Everything you need to know to get a job teaching English in China.

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About Teaching English in China

To teach English in China, most employers will require TEFL certification and at least a bachelor's degree. Native English language proficiency is preferred. The average salary for an English teacher in China is $1,250 - $2,850 USD per month.

Considering teaching English in the largest TEFL marketplace in the world? Great, you’re in the right place. With over 1.3 billion citizens and an estimated 400 million English language learners, China shows no sign that it will give up its title as the top job market for TEFL teachers anytime soon.

There are a variety of reasons why English teachers love teaching ESL in China so much. The birthplace of one of the world’s great civilizations, China boasts an unmatched combination of history, culture, and cuisine. As a job market, teachers love it because employers typically hire in-advance and also provide teachers with free housing and airfare. So a lot of teachers love the peace of mind of being able to secure a job before leaving home.

ESL teacher in china with his TEFL students English teacher in China in her classroom

Further, TEFL certified teachers typically save anywhere from $600 to $1,750+ per month after expenses, so this is a great destination for those looking to save money while overseas or pay off debt like student loans. China also hires English teachers year-round, so it’s a lot easier for prospective teachers to plan timelines and find jobs.

English teachers primarily work in either private language schools or public schools in China. It’s typical to teach about 20-25 hours per week and then expect an additional 10-12 hours on average for things like lesson planning and grading.

TEFL certified English teachers have a countless number of options when deciding where to work in China, as there are dozens of cities in China with over 1 million people in each. The most popular cities for ITA graduates are Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing, Hangzhou, and Guangzhou.

Teach TEFL in China: Requirements

TEFL Certification China

A TEFL certification is required to teach English in China. You do not need professional teaching experience but earning your TEFL certification will provide you with the training and qualification you do need to get hired.

Because schools interview prospective teachers in advance from their home country, most Americans and Canadians take one of our TEFL course options listed below.

Read More: A 6-Step Plan for Getting Hired to Teach English in China

Native English-speaking Proficiency

For teachers looking to teach in the major cities in China, it is strongly preferred that teachers are native English speakers with citizenship from the UK, USA, Canada, Ireland, Australia, South Africa or New Zealand.

Degree requirements for TEFL in China

English teachers need a bachelor's degree to teach English in China. Please note, your bachelor's degree does not need to be in education, it can be in any field.

Background Check

Depending on what province in China you are working in, your school will likely require you to get a state or federal background check done.

Age Requirement for Teaching in China

As part of your teaching English in China requirements, know that schools in China typically look for teachers under the age of 40. Is it impossible to get hired if you’re 50? Not technically, but it can be challenging. Technically China enforces a strict retirement age for local teachers, which also applies to TEFL teaching positions, so if you’re over the age of 60 or 65, schools won’t be able to sponsor your work visa.

Read More: Will I Face Age Restrictions Teaching English Abroad in Asia?

How to Find TEFL Jobs in China

English Teaching Jobs in China

There are several job opportunities to explore as an ESL teacher in China. The most common are:

  • Teaching children and adults at a private language school.
  • Teaching children at a public school.
  • Teaching business English to adults via corporate training classes.

Finding ESL Jobs in China: Hiring & Visa

Unlike some other popular TEFL destinations, there is no peak hiring season in China - hiring usually happens year-round. Interviews are conducted via phone/Skype in advance of your arrival to China.

You enter China on a Z visa that you obtain from your home country prior to your departure. You cannot obtain this visa without first having a job offer. Teachers may work on other visas depending on their qualifications.

Read More: How Do I Obtain a Visa for Teaching English in China?

Teaching in China: Hours

English language schools in China offer approximately 20 to 30 hours of work per week, allowing for plenty of time to travel and explore.

Teaching Chinese Students

It is most common that your students will be school-aged children but depending on your job, you may find yourself teaching business professionals.

TEFL China Salary & Cost of Living

Start-up Costs

Start-up costs will range from $1,000 - $1,500 USD. These are expenses you will incur from your arrival in China until you receive your first paycheck and may include things like accommodation until you find a place to rent, transport, groceries, getting your new local cell phone number set up, etc. 

China TEFL Salary

A generous monthly salary of $1,250 - $2,850 USD affords those teaching English in China the opportunity to live a comfortable lifestyle.

It should also be noted that your employer may sometimes provide you with either a round-trip or one-way flight reimbursement. It is best to discuss with your school about what benefits they offer and be sure to have these included in your contract.

Cost of Living & Savings &

The cost of living typically ranges between $650-$1,100 USD per month. Housing is sometimes provided/or subsidized by your employer - if this is the case, rent expense is not incurred. This provides an opportunity to save anywhere from $600 - $1,750 USD per month after expenses.

Vacation Time

English teachers in China receive 2-weeks of paid vacation and sick days as well as time off for national holidays including Chinese New Year when they teach ESL in China.


What Does Teaching English in China Look Like?

Watch English teacher & ITA alumna Jonnise Hazuka show us a day in her life living and teaching English in Shenzhen, China.

Want more? We've got you covered! Visit our Video Library to watch day-in-the-life videos from our alumni and get a glimpse into what your life teaching in China could look like!


Teaching English in China FAQs

What qualifications do I need to teach English in China?

In order to teach English in China, most employers will require a TEFL certificate and at least a bachelor's degree from foreign English teachers. Native English language proficiency is also preferred for foreigners.

Read More: The Basic Requirements for Teaching English in China.

How much can you make teaching English in China?

English teachers in China can earn a generous monthly salary of $1,250 - $2,850 USD. Flight and housing benefits are sometimes offered by your employer but aren't always guaranteed. Therefore China is one of the TEFL markets that is considered to pay well.

Read More: What are salaries for English teachers in China?

Are English teachers in demand in China?

Foreign English teachers in China are very much in demand. Unlike some other popular TEFL destinations, there is no peak hiring season in China - hiring usually happens year-round.

What type of visa do I need for teaching English in China?

The most common type of visa for English teachers to obtain is the Z Visa. This visa allows English teachers to legally work in China. The school that hires you should help you obtain this visa – you cannot obtain a Z Visa if you do not have a job offer. If your school wants you to obtain any other type of visa, be sure to ask why and to understand what type of visa you will be getting. From time to time schools will need a teacher to start working almost immediately and they don’t have time to wait for the teacher to obtain a Z Visa. If this happens, the teacher will typically go to China on a L Visa (tourist visa) and then get a work visa once in China.

Not to confuse matters further, but there is also the F Visa, also referred to often as a business visa. Depending on the teacher’s qualifications, some schools may assist teachers in obtaining an F Visa rather than a Z Visa. It is also common to travel to China on an F visa and have it converted once in China to a Z Visa as F visas are much quicker to obtain than Z visas.  

Read More: How do I obtain a visa for teaching English in China?

Is there an age limit for teaching English in China?

In some countries, a teacher's age can play a factor in the hiring process. Certain Asian teaching markets, including China look for younger teachers (from 21 to 40 years old) and abide by certain age restrictions for hiring and qualifying for work visa sponsorship.

Read More: Will I Face Age Restrictions Teaching English Abroad in Asia?

Is teaching English in China worth it?

Teaching English abroad in China, and worldwide, will exceed all of your expectations. You'll learn to live like a local, embrace a new culture, make new friends and even experience a new language. And you'll help your students open new opportunities by learning English along the way.

Where can I find the latest travel info or restrictions for teaching English in China?

Please check out the State Department's website for the latest travel information and restrictions about China.

Recommended TEFL Courses for Teaching English in China

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Chicago In-Person TEFL Course

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Reviews From ITA Students Who Now Experience TEFL in China

Kevin Neumann

Teaches English in China

Kevin Neumann

ITA's online TEFL course fit my schedule while still working full time and maintaining my life. I thought the price was fair, and the reviews I read were all very good. I am happy with the choice. The practicum was the best part for me. It's one thing to talk about a subject, to read about it, etc., but actually practicing was invaluable. I worked with immigrants prepping for their Citizenship test, as well as working 1 on 1 with mostly adults. I now teach English in Beijing. I chose China overall because of a few factors. Pay, time off, and working hours. It seemed to have the right balance of these three things versus other countries that I considered.

Mara Fields

Taught English in China

Mara Fields

ITA's Online TEFL Course prepared me for the hands-on aspect of teaching. From lesson planning to instructional practices, everything was important to the environment that I would be teaching in. It helped shape my teaching skills as a beginner. Now, I am able to understand my student's needs, strengths, and weaknesses to create a lesson that will help them to achieve their goals and be successful. Vacation time was awesome because there was so much time off and I was able to save so much because I don't really do a lot outside of work. I socialize every weekend (lunch, shopping) to catch up with my friends, but nothing extreme. 

Seth Borden

Teaches English in China

Seth Borden

I've worked in a variety of positions since graduating from college, but none has been as rewarding as teaching. When a student produces work or demonstrates knowledge that you helped them develop and exudes a new confidence as a result, the feeling you get is unlike any other professional satisfaction I've had. Being gay certainly steered me away from places where gay relationships are looked down upon or even illegal, and toward big cities, where people are neutral or even supportive of gay people. Shanghai is a very easy place to be openly gay, and I have not felt compelled to hide things about my personal life here.