While you can’t teach legally in China without a degree, many still do. In fact, estimates say that as many as 40% of foreign teachers in China are working illegally. Most of these teachers hail from non-native English countries, but a number are native English speakers without a Bachelor’s Degree.
China is an amazing country to live and work in but moving here to teach, without the proper paperwork, is not recommended. Yes, you’ll find plenty of schools ready to hire you even if you don’t have a degree but they’re also the same ones who’ll be happy to hire you without a proper Z-Visa. These are the kinds of school you’ll want to avoid: if they are dodgy in one respect, they’ll be dodgy in many other respects.
In the case of schools who hire illegal teachers; for those who treat one teacher well, there are another three or four that treat them unfairly. Since the work is illegal, they are the ones with all the power. In this scenarios there’s absolutely no-one you can turn to if your (dodgy) employer decides to dock your pay, insists on you working an unreasonable number of hours or withholds pay for weeks at a time. As an illegal teacher in China, you have absolutely no back-up and will never get the chance to truly relax into your job. You’ll always need to look over your shoulder.
Every now and again, there are concerted efforts by the authorities to clamp down on illegal teachers by performing regular checks. If you find yourself in this situation, do not be surprised if you are ushered into an empty toilet or closet (even the roof) to hide and wait until the coast was clear.
This are all fun and games until you get caught. Getting caught and being put in a Chinese prison carries all sorts of truly undesirable consequences.