Teaching English in China

How to Teach English in China

4 min Read|September 26 2023

This post provides advice on how to teach English in China, including tips on eligibility, visa requirements and earning potential.

If you’re looking to expand your horizons, one of the very best ways to do so is to get a job teaching English in China. Due to the rising global demand for English speakers, there has never been a better time to apply! Not only is this a lucrative position, but you’ll also be exposing yourself to a new culture. You’d have the opportunity to learn a new language, immerse yourself in Chinese culture, and gain valuable teaching skills. In this article, we’ll walk you through the types of teaching positions you could take up. We’ll also explain some of the main eligibility criteria, as well as break down average salaries. Let’s jump right into it. 

What makes me an eligible candidate to teach English in China?

In the majority of schools in China, you’re going to have to pass several baseline eligibility criteria before you have a chance of landing a job. Some of these are personal, while the majority are academic checkboxes you need to have surpassed. 

Personal criteria for teaching English in China:

  • Be aged between 18 and 55. Although, some exceptions on the upper bound can be made if the school you’re in contact with really wants to hire you!
  • Have a completely clear criminal record.
  • Have a clear medical history for infectious diseases and drug use.
  • Be a native speaker of English.

China has a specific idea of what qualifies as a native speaker, which means you’ll have to come from certain countries. The seven places they allow are the U.K., Ireland, the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Canada. If you’re not from one of the above countries, don’t worry, you still have a chance. Although China prefers speakers from these countries, it is certainly not a concrete rule. 

Academic criteria for teaching English in China:

  • Hold a bachelor’s degree in absolutely anything.
  • Hold a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certification.
  • Have over 100 hours of practical teaching experience.

If you fulfill all of the above requirements, you’re in with a real shot of securing a fantastic position. 

Chinese Work Visas

The only valid visa you’d be able to teach on is called a Z-class visa. The eligibility criteria of these visas are fairly steep, but far from impossible! To get one of these visas, you’ll need two things: 

  • Obtain a China work permit
  • Apply for the Z-class visa

If you’ve been offered a place in a Chinese school, they will provide you with a job invitation letter. This will be the final piece of the puzzle that will let you apply for your Z-class visa. Without being offered a position, you won’t be able to start the application process. 

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What do I need to apply for the Z-class visa?

Once you’ve got a position lined up, you’ll need to show the following information: 

  • Passport with over 6 months validity.
  • A scan of the information page on your passport.
  • Several (often 10+) passport photos.
  • Scans of your TEFL and bachelor’s qualification.
  • A job invitation letter and the additional China work permit.
  • A clear criminal record.

Can I teach English online?

Although our main focus is on getting you to China, there are also online teaching options. Especially considering the travel restrictions placed upon the world at the moment, remote teaching is becoming a more attractive option. Instead of going through the arduous visa process, online teaching streamlines your application. To apply to a teaching firm, all you’ll need is: 

  • 120-hour TEFL certificate.
  • Stable internet connection with a working Zoom or Skype account.
  • A bachelor’s degree is recommended, but not essential to some companies.
  • If you fulfill the above criteria, TeachAway is a great place to look for online posts. 

How much can I earn teaching English in China?

Depending on the type of school you’re working in, your average salary can vary immensely. That said, there are pros and cons to working in each type of school. While one may offer more money, another may cover accommodation, have shorter workdays or have longer holidays. Compensation for teaching online: When working online, you’re going to be looking at anywhere from $12-30 an hour. However, if you don’t currently have a degree, you’ll be on the lower side of that spectrum. Considering that this is an online post, there aren’t many additional benefits to the job. Salary for teaching English in China: There are 4 main school structures you can apply to in China. These are public schools, private language academies, universities, and international schools. 

Public Schools The typical rate at a public school in China is RMB 6,200-15,300 per month, according to GoOverseas


  • Work 16-25 hours a week
  • Free lunch for teachers
  • Possible paid vacations
  • More holidays

Private Language Academies On average, at a language academy, you’ll be earning anything from RMB 6,200-16,000 a month. 


  • Further assistance with your visa applications
  • Flight reimbursement
  • Free housing
  • Insurance

Universities The average salary for working at a university is RMB 7,000-9,000 a month. 


  • Between 20-25 hours a week with minimal preparation work
  • Reimbursed flights
  • Free accommodation
  • Lots of time to pick up private tutoring outside work, or explore China further

International Schools Finally, if you’re teaching in an international school, you’ll be looking at a salary of anything from RMB 11,800 – 29,900 a month. But, be warned that these are the most competitive positions in the country, so you’ll have to be a very strong applicant. 


  • The highest salary of all positions

Closing thoughts

Teaching English in China is a spectacular opportunity. Even if you only teach for a year or two, it’s well worth the visa hassle. You’ll be getting out of your comfort zone and immersing yourself in a new culture – what’s better than that! If you need to freshen up your English language skills before you go, get in touch with one of our expert tutors today.

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Thomas Babb

Written by: Thomas Babb

Oxford University - PhD Mathematics

Thomas is a PhD candidate at Oxford University. He served as an interviewer and the lead admissions test marker at Oxford, and teaches undergraduate students at Mansfield College and St Hilda’s College. He has ten years’ experience tutoring A-Level and GCSE students across a range of subjects.

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