The basic requirements to teach English abroad in Asia (specifically Eastern Asia) are to be a native English speaker and to hold a 4 year university degree. These are the general qualifications that you need to teach English abroad, but each school and country can be a little different and no, you don't need to be bilingual to teach abroad.

If you don't have those two things there are still possibilities. See at the bottom of this page for more on teaching without a degree.


The general requirements to teach English in Korea, China, Taiwan and Japan

First we'll look at the general requirements to teach English in the following places. After that we'll talk about some other qualifications or preferences schools can have.

In Korea

For an E-2 visa (legal teaching visa):

  1. You need to be a native English speaker from the USA, England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand or Canada.
  2. You need to have a bachelor's degree in any discipline.
  3. Clean health check.
  4. Clear criminal background check.
  5. Apostilled diploma. More.

If you have a 2 year degree completed or an associate's degree then you can teach English in the TALK program in Korea. The EPIK program has stated a preference for TEFL certification. Here is an online TEFL course for teaching in Korea.

Student, spouse, or heritage visas may also enable you to legally teach English in Korea.

You may need TEFL certification to teach in a public school in Korea if you don't have experience or an related degree. Online courses can work, however in Busan EPIK has stated a preference for courses with 20 in-class hours.

Learn more about:

In China

China is a big country and some of its rules can fluctuate from city to city and province to province.

For a Z visa (foreign expert certificate):

  1. You need to be a native English speaker from the USA, England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand or Canada. 
  2. You need to have a bachelor's degree in any discipline notarized.
  3. You often need TEFL certification notarized (see below for more).
  4. Criminal background check.
  5. Clean health check.
  6. 25-55 years old.
  7. Have 2 years post grad work experience (see below for more).


Here's a comment about the age limit and "rules" in China.

about requirements to teach in china

I have also known non-native English speaking Europeans who got Z visas to teach in public schools in China.

So different schools can have different requirements.

Here is a quote from a Chinese government site in regards to visas for teachers.

"Teachers of foreign languages. Teachers of foreign languages generally shall be engaged in the teaching of their native languages and shall have a bachelor’s degree or higher degree and language teaching experience of at least two years.

Those who have had degrees in the field of education, language or teaching, or have acquired a qualification certificate of teaching at their own countries or a recognized international certificate of language teaching shall be exempted from the restriction on work experience."

Evaluation Criteria for Foreigners Employed in China

I met quite a few people teaching English in China without a degree. So if you have the will there is often a way, but some people are saying the rules have changed and maybe they have somewhat.

Compared to a place like Japan, China is not a very rule abiding place either and you can see that in the video on this page about teaching English in China.

Learn more about:

In Japan

  1. You usually need to be a native English speaker from the USA, England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand or Canada.
  2. You need to have a bachelor's degree in any discipline.

Can you teach English in Japan if you aren't a native speaker? Yes, you can, however I think most schools will prefer native speakers. But if you can prove that you have 10 or more years of experience learning English then you may be in.

I met a German girl teaching here in Fukuoka and the school never actually asked her for proof. But most Germans speak English well. 

I also met someone taking the course who was teaching in Japan legally and he wasn't a native speaker.

According to the Ministry of Justice in Japan:

Any of the following documents certifying educational background or work history, etc.

a. A certificate of graduation from a university, a document certifying that you have received an education equivalent to or higher than this, or a document certifying that you have been granted the title of diploma or advanced diploma.

b. One copy of a document certifying that you have a driver's license, etc.

c. A person who intends to educate a foreign language should have one document certifying that he/she has been educated in the foreign language for 12 years or more.


These are the basic qualifications to get a visa teaching in Japan. If you don't have those there are other visas such as spouse or working holiday visas if you are from one of the common wealth countries.

Different schools can have individual requirements or preferences for teachers. See below for more.

Learn more about:

In Taiwan

  1. You need to be a native English speaker the USA, England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand or Canada.
  2. You usually need to have a bachelor's degree in any discipline.
  3. Criminal background check (a recent update).

Those qualifications are to teach in a buxiban. You'll also usually need a 'teaching license' to teach in a public school. Here's an example public school program.

Some schools in Taiwan will also accept 2 years or an associate's degree and a TEFL/TESOL certificate.

According to

1. Be 20 (twenty) years old or above.

2. Be graduated from colleges or above.

3. The language to be taught by the foreign teacher is the official language used in the country specified in the passport of the teacher.

The foreigners mentioned in the preceding paragraph shall have qualification certificates for language teaching if they have not obtained bachelor‘s degrees.

Source (see chapter 4)

Learn more about:

Other qualifications and preferences to teach in Asia

Is being a native English speaker and having a degree the only qualifications that you need? Not in all cases. Those are the basic requirements to get a legal working visa teaching in a public school, private school or university. Sometimes schools can require or prefer additional qualifications. Different schools can have different requirements. Some of the other preferences or requirements that you may find when you start looking for a job are the following.

  1. Experience
  2. TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certificates
  3. Related degrees in English
  4. Teaching license
  5. Master's degrees

1. Experience

Most schools will prefer teachers with experience. The more experience you have the more doors will open for you. But don't despair there are still plenty of jobs and schools that are willing to hire first time teachers.

2. TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certificates

Aside from experience some employers may also prefer that you have a TESOL, TEFL or CELTA certificate. These are typically short term courses that can be taken in-class or online. They can last anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of months. You can teach English without a TEFL certificate in many places. These are not usually legally required to get a visa to teach English in Asia. These by the way do not replace degrees.

These can be a good way to improve your resume if you have no experience. More importantly the point of these courses should be to train you and prepare you to do your job. NOT just get a job. A good course will prepare you and a poor one won't.

How confident are you in your abilities to teach English to children?


Wanna get more confident?

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3. Related degrees in English

Any degree is usually fine however, some schools may prefer to see a related degree. Degrees in English, English literature or other related degrees can be looked upon favorably.

4. Teaching license

These are not usually required. However, they are in a few places. To teach English in a public school in Taiwan you will need to have a teaching license from your home country. In Korea, Japan and China you don't necessarily need that to teach in a public school. Also to teach in most international schools you will usually need this qualification as well.

5. Master's degrees

Although they are not common a few schools may also require you to have a master's degree, these are often universities in Japan and Taiwan. Universities in Korea or China do not usually require that.

Final notes

That covers most of the requirements for teaching English in Asia. If you do not have those requirements then you can read more about teaching English without a degree.