What are the Requirements to Teach in China International schools?

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As an experienced certified teacher, you may be wondering about the requirements to teach in China international schools? The good news is that there are a number of reputable international schools in China that are always searching for qualified and certified teachers.

But, before you can start teaching in China, there are a few things you need to know.

In this blog post, you’ll read an overview of what are the requirements to teach in China international schools as well as other important information you need to consider.

10 General Requirements to Teach in China International Schools

1. Hold a Bachelor’s Degree

International school teachers in China are expected to have a Bachelor’s degree or higher usually in the subject matter you are hoping to teach. If you have a Master’s degree in your subject area, that’s even better!

In addition to having your bachelor’s degree, you should also hold a certified teacher’s license.

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2. Have 2 Years of Teaching Experience

Many international schools prefer teachers that have previous teaching experiences in their home countries at the very least.

If you are a new graduate, there’s a possibility you can jump straight into a job depending on the school you interview with and how well you do. There are special circumstances where if you completed your student teaching in China, the school may hire you to work permanently after graduation.

Pro-Tip: You can also start teaching English online with VIPKID as this is an excellent way to build your resume and make some extra income while working on the application process for an international school in China.

3. Apply for a Z-Visa

To do things legally, you will need to apply for a Z-visa to start working in an international school in China, not a business M-visa or L-tourist visa.

To get a Z-visa, you’ll need to provide a letter of intent to hire you from the school to submit with your passport to the consulate in your home country.

Do not risk your eligibility to work in China and have your own horror story by applying for a different visa.

You can read more about other documentation needed to be sent in with your Z-visa application.

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4. Do You Need a TEFL Certificate?

Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certificates are highly preferred for teaching jobs in China IF you do not have a certified teacher’s license. Most international schools in China require you to hold at least an initial teacher’s license already so you can bypass the TEFL certificate.

5. Be a Native English Speaker

International schools in China prefer their teachers to have a native English accent and be from one of the big English-speaking countries (i.e. United States, Canada, England, Australia, or New Zealand).

With that being said, I have worked with teachers from the Philippines, Trinidad, Singapore, and other countries as well.

6. Be Within the Age Requirement

The typical age to be hired to work at an international school in China is between 18-60 years old. This may vary from tiered cities and the school you are applying for. Ask your school when you are interviewing to make sure they are able to hire you.

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7. Pass Criminal Background Check

A criminal background check is a typical requirement for employers and it’s no different for you moving abroad. If your criminal history is clean, you should be good to go and have nothing to worry about.

However, if you have any serious crimes such as sexual harassment, domestic violence, or murder, there’s a high chance you will not be hired at an international school in China.

8. Pass Physical Health Check

China wants to make sure that you have a clean bill of health and will not threaten its citizens. This health check will be more in-depth than your usual yearly physical.

They will test for tuberculosis (TB test), take an echocardiogram, possible blood, and urine tests, on top of the weight, height, eyesight, and other physical tests. If you are a woman, you can also prepare for a pap smear.

Doing a physical health check does not prevent you from being hired, but it does provide the school with more information about your health. I have had friends with diabetes and other medical needs successfully get hired to teach at an international school in China.

The important thing is to communicate clearly in your interview.

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9. Pass Psychological Evaluation

Depending on the international school you are applying for, they may require you to take a psychological evaluation. This is to ensure that you are of sound mind to leave your home and move across the world, immerse yourself in a new culture, and teach students successfully.

10. Have a Successful Interview

When you complete the application process and are ready for the interview, nail it! Imagine it just as you are applying for a job in your home country… because it’s a real job where you impact students and the community you are planning on moving to!

Apart from expressing how cool you are, show the principal how you are the best fit by referencing your skills from your teacher training in college. Practice answering questions regarding classroom management, lesson planning, collaboration, and all the teacher things.

This is also the time to ask any questions you may have regarding your new job. How will you be supported? Will you receive any paid vacation time? What is the class size? What does the school population look like (both in numbers and ethnicity)?

Read Next: 11 Common Interview Questions For Teaching English in China (And How to Answer Them)

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Other Considerations to Teach in China International Schools

1. What is a China international school?

There are four types of international schools in China. The first type is schools for children of foreign workers. This is the typical K-12 (kindergarten through 12th grade) school where expatriates enroll their children and Chinese national students aren’t allowed to enroll. The curriculum is usually foreign as well (i.e. American or British based). You might find IB or AP programs at these schools.

The second type is what’s called sino-foreign cooperative schools where foreign entity partners with the Chinese school to provide a foreign education for Chinese students. The foreign entity provides the curriculum for students to learn while the Chinese school provides the building. These schools are usually secondary high schools or higher education like colleges and universities.

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The third type of international school in China is Chinese-owned private schools or what may also be known as experimental or bilingual schools. These are foreign education-focused where Chinese students may learn in English and study some foreign curriculum.

The fourth and final type of international school in China is a Chinese public school with an option to study English. These are usually high schools as well.

I would highly recommend teaching at a K-12 international school in China where you are able to teach your subject matter, such as math, English literature, science, history, etc.

You would work primarily with students who hold a passport from another country.

2. What is teaching at a China international school like?

International schools in China are one of the most high-paying jobs for teachers. You get to work with students whose parents are also expats, teach a normal school day (8 AM – 3 PM), plan your own lessons, and work with teachers from all over the world. International schools usually have great benefits as well from furnished housing to health and life insurance.

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A downside to being at an international school is that the curriculum may not be easily distributed as how it would be in your home country. You may have to come up with your own curriculum or participate in a team of teachers who develop a curriculum for the team. You might also need to wait as the shipment of new books can be delayed.

But this could be potential for you to grow in curriculum development and add to your resume for future teaching jobs.

Read Next: Teaching In China Experience – What is it Really Like?

4. What are the benefits of teaching in a China international school?

One of the best benefits of teaching in China is getting paid to work overseas. Salaries can range from $1,200 to $4,500 per month when you teach at an international school in China. On top of this, you receive vacation times, furnished housing or a stipend, and an unbelievable experience!

Apart from doing your job, you have the ability to save a lot of money and travel abroad, pay off student loans (like me!), or save up a nest egg.

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3. Is moving abroad right for you?

Moving to a new country is a huge commitment. You are leaving your home, family, friends, and comfort to go to a new place where English isn’t predominantly spoken and you need to rebuild your community. At the same time, you are adjusting to a new job and a new city. It’s a lot!

Ask what your motivation is to move abroad. If you just want to travel and explore new places, this probably isn’t the right move for you.

However, if you want to dive into a new culture, professionally develop yourself as a teacher, and teach students who have a different background than you, then this may be the right choice for you.

Because of your motivation, the obstacles you will encounter will be growing pains as you learn to create a new normal; however, they won’t send you into crippling anxiety.

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Read Next: 25 Practical Pros and Cons of Teaching English Abroad

5. What about religion?

Depending on the type of international school in China you apply for, you may need to give a statement of your values and beliefs.

I applied to a Christian international school in China, so I was asked to confirm my religious beliefs as well as participate in church services and continuously grow in my faith.

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Final Thoughts on What Are the Requirements to Teach in China International Schools

Moving to a new country can be both exciting and challenging. If you’re considering making the move abroad, consider all your options for teaching in China international schools. I hope these requirements have been informative and help you make a decision to transition into life overseas!


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