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What Do I Need to Teach in China? Essential Qualifications for ESL, Subject Teachers and Principals

Are you considering a teaching career in China? Whether you're an ESL teacher, subject specialist or aspiring principal, this blog will provide you with the essential information you need to embark on this exciting journey. China offers diverse opportunities, but understanding the requirements is key to a successful transition.

1. ESL Teachers: The Path to Teaching English in China

ESL teaching in China isn't just a job; it's a chance to be part of a larger global community. You'll not only teach English but also learn from a rich cultural backdrop, making each day a new adventure in personal and professional growth.


  • Bachelor’s Degree: A degree in any field is typically required.

  • TEFL/TESOL Certification: A 120-hour course is standard. Online or in-person courses are acceptable. *If you hold a Bachelor of Education degree (B Ed), or two years' relevant work experience, a TEFL/TESOL certificate is not required.

  • Document Authentication: All official documents, including your Bachelor’s degree and TEFL/TESOL certification, need to be notarized and apostilled. This process verifies the authenticity of your qualifications for the Chinese authorities, ensuring a smooth application process.

  • Clean Criminal Record: A background check is standard procedure.

  • Health Check: A necessary procedure to ascertain your overall health and capability for teaching duties.

Additional Considerations:

  • Cultural Adaptability: Being open to new cultural experiences is crucial.

  • Language Skills: While not required, basic Mandarin can be helpful.

2. Subject Teachers: Requirements for Specialized Teaching

As a subject teacher in China, you'll be shaping the minds of future generations. This role offers the unique opportunity to bring your subject to life in a diverse classroom setting, bridging cultural gaps and inspiring students.


  • Bachelor’s Degree in Relevant Subject: For example, a degree in Mathematics for math teachers.

  • Teaching License/Certification: From your home country, relevant to the subject you intend to teach.

  • Document Authentication: Ensure your academic and professional qualifications are notarized and apostilled. This is crucial for validating your credentials and securing your legal teaching status in China.

  • Clean Criminal Record: A background check is standard procedure.

  • Health Check: A necessary procedure to ascertain your overall health and capability for teaching duties.

  • Experience: Some schools prefer candidates with at least 2 years of teaching experience.

  • Language Proficiency: English fluency is a must; Mandarin skills are a plus, although not required.

Additional Considerations:

  • Understanding of the Chinese Education System: Familiarity with the local educational culture can be an asset.

  • Adaptability: Flexibility in teaching styles to suit diverse classroom settings.

4. Principals (Headmasters): Leading Educational Excellence

As a principal in China, you'll be at the forefront of educational leadership, blending international best practices with local cultural nuances. This role is not just administrative; it's about being an educational visionary, shaping not only your school but also contributing to the broader educational landscape in China.


  • Advanced Degree: A Master’s or higher in Education Administration, Leadership, or a related field is often required.

  • Document Authentication: The notarization and apostille process for your advanced degree and any relevant certifications is crucial for verifying your eligibility and expertise as a school principal in China.

  • Extensive Experience: Proven track record of success in educational leadership roles, typically at least 5-10 years in teaching and administrative positions.

  • Clean Criminal Record: A background check is standard procedure.

  • Health Check: A necessary procedure to ascertain your overall health and capability for teaching duties.

  • Leadership Skills: Strong capabilities in managing faculty, developing curriculum, and overseeing school operations.

  • Understanding of International Education: Familiarity with international and Chinese educational systems, policies, and practices.

  • Language Skills: Proficiency in English is a must; Mandarin proficiency is highly advantageous, although not required.

Additional Considerations:

  • Visionary Leadership: Ability to inspire and lead a diverse educational community.

  • Cultural Competence: Deep understanding and respect for Chinese culture and educational ethos.

  • Strategic Planning: Skills in developing and implementing educational strategies that align with the school’s goals.


China offers a vibrant educational landscape for ESL teachers, subject educators, principals and more. Each role comes with its unique set of qualifications and challenges, but also immense opportunities for professional growth and cultural immersion. Whether you are teaching English, leading a classroom in specialized subjects, or steering a school towards excellence, China is a land of unparalleled potential for educators.

Embark on your educational adventure in China and shape the future in one of the world's most dynamic educational environments!

What's your primary goal in pursuing a teaching job abroad?

  • To enhance my resume with international experience

  • To immerse myself in a new culture

  • To save money with better salary and lower living costs

  • Global travel opportunities

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