Study path of a teacher in China

How do you become a teacher in China? What does a teacher education require? Do you need a certificate? And how attractive is a teacher’s position in China?  

Rui Yang, a Chinese teacher now living in Finland, gives us the answers.  

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

“Teacher, doctor or scientist.” 

Those were the standard answers when Rui Yang and her classmates were asked what they wanted to become when growing up. 

“My English teacher in junior high school influenced me a lot. Suddenly, my English skills improved radically,” Rui remembered. 

Years later, Rui earned her teacher’s certificate, majoring in English.  

“Teachers can really chance their students’ lives.” 

For 10 years, she taught at an international high school in the Hebei Province, close to Beijing. Now, 38-year-old Rui – or Susan as she is also called in English – works as a project assistant for the educational company Sumino Oy in Finland.  

Typical path with a bachelor 

After finishing high school, she went to Hebei Normal University.  

While studying English as her main subject, she took courses in psychology and pedagogy. Students from other universities also attended teaching-related courses and tests at the Normal University that led to the much-wanted teacher’s certificate. 

The path of Rui and her fellow students is typical for teachers in China. Broadly, the bachelor’s degree and the teacher’s certificate give them the qualifications and papers needed to work anywhere in the Chinese school system – from kindergarten to senior high school.  

“However, the requirements go up all the time,” Rui added. “Nowadays, some high schools will only hire teachers with a master’s degree.” 

Attractive to be a teacher 

Salaries of teachers vary greatly between different areas and schools in China. Being a teacher is nevertheless attractive in China today, said Rui.  

“It is a stable job, which is of great importance in serious times like the current, dominated by COVID-19. You are guaranteed summer and winter holidays and a stable income.” 

To land one of the attractive positions, a degree and a teacher’s certificate is not enough, however.  

Typically, applicants will have to compete for jobs advertised by the local educational office.  

The qualified candidates will take a written examination. Those, who get to continue the process from here, go to an interview or teach a test class attended by a group of officials and experienced teachers, to prove their skills. 

Finnish teachers totally different 

Rui taught at the Hebei Tangschan Foreign Language School GAC Center for almost a decade before she decided to move to Finland with her family.  

The main motivation for choosing Finland was that her two sons could go to school in the country. 

“Teachers here are totally different, and so is the studying environment,” said Rui, whose children are 10 and five years old.  

Next week, we explore how Chinese teachers are different from their Finnish counterparts and look into the Chinese studying culture, so make sure to come back!