From secondary schools in Shanghai to primary school teaching in Beijing, China presents huge opportunities for adventurous teachers looking for a new career abroad.
There’s a great demand in Chinese cities for qualified teachers ready to commit to a minimum of two years’ work at one of the country’s 564 international schools.
The financial and experiential rewards can be amazing, as long as you meet the right requirements for the job, of course.
If you’d love to land your dream job in Asia, then keep reading, as we explain the requirements for teaching in China.
A Bachelor’s Degree
If you’re hoping to start a new job at one of China’s international schools, you’ll need to have a bachelor’s degree to qualify for a Chinese work visa followed by a PGCE.
Your degree needs to be from a recognised university, or a similarly reputable place of higher education, and you may need to provide official proof of your results during the application process.
It’s always useful if you’ve studied for a degree in the subject you’re going to be teaching.
Schools also look favourably on teachers who’ve earned a Bachelor of Education, or a degree in other similar teaching subjects. Luckily, it doesn’t matter so much how well you scored in your bachelor’s, the important thing is that you earned it!
A Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE)
One of the major requirements for teaching in China is a Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE).
A PGCE takes a minimum of nine months to complete in the UK. It’s designed to set you up for a successful teaching career by providing you with a mixture of teaching theory and practical classroom experience. A PGCE may be enrolled upon after the completion of a Bachelor degree or in some cases awarded as part of a Bachelor of Education.
Earning a PGCE not only qualifies you to teach internationally, but equips you with the skills needed to cope in classrooms both at home and abroad. The PGCE is specific to England, Wales and Northern Ireland (the Scottish equivalent is the PGDE or Professional Graduate Diploma in Education), but international schools in China generally accept other equivalent international postgraduate teaching qualifications too.
QTS (Qualified Teacher Status)
Many international schools look favourably upon those teachers with Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), with your NQT year completed, and have at least two years’ teaching experience in the curriculum you have trained in.
For those who have studied an iPGCE (distance learning) there are becoming more and more ways to gain QTS, notably through the iQTS route which is backed by the Department of Education (DfE) and UK Government.
A Two-Year Commitment
If you’re planning to teach in China, you’ll need to be ready to make a two-year commitment to the job. This is the standard contract term offered by international schools, and we think it’s a fair way to assess a teacher’s dedication to moving abroad.
It’s worth bearing in mind, too, that some schools might also ask for longer commitments of three years from new teachers.
If you’re ready to live and work in China for at least two years, then a teaching job is perfect for you. With that time ahead of you, you can ease into the role at your new school and adjust to a culture you may not be accustomed to.
You’ll have enough time to start learning Mandarin and, during the holidays, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to travel. And if you fall in love with the school, you can always extend your initial contract for longer.
No Criminal Convictions
If you have any outstanding criminal convictions on your file, then unfortunately, teaching in China won’t be an option for you. Schools can only hire applicants who have a clean criminal record, and a visa will only be granted if you can prove you don’t have any past convictions. As part of the application process, background checks will be carried out, so it’s important to be truthful.
A Valid Passport
It goes without saying that you’ll need a valid passport to teach in China.
First, you’ll need your passport to apply for a Chinese work visa once you’ve accepted your job offer. You’ll then need a valid passport to catch a flight to your new home city in China.
Technically, your passport needs at least 12 months’ validity when you apply, but realistically you’ll want to make sure it’s valid for longer.
It’s going to be difficult to apply for a new passport once you’re in China, and you don’t want to worry about your passport expiring part way through your new teaching career.
Aged Under 60
The Chinese government has strict restrictions on the upper age limit of international teachers. You have to be aged under 60 to qualify for the work visa, so it’s rare for anyone older than this to secure a teaching position. There are a few exceptions, such as if you’re an expert in a particular field, for example, but in our experience, the age cut-off is always enforced.
A Work Visa and Permits
Once you’ve met all the requirements for teaching in China, there’s one final but vital step to make. You’ll need to apply for your Chinese work visa. Specifically, teachers need the ‘Z Visa’, which grants you the right to live and work in China for a defined period.
To apply for the Z Visa, you’ll need to provide several documents and forms, and you’ll need to go to a Chinese embassy in person to provide fingerprints.
Your school will provide sponsorship for the visa, and you may need to undergo health and police checks. Once you have everything ready, the processing time can be as quick as four days, with a cost of £151 for UK citizens (and your school typically covers the visa charges).
Once you’ve landed in China, you’ll need to register at the Public Security Bureau, which will issue separate work and residence permits for your stay.
Sounds complicated? Don’t let the visa process put you off. If you secure a role through INTA Education, we’ll be there to help at every stage of the application process.
Are you ready for a new teaching career in China? Then contact INTA Education to find out more.
INTA Education was founded by Lydia and Will, teachers with a passion for language and education. With ten years of experience teaching in Asia, we’re ready to help you start a new teaching career in China.
Get in touch today for more information on teaching placements in China.