Do I need a degree to teach English in China?

This totally depends on the school and if you are going for a working (Z) Visa.
The answer overall is NO. I actually have met and know a good amount of people that have taught here, starting teaching, and have been teaching for many years and they did not even finish high school. You can get jobs without a degree.

The better question is experience, presentation and work ethic. It’s easy to get in contact with schools and meet. Immediately they will judge you based on your clothes and accent. If they like your presentation then they will ask you to do a demo class. This lasts anywhere from 5 minutes to 30 minutes. If you do well in this then it does not matter, you can get the job, and keep it as long as you keep showing up on time and don’t miss days.

Now I mentioned it depends on the schools. The large international chains like EF won’t hire you, the Universities won’t hire, the middle schools and elementary might if you have a good agent. Yes, you saw that right, agent. There are agents that arrange all these jobs. And with no degree forget about Z visas, forget about getting a good job before arriving in China, forget about health insurance, but you won’t have to pay tax. Basically, you are operating as an illegal alien, as so called fruit picker teaching the children of the world your language.

You may be asking, “won’t the parents who pay a ton of money for their kids to study at the school want properly educated teachers from good schools?” Sure they do, so the school just flat out lies. In many cases for kindergartens they just tell the teacher to tell the students you have a degree form blah blah university. They never ask for a degree. If you teach one on one at a one on one school, this gets tricky, they may ask you to say you are from specific part of America or from some specific university, because that is what the client wants. The schools seriously don’t care. The only reason any school even requires a degree is for the working (Z) visa. If that did not exist I doubt anyone would ever ask. At the end of the day they only care about making money, and they only care that you can do the job. If you have the ability, that’s all you need.

Degrees don’t always matter, what matters more is your work ethic and ability. Yeah, you will be living on a Visa that may require you to take at train to Hong Kong every three months, but hey, you have a job that pays $20 bucks an hour and getting lots of hours.

What about the salary you might ask. Well, amazingly enough, it’s usually the same as a college grad, or even a master’s degree, depending on how hard you work.

In all the time I taught, off and on for many years, I only had to give my degree for the visa application, never a second sooner.