As of 2019 the common requirements to teach English in China are:

  • Native English Speaker from UK / US / Australia / Canada / New Zealand
  • A bachelor or higher degree
  • Age under 58 years old (due to Chinese visa policy); most of positions require under 35 years old
  • Mentally and Physically healthy
  • No criminal record

Native English Speaker:

This is usually the most important consideration for employers in China due to demand from students and parents. However, there are cases where non-native English speakers were offered a job if they had solid English teaching experiences for a period of time.

Bachelor degree:

Obtaining a Bachelor degree is a mandatory requirement for obtaining the Z visa, which is technically the only legal visa for ESL teachers.

In addition, the schools in China would like to ensure that the teaching is delivered by qualified candidates as a way to ensure service quality. There have been cases in the past where unqualified teachers were hired and delivered poor results which caused damage to the school’s reputation. A degree is viewed as proof that the teacher has put in efforts to advance themselves, which is a value greatly appreciated in Chinese society.

Location and school variation:

Some locations and schools may have different sets of eligibility requirements. Usually, schools from first-tier cities such as Beijing and Shanghai tend to be stringent with their requirements due to the need to maintain their reputation as well as experiencing higher pressure and expectations from the students and their families. Some reputable schools may even make extra certification such as CELTA (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) mandatory. On the other hand, smaller schools at times may recruit ESL teachers who are not native English speakers provided that they can prove they are capable of teaching English.

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.