Do I need a TESOL/TEFL Certificate to Teach in China?

Dear Jean,

I have a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts, a computer networking degree in WAN/LAN (Cisco Systems) and a Master’s in Educational Business. I also have a ******** Teaching certification and I’ve been teaching here in the US for 7 years. Do I still need to take the TESOL/TEFL classes and show a TESOL/TEFL certification in order to get a job in China(summer or 1-2 year contract?)

Thank you,


Jean answers Theo’s question

Dear Theo,

In your case, the answer to this question is no. Even with just a bachelor’s degree, you could probably ‘get away’ without having a TESOL certificate but if you have a teaching certification, then going through a TESOL program would be a big waste of money. Plus, with 7 years of teaching experience in the U.S., you are probably not going to learn very much from a TESOL course.

I only recommend TESOL certificates for people without bachelor degrees who are going to teach in China. Schools want to see some sort of qualification, even if it is minimal.

With all of those qualifications, you should be able to land a job anywhere. In fact, some schools will pay you extra  just because you have a Master’s degree.

Good luck with everything.



Ask Jean about China is a weekly feature on We welcome any questions related to living and working in China. Feel free to submit your questions by clicking here. We look forward to hearing from you.

7 Responses to Do I need a TESOL/TEFL Certificate to Teach in China?

  1. heber Guerrero says:

    I’m a little confused about TESOL and TEFL . I have a bachelor’s degree in Education and a Master’s degree in TEFL and more than 6 years teaching experience in South america.
    Do i still need a Tesol certification to teach in China? if so would you mind telling me the differences between my Master in TELF and a Tesol certification? I mean which one is higher?

    thank you .


  2. Randy Winstead says:

    I have a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, and a Family Support Specialist certification with the State of Montana, as an Early Intervention educator. Do I need a TEFL/TESOL certificate? I have written before, but never got a reply. sincerely, Randy


  3. Elly says:

    I have a degree – and a teaching degree at that, and home my students were vocational students. I taught subjects like hospitality, retail, job search, communication and personal development. I was told that I had to do TESOL, which I did, and later learned that the truth was that I didn’t need it. However, I am glad I did it. It gave me so much information, and many ideas for classes that I am pleased that I did it. Now I am a TESOL trainer.
    Just doing a basic course will give you many good ideas to use.


  4. Zed Zeller says:

    Dear Jean,

    I have a TESOL Certification but i do not have a college degree. Will I be about to find a job. Also giving that I am black will it be hard to me to find work in China.

    Thank you,

    Zed Zeller


  5. Alex Case says:

    If you do skip that step (not just any step, remember, but the step of getting any training at all before you step in front of class), you might just be having that horrible time in front of a class of paying students instead


  6. vivanli says: This site has alot of schools you can get in contact with. I think it is just a waist of money to get a cert. I did and regret it. I had a horrible time and at the end when we wanted jobs they told us about this site. So lets skip a few steps


  7. Alex Case says:

    What Jean says is most certainly true about getting a visa and a job (although it might exclude you from work at a small minority of schools), but teaching EFL is substantially different from other kinds of teaching and I would highly recommend some specific training with observed teaching practice. I have trained experienced teachers to become TEFL/TESOL teachers of adults for the first time, and although the primary teachers find it hardest to adjust almost all of them started with teaching practice marks as low as or lower than people who had never taught and were only able to bring their experience to bear once they had grappled with adjusting to a completely different way of teaching.


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