Need to know more about teaching in China? Here are some frequently asked questions (FAQ) to help you.

You may also like our summary of teaching in China as well as our epic list of tips for teaching in China.

If you can't find what you're looking for, please contact us.

Eligibility to teach in China

You need a bachelor’s degree and a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certificate. You can see all the requirements to teach in China here.
There are numerous online and combined (online and face-to-face) TEFL courses for China available. Visit our TEFL Store where you can choose from a range of courses. Just remember to choose a course that is at least 120 hours in duration. Once you successfully complete the course, you'll receive a TEFL certificate.
Some schools we partner with offer a free or discounted TEFL course as part of your orientation in China. Ask us for more details when you apply for a teaching job in China with us.
That’s fine. You can have a degree in any field to apply.
Due to China visa rules you must have a passport from one of the following countries: Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada, UK or Ireland.
You must have a bachelor’s degree to legally teach in China. The only exception would be an internship program, which is a bit different to having a proper teaching position (we don't offer internships).
No, your university qualifications in education are enough.
The minimum TEFL course for China is 120 hours. It can be done entirely online or a combination of online and in person.
Nothing, really. TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language while TESOL stands for Teaching English as a Second or Other Language. Americans generally say TEFL while Brits tend to say TESOL.
CELTA stands for Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults. It's an internationally recognized teaching qualification. It takes about a month to complete full-time, making it more comprehensive than a TEFL or TESOL course. While it's a great certificate to have under your belt, you don't need it for China. TEFL or TESOL are both sufficient (and cost a lot less, too!). Find out the difference between CELTA and TEFL here.

What it's like in China

Living in China is crazy and fun! Development happens at break-neck speed so there's always something going on. As China is a huge country, conditions vary between schools, provinces and cities. For example, schools on the richer east coast typically have better conditions and pay higher salaries than those in central and west China. However, the cost of living in the east is higher. Whether you teach English in Shanghai or you teach in rural China, you're bound to have an incredible adventure.

Teacher housing in China is comfortable and has everything you need: bed, table, chairs or couch, TV, fridge, toasting oven, shower and washing machine. Apartments are either one or two bedrooms, and in most cases you’ll live on your own.

The salary you can earn teaching in China ranges from about 6,000 RMB to almost 20,000 RMB per month. By local standards, this is generous and enough to give you a great standard of living. What you can earn depends on a number of things like your education and qualifications, your experience, the kind of school, the location of the school, the subjects you teach, and how many hours you work.
Chinese food is delicious! Each region of China is famous for its own special dishes. The food is quite different to the Hong Kong-style Chinese food you might be used to in your own country. Bigger cities have Western-style supermarkets and steak restaurants, while most cities will have Western fast food like McDonalds and KFC.
Chinese students are enthusiastic and eager to do well. Young students can be very excitable and one of your biggest challenges will be taking control of the classroom and managing their behaviour. You’ll have the opposite challenge with older students and adults – the challenge will be getting them to speak!
You get to choose the kind of school you’ll work at in China. The options are kindergarten, primary school, middle school, high school, university and private center. If you're a qualified teacher in your own country, there will be more opportunities and you could even work in an international school.
In the public school system, you generally work during the day from Monday to Friday and have the weekend off. In the private school system, you generally work on weekends and on some weekday evenings, and have two weekdays off (like Monday and Tuesday).
You could work anywhere from 16 to 38 contact hours a week, depending on the school and your contract. Generally, the more hours you work, the higher your salary. At universities, working just 16 contact hours a week is quite common. However, you’ll need to spend time outside of class planning lessons. At private centers, the workload is higher and you could work up to 38 hours a week.
Absolutely! In fact, schools prefer you not knowing any Mandarin as they want you to speak English 100% of the time.
There’s an estimated 400 million people learning English in China at any one time, so you’re bound to meet people who can speak English. Many teachers at your school will be able to speak English. Older people generally don’t have a good grasp of English.
As a TEFL teacher, the cost of living in China is quite low. Lunch is just a few dollars, dinner a bit more. It’s only expensive if you consistently eat at Western restaurants.
If accommodation, utility bills and internet are included in your contract (as per most public school contracts), your only expenses will be food, public transport and any incidentals. If you eat the local food you will have a lot of money left over.

Your teaching contract in China

Because we work with many schools, each teaching contract in China is different. The most important things to look out for in your contract are your working hours, salary and entitlements (like holiday pay). We will help ensure your contract has everything you need in it.
You can choose to renew it, apply to work at a new school/location or finish up and return home. There are some important factors to consider at the end of your teaching stint in China.
If you teach in a public school, free housing is included. Where it’s not included, e.g. a private school, you generally get paid more or get a housing allowance to go towards the cost.
It depends on the school that you teach at. In most cases, you’ll get free housing (public school), a reimbursement of your airfare once you’ve completed your contract, free health insurance, paid holidays and a sponsored visa. Some schools even offer free Mandarin classes. And, of course, teaching in China means a generous local salary!
Yes. The number of sick days you get depends on the contract you have with the school.
You have sick leave in case you get sick. However, please keep in mind that there may not be a replacement teacher to look after your class if you take the day off. Seeing a doctor in China involves a trip to a hospital - don't worry though, you will have a school helper to assist you.
It’s one academic year. At the end of the contract, you can renew it or finish up. There are some things you should consider at the end of your contract.
In the rare case that you must break contract and return home, you must leave China immediately per the rules of your working visa.
Your school pays you back what you spent on your flight once you’ve completed your contract, up to an agreed limit. This limit is different for each school and should be included in your contract.
Yes. Check your contract for details as the number of days differs slightly between schools. Some schools will give you Christmas Day off.

Preparing for China

To allow time to prepare the paperwork and get your Z visa, you should allow at least three to four months before your start date.
There is a process you need to follow to get your work visa for China. It's relatively straightforward but it can take time, so you should start as soon as you can. We can help you with it.
Yes, let us know if you get stuck. If you don’t want much involvement in the visa process, we can put you in touch with a visa agent who can do the legwork. Just let us know.
To be able to get a working visa, you’ll need to get a blood test to prove you don’t have HIV (this is a China visa rule, not a Hello Teacher! rule). Some doctors recommend you get immunized for viruses like hepatitis and typhoid before you go. Speak to your doctor in advance for the most up-to-date immunization information.

Schools in China

Public schools in China have basic facilities, classroom equipment and aids. Campuses can be enormous due to the large number of students enrolled. Private schools in China usually have better facilities, equipment and aids. The schools are smaller and there are fewer students.

The main differences are the days you will teach, the hours you will teach, the conditions and the salary. Take a look at our information on the different kinds of schools in China.

Your career in China

Both! Some teachers go to China for one year only, while others renew their contract or change schools and stay much longer. Whether you stay for one year or longer, when you return home you will have some fantastic experience under your belt.
The only formal pre-training is obtaining your China TEFL certificate. Once you arrive in China, you will receive basic training on things like where classrooms and various facilities are located, and how to operate any equipment in the classroom. Training may be more thorough in private language institutes.
Promotion opportunities are mostly available in the private school system. If you perform well and wish to stay for more than a year, you could be promoted to a role such as senior teacher, assistant director of studies or director of studies.

Teaching abroad

China is a safe country, and crime against foreigners is very low. However, when you go overseas you should always take care of yourself and your belongings. China is no exception and there are some basic safety precautions you should follow. At the moment, work visas aren't being issued for China to help stop the spread of COVID-19. You can read more about whether it's safe to teach in China in 2021 here.
For TEFL teachers, China is known for its generous local salaries, low cost of living, incredible culture, delicious food, world-class tourist attractions and much more. Remember, however, that China is still a developing country. As long as you’re flexible and adaptable in your approach to life and work, you will love working in China. Compare teaching in China vs Japan and China vs Korea.

On the job in China

You’ll be teaching oral English, because the focus of the local teachers is usually on writing and grammar. If you have experience teaching particular subjects, such as science or maths, then you can apply to teach in a specialist area outside of oral English.
Your school should give you feedback on your performance. If this doesn’t happen and you would like feedback, ask your school liaison officer to arrange this.
Most schools in China have internet access in the classroom. However, the connection in some schools can be temperamental – remember, China is still a developing country! It’s important that you always have a back-up lesson (that doesn't rely on the internet) in case something goes wrong.
You will have some equipment, though each school’s equipment varies. In the public school system, a chalkboard and TV may be the only equipment available. You’ll therefore need to improvise and create fun and engaging lessons with lots of games and activities. In the private school system, equipment is usually a lot better. You may have an interactive whiteboard, iPad and other multimedia devices.
Yes, you will. Note, however, that many English textbooks in China are of poor quality, so you may need to create your own lesson plans.
Yes, you will. Your school will inform you of when, and how often, this should take place.
In the public school system, you will have to prepare your own lesson plans. To get you started, we can help with some free lesson plans. In the private school system, many schools have set lessons and you have to follow these precisely.
Young Chinese students can be very excitable and one of your biggest challenges will be taking control of the classroom and managing their behavior. You’ll have the opposite challenge with older students and adults – the challenge will be getting them to speak English! Your classroom in China may not have everything you need or are used to, so you will have to think on your feet and improvise more than you would back home.
A typical day teaching in China depends on the type of school you're placed in and the number of hours you teach. In the public school system, you’ll likely teach at least a few classes on each weekday. In some public schools, you might even get a weekday off (in addition to the weekend), depending on how your classes are spread throughout the week. In the private school system, classes are often held on weekends and weeknights.
This depends on the level you wish to teach. You can teach kindergarten-age students right up to adults.

Your support network in China

Each school has a liaison officer to help foreign teachers.
You might have a teaching assistant in China if you teach little kids in a private language institute. However, you generally won't have one if you teach in a public school.
Generally, yes. Most schools we work with have placed foreign teachers before and employ more than one at a time. However, this is not guaranteed.
Yes, thanks to your liaison officer at the school. Of course, you can always contact us too.

The application and recruitment process to teach in China

It's easy - you can apply online. If you have any questions, please contact us.
Applications are accepted throughout the year. If you want to work in the public school system, you should apply no later than three months before the semester starts to allow for visa processing. That means you should apply by June for a Semester 1 start (in September) or by November for a Semester 2 start (in February).
It depends on the kind of experience you’re looking for. Schools on the east coast generally have the best conditions and salaries, though the cost of living is higher. If you’re looking for a more relaxed experience in China, consider a smaller city or less densely populated province. Have a look at some of the Chinese cities you can teach in here. If you're unfamiliar with China's geography, check out our information on China’s provinces.
Our recruitment process is relatively straightforward. If you meet the requirements to teach in China, you can submit an application. You’ll have an interview with us on the phone or on Skype. You'll also have an interview with our China-based recruiter and/or with the school itself.
No, our service is free for job seekers.

About Hello Teacher!

We’re a teacher recruitment agency that specializes in placing English teachers all over China. You can find out more about us here.
We only share your details with schools, and/or agents who work directly with the schools, for the purpose of getting you a job. We take privacy seriously and have a privacy policy.