How to TEFL without a degree

If you don’t have a degree don’t let that stop you from teaching English abroad! While many countries do require teachers to have a degree there’s no need to despair if you don’t have one – there are still plenty of countries where you can find work.

We’re not going to lie to you: not having a degree does put you at a disadvantage. Many of the most popular destinations for teaching English abroad require teachers to have a degree due to visa requirements. But don’t let that discourage you because there are still options out there – you just need to know where to look.

In this post we’re going to take a look at where you can TEFL English without a degree and share with you some top tips for finding jobs.

Why do some TEFL jobs require a degree?

In many countries, the requirement for a degree isn’t determined by the employer but by visa regulations. If a bachelor’s degree is a requirement for a work visa, then employers will only be able to hire teachers who have one.

It’s essential to find out if a degree is a visa requirement or not. If it isn’t, then it’s up to employers whether they ask for a degree or not – meaning there can be some flexibility. Once you’ve identified the countries where you can teach English without a degree, you’ll be able to focus your job search – there’s no point spending time on applications for jobs in countries you can’t get a visa for!

Is there any way round it?

Unfortunately, there’s no bargaining with visa regulations.

Maybe you’ve heard of someone who doesn’t have a degree but worked in a country where it’s a requirement. So how did they do it? Either they worked voluntarily, were there on some sort of internship or programme, or they worked illegally.

Working under the table isn’t particularly uncommon in certain countries but it’s something we strongly advise against. Not only can you get into serious trouble with the authorities, but it leaves you vulnerable to being exploited by dodgy employers. Check out our post about how to spot TEFL scams and bad employers to get clued up.


Where can I teach English without a degree?

Some countries might be off the cards if you don’t have a degree, but thankfully there are still great options out there! Let’s take a look at them.

Europe

UK and Irish citizens can live and work in any EU country without visa restrictions, meaning unless specified by an employer a degree isn’t necessary. However, for UK citizens, this right is expected to end at the end of 2020 due to Brexit. It’s unclear what this is going to mean for those hoping to teaching English in Europe after this date, but it’s unlikely to be quite as simple as it currently is.

If you’re not an EU citizen then it’s a lot more tricky to find work teaching in Europe – degree or no degree! Again, Brexit could change this, but right now your best options are Germany and the Czech Republic for finding work in Europe without a degree. We have some more information about teaching English in Europe as a non-EU citizen here.

Central and South America

There are a wide range of opportunities to be found across Central and South America. Demand for English teachers has been steadily increasing in this part of the world, particularly in areas such as Business English.

It’s possible to TEFL without a degree in the following countries in Central and South America: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Peru, Mexico, and Uruguay.

Cambodia

If you’ve taken a look at the TEFL jobs out there then you’ll probably have noticed the abundance of positions in Asia. Unfortunately, the opportunities to TEFL without a degree in Asia are minimal but there is one great option open to you – Cambodia!

Considering the high demand for teachers, incredible culture, and the opportunities for travel across Southeast Asia, it’s not hard to see why Cambodia is an attractive option for EFL teachers. One of our course graduates, Daniel, told us about falling in love with the country, saying it’s like no other place on earth, full of warm people and a huge demand for English teachers.

Online

The online teaching market continues to rapidly grow. Online English teachers can work from anywhere with a reliable internet connection – whether that’s from home or as they travel the world.

The great news is that teaching English online is something you can absolutely do without a degree! While a number of the major online teaching platforms do require one, there’s still plenty of work out there. We put together a handy guide to help you find work teaching online without a degree, so make sure to check that out.


Alternative options for teaching English without a degree

There are a few other options that can be explored for teaching English without a degree. These aren’t viable long-term options, but if you’re dead-set on teaching in a particular country then they’re worth looking into.

Working Holiday Visas

A working holiday visa can give you the chance to teach English in countries you would otherwise need a degree for. One of the best options for this is Japan, where you can spend a year in the country and teach English to fund your travels – no degree required!

There are strict requirements and regulations concerning Working Holiday Visas. First, you’ll need to establish the countries your own is partnered with. Next, you have to find out if you’re eligible – there are usually restrictions based on age and other factors. Finally, you’ll need to do your research to find out if you’re allowed to teach English on the visa – countries will typically outline the sort of work you can and can’t do on a working holiday visa.

Volunteering

Volunteering doesn’t usually require a degree, so it can be a great way of teaching abroad and giving something back at the same time. It’s possible to find some schemes that operate in countries where a degree is otherwise required, such as Thailand, Vietnam, China, as well as in many countries in South America, Africa, and in parts of Europe.

See our post about TEFL and volunteering to find out more.

Short programmes and internships

There are some short programmes and internships that offer the opportunity to teach English in countries around the world without a degree for a period of, typically, up to 6 months.

Many will include accommodation, meals, a stipend, and in-country support, so it can be a good way of getting some initial TEFL experience. You will likely need to pay for the cost of the programme, visas, and flights before heading out, so there are some major costs to take into account.


5 tips for finding a TEFL job without a degree

So now you have a better idea of where you can TEFL without a degree, here are our top 5 tips to help you land a great job!

Get TEFL qualified

A TEFL qualification is essential if you’re going to find work teaching English abroad without a degree. Most employers look for teachers to have a 120-hour TEFL qualification, so make sure you choose a course with at least those hours. A TEFL course provider should be accredited and recognised internationally – like ours!

Do your research

Don’t waste time trying to apply for jobs in countries where you don’t meet the work visa requirements. Work out where you want to teach, check you meet the visa requirements, and focus your job search where you do.

Be flexible and patient

It may take slightly longer to line up a teaching job, but if you’re patient, put in the time and effort with job hunting and are flexible in where you are willing to teach, you should have no problem finding a suitable position. Our TEFL Jobs Centre is updated regularly with new and exciting positions all over the world and all our students get lifetime access to it.

Boost your CV

Make yourself a more competitive candidate with further qualifications, such as an Advanced TEFL course, or by gaining work experience through volunteering at home or abroad. You want to stand out – especially against other candidates who might have a degree – so going the extra mile will help you find work more easily.

Watch out for dodgy employers/recruiters

There’s a huge demand for teachers in Asia, particularly China. If you need a degree to get a work visa and an employer or recruiter is offering you a job then this will be illegal and not a situation we advise anyone to put themselves in. We have some useful tips for avoiding TEFL scams and bad employers, which is essential reading for anyone looking for their first TEFL job.

Find out more about how to get started teaching English abroad with our definitive guide.

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