Knowledge comes in all different forms, shapes and sizes. We know this and so does the rest of the world. If you chose alternative education for your career or decided that education was not for you at a young age, don’t worry! There are many paths to follow and having a degree isn’t the only one.
It may be a little scary when you first start searching for TESOL or TEFL jobs and all you see when looking to teach English abroad or online is “Bachelor’s degree required”. This is not the end of the road and we’d first like to take you through the main reasons why some employers list this requirement.
Can I Teach English Abroad without a Degree?
In short, to answer your question – yes, you can work as a TEFL teacher without a degree. In this blog, we’ll touch on a number of topics surrounding this question and we hope that you feel more confident after reading the best way to teach English online or abroad without a degree.
Bachelor’s Degree Required for Teaching English Abroad
The main reason why you’ll see this is due to visa requirements and work permits. Many countries all over the world require a degree to be able to obtain a work permit, so schools within those countries will have this requirement listed. The most visited Asian countries do unfortunately have this stipulation. This is a government requirement and not something that the schools can negotiate with immigration for.
Another reason for this would be only down to school preferability. So why do schools prefer a degree even when you have a TEFL or TESOL certificate? Well, this answer can definitely vary and we cannot speak on the behalf of every school in the world. However, the most common reason for this is that a degree parchment shows that you have committed and studied for 3 to 4 years. In turn, this shows that you will commit to teaching English abroad or online for a long period of time. Schools and programs such as internships will put a lot of effort into training TEFL teachers with their unique methodologies and lesson plans and especially when going abroad will pay a lot towards expenses when setting you up. This is why they truly need commitment from their teachers.
What not to do
Before we get to the exciting part and to the opportunities available for those teaching English without a degree, we’d like to dig deeper into the all-important don’ts of the TEFL and TESOL industry.
Many people wanting to teach English online or abroad take in a lot of information from different sites and it can be overwhelming. This is especially true for those who do not hold a degree and find it difficult to get job offers. Don’t worry! We are here to help. Here are some things that we would advise you not to do when starting out your TEFL career:
As mentioned before, there are some countries that require a Bachelor’s Degree for a work permit. TEFL teachers are high in demand in recent years and schools may cut a few corners to get you teaching English in their classrooms. Please be careful when accepting jobs abroad, and research visa requirements to work there. If a degree is required for the country, but the program may say it’s not needed, ask them questions like “what visa is best for this program?” and “How will I get paid?”. If they are using the student visa systems, it’s time to start asking “What is the maximum amount of hours I can work on a student visa?” and “How long will the student visa last for?”.
Do not forget about your achievements thus far! Even though for years, a Bachelor’s Degree is seen as the main qualification to get, we cannot forget about all the wonderful new avenues that learners can take. These can include college courses, apprenticeships and online TEFL courses. Don’t forget that these also show commitment, time management and enthusiasm as much as a Bachelor’s Degree. Shout it from the rooftops and make sure they are listed on your resume or CV.
Don’t sell yourself short! Some employers will list salaries smaller for those without a degree. This is mostly true for teaching English online companies. If you’d like to get into the TEFL industry immediately and don’t have experience, you may want to settle for something just to get your foot in the door. This is absolutely acceptable to do, but don’t get stuck in a rut! The more experienced you are, the more you are worth, degree or no degree.
Essentials for those teaching English without a Degree
Number one essential for any budding TEFL teacher, especially those without a degree, is a TEFL certification. Because you don’t have a Bachelor’s Degree, the best option is to achieve a level 5 certification. Yes, this will take more time and a slightly wider budget than the minimum standard, but it is completely worth it in the long run for employability and opportunities. To date, the most affordable and quickest way to achieve this is online and specifically a TEFL course. The Level 5 TEFL Course is government regulated and globally recognised, meaning that potential employers will look at you favourably.
You may think that a resume or CV without a degree looks like something is missing, but this is only down to the format you write it in. A good CV will make all the difference when applying for jobs. This is your very first impression and should show all the best of you! If your experience is vast, don’t be afraid to list your previous work experience before the education section. It is your biggest asset and it’s ok to let potential employers know this. In the education section, list your highest level of education, the TEFL certificate and any other certifications you may have achieved in the past. We would also suggest using a Microsoft Word or Google Docs template if you don’t feel confident technically as this will give your CV that professional look.
We all know the vicious circle of life where schools require experience, but you’ve just qualified so how can you experience? There are many different options to gain some! First of all, any management or coaching jobs would be seen as experience. An important key skill for employers is classroom management, not just the knowledge to teach English. If you can show this skill, it will definitely help! There are many volunteer programs out there also, whether it’s the summer in Europe summer camps or volunteering in unprivileged areas. As well as being an experience of a lifetime personally, this will seriously work in your favour in the future. There are also internships, which are a great way to go. These types of programs will help you get set up abroad and are entry-level positions. A lovely way to start the rest of your life and your career!
Opportunities for Teaching English Abroad
We have mentioned already that some countries require a degree for visa reasons. Some of these include Thailand, China, Vietnam, Japan, UAE and South Korea. If Asia is your top pick, it’s not all over. Some countries that don’t require a degree in South East Asia would be Laos, Cambodia and Indonesia. Can you imagine teaching English somewhere beach-esque like Bali or exploring the bustling city of Phnom Penh? You don’t have to just imagine, it is open with a high demand for TEFL teachers!
South America is an amazing option that often people may not think about when it comes to TEFL teaching. The salaries as a whole are a lot less competitive than in Asia, and you get a fright when looking into it. But don’t forget that the cost of living is also a lot lower and you will live comfortably. With wonderful destinations like Peru and Argentina, you’ll be immersed in such a beautiful culture, each as unique.
For those looking to teach English in Europe, this is not out of reach. Firstly, if you have an EU passport, you’re good to go and seriously desirable right now due to Brexit! Europe is also very famous for summer camps and short term options like internships. With this route, you’ll get to travel to Europe on a Schengen and then a student visa. European schools are also not so tied down with credentials and it’s all about personality. If you are energetic and enthusiastic with a TEFL certification and the means to go to Europe, you are a shoo-in.
There are many instances where the above may not suit you. For example, you may be travelling with a friend or partner who has a degree and they may have had a job offer in Thailand. Again, we have a backup plan for you! Why not teach online with an online company? Start your career at home and work remotely. Once you are settled and busy with students, you can apply for tourist visas and travel the world, including Thailand. You’ll get the flexibility of where and when you work, but just make sure you calculate your time differences with your lessons – there is nothing worse than doing a lesson at 2 am after a flight, trust us, it’s happened to the best…
Opportunities for Teaching English Online
Want to teach online? No degree, no problem! Teaching Online can be a lot more lenient when it comes to teaching without a degree. There are many online companies that don’t require a degree and they are in abundance. Our favourites are Cambly, LatinHire, PalFish, Lingoda, iTalki and Preply. Remember what we said about not selling yourself short? Set the rates that you deserve and become a digital nomad. Whether you want to teach from home or abroad, the online option is the forward-thinking way to teach English!
We hope that this has made things a little easier for you as you start your new career in teaching English as a foreign language. We are here to help! If you have any questions, we offer job assistance to all of our alumni, so get studying and start your next chapter.