Where can I teach English without a degree?
It’s a question we get asked a lot at Global English TESOL. Thankfully, there are several countries that will welcome you with open arms as demand to learn English is so strong across the globe. There are some restrictions, but read on to find out your English teaching options without a degree.
Great news if you can see yourself in sunny Spain, Italy or Portugal, for example. Or perhaps you’d like to enjoy an English teaching career in Poland, France, Germany or the Czech Republic?
While some individual schools might state a degree preference, there is no legal requirement for a degree in order to teach English across Eastern or Western Europe. It does help significantly to be a native English speaking EU citizen. However, if you are American or Canadian, then working in the EU will be a little different for you, but see our article on how US citizens can find TEFL work.
This means the TESOL hotspots of Chile and Mexico are open to you as well as Ecuador, Costa Rica and Peru, although it does help to be in place to secure work. Regardless of whether you have a degree or not, it is notoriously difficult to gain to gain legal status to teach English in Brazil but intrepid TEFLers seem to manage to find ways to make this work.
Demand is growing in this fascinating country and is a really interesting option for those without a degree. You will still see job posts asking for degrees but rest-assured this is not a governmental requirement and can possibly be overcome with a great TESOL CV and a good TESOL qualification.
Cambodia and Laos
With growing demand and an ‘off-the-beaten’ track feel about it, both are good option since you can experience the exotic, live well by local standards completely degree-free. It is best to find work once in country and dress to impress with all your documents and a good TESOL.
Looking at the job offers for Japan, you’d be forgiven for thinking a degree was 100% necessary. Actually the picture is more nuanced than that. If you are a UK citizen aged 18-30 you can apply for a working holiday visa, for example, which potentially allows you to teach for up to a year. See more on the requirements for UK nationals.
Japan has similar working holiday visa agreements with around 15 other countries including Canada, New Zealand, France, Denmark, S, Korea although conditions and requirements vary for each one. A great starting point for investigating options is the ministry of foreign affairs site here.
Experience counts in Japan; Japanese companies can offer visa sponsorship to candidates without a degree if they have 3 years’ verifiable English teaching experience. Check out this Japanese TESOL job from a prominent employer keen to employ business English trainers from around the world.
Thailand: possible but more challenging
Technically a degree is needed but we have heard that in rural areas, where there are few native English speakers, a school can make a case and be granted exemptions. However, take this advice with caution, all I can say is what happens on the ground apparently legally is often quite different to the officially stated position. Ajarn*, a very well-established specialist site on all things TESOL and Thai related, comments:
"Although the official line is '… you can't get a work permit without a degree' there are plenty of examples of agencies managing to get one for their teaching staff and in some cases, teachers at government schools out in the sticks have had no problem at all.
As in most cases, it can depend on contacts and being in the right place at the right time. If you're looking for some hard, fast rule that applies 100% of the time - forget it. This is Thailand."
What about an associates degree?
With this 2 year degree course and a passport from an English speaking country, you can legally teach English in Taiwan. If you are a passport holder from one of seven English speaking countries and hold either an associates degree or if you are 2 years' through a full BA course, then you also eligible for the government TaLK programme in South Korea to teach English in rural schools.
A final word
If you are a native English speaker with a degree and a TESOL there are huge teaching prospects. Yet, even with no degree options are still numerous because demand to learn English is so great. Why not get TESOL qualified and start your English teaching adventure?
Note: This article is intended as general starter advice only. Ensure you investigate visa regulations with the appropriate country consulate or embassy to your own satisfaction. On our TESOL destinations for each country listed you’ll find a list of useful email addresses for consulates under the contacts tab.
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