If you don’t possess a university degree, it is still possible to teach English in a foreign country. Regardless of your academic background, there are countless language schools out there that will happily hire you. Even though a degree opens more doors and opportunities, there really is no reason to give up on your dream of teaching English abroad if you do not have one.
Why is a degree required for certain teaching jobs in other countries?
We at ITTT believe that having a degree is not the most important thing when considering a career in language teaching. Instead, certain qualities, like passion, dedication, and the ability to establish a connection with your students, may be argued to be far more important in this career than a university degree.
However, you should still possess the right skills and know-how for leading a successful classroom. This is where a TEFL course comes in. While teaching abroad without a degree is possible, doing so without a TEFL qualification is much more difficult.
Whether or not you need a degree to teach English abroad is usually determined by the country where you will be teaching. Some countries require English teachers to have a degree in order to receive a work visa. This means language schools can only hire teachers with a degree in these countries.
You might have heard instances where teachers work on tourist visas in countries where this is the case, but they may be doing so illegally, which we strongly discourage. If you go down this road, you put yourself at risk of being exploited by dishonest employers and facing serious legal repercussions.
How can I get a teaching job abroad if I don't have a degree?
There are a few strategic steps you can take to improve your chances of landing a good teaching job before starting your job search:
1) Completing a TEFL certificate course.
If you don't have a degree and want to teach, you will almost certainly need a TEFL certificate (and even if you don't, there are many compelling reasons to get one). In a nutshell, if you have a TEFL certificate rather than a degree, your chances will be much better.
2) A specialized TEFL certificate will enhance your resume.
A certificate in teaching young learners or teaching business English will set you apart from the crowd and increase your employability significantly.
3) Apply in person for teaching positions in the country where you want to teach.
When compared to applying online, being physically present and demonstrating your abilities in-person can make a huge difference. Many schools, particularly in Europe and Latin America, prefer to hire face-to-face rather than through online job portals.
What countries can I teach English in if I don't have a degree?
You can legally teach anywhere in the EU if you hold an EU passport or are a British citizen (although Brexit might change this in the future). This means that, unless the employer specifies otherwise, a degree is not required. The high level of job competition in many European countries, however, means that many employers would prefer you to have a degree.
Teachers without a degree often have more opportunities in Central and Eastern European countries such as Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Greece, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia.
Most Asian countries have a large market for English teachers, and many of the most popular places, including China, South Korea, Thailand, Japan, and Vietnam, require their teachers to have a bachelor's degree.
However, Cambodia and Laos have plenty of opportunities for English teaching without a degree if you really want to be in this part of the world. The majority of schools will hire teachers without a degree if they have a TEFL certification because there is a high demand for English teachers. In contrast, a degree may be required for higher-paying positions in international schools or universities.
India and Sri Lanka are two other possibilities for English teachers without a degree. Since English is an official language in India, teaching positions are in high demand but the competition is also fierce. Overall, there are more unpaid volunteer positions than paid positions available in India to teach English without a degree.
Central and South America
The opportunities for non-degree TEFL graduates are unquestionably the greatest in this vast region. If you don't have a degree, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, and Uruguay are all viable options.
The Middle East and North Africa
The majority of Middle Eastern countries have stringent TEFL job requirements, with many demanding a Master's degree, a TEFL Diploma, and/or a couple of years of experience. A career without a Bachelor's degree is still possible in countries such as Jordan, Morocco, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Qatar.