Back in 2014, I set off to China to teach English. I worked in Beijing for about two and a half years teaching English and studying Mandarin Chinese. It was an amazing experience.
People often ask me if they can go to China and teach there without a college degree. The answer to that question is: It’s complicated.
Let me explain…
In order to work full-time in China, you need a working visa, called a ‘Z visa’ and in order to obtain a Z visa, you need a degree. So, you see, to teach English in China, a degree is not necessarily a job requirement, but it is a visa requirement.
The specific requirements for teaching FULL-TIME in China are as follows:
- A university degree (in any subject)
- Native English speaker
- a TEFL certificate OR 2 years teaching experience.
If you need more information regarding applying for the Z visa then please check out this helpful article from ESL Authority.
If you decide to go teach English in China on any visa other than a Z visa, you will be working illegally and risk deportation, hefty fines, and, possibly, jail time.
If you need advice on how to find a teaching job in China, then check out this guide.
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But the School Told Me I Don’t Need a Degree
You have to understand that China is a massive country, with a massive population, most of whom want their children to learn English. Because of this, there is a huge demand for English teachers in China. That’s why recruiters and schools will often say anything to get you over there.
Recruiters and schools will often tell you to come over on a tourist (L) visa or a business (M) visa. Be careful, these visas do not permit you to work in China. Again, the only visa you’re allowed to work on is the working (Z) visa.
Isn’t it Risky for the Schools, Though?
The schools offering to employ teachers on L and M visas operate under the assumption that it’s extremely unlikely that they/you will get caught. They are right. Unless police or immigration show up at your school unannounced and ask to see your papers, there’s no reason you should get caught.
That doesn’t mean you should risk it, though.
There are often cases of illegal teachers being caught in China. Police will stage random raids to try to catch illegal workers. It happens and it’s no joke.
Teaching English in China Without a Degree – How to Do it Legally
If you do not have a college degree and you’re desperate to go over to China and teach English then you’ll be pleased to know that there IS a way to do it legally.
While you won’t be able to work as a full-time teacher, you can do an internship.
In China, it’s perfectly legal to work as an intern on a student (X) visa and this is the only legal way to teach English in China without a degree.
There are a few agencies in China that run internship programs and the best one in my opinion is ImmerQi. If you’re interested then…
The requirements for a teaching internship are:
- Native OR fluent English speaker
- High-school Graduate
- Over 18 years old
Of course, there are pros and cons to doing a teaching internship. For one thing, X visas are generally only valid for six months and secondly, you won’t get paid very much.
However, if you don’t have a degree yet and going to teach English in China is your dream, then doing an internship is a great option!
As an intern, you’ll gain valuable experience in the world of teaching English, you’ll make enough money to live and maybe save a little too (depending on where you are) and there’s always the possibility of extending your visa for a further six months!
I hope you found this post helpful. If you have any questions about teaching English in China with or without a degree then post a comment below and I’ll be sure to respond!
Still not sure if teaching English in China is right for you? Read this article next!
Communication in China
Learning even just a little bit of Chinese can greatly help on your quest to move to China and teach English! Depending on where you end up, it’s likely there won’t be very many people who speak English. That’s why we wrote this detailed guide on learning Chinese.
If you’re just looking for resources to help you learn Chinese quickly then click here for our detailed resource library.
If you’re interested in doing a teaching internship in China, I recommend ImmerQi! Click here to sign up through my ambassador page and get a discount on your programs fees!