Frequently Asked Questions – FAQ’s
One fantastic teaching destination, a nearly infinite array of questions. We hear you, loud and clear. Whilst we obviously can’t go into a lot of details on this page, given the at-times colossal differences between teachers, schools and particular set of circumstances, we can shed a bright light on the most frequently asked questions.
So here we are: the most pivotal questions answered on why you might want to teach English in China.
How our service works
- Can I get a teaching job in China?
Yes! Tens of Thousands of foreign teachers move to China every year to teach in one of the country’s many teaching institutions. Provided you meet the visa requirements as set out by the Chinese Government, you can certainly teach here as a foreigner. Contrary to popular belief, you need not only teach English but have the freedom to also teach other subjects if you are qualified to do so.
Finding the right job
- Can I trust the schools that China By Teaching Work with?
At China by Teaching, we only recommend and work with schools which we believe to be reliable and trustworthy and institutions with which we have previously placed teachers. What can you do? Research, ask, evaluate! You can greatly reduce your risk of potential trouble by vetting the school in which you are interested: find previous teachers and ask them about their own personal experience. If a school won’t give you contacts of previous or present foreign teachers to contact, walk away. This is one of the most common red flags you need to identify.
- How much are the salaries for teaching in China?
Tier 1 cities like Beijing, the teacher salaries start at between 16,000-24,000 RMB (USD 2200-3400) per month, for Kindergarten and Training Centers, and 21,000-28,000 RMB (USD 3000-4000) for international school positions. In Tier 2 cities like Chengdu, you can expect an average salary of 14,000-20,000 RMB (USD 2000-2800) whilst in Tier 3 cities your salary will be between 12000-18000 ((USD 2700-2500).
- What are the types of schools I can teach in?
There are six types of teaching institutions in China:
- Kindergartens: Teaching basic English to students from 2 to 6 years of age.
- Public Schools: Teaching English in Government run schools to Primary, Middle and High School students.
- International Schools: Fantastic working conditions and remuneration packages, not to mention prestige, are just three of the reasons these jobs are so competitive.
- Universities: Teaching advanced and business English to under-graduate and post-graduate students.
- Training Centres: Offer extra-curricular ESL lesson to young and old a like. Lesson are held at the weekend and the salary are high.
- Online Training Centres: The most unique teaching option in China, online teaching centres offer online classes that are broadcast to students, who are located all over the country.
- What is it like to teach in a Kindergarten in China?
Offering some of the most coveted of all the teaching jobs in China, kindergartens jobs have swiftly become the cornerstone of the country’s English-learning obsession. Kindergarten jobs are renowned for being high-pay/low-stress and can be particularly suitable for teachers with little to no classroom experience.
- What is like to teach at an International School in China?
Tough to bag and impossible to give up, teaching jobs in China’s international schools are the holy grail of all teachers with a hefty amount of experience. Fantastic working conditions and remuneration packages, not to mention prestige, are just three of the reasons these jobs are so competitive.
- What is like to teach in a Public School in China?
On the polar end of the teaching spectrum in China is where you’ll find public schools jobs, perhaps the lowest paid teaching jobs of all but ones with great benefits, a much easier workload all-round and an added cultural immersion to boot. For the right teacher, public school positions can be very appealing indeed.
- What is like to teach in a Universities in China?
As far as the teaching experience is concerned, universities jobs in China are unparalleled. Here, you’ll meet engaged students, will have greater teaching freedom and will enjoy (generally speaking) a much lighter yet more rewarding workload.
- What is like to teach in a Training Centers in China?
Language training centres jobs in China fill up the gap between all the above, offering extra-curricular ESL lessons to young and old alike. As such, lessons are held in the evenings and weekends. Demand for teachers is high, the pay can be very good (especially when you consider the restricted teaching hours) and as long as you are happy to give up your weekends, can make for rewarding and low-commitment jobs that can offer teachers a lot of free time.
- What is like to teach in a Online Training Centers in China?
The most unique teaching option in China, online teaching centres jobs offer online classes that are broadcast to students, who are located all over the country. As much of your prep work can be done at home, consider this the most flexible and independent teaching position of all.
- What is the difference between teaching jobs?
China’s schools and teaching centres differ in just about every respect, from the eligibility requirements of teachers to the work schedule, pay levels, flexibility (both in schedule and teaching), holiday time and general workload. If this is your first time teaching abroad, it’s important to understand that all the above-mentioned aspects are equally important.
- What are the best places to live in China?
From vibrant and exciting megacities to laid-back villages in the countryside: China offers teachers a myriad of living and lifestyle possibilities to foreign teachers and only you can decide what is best for you.
Your day-to-day life will be drastically different whether you live in a Tier 1 city like Shanghai or a Tier 2/3 city like Xi’an. Most teachers will vie for jobs in larger cities because the lifestyle and culture more closely resemble their own. From recognisable chain restaurants to availability of imported goods and a great array of weekend activities and nearby attractions, Tier 1 cities are perfect for young and active teachers who love to be on the go.
International, trendy and exhilarating, China’s largest cities are an obvious draw although that obviously won’t suit everyone. Do you research and check out our comprehensive guide of the best places to teach and live in China
Living in China
- Why does China need so many ESL teachers?
The country has been going through a significant evolution in every sense: financially, socially and culturally. Since it first opened its doors to the rest of the world conclusively, over half a century ago, China’s desire to connect and compete on a global scale has seen it turn into the strongest and one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. The ability to communicate in English, the only true international language today, is absolutely vital for many Chinese, especially in larger cities.
- Why would I want to teach in China?
This ‘upper hand’ translates into enviable financial benefits, making China one of the most profitable teaching destinations in the world. Given that demand for ESL teachers far outweighs supply, foreign teachers are held in very high regard in China: they are valued, coveted and impressively remunerated. Compounded by low living costs, this leads foreign teachers (and foreign expat professionals, in general) to enjoy a fantastic standard of living.
- What is life as an expat in China?
Some things you will love (surrounded by amazing food options) whilst others (the morning ritual of clearing one’s throat) a little less. But they’re all part and parcel of life here and unlike many other ‘expat’ hubs, there is no bubble. Most expats who choose to teach in China never regret the decision and will attest to the standard of life here being immensely addictive.
- Can I bring my spouse with me?
Well, we wouldn’t ask you to get a divorce, no matter how great teaching in China really is! Spousal S1 and S2 visas are granted to dependents of foreigners heading to China on a full-employment visa and that includes dependent children and parents as well. You will need to sort out your visa permit first, however, before your ‘dependent other’ can do the same.
- Can I bring my pet with me?
Ok, now you’re pushing it! Yes you can and some teachers have been known to bring their pet with them. However be warned, this can be an expensive and complicated process. If you do plan on bringing your pet, allow for a significant amount of preparation time to process the rabies show, get your international health certificate and other documentation required upon your arrival.
How to get started
- Is it hard to get a visa to teach in China?
The great majority of teachers face no issues whatsoever, their contracted school helping them secure what’s called a Z Visa, the only one that allows for full-time employment. Having said that, having ‘no issues’ doesn’t mean the process is easy and swift. It’s still a complicated matter that will involve multiple steps, all in order to deal with the mind-boggling Chinese bureaucracy.
- What requirements do I need to teach in China?
Generally speaking, to be eligible to teach in China, you’ll need have a clear medical and criminal background check, hold a Bachelor’s Degree and TEFL certification with a certain number of practice hours under your belt. For the tier 1 cities such as Beijing and Shanghai you will need to have a completed a 120-hour TEFL course.
- How do I get a criminal background check for China?
China requires a criminal background check when you apply for your Z Visa. The exact procedure will differ depending where you’re from, but the steps remain the same.
1. Contact your local, government or law enforcement department to get your criminal background check
2. Certify or notarize the check by your government
3. Go to the Chinese Embassy or Consulate and have the report authenticated.
- How do I get my documents notarised and authenticated?
1. You need to have your docs notarised by a solicitor or notary public in the country where the document originated, effectively declaring that the documents are original and legitimate (This may not be required in some countries).
2. Have the signature of the solicitor/notary public authenticated by the relevant authority in your home country and
3. Have your documents legalised and authenticated at the Chinese Embassy where your documents were.
- How long does it take to get a working visa?
Once you have all your documents and you have set up your appointment, the Chinese Embassy Visa process takes 4-5 days.
If you just taken a job and are about to begin the visa application, Securing a visa to teach in China is time-consuming, so allow for 2-3 months before you finally get it.
Criminal background check for China
- Do I need a criminal background check for China?
Yes, a criminal background check is one of the requirements of getting a Z Visa – the only visa that allows you to work as a foreign teacher in China. What kind of background check and at what level of government is needed, will depend on the provincial government of the city you intend to teach, so ask your prospective employer all the relevant questions as soon as you have secured a teaching position.
- How Can I Get a Criminal Background Check in Ireland?
Visit your local office of the National Police and Security Service and request a Criminal Record, specifying that you need it to apply for a China visa. Next, have the document legalised through the Dep’t of Foreign Affairs and, finally, have it authenticated by Dublin’s Chinese Embassy.
- How Can I Get a Criminal Background Check in the UK?
To get your criminal background check in the UK, you must apple on for a Basic Disclosure statement. Have it notarised by a public notary/solicitor, have it authenticated by the Foreign Commonwealth Office and, lastly, have the document legalised by your nearest Chinese Embassy or Consulate. You can no longer apply for a criminal background check for visa purposes at your local police station
- How Can I Get a Criminal Background Check in the USA?
US citizens can get three separate criminal record checks: at local (county), State and Federal levels. Your prospective employer will tell you which one you’ll need to get. For county and State, simply apply for a Background Check Report with the relevant police office, tell them you need it for a China visa and make sure they send you a notarised copy. The authentication/certification process, from here, differs by State, so you’ll need to ascertain whether a stamp from the Secretary of State office is enough, before presenting it to your nearest Chinese Embassy for authentication.
Federal background checks are made through the FBI. This requires you to have your fingerprints taken at a local police station first, then apply for a Federal Background Check with the FBI, have the certificate authenticated by the US Department in Washington DC and then, lastly, have it authenticated by a Chinese Embassy.
- How Can I Get a Criminal Background Check in Canada?
You can apply for a Criminal Record Check directly with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and, as long as there are no issues, you’ll receive your certificate in just a couple of days. Next, have it notarised by a notary public/solicitor, authenticated by the Authentication Office of Global Affairs and, finally, authenticated once more by the Chinese Embassy in Canada.
- How Can I Get a Criminal Background Check in Australia?
You can apply online through the Australian Federal Police. Once you have your certificate, have it notarised by a notary public, authenticated by the Department of Foreign Affairs and trade and authenticated, once more, by the Chinese Embassy. You can no longer request your criminal record check from your local police station
- How Can I Get a Criminal Background Check in New Zealand?
You can apply for a Criminal Conviction History certificate online, via the Ministry of Justice website. Once you receive it, have it authenticated by the Department of Internal Affairs, verified by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and, finally, authenticated by the Chinese Embassy of New Zealand.
- How Can I Get a Criminal Background Check in South Africa?
Police Clearance Certificates are issued by the Pretoria office of the Criminal Record and Crime Scene Management or, alternatively, through any police station in the country – they’ll take care of the document transfer to Pretoria and receive the document back, at no extra charge. Once you have it, get it notarised by a notary public, authenticated by the Dep’t of International Relations and Cooperation and authenticated by the Chinese Embassy.
- How Can I get a Criminal Background Check in China?
Apply for your PCC (Police Clearance Certificate) or NCR (No Criminal Record) at your local office of the PBS (Public Security Bureau) who’ll inform you of the steps and rules that are pertinent to their city and/or province. Once the document is ready, take it to a notary public to have it notarised and translated into English.
The Right Way to Quit Your Job Early
- What is a release letter in China?
A release letter is a document given to you by your employer, in China, that states you have been formally released of your teaching duties. When you quit your job, this is the certificate that will allow you to switch schools, leave the country or remain here, as a tourist.
- What happens if I can’t get a release letter?
Your employer is obliged, by law, to supply you with a release letter. Sometimes, however, they may take offence to you quitting your job and withhold it. Firstly, you can request a meeting with the school administrators to try and force your employer into giving you this form and, if that doesn’t succeed, you can make a formal complaint with SAFEA (State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs).
- Is it easy to change jobs with a release letter?
Yes, it’s relatively easy to switch schools with a transfer letter – your new employer will accompany you to your nearest PSB Office so that you can also change details in your residency permit.
- Can an employer cancel my working residency permit?
Yes and no – technically, they’re not allowed to do this on their own – without your explicit permission – but, sometimes, they just do. This is why it’s imperative you leave your job in the right way on very good terms with your employer! Always keep in mind that you have 30 days to leave the country once your residency permit has been cancelled so this is a situation you will want to fix immediately.
- What happens my residency permit when I quit?
That depends on what it is you want to do. If you want to switch school, your new employer will take over your residency permit. If you want to stay in China, but not teach anymore, you’ll need to visit the PSB and turn that permit into a Tourist Visa. If you want to simply leave China well, all you have to do is leave before your permit is terminated.