Career Advice

- The Most Frequently Asked Questions -

Moving to and teaching in a new country can be an exhilarating experience.

Then again, it can also be somewhat frustrating. Prior to your arrival, we recommend that you gain a basic understanding of the Chinese education industry and employment policies.

Feeling a bit overwhelmed? Don’t worry, just follow our CareerAdvice page to become China savvy!

If you didn't find the answer you need, you can email us using the link in the bottom of this page.

Q: What are the general requirements for teaching in China?

Answer: To be a foreign teacher in China, the basic requirements are:

  • Bachelor degree or higher
  • Minimum two years teaching experience
  • Younger than 60
  • Non criminal record
  • Successful medical check
  • All application materials must be authenticated by your local P.R.C. embassy. For language teaching positions, candidates should originate from native-speaking countries, at least in principal.

Q: How does the Chinese government define Native English-Speaking Countries?

Answer: In most cases, these countries are defined as the U.S.A, U.K., Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa. According to the most recent list of Native-Speaking Countries/Territories announced by the China Foreign Expert Bureau, countries/territories such as Singapore, Cayman Islands, Virgin Islands, St.Lucia, St.Vincent and Jamaica are also included. Please feel free to contact us to confirm if your country is included on the list.

Q: May I bring my family with me?

Answer: Yes, you may. Once you have a job offer from an employer in China, you can apply for the spouse/family visa at the same time you apply for the work visa. We also recommend you consult your potential employers regarding this issue.

Q: What is the shortest period for which a visa is valid?

Answers: The minimum period available for a full-time working visa is threes month (the M visa). However, most schools would prefer to sign an initial contract for at least 1 year.

Q: Who are the typical employers that hire foreign nationals as teaching staff?

Answer: They are usually language training centres, international or private schools, international pre-school education or higher education institutions. Recently, some public schools have also started recruiting foreign teachers for their international departments or oral English classes.

Q: What types of companies are qualified to hire foreigners?

Answer: Basically, all companies/organisations with valid business permits are qualified to hire foreign employees. Additionally, educational institutions must obtain a permit for running a private school so that they may hire full-time teaching staff. TopTutorJob evaluates our clients before cooperating with them to insure that all clients meet the above criteria.

Q: Can I be an ESL teacher in China without a TEFL/TESOL/CELTA/ESL certificate?

Answer: Yes, you can. A teaching certificate is not always a necessary qualification. If you are a native English speaker and have two years of English teaching experience, you can teach in China without such a certificate. However, you will need to provide a letter of reference stating that you have more than 2 years of full-time teaching experience. Requirements for this reference letter include:

  1. Printed on school letterhead ;
  2. Signed or stamped by  school principal or management board representative;
  3. Stated dates of your employment there as an English teacher in the format: day/month/year to day/month/year.

If you are a recent graduate who majored in teaching or education, and you originate from a native English-speaking country, you don’t need such certificate

Q: Is it possible to fly to China on a tourist visa and then change to a work visa (Z) after arrival?

Answer: No. We strongly advise you to fly to China with a work visa (Z). While, there are cases in which foreign teachers come to China on a tourist visa, renewing it every two months in Hong Kong, both you and your employer should seriously  consider the cost and risks inherent in such an arrangement before accepting such a situation.

Q: Can I ask for a salary advance prior to my arrival to cover visa fees?

Answer: Usually, you will receive the reimbursement for the relevant work visa relevant from your employer upon your arrival. Your airfare will be reimbursed after completing your first-year’s contract. Asking your employer for an advance is considered inappropriate as your request signals to your employer that you may have a credibility issue. From the employers perspective, advancing funds to an employee who has neither arrived nor begun is high risk. Bearing this in mind, we suggest you save a certain amount of money to cover the work visa application and living expenses for your first few months in China. Please do keep all receipts for relevant expenses to be reimbursed later.

Q: How much do TopTutorJob’s services cost me?

Answers: There is no cost associated with your use of our website, nor for getting job placement assistance through our recruitment team. We only charge a service fee for our clients, your employer, upon their successful hiring of you.

Q: What documents do I need to prepare for a work visa (Z)?

Answer: In general, if you are currently outside China, this is the outline of steps for documentation and authentication:

  1.  Prepare original documents for:
  • Highest education diploma and your teaching license
  • Police certification that you have no criminal background, validated the last six months
  • Health examination
  • Reference letters from your previous employer(s)
  • Your resume/CV
  • Photocopies of your passport photo and signature pages
  • Photocopy of your contract , provided by your employer in China
  1. Home Country Authentication: Your local notary must certify the authenticity of their notarized seal or certify a copy thereof by adding a statement page with a large seal. Please note that some states require county clerks to certify a notary seal first.
  2. Consulate Authentication: Your local Chinese Embassy or Consulate must verify all your application, using all the above documents, with their signature and seal. Once verified, an Embassy or Consulate official will seal and sign your application documents, thus authorizing them for legal use in China.
  3. If you are currently residing in China, this process and the requisite materials could be somewhat different depending on which visa you currently hold. Feel free to contact us for more details about this process.

Q: How would gov/safea examine my 2-years-teaching experience?

Answer: It is really important to gather all employement letters for each employment in advance. Gov/SAFEA will examine your teaching experience by checking the employment letters you can gather. Please refer to the below detailed requirements for guidance:

  • Reference letter printed with school head;
  • With Principal/Leadership’s signature and stamp;
  • Clearly mention your working period from dd/mm/yyyy - dd/mm/yyyy with relvant subject job title.

Q: How long does it take to get a work visa (Z)?

Answer: Essentially, the work visa application process includes three main phases: document preparation, work permit application, work visa application. The document preparation stage depends on how quickly  you are able to obtain authentications and gather all the supporting documents. Typically, this requires 1-2 months from start to finish. After sending all these documents to your employer in China, it will take 15 working days for your employer to apply for the work permit notification. Finally, you will obtain a Z visa in your home country with the received work permit notification in 3-5 working days. This may take longer during peak application times.

Q: What if I’m already working in China and wish to transfer to another employer?

Answer: Transferring from one employer to another is easier than applying from abroad. Firstly, you need to check the contract with your current employer to see how much notice you must give. Secondly, check the expiration dates of your work and residence permits, as these will determine how quickly  you will need the transfer to be completed. Thirdly, contact TopTutorJob to find  new employment and sign an  offer with your next employer. Finally, obtain a release letter and work permit cancellation paper from your current employer. Your new employer will assist you with the transfer process.

Q: What is the standard job application process with TopTutorJob?


  1. Visit our official website to check out current job vacancies:
  2. Apply through the website for jobs that interest you, and within 3 working days our TTJ recruiter will  invite you to have an initial discussion regarding the jobs for which you are qualified.
  3. Submit your application to our selected TTJ clients and schedule an interview with them..
  4. Complete your visa preparation and on boarding.

Q: From the time I apply, how long will it take until I receive an offer through  TopTutorJob ?

Answer: Since we begin your application directly from a shortlisted stage, it normally only takes a week or so to get your first offer. For schools that have two rounds of interviews, it may take 2 weeks.

Q: Why apply through TopTutorJob?

Answer: We provide professional assistance to our candidates so they can  find the jobs they want most. Clients working with TopTutorJob are all selected TopEmployers across China. We carefully comply with all the most recent government policy changes to ensure that our candidates work safely and legally in China. Applying through TopTutorJob provides you with worry-free employment in China.

More questions? Please do not hesitate to email us for personal reply from one of our team members. Please begin your e-mail subject line with the hashtag:#CareerAdvice

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