Thinking of teaching English in China? Read this article and find out if it's for you.

1. You're qualified or... unqualified

The requirements to teach English in China are usually the following. To get a Z visa teaching English in China one needs to have a bachelor's degree, 2 years of work experience and be over the age of 25. A Z visa is the legal visa for teaching English in China.

On the other hand if you don't have a degree you might be able to get a job on an F visa. That isn't technically for teaching English, but some schools will do that. Compared to other Asian countries like Japan, Taiwan or Korea it is easier to get a job teaching English in China without a degree.

TEFL certificates aren't legally required for visa purposes, however schools can require them or prefer them.

Panda in China

2. You want to learn Mandarin

Mandarin is the most widely spoken language in the world. Mandarin is the national language of China and is spoken by most people throughout the country. There are of course other dialects of Chinese such as Cantonese which is spoken in Guandong province which includes Hong Kong.

3. You want to explore the world's second largest country

China is one of the largest countries in the world. It has a diverse landscape. There are deserts in the north and subtropical forests in the south. You'll find the largest mountains in the world in the west and some of the nicest beaches in the south.

4. You appreciate biodiversity

China is the third most bio-diverse country in the world after Brazil and Columbia. However, at least 840 animal species are threatened or in danger of extinction mainly due to human activity such as deforestation, pollution, poaching and ingredients for traditional Chinese medicines.

5. You can tolerate a bit of pollution

According to Wikipedia China is the world's largest carbon dioxide emitter. It's not only the air that is dirty though. It is pretty common to throw trash and waste on the streets, some restaurant floors, burn it in some places, or dump industrial or agricultural waste in the river. Sometimes the smaller cities can suffer from worse pollution due to factories.

I lived in Shanghai and I didn't think it was that polluted considering how big it is. There aren't any factories in the city and I remember seeing a fair number of blue sky days. I thought some of the cities in Taiwan: Taichung and Tainan were more polluted (air wise). Those cities were only around a million people and Shanghai is near 18 million.

6. You don't mind large crowds

It can get pretty crowded as China is the world's most populous country. It has a population of more than 1.3 billion people. There was a population boom under Mao, but now there is a one child policy in place.

7. You want to be somewhere that is changing fast

China was a very poor country, but now things are getting better and it has one of the fastest growing economies in the world. It is the world's second largest economy and the world's largest importer and exporter of goods.

8. You can live without Facebook, Youtube, Gmail and other social media sites

China is currently ruled by the communist party. Websites such as Twitter, Facebook and Youtube are blocked. This is because the communist party restricts freedom of the internet, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, etc. You can get around it though with a proxy or vpn.

9. You have some start up cash

You are going to need some start up cash to get going in China. In Korea they will pay your airfare upfront and that is very unusual in China. Common in China is reimbursement at the end of your contract. To get started in China you're probably going to need money for a: plane ticket there, an L visa to start with, a visa run to Hong Kong (train or plane), a Z visa, food and accommodation. Your school may provide some of those expenses or not. Many schools in China do provide housing.

You can find out here how much money you need to move to China.

10. You want to live a comfortable life

Salaries for English teachers in China range quite a bit depending on what school (public, private, university, international school) you work for and what city you are in. They can range from about 4000RMB-15,000RMB. Chances are if you are only making 5000RMB in a small city then your housing will be covered.

China is not a big money maker for most people teaching ESL, but you can do all right since the cost of living is pretty cheap in most places.

11. You have an open mind

Having an open mind is a key ingredient to teaching abroad in general. If your mind is not open then I wouldn't recommend it. The language, culture, environment, food, people you're surrounded with and your job will be different. It will really help to have an open mind.

If you are not sure about China you may want to consider teaching English in KoreaJapan or Taiwan.