After having completed his secondary education at Yuan-Kiang Middle School in Wuhu, he attended the Wuchang Preparatory Military School and later graduated from the Baoding Military College.
Following the graduation, Hsu Ting-yao entered army service, starting his career as a company commander. During the Nationalist Revolution in 1926, he was appointed Commander of the 8th Regiment of the Nationalist Army and has since served successively as vice Commander of the 4th Division, vice-Commander and later Commander of the Second Nationalist Division.
Mr. Hsu acted as a Commander of 1st Brigade of the 1st Nationalist Division Vice-Commander and later acting Commander of the 1st Nationalist Division. He was a Commander of the 4th Nationalist Division, Garrison Commander of Pengpu, Anhui. Hsu Ting-yao served as a Field-Commander of the 1st Column of the Communist-Suppression Forces in Henan, Anhui and Hubei. Mr. Hsu held the post of a Commander of the 17th Nationalist Army and Field-Commander-in-Chief of the 8th Route Army, in which capacities, he fought against the Japanese invaders.
After conclusion of the campaign, he was appointed a member of the Military Affairs Commission at Nanjing, member of the Peking Division of the Commission, Director of Baoding Provisional Headquarters of the President of the Military Affairs Commission. Hsu Ting-yao was appointed Head of the Chinese Military Inquiry Mission abroad by the National Government in April, 1924 and left China on May 11 for Europe.
He returned on March 9, 1935. Mr. Hsu was appointed Inspector-General of Military Transportation of the Military Affairs Commission.