Age Restrictions in TEFL - China, Taiwan & Vietnam

by Wrayann

Question: What opportunities are available for a young looking 66 year old certified teacher?

Answer - Age Restrictions in China There are teachers working in China in their 60's and 70's, so it is possible, but more perseverance is needed. However, ageism does exist - as it does elsewhere in the world - it is easier for an English teacher under 40 to find a TESOL job in China.

The more experienced you are in teaching English the better, and the better certified you are in teaching English the more opportunities you will have. This is true for all teachers regardless of age - but it's especially important the older you are.

Some language schools will not consider anyone over 40, others will be quite happy to consider teachers in their 60's. It is easier for teachers already working in a school or university to continue teaching, than it is for an old newbie to enter the market.

In China the interpretation of laws and rules is quite flexible. There are many teachers in their 40's, 50's, 60's and even 70's still teaching. Much is left up to the discretion of the employer.

I've heard that the central government of China does not have a statutory upper age limit for foreign experts. However, local governments often have their own rules.

It's a good idea to search for TESOL jobs in China before arriving.

Age Restrictions in TEFL - Taiwan In Taiwan there's no law to say that older teachers (under 65) cannot be hired, but it is the preference of many - but not all - employers, to hire younger staff. There are teachers in their 50's and 60's teaching English in universities in Taiwan; and there are many teachers in there 40's working in language schools. However, these teachers are usually experienced, good at their job and have held their job for a number of years.

If you have no experience of TEFL, and you are over 40, it will be extremely difficult to find a job in Taiwan. You may have to consider going to live in a smaller city where there are few teachers.

If you do have good experience of teaching English, and TEFL certification, then it is possible to find a job, despite the fact that most language schools prefer young applicants.

Remember that there are more teachers than jobs, which adds to the difficulty.

Finding work in universities is a better option for teachers over 40, but you will still need experience, as well as a masters degree, preferably an MA TESOL. A PhD TESOL is increasingly being asked for.

The upper age limit for a teacher on a full-time contract in a university in Taiwan is 65. In practice it would be very difficult to find a position after 60. Some heads of university language departments who I asked, told me that many universities don't like to hire anyone over 50 - regardless of experience. I spoke to one head of a language department who told me 60 would be acceptable, but no older. The preferences of individual heads of departments accounts for some variation.

If you have the right experience and qualifications it is possible, but increasingly difficult - even for younger applicants. Once you are in the system it becomes much easier. Finding part-time work is easier than finding a full-time post.

Age Restrictions Teaching English in Vietnam Teaching English in Vietnam may be a better option for older teachers than Taiwan. In Vietnam it's best to arrive in the country and search on the spot. It's hard to find ESL jobs in Vietnam online.

While I don't have personal experience of teaching English in Vietnam, all the reports that I've heard indicate that it is a better market for English teachers, which means that older English teachers stand a much better chance of finding employment.

Getting Around Age Restrictions in TEFL If you are teaching English and over 50 it would help you to find a job you like and stay in it. Most institutions are happy to continue employing a good and proven teacher, even when they get older. In some countries you can also get around the official retirement age by staying on in your job as a part-time teacher.

There are alternatives to finding an ESL job, One is to work freelance, taking privates, company classes, some part-time work in language schools, and possibly online work instead. Another option is to set up your own business. If you have experience of teaching and an entrepreneurial nature setting up your own school would get around any problems of ageism.

Comments for Age Restrictions in TEFL - China, Taiwan & Vietnam

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Apr 18, 2012
Living and Woring in China
by: PJKL

I have been living in Chengdu China for the past 3 and a half years. When I arrived here there was no mention of a 60 year old limit. I am married to a Chinese lady. But even being married to a Chinese lady still does not let me work. I can stay with residence visa for two years at a time but I cannot work which is what I was told at the Public Security Bureau. I am now 60 and this forces me to either go back to Spain or Canada. I cannot collect a pension from Canada or Spain until round about 67. Recently I have heard that in Chengdu they are beginning to apply the rule at 55 years of age. I have heard from other friends here that the rule changes depending on where you are in China. I am just finishing a contract with SWUFE, even getting very good results they are not going to renew my contract. My wife is very upset because she does not want to return to Spain. Her family is here. I suppose I could work part time with my residence visa but I believe that is frowned upon by the Chinese government. But I have to ask, what would they do if they caught me trying to support my family just working part time?

Apr 24, 2012
Age Restrictions in China
by: Mark (Admin)

PJKL - Thank you for letting us know your situation. I hope things can work out for you. I hear such conflicting reports from China. It seems as if every region, or every city makes up its own rules as it goes along.

There are English teachers older than you still working, and I've heard of others in very similar situations.

Have you applied to many different schools in your city, or around your city?

What is the situation for local Chinese who want to work part-time? What is the possibility of doing private work?

Jan 10, 2013
Working over 60
by: PJKL

Hi: This is in continuation of a previous note I have left. After finishing my contract at swufe I returned to Spain to look after my olive trees. I have come back to China and I am now looking for part time work. I have offers from three universities. Last year even though I worked part time at other universities they all asked to see the foreign expert certificate which was valid at that time. Now it has expired. I wonder if they will hire me part time if my FEC has expired. I am looking into trying to get the FEC myself, just to keep the part time universities happy. I will keep you updated.

Jan 11, 2013
Working in China over the age of 60
by: Mark

Thanks for the update. It would be interesting to know whether you can get the Foreign Expert Certificate yourself, or if all universities care about this for part-time work.

Feb 02, 2013
Older teachers
by: Anonymous

I have been teaching in China for a while. I can tell you from direct experience that there are older teachers currently working in China, some who are....quite old. might help someone to know that it does exist and it is possible.

May 09, 2013
Save the rest of my life!
by: Bluefields

Can anyone actually name an institution that has been willing to hire teachers 65+ ?

May 09, 2013
Older teachers
by: Anonymous

You asked whether there are teachers 65+. The answer is yes. At SWUFE is a Canadian lady married to one of the Chinese staff. Probably that is why she is still there. But she is there.
Good luck.

May 24, 2013
by: Mark (Admin)

I can't name any specific institutions that employs teachers over 65, but I know they exist. I spoke to a teacher not long ago, who taught English in China recently, and he is in his 70's.

A lot depends on how much a university needs a teacher, and what kind of experience you have. It's certainly possible, but you will probably have to contact a lot of universities before you find anything.

Remember that teachers do drop out during the year, so if you send your C.V. to most universities in the country (I know there are a lot), I think you would eventually get an offer.

Mar 14, 2014
teaching when older than 60
by: Anonymous

I was working at Shandong Jiaotong University a year ago, and I was 66. Another teacher, who chose to retire, was 70. The university would have been happy to keep either of us. I moved to Taiwan to be with my (Taiwanese) wife. Universities may be more picky about your degree status. I have an M.A., and the 70 year old had a PhD. For some reason, it is harder for schools in the northern part of China to get teachers, so their age requirements are not so stringent. Seems like most of the young teachers prefer the southern part of the country.

Mar 15, 2014
Head North Old Man (& Woman)
by: Mark Chapman

I didn't know that it's harder for schools in the north of China to find teachers. Good information.

So if you're old & tough - and able to stand the cold - then there's work up north.

Jun 05, 2014
The reason why
by: Anonymous

I just love teaching English. The best job in the world. All those people need us. May we all live for a very loooooong time. God bless ESL teachers.

Jul 18, 2014
Working past 60
by: Anonymous

What is the process to work past 60 outside of the teach profession in China?

Oct 04, 2014
Age Restrictions
by: Anonymous

I'm not too sure if all the age restrictions still apply. I received an add for a teaching job in Taiwan from the Retired Teachers of Ontario Canada website.
I am finding that many of the sites are excluding older teachers who have taught for many years in their home country.

Oct 10, 2014
Age Restrictions on ELT in Taiwan
by: Mark

I think Taiwan still has age restrictions imposed by private language schools, but there are still many which will employ older teachers. I know teachers in their 40's and 50's working in language schools.

I work at a university in Taiwan, and I many of the teachers are older. However, retirement from full-time teaching is mandatory at 65 - although some people continue teaching part-time beyond this. A couple of part-time jobs could easily become full-time if you wanted.

Oct 20, 2014
statuatory age limit china
by: Anonymous

FEB (foreign experts bureau) have an upper age limit of 60 as of 2014.

Jun 27, 2016
Age limit in China
by: Anonymous

It is true, age limit varies in different regions or cities in China. In Guangzhou, 60 for women, 65 for men. The Bureau of Foreign Expert has just denied a 3rd extension for me this year because I turned 63 recently. The college I worked for almost 9 years, sadly, has to let go of me. It came as a shock for everyone because I've been assured by the school administration that I could stay till I turn 65 though I'm a female. I'm the only one teaching Journalism-related courses.

Jun 28, 2016
Age Restrictions in China
by: Mark

I'm sorry to hear that.

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