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Teaching English Abroad Without a Degree: The 100% Success Guide

By Alice Teacake

This article may contain affiliate / compensated links. For full information, please see my affiliate disclaimer here.

Is teaching English abroad without a degree possible? It sure is! Teaching English as a foreign language is a great way to travel the world and get paid at the same time, whilst also gaining a unique insight into different cultures. There’s a good chance you’ll make life-long friends with some like-minded souls too. I taught English for 5 years and earned great money teaching abroad before becoming a travel blogger.

You might be confused by the multitude of different teaching qualifications that are available, from online or weekend courses all the way up to four-year degrees in education. If you have a degree in any subject it will definitely work to your advantage, but what about those of us who don’t happen to be university graduates?

Can you teach English abroad without a degree? The answer is yes!

For the best jobs, you need a TEFL certificate

Teaching English Abroad without a degree

How to teach English abroad without a degree

If you are wondering where to teach English abroad without a degree, you’ll be glad to know that there are many countries where you can consider looking for a teaching job. Keep reading to find out what those countries are.

Most importantly though, I strongly recommend that you gain a TEFL qualification online or through an internship. This will boost your chances of finding a great job!

You need a TEFL certificate

Get a TEFL certificate online (Get 35% OFF with code TEA35) or…

Do an Internship abroad (Get 5% OFF with code TEA5)

Teaching English Abroad without a degree

Get your TEFL certificate online or through an internship

Do you really need a degree to teach English abroad?

The short answer is no. You can still teach abroad if you have no degree.

But some countries and schools will only hire degree-qualified teachers, so be prepared to be flexible and open-minded.

It is difficult to find teaching work in the Middle East, South Korea and Japan if you do not have a four-year college degree. My first teaching job was in South Korea with a Psychology degree. Non-graduates also struggle to find work in China (it used to be easier, but now they’re really cracking down).

Without a degree you will not be able to work in top international schools, which usually require fully qualified and experienced teachers. So, not having a degree will definitely narrow down your options, but read on to find out about plenty of countries that have less stringent requirements.

Teaching English Abroad without a degree

You do not need a degree to teach abroad...but having a TEFL certificate will land you a much better job

Do you need a TEFL certificate to teach abroad?

Some countries require teachers to have TEFL certification as a bare minimum. For example, you can teach English in Mexico without a degree but you must have at least a TEFL certificate. All jobs in China now require teachers to have a degree and a TEFL certificate too.

The requirements will vary from school to school and from country to country, but having a decent TEFL qualification will stand you in good stead for your job search.

I personally recommend getting your TEFL certificate with MyTEFL.

Get your TEFL certificate with MyTEFL

Use code TEA35 to get 35% off your TEFL course

Ideally, you should choose a TEFL course that includes 120 hours of instruction. Even if you want to work somewhere that doesn’t legally require a TEFL certificate, getting one is still a mighty good idea in terms of the skills and techniques that it will give you.

Teaching English Abroad without a degree

Do you have a TEFL certificate?

Can I be an English teacher if I have no teaching qualifications or experience?

If you have no teaching qualifications or experience, your options are more limited.

Less reputable schools may hire you, but they may not be great places to work: they may have poor resources and low pay, and you risk getting a very poor impression of the teaching profession. You may also find it difficult to actually teach a class if you have no training!

Teaching overseas should not be seen as just a way to make a quick buck. You owe it to your students to be able to teach them effectively. That’s why I would strongly recommend that you gain at least a TEFL qualification before heading out to teach abroad.

How can I get some teaching experience if I have just got my TEFL certificate?

It is certainly possible to find an English teaching job abroad without experience, but real-life classroom experience will be a valuable asset in your job search, and something that employers definitely look for.

Volunteer

If you want to gain some teaching experience to bolster your CV, you could try volunteering as a teaching assistant or conversation teacher, either in your home country or overseas. This would allow you to get a taste of teaching while helping a good cause, and could be a good option if you’re not sure if teaching English abroad is really for you. Volunteer in Africa + get your TEFL certificate!

Teach Online

Alternatively, you could try teaching English online. Some online English teaching jobs (mainly with large Chinese companies) are open to candidates who have no teaching experience or qualifications.

Find out more with my How to Teach English Online Guide

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Hire professional help for your ecommerce business

Work at a Summer School

Or you could gain experience by working at a summer school. There are many of these throughout the States and Europe which run during July and August, and many of them welcome newly TEFL-qualified teachers.

What teaching qualifications can I get if I don’t have a degree?

If you don’t have a degree, then postgraduate teaching qualifications such as the PGCE are not an option, but you still have some options for TEFL certification. The main three areas are online-only courses, intensive courses, and teaching abroad internships.

Online TEFL

Online-only courses are an option that you can do from the comfort of your own home and fit around your job or other commitments. Many different online TEFL courses are available and you may be able to pick and choose your modules according to your interests. These may provide an interesting introduction to English language teaching and are a great start in your Teaching English Abroad career.

Get a TEFL certificate (Get 35% OFF with code TEA35)

Hands-on TEFL with an Internship

Internships are another option, and they have many advantages! I believe that they are the best way to get into English language teaching if you have no degree or teaching experience.

You pay a package fee up front but you get a lot of bang for your buck. You actually get a lot of the price back in the form of a monthly salary or stipend, so you don’t need to worry about managing your money whilst on the program.

Depending on the program that you choose, you may also get accommodation included, as well as a host of extra benefits such as pre-departure preparation assistance, an orientation week, and assistance to set up your phone and bank account once your arrive in-country.

You will benefit from online training and real classroom experience. You will have the opportunity to travel to an amazing location and may wish to continue travelling after your internship is finished. Some teaching internships abroad come with a guaranteed job offer at the end, so you can be sure to get your TEFL career off to a flying start.

I recommend MyTEFL Internships

MyTEFL offer internships in Thailand, Myanmar, Argentina and Africa.

No degree is required for the Thailand, Myanmar and South Africa internships, so these are great options for those of you who want to teach and travel but do not have a BA or higher.

Thailand & Myanmar are fully paid 6 month positions so they’re quite practical, logical choices if you’re looking for value.

Africa & Argentina are more cultural and volunteer oriented: great for those seeking special experiences and learning.

If you’re budgeting your money too, you pay approximately 25% up front, with the remainder due 2-3 months before departure. This makes it so much easier to afford. PLUS: You get 5% off all internships with code TEA5

Find out more about the Thailand internship

Find out more about the Myanmar internship

Find out more about the Africa internship

Find out more about the Argentina internship

CELTA or Trinity TESOL

Intensive TEFL/TESOL courses typically include 120 hours of instruction and 6 hours of teaching practice, and are completed in 4 weeks. CELTA and Trinity TESOL are the mostly widely recognised of these, but many other providers offer TEFL courses. You do not need  degree for either of these courses.

You could choose to take a course in your home country or pretty much anywhere around the world. Depending on the course, accommodation may be included.

The downside of intensive courses is that they are, well, intensive. There is a lot to cover during a 4-week course, as well as assessed teaching practice and written assignments to complete. Many people find this approach quite stressful and it’s not for everyone. I did a CELTA myself in Chiang Mai Thailand and loved it, but it certainly was intense.

Where can I teach abroad without a degree?

There are many countries where you can teach English abroad.

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Asia

Countries where you can teach English in Asia with no degree include Cambodia, Vietnam and Malaysia.

You may also try venturing off the beaten track to one of the Central Asian nations of Kazakhstan or Kyrgyzstan which don’t require degree-qualified teachers.

South America

If you want to teach English in South America without a degree, you could try Peru, Ecuador or Colombia. Some countries in Latin America, including Mexico and Argentina, will require at least a TEFL certificate.

Europe

If you want to teach English in Europe but don’t have a degree, it might be difficult to find a TEFL job in Western Europe. Spain is one of the few countries in Western Europe where you might have some luck. There are more opportunities for non-graduates in Eastern Europe. You could try the Czech Republic, Russia, Ukraine or Romania.

Can I teach English in … without a degree?

Many of you have been asking me about specific countries and what is possible in each of them. Here’s your answers for the most asked-about countries to teach English in!

Make sure to read this post too: 17 Countries where you can teach without a degree

Can anyone teach English in Japan without a teaching degree?

You can’t teach English in Japan without a degree. A Bachelor’s degree in any subject is required for teaching in Japan.

Can anyone teach English in China without a teaching degree?

This used to be the case, but not anymore. China has now changed its rules. They are very strict on non-degree holders teaching (including a reward system for informing on teachers without degrees and deportations). A TEFL is now very much required for a work permit. The only time it isn’t required is if you can prove 2 years of full time work experience. I’ve heard through the grapevine that this proof is hard to ‘prove’, so even experienced teachers are turning to the TEFL.

Find out more about teaching English in China

Blogger Alice standing in front of Shanghai City buildings skyscrapers

Teaching English in Shanghai China and enjoying the Bund!

Can I teach English without a degree in Singapore?

No. A Bachelor’s degree is required to teach in Singapore.

Can I teach English in Indonesia without a degree?

No. A Bachelor’s degree in any subject is required for teaching in Indonesia.

Can I teach English in Vietnam without a degree?

Yes. If you have a TEFL certification and 3 years’ teaching experience, a degree is not necessary for teaching English in Vietnam.

Can I teach English in Thailand without a degree?

Yes. Thai government schools cannot sponsor your work permit if you do not have a degree, but they can still hire you. You will need TEFL certification though.

Find out more about teaching English in Thailand

Can I teach English in Korea without a degree?

No. A degree is required to teach English in South Korea.

Find out more about teaching English in South Korea

Japan travel itinerary

Next stop after Japan: South Korea?!

Is there an age limit on teaching abroad?

It varies from school to school and from country to country. Some countries have official requirements for visa purposes, and individual schools may have their own policies.

As a general guide, if you’re older than about 55 then you may find that some schools start see your age as a disadvantage. Older teachers will find it especially difficult to find teaching work in China for example, but schools in Europe, Africa and Latin America tend to be more accepting.

If you stay flexible about your choice of location, polish your CV and brush up your Skype interview skills, you will find that many schools are still willing to hire you over 60 and beyond.

Do I have to be a native English speaker to teach abroad?

This varies from school to school. Some schools prefer to hire native English speakers, but many will also hire non-native English speakers as long as you have an appropriate level of fluency in English.

Do I have to be a particular nationality to teach English abroad?

Unfortunately, it has to be said that people in some countries (particularly in Asia) have certain ideas about what English teachers should look like. Non-white teachers may feel that they have a harder time finding a job or being accepted by students. It sucks, but try not to let this get you down in your job search. If you are persistent and patient you should still be able to find the TEFL job that you want.

How can I find TEFL jobs abroad once I have got my TEFL qualification?

Online job boards such as TEFL.com are a good place to look for English teaching jobs abroad. They will give you a good idea of what is available and what the requirements are.

The other option is to start your search once you have arrived in your destination country. This may turn up more options as not all schools post their vacancies online. This is how I personally found my best, top-paying jobs. As the general rule in life goes; it’s not what you know but who you know.

Teaching English Abroad without a degree

Search online and speak to people to find the best teaching job for yourself

Should I buy a fake degree to teach English overseas?

Hell no. At best, this is irresponsible and unprofessional. At worst, it could land you in jail and cost you your career. It’s better to widen your search and find a job that you can legally get with the qualifications that you actually have!

Teaching English abroad without a degree: final advice

If you have your heart set on teaching English abroad but don’t have a degree, get your TEFL certification online or through an internship and go for it! There’s sure to be a job out there for you.

Get your TEFL certificate

Get 35% off your TEFL course with code TEA35

Start your internship abroad

Check 5% off your Internship with code TEA5

Comment Below

Are you planning to teach English abroad? Where will you go if you do not have a degree? Have you taught English abroad without a degree before? How was your teaching experience? Comment below and I will respond!

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About Alice Teacake

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I'm a feminist British kickass solo female traveller who believes in women facing their fears, pushing their boundaries and reaching their full potential through solo adventure travel! I have been featured in Nat Geo Traveller UK, Lonely Planet, the Daily Mail and Buzzfeed and spoken about solo female travel safety on BBC One, whilst working with a bunch of awesome brands. Follow me for travel advice and inspiration, so you can go forth and challenge yourself to reach your own personal goals!

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