How to teach English online without a degree

Can you teach English online without a degree? The simple answer is: yes! The honest answer is: still yes, but be aware that it’s going to be more of a challenge than it is for teachers who do have a degree.

Here at The TEFL Org it’s really important to us that we provide you with honest and accurate information. Knowing the full story will make it much easier for you to find work and avoid wasting time applying for positions you’re ineligible for – no one has time for that!

The information we’ve put together below is full of useful tips and advice to help you get started as an online EFL teacher and find paid work. We’ve taken a look at why a degree can be required by some companies, what you can do to make yourself a more competitive applicant, and where exactly to find jobs!

teach english online


Why would a degree be required for teaching English online?

When it comes to teaching English abroad, the main reason a degree is required by employers usually comes down to visa requirements. A number of countries require teachers seeking a work visa to have a BA degree. Online, however, visas aren’t an issue, so why do companies require one?

Changes in early 2019

The biggest TEFL market in the world is found in China and the same is true of the online TEFL market with many of the big online teaching platforms based there.

Due to changes brought in by China’s Ministry of Education at the start of 2019, online teaching platforms based in China are now required to ensure that their teachers have at least a 120-hour TEFL qualification from a suitably accredited provider as well as a BA degree. This brings the requirements more in line with visa requirements for EFL teachers working in the country.

The reality is, this change in legislation meant that the number of positions open to teachers without a degree shrunk.

Don’t despair, though, there are still opportunities to teach online out there for those who don’t have a degree! You just need to know where to look and how to put yourself in the best position for securing work.

What you need to teach English online

TEFL qualification

Most companies require teachers to have a 120-hour TEFL qualification. Unless you’re willing to work for next to nothing, it really is essential to have a TEFL qualification if you don’t have a degree.

And it’s something you don’t want to cut corners with. While you can find extremely cheap TEFL qualifications on discount sites such as Groupon and Wowcher, these can end up costing you rather than saving you.

Why? Aside from the fact there are usually hidden fees involved, the most important thing when choosing a course is accreditation. Without proper accreditation there’s no quality control, which means employers may not recognise the qualification. The easiest way to spot if a provider has adequate accreditation is to look out for accreditation from government and government-affiliated bodies.

Fluency in English

Another essential requirement for teaching English is an obvious one – fluency in English! It is possible for non-native English speakers without a degree to teach English online, but it can be more of a challenge.

Non-native English speakers will be expected to prove their proficiency in English. This means that employers may ask for an IELTS or Cambridge Proficiency qualification, as well as other evidence demonstrating English skills.

online tefl


Go the extra mile and stand out

If you don’t have a degree then it’s really important to ensure your CV stands out. If you have a 120-hour TEFL qualification and you’re up against other applicants who have a 120-hour qualification AND a degree, then, realistically, it’s more likely the teacher with the degree will progress through the application process.

So, how do you boost your CV and compete with degree holders?

Advanced TEFL qualifications

The more TEFL hours you do doesn’t necessarily lead to better employment prospects unless it’s tailored to your goals. What we mean by this is that any study over 120 hours should ideally be focused on building your skills in specific areas, such as teaching English online.

Taking an advanced TEFL course can really help your CV stand out by showing an employer you have developed skills specific to the job offered. Qualifications like these, in addition to your 120-hour TEFL qualification, will put you in a much stronger position to compete against degree holders for positions.

Our Teaching English Online course is ideal for those looking to enter the online teaching market. You’ll learn about how to deliver online lessons as well as how to set up and market yourself as an online teacher.

Our Online Teaching Practicum

If you don’t have any previous teaching experience then the idea of taking your first lesson can feel a bit daunting. It’s why we recently launched our Online Teaching Practicum, which gives you the opportunity to develop and deliver your own online lessons in front of a TEFL professional and your peers.

By taking a practicum you gain practical experience conducting lessons online, which many people looking for their first online teaching job won’t have.

Online teaching companies

It can be a real pain trying to find out which online companies don’t ask for a degree, which is why we’ve done some of the hard work for you! The below table lists a number of companies that don’t require teachers to have a degree, and also details their other requirements.

Hourly rate Degree required Lessons provided Students Min. hours per week TEFL qualification required Accepts non-native speakers Additional requirements
Palfish £8 - £24
($10 - $30)
No Yes Mainly children 4 Yes Yes Native English + degree for Official Kids programme
Preply* £4 - £35
($5 - $45)
No No All ages 5 Preferred Yes None
Cambly £8 ($10) No No All ages None No No None
Open English £10.50 - £12
($13 - $15)
No Yes Teenagers and adults 10 Preferred No Previous teaching experience, Spanish/Portuguese skills preferred
Skima Talk* £8 - £13
($10 - $16)
No No Teenagers and adults 15 Preferred No None
Verbling* £14.50 - £22.50
($18 - $28)
No No All ages 5 Preferred No Previous teaching experience
Learnlight £7 - £9
($9 - $11)
No No All ages 10 Preferred Yes Two years’ teaching experience
Italki* £2.50 - £28
($3 - $35)
No No All ages None Preferred Yes Degree OR TEFL qualification required to be a Professional Teacher

*Online marketplace. Teachers set their own rates.
**TwoSigmas is a recruiting agency able to match teachers with online teaching jobs.

Source your own work

You don’t have to rely on online teaching platforms for work. In fact, if you don’t have a degree and you’re looking to make a full-time income then you should be aiming to build up your own business.

Setting yourself up with your own website and promoting your services online can be a great option for a number of reasons:

  • No degree is required!
  • You keep 100% of the fee you charge – online teaching companies take a cut of what the student pays and marketplaces will take a commission.
  • You have even more control over your own schedule

We’ve previously posted some great tips to help you get started teaching English online as an independent teacher, which is a must-read.

Want more information about teaching English online? Check out our Definitive Guide and previous blog posts

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6 thoughts on “How to teach English online without a degree

  1. Thank you so much for this article, it is just what I needed! I qualified in January and as I do not have a degree have been really struggling to find online work. Hopefully these tips will help me. Thank you! 🙂

  2. Good article, it help me not to feel overanxious about finding an online job since I don’t have a degree. Thanks for the meaningful suggestions.

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