How to Teach English Abroad With no Degree
When it comes to career choices, you’d be hard pressed to find one more interesting than that of a TEFL teacher. TEFL teachers travel to all kinds of remote and exotic locations around the world to teach English to children of all shapes and sizes.
While the teaching itself is very rewarding, the main draw towards teaching English abroad lies in the adventure; it’s a practical and sustainable way to travel and see the world without going absolutely broke.
So how does one get into teaching English abroad with no degree?
Two common requirements are a TEFL certificate and a bachelor’s degree. The TEFL certificate is no problem; it consists of completing a (usually) online course that takes from about a couple weeks to a couple months, depending on the individual’s drive and motivation. The degree on the other hand is not as simple; it takes 4 years to obtain, which is a lot of time and money to invest for a job that doesn’t pay all that much (compared to western standards, TEFL jobs provide very liveable wages for their respective countries).
Luckily there are still options for people interested in teaching English abroad with no degree!
Non-degree holders can go one of two routes; applying in person, or taking an internship. In this article, we will go over the pros and cons of each option so one can figure out the best way to begin a career in teaching English abroad with no degree.
Applying in Person
Degree restrictions are usually visa restrictions in place by foreign governments. It’s a requirement for issuing working visas to candidates not in the country as a means of controlling who they let in.
Luckily, once you’re already in the country, you can worry about your paperwork after landing employment.
Applying for jobs in person is exactly what it sounds like, you would go to schools that are hiring with a resume and cover letter and conduct an in-person interview. If the schools like you, they will offer you the job before commencing with the paperwork to get you a work permit.
Now this can be a grey area legally, you would be coming into the country and applying for jobs on a tourist visa which may be illegal in some countries (do your research first!), but you will eventually get your legitimized work permit through the aid of your school.
Now this is a good option for people who have great interview skills. It’s not only a great way to bypass degree restrictions, but any visa related restrictions at all (native English speaker, age, etc.). A lot of schools will claim that they are only looking for degree holders, but the truth is that if the right candidate shows up interested in teaching English, and they have a position open, many schools will happily hire them.
There are, however, some cons to this route. The main one is the question of legality. Every country is different and has different laws on what foreigners on a tourist visa can and can’t do, so make sure to do your research before embarking on an adventure to teach English abroad with no degree.
Another downside is the possibility of being scammed. With the TEFL industry booming as it is today, it was only a matter of time before the more unscrupulous people of the world saw an opportunity to make money/get free labour out of foreigners living in a new and unfamiliar environment. There are legitimate schools and academies who will straight up lie to prospective teachers about anything from salary to included perks (paid holidays, paid airfare etc.) to make or save a quick buck. The easiest way to avoid getting scammed is to use your common sense. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
Another downside to applying in person is the sheer hassle of it. One must go to a new country with a years worth of luggage and supplies and shunt it around from hostel to hostel while applying for jobs, looking for apartments, and adapting to their new environment. It can mean weeks (or potentially months!) of scouring employment boards, doing laundry in sinks and being kept up until 4 in the morning the night before an interview by backpackers bringing the party back into the dorm room.
Still though, if you are determined to teach English abroad with no degree, it can be a good way to achieve your goal.
For the less adventurous, those who can’t see themselves landing in a new country without knowing anyone or anything, or unwilling to be potentially scammed by shady businesses, internships can be an option.
Internships can vary wildly. Some can simply be a one month volunteer position while others may be as much as a week of training followed by being placed in a full salaried teaching position. It’s a great way to both get a feel for teaching to see if you like it, and get your foot in the door by meeting and working with great potential future employers who will be very willing to overlook the fact that you have no degree.
Internships are usually offered by TEFL academies, so if you’re interested in teaching English abroad with no degree, make sure to thoroughly research your TEFL provider to make sure that they offer internship options that are right for you!
There are a few cons to internships as well though. For one, they can be pretty pricey, ranging from the high hundreds to the low thousands. On top of this, internships usually don’t pay as much as a regular teaching position, and some may not pay anything at all. That’s not to say all of them are low paid, some of them offer very liveable wages in their respective destinations, so once again, make sure to do your research first!
Another con is that while internships may bypass the bachelor’s degree requirement (internship teachers will usually go to their destination of choice on a student visa), there are still other requirements like age or specific passport requirements that not everyone may be able to meet.
Internships are therefore a great option for those interested in teaching English abroad with no degree who are a bit younger and have a bit of money to spare in the way of getting their foot in the door to a great teaching career.
So, while one might be initially discouraged by TEFL academies who only promise job placement to degree holders, don’t be discouraged! As the old saying goes, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way”!