Once you decide to teach in China, you need to know how to work legally in China. The laws in China are strict. Once you are involved with illegal things, you will be deported and will leave a bad record. To teach in China legally, you need to meet the following conditions.
Whether it is a first-tier city or a small third or fourth-tier city, ESL teachers need to hold a work permit according to Chinese law. But the requirements are different in each region. But if you don't have a degree or other certificates, you can still teach in China. You just need to spend more time looking for jobs that accept it.
Here is an example of the requirements in the first-tier city in China.
If you want to work legally in China, you need to obtain a Z visa, and the prerequisite for applying for this type of visa is to have a college degree or above. Therefore, a bachelor's degree or above is one of the necessary requirements to teach English in the first-tier city.
Fortunately, the Chinese government does not have restrictions on applicants’ major for teaching in China. As long as you have an undergraduate degree or above, you can apply for a work visa. For example, if you have an art bachelor's degree, you will fully meet this requirement.
In addition, the most important point is that in China, the diploma and bachelor's degrees are completely different. In the first and second-tier cities, a diploma cannot be used to apply for a work permit, so if you have a diploma degree, it will be difficult to apply for a work visa in the first and second-tier cities. However, you can try to find a job in some third and fourth-tier cities. They don't have that many foreign teachers in these cities so their requirements are not that strict.
There are several certificates that could contribute to your application for working in China.
1: TEFL Certificate.
TEFL is the acronym for Teaching English as a Foreign Language, or simply, English language instruction for non-native speakers. Chinese schools generally require a TEFL certificate of 120 hours or more. Please make sure to choose a course that includes more than 120 hours (including 120 hs), otherwise, the Chinese government will ask for a new certificate that satisfies 120 hours. Please notice that two separate certificates which together meet 120 hours will not be recognized either. The TEFL program is generally divided into online teaching or offline teaching. Generally, both of these are accepted by Chinese schools, but it is best to double confirm with the school whether your TEFL certificate is accepted when accepting the offer. In addition, not all TEFL certificates are accepted by China's Foreign Experts Bureau. Therefore, it is recommended to choose a larger TEFL institution, and their certificates will be more easily recognized by China.
TESOL is the second most popular certificate, and like TEFL, it can prove your English teaching qualifications. It is also required to take more than 120 hours of courses to be recognized.
2. CELTA is a certificate issued by the University of Cambridge. It is more professional than
TESOL and TEFL. Generally, CELTA courses are taught in person.
3. If you do not have the above certificate, but you have more than two years of teaching experience, you will only need to provide a reference letter stating that your teaching experience is more than two years. This recommendation letter is equivalent to a 120 hours TEFL certificate.
Which countries and regions are English-speaking countries?
In China, many provinces define English-speaking countries as the following countries: United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.
However, some other cities have different definitions. The Shenzhen Foreign Experts Bureau stipulates that the following countries are English-speaking countries:
United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Ascension, Bermuda, British Antarctic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory, Falkland Islands (Malvinas), Gibraltar, Guernsey, UK (formerly known as British Guyana), Isle of Man (English Territory of the Irish Sea), Jersey, Pitcairn Islands, Singapore, the British territories of Akrotiri and Dekelia, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, Saint Helena, Terry Stein-Dakunea Islands, US Virgin Islands, Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla, Bahamas, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, British Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks, and Caicos Islands
Most schools in cities will prefer native English speakers, but it doesn't mean that non-native English teacher can't get a job. In some schools, they will hire subject teachers, such as mathematics, music, sports, etc. You need to have a bachelor's degree in the relevant major and teaching experience of the relevant subject. These positions are not restricted by national regions. In addition, if you are from a non-native English-speaking country, but have an undergraduate certificate in English in a native English-speaking country, you can also try to apply for English teaching positions. Some cities can still issue work visas for teachers from non-native English-speaking countries.
Regarding the age of the applicant, it is legally required that people age 18 to 60 can apply for a work permit for teacher positions. However, since teaching is not an easy job, most schools prefer teachers between the age of 20 and 50. Therefore, when you interview with the school, you can ask the school the age limit. This makes it easier for you to find the right job.
When applying for a work permit in China, in addition to a bachelor's degree and teaching qualification certificate, no criminal record is also essential. Why is it so important? Because schools must ensure that their teachers are safe and reliable for all students, especially children. So schools need teachers with a clean criminal record in their own counties. If you want to know how to apply for a background check, please see the following link: link to visa document
Medical check report:
After getting an offer, your agent or school will ask you to provide a medical report. This report will be used to apply for a work visa. Therefore, you need to do a simple medical examination at a clinic in your home country. The following is a sample of the medical examination form (LINK). However, in some cities, such as Shenzhen, the Foreign Experts Bureau does not require you to provide a medical examination report. You can provide a commitment of physical check and promise to do a physical check in the designated hospital in China upon arrival. Further, even if you provide a medical report in your home country, you may still need to do the medical examination again after coming to China. All teachers need to go to the designated hospital for a medical examination within one month after entering the country to ensure that you will not carry any infectious diseases that threaten others. This process takes about an hour and includes: blood and urine tests, electrocardiogram and ultrasound tests, pulse and blood pressure tests, breathing patterns, height and weight tests, vision and x-ray tests. You will need 3-5 days to get the result. Most teachers can pass the physical examination, but if you have a special disease or infectious disease, you must inform the school before applying for a work permit to ensure that you can get it smoothly. Otherwise, if the infectious disease is found during the medical examination, the Chinese government will reject your visa immediately.
After you have prepared all the visa materials, your agency or school will help you apply for a work permit. This will take 2 to 3 weeks. After the job application is completed, they will issue a notification of a work permit to come to China. You can apply for the Z visa at the local Chinese consulate with the notification of permission to come to China. Please note that this Z visa is valid for 30 days. Therefore, after you arrive in China, your school needs to help you apply for a work visa consistent with the contract length within 30 days.
You will need to bring some money before coming to China since you haven't started working yet.
How much money do you need to bring? It depends on your salary.
If your school provides accommodation, you will only need to prepare money for your food and other living costs. Prices are relatively cheap in China. You will spend around 25-40 RMB if you choose to eat in a Chinese restaurant in first-tier city. If you choose to cook at home, which is cheaper since you will only spend around 300RMB per week. China's public transportation is very developed and very cheap. The subway and buses in first-tier cities will cost you around 4-8rmb a day. Taxi is very convenient in China too. The transportation costs in second and third-tier cities will be cheaper. Therefore, you can bring around 5000RMB-8000RMB if the school provides accommodation.
If your school does not provide accommodation, you will need to bring more money since you will need to pay for 3 months' rent at first including 2 months' rent as a deposit. In a first-tier city in China, renting a one-bedroom apartment close to downtown will cost 3500RMB per month. If you want to save money, you can choose a cheaper apartment to rent or share it with others.