While the value of a Bachelor’s degree speaks for itself, you don’t necessarily need one to teach English abroad. With a great TEFL certification, you might just have all you need to get started teaching overseas!
If you don’t have a degree then you might think the world of teaching, especially teaching English abroad, might be out of reach.
We’re here to tell you that is not the case. Yes, some countries require one for work visas, and some employers might insist upon one for certain jobs. Admittedly, not having a degree makes it a bit harder - we won’t lie - but it certainly doesn’t rule anyone out from having a memorable and lasting English teaching experience.
Thankfully, you can still start your teaching career and find great teaching jobs abroad without a degree as long as you have accredited Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certification, which is cheaper and faster to attain. Once you've got your TEFL certification, you can change your career or study for a degree whenever you like!
The key part is knowing where to look, and in this guide to teaching English abroad without a degree, you’ll be on the road to finding work as an English teacher in no time, whether you’ve graduated from university or not!
Yes, you can teach English abroad without a degree.
With TEFL Certification you can open up a whole world of job opportunities, from classroom assistance to bona fide English teaching. From there, you can forge a fantastic career in teaching, or move on to other areas - starting your own business, working in local politics somewhere far-flung, interpreting; the choices are endless.Admittedly, having a degree makes it easier in certain parts of the world, and of course, with certain employers. Regardless of where it is on the planet, some employers may feel they exclusively want university graduates.Alternatively, some countries may have a degree as part of their work visa process, meaning that without a degree, you can’t teach English in certain places.
However, there are plenty of countries out there where a degree isn’t an essential requirement.
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!
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.
Visa regulations, of course, vary from country to country. If you’re in any doubt, check with a local embassy to make sure of the visa regulations before applying.
Fortunately, there is a range of fantastic options for teaching English abroad without a degree. Though some of the most popular choices like Japan, France, Greece and the UAE all require a University qualification, it doesn’t mean the door is closed for a whole host of exciting TEFL destinations. Find out how to teach in Japan without a degree
Here’s our worldwide guide to where you can and can’t teach without a degree.
However, most European countries do not have this requirement. TEFL certification and experience might be enough to land a job in the majority of places. Emerging TEFL markets in Europe include Germany and the Czech Republic, where demand for native-level English speakers is growing.
Central and South America is a great place to get started with TEFL, if not just for the various cultures, ecologies and landscapes, then for its more lenient work visa regulations. Demand for English teachers has been steadily increasing in this part of the world, particularly in areas such as Business English.
In Brazil, Uruguay, Mexico, Argentina, Bolivia and more, you don’t need to hold a bachelor’s degree to teach English. Normally, a 120-hour TEFL qualification will do the trick.
In Peru and Chile, things are a bit different, with degrees being preferred more often than not for TEFL jobs. However, every role is different; don’t rule either out entirely, especially with teaching programmes and other types of visa available.
It’s a bit more limited for TEFL teachers without a degree in Asia, as Nepal and Cambodia are the only nations that don’t require a BA degree for a working visa.
However, Cambodia is a real coup - it’s quickly becoming one of the more popular destinations for TEFL teachers. Considering the high demand for teachers, incredible culture, and opportunities for travel across Southeast Asia, it’s not hard to see why Cambodia is so attractive.
Unfortunately, like most of Asia, the Middle East and Africa are similarly strict when it comes to TEFL teachers needing a degree.
Destinations like Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Qatar all require degree certificates for a working visa. However, Jordan and Lebanon, both interesting TEFL destinations, do not strictly require a degree.
Lebanon has a plethora of international schools, and it ranks very well for English proficiency - 34th in the EF English Proficiency Index, and number 1 for the Middle East. Jordan, meanwhile, has far fewer English resources, ranking 90th, which represents an exciting challenge for any budding TEFL teacher who wants to explore the Middle East.
Want to teach English without a degree but don’t necessarily want to move abroad? The answer is simple - teach online!
There are plenty of online teaching businesses that will take on applicants without degrees. As long as you hold at least 120 hours of TEFL certification - the industry standard - a great number of online employers will know you have the skills and wherewithal to teach English online.
Be warned, though, there is a slight complication. 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.
Find out more about teaching English online without a degree
Popular destinations like Japan, South Korea, Thailand and China all require a degree in order to gain a work visa. In fact, every Asian nation other than Cambodia and Nepal requires a degree.
France and Greece, two very popular TEFL destinations, require a degree. Meanwhile, much of the Middle East, including the UAE, Saudi Arabia and, well, everywhere but Jordan and Lebanon, require 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.
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.
So, now you have a better idea of where you can TEFL without a degree! That’s all fine and well, but what about landing that first TEFL job, and maintaining a career in teaching English abroad?
Luckily, we’ve come equipped with some excellent advice to keep you on the straight and narrow. Some of it’s common sense, but a lot of it is the knowledge that’s been imparted to us from previous TEFL teachers, who have been there, done it and got the t-shirt!
Without further ado, here are our top 5 tips to help you land a great job!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Yes, you can teach English abroad without a degree.
Vast swathes of Europe and Latin America don’t require TEFL applicants to have a degree, in order to gain a work visa. The same is true in parts of Asia and the Middle East, but it’s in Europe and South America where the bulk of these opportunities are.
Teaching online is a great option, but be aware that certain online companies will require a degree.
No, you do not need a degree in a specific subject to teach English abroad.
Countries will generally accept a Bachelor’s in any subject. That said, if it’s adjacent to teaching, or English, then all the better! That would very strongly indicate a desire to teach the language, or teach in general. Obviously, schools and educational companies will respond well to that kind of expertise.
Still, broadly speaking, the answer is no. You could have a degree in Zoology or Mathematics and still be an excellent fit for a TEFL career abroad.
There are several locations where you can teach English without a degree.
Much of Europe and Latin America will accept TEFL teachers who are certified in teaching English, but don’t necessarily hold a degree. Also, locations including Cambodia, Nepal, Lebanon and Jordan are also looking for TEFL teachers who don’t hold a BA.
Can I teach in Japan without a degree?
Yes, you can teach in Japan without a degree, but there’s a particular way to do it. TEFL teachers who aren’t degree holders can apply for the working holiday visa, which has a list of specific requirements, including: