working in China
Career Advice

Work in China Without a Degree – Yes it’s Possible

China has put much emphasis on education, and the four-year degree is now commonplace. Graduate going through the current school system come out of the university without any marketable skills but with a sense that they are entitled to good office jobs. However, the Chinese job market is not only focused on the graduate lot: looking for white color jobs, but there are many other opportunities for non-graduates. It is possible for you to work in China without a degree as long as you have a high school diploma or middle college diploma.

Meanwhile, according to a study done by the Harvard Graduate School of Education, they came to the conclusion that the society has put too much emphasis on a single pathway to success i.e. attending and graduating from a four-year college. But with the rising college costs, it is about time we considered other alternatives and became a more wholesome society. Education is good, but then again you do not have to have a bachelor’s degree to achieve a good pay and job security. There are so many other jobs for you to work in China without a degree, some may require an associate degree or less including opportunities in healthcare, sales, construction and sales.

Healthcare jobs

Nursing is just one of the fields that don’t require a bachelor’s degree. This area is fast growing, and it has the highest number of job openings annually. To work as a nurse in China, you are expected to have a nursing license, do three months internship, pass the Chinese NCLEX be fluent in English and also learn Mandarin. But with so many expats in China and international organizations and schools, you can be a nurse working in schools, institutions, home healthcare facilities, nursing healthcare facilities and doctors’ offices. Some other healthcare jobs that only require an associate degree include Dental hygienist, radiologic technologist and technician, respiratory therapist and physical therapist assistants.

Construction jobs

Construction is the leading industry in the provision of opportunities to work in China without a degree. China suffers a shortage of skilled labor, especially in this industry. Factories are shorthanded in spite of having increased workers salaries and benefits. Most of the college graduates in China would rather stay unemployed than do such manual labor jobs that they consider beneath them. It is a good starting point for foreigners; since with time, you can make enough money and pay for your degree as you keep working. Such jobs only require high school diploma or its equivalence and on-job or vocational training. Basically, by choosing a career that you can learn through on-job training, you can earn as you learn. Currently, the job market focuses more o the experience rather than the papers.

Sales jobs

There are a plethora of manufacturing companies in China willing to hire foreigners in sales and business development roles without necessarily having a degree. Ideally, sales positions do not require anything more than high school diploma; it’s all about your personality, sales attitude, ability to represent the company and push the product out there. It is a matter of experience and understanding of business culture. In this case how well do you understand Chinese business etiquette and culture? If it is pushing the product in the international market, can you effectively communicate, do you have strong critical thinking skills and language abilities?

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There are also so many other jobs to do like working as a real estate agent, beautician, working in beauty salons, working in department stores, security guards, working as drivers and so many other opportunities to work in China without a degree.

Finding a job through Internship in China

Most of the people who go to study in China also work as interns for foreign companies or public institution. Interning is one of the effective ways to work in China without a degree since the networking that you will make will secure you better opportunities in future. Apart from an internship, you can volunteer to work with the community or companies in China. You will not necessarily need to have a degree but with your determination, it can lead to good job offers either at the enterprise/institution with whom you are already working with, or any other foreign corporations that would prefer to employ people that have some work experience in China.


When you try to work in China as a self-employed or a freelancer, be ready to face some challenges. The first one will be visa acquisition if you are not yet in China. It is tough to get a work visa if you do not have an employer in China who can do that for you. A way to get around this is to take up any job first that will get your papers sorted or go to China as a student and try switching your visa status while in China.

Modeling and acting jobs

In China, Caucasian looks are highly valued. Many companies seek Caucasian-looking individuals to perform some basic modeling or acting for their products/commercials, even without any prior experience. What other better way to work in China without a degree than this? To score such jobs then, networking is very paramount. Meet up with other expats and someone will be able to direct you to the right place since this is a quite popular form of employment within the expat community.

Hospitality jobs

There so many international hotels in China looking for native English-speaking candidates to work for them. The jobs range chefs and waiters to receptionists and tour guides. It’s decent, and you make real money as you work for modern 5-star hotels or the like. The hotel industry is booming in China and they all year-round look for foreigners who can work in China without a degree as a prerequisite.

Doing business in China

Once you take the leap of faith to do business in China be ready to experience the Great Wall of Red Tape (no-pun–intended). However, doing business in China also comes with a lot of rewards. After all, it is the fastest growing economy in the world. What’s important is, know your customers, never stay comfortable and assume business is still good and be very smart with time since registering a Wholly Foreign Owned Enterprise (WOFE) in China can even take a year. Also, get a reputable agent to save you the trouble of the bureaucratic spaghetti that the Chinese system can be, learn the art of the barter economy where favors are the common currency and finally do not underestimate the power and importance of Guanxi/relationships.

China is a country swelling with potential, and there are endless opportunities for you work there. The examples above are just some of the possibilities for you to work in China without a degree, but there are much more. The economy is quickly rising and to sustain that they need expertise in all aspects of life and not only in the technical fields which require an advanced degree. Some of the work opportunities can be very demanding and overwhelming but with the right attitude and determination, you will make it.

Work in China Without a Degree – Yes it’s Possible
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  • Faryal

    I want to work in china iam pakistani national my kidz is indian now i am in pakistan i need a full free scholarship for my kidz and i need a job for me please help me

  • Susan

    This is good, but I would like to know something. Do you have jobs for Africans too

  • Errol

    i need a job in china i have a diploma in Public Management , am a teacher .

  • Nakaggwa cissy

    I would like to work in china as a teacher but have no qualifications

  • Peggy Ivie

    Are there still age limits for teaching in China?

  • Emmi Martin


    I am currently working in GZ teaching English at an international school. My boyfriend is from the U.K. he does welding. He doesn’t have a degree of any sort but would like to find a job in welding or something similar here in China to be closer to me. Would you happen to know any websites that we can look at to begin this process?

    Thanks for your time,


  • Emmi Martin

    Hello, I am currently working in Guangzhou as an English teacher at an international school. My boyfriend from the U.K. but is currently working in Australia at the moment. He does welding but does not have a degree for it. We are trying to find him a job out here in China, so we can be closer together, where he can continue working in the welding field but have no clue where to begin our search. Could you possibly shed some light on some helpful websites we can look at?

  • Ben Moller

    I would like to work in China. I have been in the construction business since 1981. Previous job was teaching, I have a two year teaching diploma, I also hold a diploma in transport economics.

  • Teyise

    I have a degree in social work and social administration from a recognized university in Uganda, so is that possible to me to work in China at any work task. Am a citizen of Uganda and I have a Uganda passport.

  • Teyise

    I just need a job, please help me to get one am on the wall

  • Jabu

    To whom it may concern
    I’m currently teaching in China. I want to bring my son and my cousin for other jobs since they don’t have a degree. I need to know which visa they can apply for from South Africa.

    Looking forward to hearing from you soon


  • Beatriz Baliola

    Hi, I am interested to work in China as the Hospitality jobs. And please, I wanna know how to apply. Thank first.

  • ricky gounder

    i wanna work in china

  • William Ramos

    i am 18 yrs old high scholl graduate
    Speak Spanish and English
    Would like to get a 5 start Hotel Job

  • Zafar Eqbal

    I am working in India my company is transfer me in china,but my company is not able to apply FWP because i don’t have degree, please suggest any other option to apply FWp.

  • Zain

    I want to ask about graphic designing any company which works for graphic designing and making logos of different brands in shirts and caps etc

  • Nickle Gupta

    We’ll explained information ..thank you,but has you said we can get job in sales executive in china without the four year degree ,but to get a work visa from the government it’s a mandatory that expat should have a degree to get work permit??please explain me theis

    • Reply

      In order to obtain a working Z visa (often called work permit) you need to have Bachelor’s degree. That is a basic requirement. But in China lots of companies can still employ you to work remotely or on some other type of visa. The point of this article is not to say that you can legally work without having a work permit but to show the fact that BA degree is not essential for lots of companies when they making a decision when hiring people.

      • Kyle

        Hello, last year I got a work visa then resident visa with my former company. I worked In china for a year and went back to America (my Resident expired) . Since then I have a new job offer and contract to be a production manager in china. But the problem is I don’t have a degree, now with these new rules I’m worried I wont be accepted. So my question is this, Is it possible to get a work visa under the new rules without a degree even though I got it last year? The
        new Chinese company have already made a contract and done all the steps to hire me they are just waiting for me to get my work visa. ( yes, they know I don’t have a degree)

      • Jacob

        Hello Yuri. I got a Job as an English teacher In China, even got the offer letter. Now the problem is that I don’t have a Bdegree I only have a Diploma. Therefore this does not allow me to get a working permit. How else can I get the working permit from my potential employers? Is there any other visa I could apply for that will allow me to stay in China for 12 months ? Please help

  • Geoffrey King

    Hi,Im from New Zealand and want to find any work in China,no degree or teaching certificate but have been learning Mandarin and am up to level 3 HSK.I was teaching for 2 years in Liaoning from 2002-2004.can you please help me.

  • Nate

    Hi. I am a South African citizen and a native English speaker. I have more than 2 years of ESL teaching experience and a 120 hour TESOL diploma issued by an American University. I do not have a bachelor’s degree only a college diploma. Is it possible to get a Z visa to work in China as an ESL teacher? Could I start my own business and obtain a Z visa in this way and work as a subcontractor, similar to the way it is done in the Czech republic? Or am I doomed to work illegally?

  • Taqi abbas

    Hi,i am Taqi Abbas from Pakistan currently i am working here in dubai in a restaurant but I want to work in China and I am only 10standard passed never been to collage since from 20 years I am working can you please guide me where i can apply I am also good in Pakistani food cooking I am a singer also l

  • Andrea

    Why people keep spreading disinformation? You don’t need 2 years of experience to get a work visa. I got my work visa + resident permit + all the necessary documentation to legally work in China and I had 1 year of work experience post graduation. Also one of my friend got her work visa with just 3 months of experience after graduation. I got my visa and work permit without the need to leave china and go back to my country, as the new regulations now are allowing it. When you declare that you have work experience you don’t need any kind of certificate from the companies you worked for, you just write it down, you leave a reference (phone number/address of you company and it’s fine). Getting a work visa for me was extremely easy, cheap and fast. So ppl, stop spreading disinformation please. This is china, every application is different from one another, and I think that the more serious is your company, the easier is to get the visa. For example, if your company has already employed many foreigners, I think it’s easier to get the visa, as the office that receives the application already released many work visa for foreign workers in that company.

    • Reply

      Hi Andrea,

      Thanks for taking time to comment.

      The rules for obtaining the work visa may varies depending of the country of residence. According to the rules it is still required to have 2 years of work experience (not necessary from one company) after graduation. However that doesn’t mean in case you don’t have 2 years that you will be 100% rejected. So we advise you to have a try and see what will happen.

  • dave

    I have a national diploma in public administration from Nigeria polytechnic
    Pls I need a guide on how to get a work visa to China am presently in Nigeria now

  • Megan

    I have been looking to move to China so started a TEFL course but then heard that because I don’t have a degree I cant. What would my other options be to get a work visa in China doing any job?

  • Erna

    I have a situation – I’ve been studying in a Shanghai university and I will graduate in January. I’ve been doing an internship for half a year now and they have decided to keep me as a full time employee after I graduate, but since I need a two year working experience, me and my boss we have no idea how can I get a working visa after graduating. Any suggestions?

    • Reply

      Hey Erna! Sorry for my later reply to your question. The only way for you to obtain a working permit (Z visa) is to leave China and firstly get a temporary working permit with 000 days on it (no worries it will be valid for 30 days actually) and enter China mainland. After that your company will extend it for you for a period of 1 year and later every year it is a simple extension.

      However in order or you to obtain a temporary working permit from outside of China you have to check if you are eligible and have all necessary papers for that. One of the key document is 2 years of work experience outside of China. Now this doesn’t mean it should be from one company. You can collect 5 or 10 papers from 5 or 10 different companies but the idea is that the timeframe stated on those papers in total should be more than 2 years. All other required list of documents I suggest you to check on the Chinese embassy website in your home country.

      I hope that answers your question.

      • Rayan

        I have similar case as Erna. Is it necessary to get the 2 years working experience after the graduation? If so then it’s impossible to manage as I am going to graduate next June.

  • Jeffrey

    I have received an offer for a sales management job in China, but to apply for the work visa they still required for a BA degree. Is there any way to overcome this? This is not in a tier 1 city.

    • Reply

      Hi Jeffrey, thank you for your comment! Unfortunately you would need a Bachelor’s degree and two years work experience as a minimum requirement to get a work visa which is the only legal way to work in China. Have you thought about a paid internship? We offer paid internships on our job board in your area of interest.

  • Yordanos Tsegaye

    i have a law degree from recognazied university in ethiopia,so is that possible to me to work in china at any work task?