Pros and Cons of Getting a Teaching Certificate in China

Teaching English in China has been an amazing and life changing experience thus far. So much so that I’m thinking of alternative ways that I can make this experience last next 5 – 10 years.
After speaking with people who’ve been in the International Education Industry for quite some time, I realized that the most opportunities are awarded to the teachers that have teacher licenses. In other words they are qualified to teach in the U.S. Public schools (Or the equivalent in Canada or the United Kingdom).
For someone who doesn’t have the teaching license it isn’t cheap, in dollars or time, to acquire.
Therefore, this article is weighing the ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ of going through the process of getting a teaching certification to teach abroad in international schools.


1. Worldwide Job Market

Getting a teaching licence qualifies you for a huge network of international and private schools located almost anywhere in the world. Many of these schools will pay salaries that are comparable to a teaching salary in the U.S. while still giving you the opportunity to experience that countries cultures. You can also take advantage of the low cost of living in many of these countries.

2. Opportunities

There are opportunities for teachers who don’t have teaching licenses, but having a teaching license would open even more doors. Making you more marketable, ultimately earning you more money.

3. Stability

After working in China for the past two years it is hit or miss to have an employer that can give you a solid sense of security. When I talk to many of my friends that work at International Schools they can’t imagine dealing with the problems that I’m having.

4. Growth Potential

The jobs that I’ve had in China have had no growth potential for a long-term career. I believe that getting a teaching license and working for credible employers will give me the opportunity to grow and have a fulfilling career.

5. Return on Investment

The cost to acquire the teaching license is approximately $6000 – $8000. I know that after being hired at an international school I can make this money back in 3 – 6 months. Which is the probably the best place to ever put my money.


1. Cost

The cost to acquire the teaching certification is $6000 – $8000 which is a lot of money to save up front. Especially for someone who is planning to reach financial independence relatively early in life.
This money could definitely be used to pay off my student loans or to invest in index funds.
I wouldn’t even mind having this amount of money added to my emergency fund.

2. Time to Complete the Certificate

It’s going to take about 11 months to complete the course, which means that I’m committing to at least 11 months of a working at my current job or one similar to this one.

3. Commitment to living abroad for the near future

I personally have no desire to teach at schools in America. Therefore, committing to this teaching license would mean making a commitment too living outside of the U.S. , at least for the near future.
That means that I would be away from my family for an even longer time then I have been now.

4. Still doesn’t guarantee a job

Getting the license would be an amazing opportunity, but it still doesn’t guarantee me a job. There is a risk of spending 11 months getting the teaching certification and not being able to find work.


After doing this activity it definitely looks like there are more ‘pros’ than ‘cons’ to getting the teaching license. I will plan to take this into consideration in the coming weeks, but unfortunately I haven’t made my decision. Particularly because I haven’t decided if I want to be living abroad for the next 5 – 10 years.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you have anything to add please leave a comment below. See you next time.

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