the classroom for a little while. Would I still be able to find work in China relatively easily?

  40. Hie. I hold a Bachelor of Arts Degree ( Linguistics), a Post Graduate Diploma in Education (English and Geography) and a 120 hour TEFL certificate. I come from a non native country. What are my chances of getting a Z visa for teaching English in China?

  41. I have been working for a company online for three years. It asked for only a TEFL certificate when I applied, Now the Chinese government are asking for degrees to teach. I do not hold a degree.Will my company fire me because of this now ? I can’t just get a degree like that!

  42. Hi, I’m from the English-speaking Caribbean, hold a TEFL and a bachelors in law from the UK. However, I’m not a passport holder from the “big 7 countries.” Am I not considered native English-speaking in terms of fulfilling the visa requirements? Is it possible at all to obtain a Z visa?

    1. Hi Sarah – it’s definitely possible in China – you may have to work a little harder but as a native speaker with a UK degree Id think you could find something.

  43. Hello Mr.Smith,

    First I would like to commend you on replying to every comment and thank you for taking the time to make this website.

    I’m originally from Canada and I’ve been living in Japan for almost 4 years now. I’ve been teaching English for a little more than 3 1/2 years but my degree is a 2 years degree in IT support from a private college of technology which is somewhat similar to an associate degree. Now I’m guessing that getting a Z visa from a major city with a lot of foreigners is almost impossible in my case but would it be possible from a smaller one where they might be more lenient toward that particular requirement? Would you happen to know which provinces are the most lenient?

    Thank you.

    1. Hi Alex – thanks for the kind words! Yes, to answer your question, it’s definitely possible, though your search will be a bit more difficult given your degree. To be honest, Im unsure on what provinces to suggest but I would tell you to check out the Dave’s ESL board – they usually have a lot of recruiters advertising for “no degree necessary” (just do a control F search) and that would be a good place to start.

  44. Thank you very much for your reply. I’ve seen those ads but I’m afraid of being lied to and suckered into China only to find myself in an illegal situation which I really don’t want to be in.

    1. I understand your hesitation and am not encouraging you to put yourself in a situation you’re not comfortable with, Im only saying that is the easiest path forward here given your credentials.

  45. I have a Level 6 Diploma in Education and Training equivalent to an honours degree would this be acceptable?

  46. I have a postgraduate degree in public administration, and I have 5 years of working experience, I am a non-native speaker having clear and fluent English accent, so what are my chances to get a job as English teacher in china.

  47. Hi, I am a 55-year-old veteran English teacher from the US and would like to teach in China. I do have a DWI that is from 10 years ago. Will that prevent me from getting a good job teaching English in China?

    1. Hi Joe – anything that shows up on a background check is likely to disqualify you from teaching in China.

  48. Hi

    I am from the UK and have a clean dbs that is notarized but if a background check for all life comes up for anything at all it will show petty crime from teenage years. Will this be flagged up on the system of a visa?

    1. Hi Jamie – if you have a clean and legal background check then that is all that matters – China does not have access to UK records.

  49. The information you’ve written is short and to the point, quite helpful to those looking for information. I must say, you are a very patient and understanding man. You’re one of the good ones. Many of these questions being asked can be answered from the piece you wrote. Anyways, I just got stuck going down the rabbit hole that is your comment section.

  50. I have a working visa z and I’m working for a certain company though my visa will expire on the same date with my contract but I wanted to shift and look for a job somewhere else
    What should I do?

    1. You will need to find a job and then begin the process to transfer your visa + permits – your new employer should be able to help you.

  51. Hello Quincy Smith

    I have a level 6 National Diploma in South Africa, A Level 4 Diploma from the UK and a Level 5 Diploma from Switzerland. I also have a level 5 CONDUCT OUTCOME-BASED ASSESSMENT: ASSESSOR Certificate. I have 3 years in class experience and almost 1 year online ESL teaching experience. Will this be enough for me to teach in China? I am willing to go and work in China as well as study in order to Complete a 4th year to get a degree. I am really feeling hopeless and everyone says that I will not even be looked at due to my qualifications and experience. Please can you just give me some guidance.

    1. Hi Orsila – it’s not impossible but you will likely have to work in a smaller city as major hubs like Shanghai will almost certainly require the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree.

  52. Hi,
    Thank you very much for this article!
    English is not my first language and I have a Teaching Diploma, which has been downgraded to level 5 due to many changes to the country’s education system. I also hold an MA (UK), a PGCE(UK), and a CELTA.
    The advice I have got is that I need to do a top-up one year course to get a BA (hons) if I want to work in schools in China or UAE. Do they accept top-up or conversion BA (hons) degrees in China? I would be most grateful for any information on this as the natural course for me would be to pursue a Ph.D. and I would hate to waste time and money.

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