Can I Teach English Abroad Without a Degree?

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Where can I earn the most money? and How long must my TEFL course be? are two very common questions we at The TEFL Academy are asked by wannabe teaching English as a foreign language, or TEFL, teachers, but by far the question we get asked the most is Can I teach English abroad without a degree?

If you’re interested in teaching English abroad you probably know that many TEFL jobs prefer their candidates to have two things: a TEFL certificate from a recognised TEFL provider and a Bachelor’s degree. However, the key word here is prefer. While a TEFL certificate is a non-negotiable, a degree is not essential to getting a TEFL job.  Yes, you heard right: it’s possible to get English teaching jobs abroad without a degree.


A degree is a nice-to-have but not a must-have. So, can I teach English abroad without a degree?

The answer, in a very small nutshell, is yes. 

Well, yes but…

You’ll be happy to hear that there are a number of countries which are ready to welcome you with open arms whether you have a degree or not. However, there are also a few countries where you can’t teach English abroad without a degree.

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The reason for this is not that the schools are being picky. Some countries require a 4-year Bachelor’s degree to qualify for a working visa. In this way, the TEFL industry is no different to other industries. In these countries, no matter what line of work you are in you will need a degree in order to be granted a working visa. 

When you come across those infuriating job ads which specify Degree required, don’t bang your keyboard in frustration, simply move swiftly along. Luckily there are more than enough countries in this world to satisfy every TEFL teacher’s job search. The key is to be selective about where you look.  

So while you can most certainly teach English abroad without a degree, you may need to look a bit more carefully than a graduate. But don’t let this deter you from the TEFL life – there are loads of opportunities out there for you.

Where can I teach English abroad without a degree?

There are too many countries to list but we’ll give you just a taste. 

Wish you could hang out in South East Asia with the thousands of other TEFLers over there? Head over to Cambodia, where you can teach to your heart’s content and enjoy this off-the-beaten-track country.

Daydreaming of chilling out in a hammock on a tropical beach on your weekends? Go to Mexico for some sun, sea, sand…and teaching.

Hankering after a hunk of red meat? Argentina is waiting for you with restaurants filled with some of the best steak in the world.

Wanting to take the path less travelled? Kazakhstan will prove to you that it’s more than Borat’s home country.

Those are just a few of the many countries that can be explored by TEFL teachers without a degree. (For a full list of English teaching jobs abroad without a degree you can look at our handy guide.)

Top TEFL Destinations

TEFL job options without a degree

Private tutoring

The most obvious option is to be a private tutor. Teaching 1-on-1 means that your students can decide if they are happy to have you as their teacher or not. Usually the fact that you don’t have a degree won’t be an issue at all. After all, having a degree does not necessarily relate to being a good teacher. What will be important to your students is that you can speak English fluently and that you have a TEFL certificate. Teaching experience would be an added bonus.

Volunteer teaching

If money is not an issue for you and you’re more interested in the experience of teaching English than the financial gain, then you could look into volunteer teaching. Volunteer teaching positions are not fussy about the qualifications of their teachers because, well, they’re volunteer positions. While you may not get paid, you will probably get food and board or a stipend to live off, not to mention the experience. 

A TEFL internship

If you have just qualified as a TEFL teacher, an internship is a great idea for you. Doing an internship will give you the experience of living abroad and teaching English as a Foreign Language, without the hassle of finding a job and organizing a work visa. For this reason, TEFL internships don’t require you to have a degree.

Read more: 7 Amazing Reasons You Should Do a TEFL Internship

A TEFL internship is an option for teaching English abroad without a degree

Teaching English online

Teaching English online is a booming business at the moment. There are loads of companies you can work for or you could work for yourself. Obviously working for yourself means you don’t need to worry about a degree, and while some online companies do require a degree there are quite a few that don’t.

Read more: Teaching English Online without a Degree

Having said all that, though, if you have no degree but want to get involved in the world of English language teaching, you need to get qualified with a TEFL certificate. If you have no degree and no TEFL certificate, there is no reason for you to even look at TEFL.com because nobody will offer you any sort of teaching job. And why should they? Would you hire a plumber who hasn’t done any training? Or a chef, taxi driver or personal trainer? Invest your time and money and do a TEFL course from a reputable company and you’ll be on your way.

But before you go, here are a few of our top tips for job searching if you don’t have a degree.

Be smart

Don’t bother applying for jobs that require a degree. Remember this is a government restriction and is not usually a stipulation by the school, so there is no way around it. Save everyone’s time by only applying for those jobs which don’t ask for a degree.

Beware scams

Don’t be fooled by companies or agents that promise you a working visa when you know a degree is required for that country. 

Read more: TEFL Scams and How to Avoid Them

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Upgrade your CV

Don’t forget to put any other further education or training on your CV. Did you teach soccer at summer camp? Tutor high school pupils? Au pair? All of those require skills which are similar to those you would use in the EFL classroom, so they would look good on your CV.

Read more: Tips for Writing a Sensational CV to Get Hired to Teach English Abroad

Don’t get frustrated

It might feel like you’re looking for a needle in a haystack, but don’t let that get you down. There is such a demand for TEFL teachers right now – you just need to make sure you are looking in the right place.

Think outside the box

There are many aspects to teaching English as a foreign language besides the formal classroom experience. Why not look at teaching online, volunteer, or teach at a summer camp? You could find your own private students and teach on Skype, or find a homestay programme which will offer you room and board in exchange for a few hours teaching a week, or be an activity leader in Italy for a short stint in the summer. None of these options require a degree and will still give you that TEFL experience.

Read more: 13 Different Jobs for TEFL Teachers

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In conclusion: No degree is no problem! Go forth and teach!

P.S. The answers to the first two questions are it depends and at least 120 hours. 

Comments:

I have recentlty completed both the 168 hour LEVEL 5 Certificate as well as the TFL Academy Business English Course. I am also retired from the corporate business enviroment and have a passion to teach Business English online from my home.
I have applied to every online teaching applicant position and have either been told I do not fit their requirements or have had no acknowledgements from the recruiters. This has been through the TEFL portals.
I was born in 1953 – is this the reason I have to date have not had much progress with my applications

When applying for the TEFL courses no mention was made of any age restrictions.

I would really appreciate your honest assessment and assistance.

Best Regards
John Allen
U/NAME = john5996
ID = SIDZA106012

John Allen, 23rd July 2019

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