Degree or not degree? That is the question – and it’s a question that continues to be one of the most frequently asked by aspiring English teachers. No wonder, either! Teaching English abroad is often touted as a “graduate’s job” and only a temporary gig, saving up before going into the real world. While it can be a great path to go down if that’s what you’re looking for, teaching abroad is actually far more flexible than that and offers a range of career choices for all sorts of people.
It’s all too easy to get bogged down by the inevitable information overload that’ll occur when you try to research every single policy and requirement on your own. That is why we have compiled a brief, but handy, guide on where and where does not allow teachers to work without a degree.
Where You Can’t
Let’s get this bit over and done with – firstly, to make it clear, and secondly because it is actually a noticeably smaller list than places that are non-graduate inclusive. As you’ll notice, the main teaching destinations that require degrees are all located in East Asia.
By far the largest job market, China is a great place to teach. Government policies regarding teachers have become more stringent in recent years, meaning a bachelor’s degree is needed to work legally here.
Popular with teachers and tourists alike, this tropical paradise is another that sadly requires teachers to have a degree to work legally. There are a lot of cases of people working ‘under the table’ here, but that runs the risk of deportation.
One of the most popular teaching destinations in the world, with its good wages, benefits, and relative job stability. Bachelor’s degrees are also needed here according to government law. Make sure to get properly qualified as an English teacher too if you hope to land a job here.
A bachelor’s degree is also needed to work full-time in Japan. However, it is worth noting that it is possible to obtain a ‘working holiday visa’ to work part-time, no degree needed!
And to top it off, Vietnam is another country that requires a degree for working visas. Employers generally aren’t too strict, though.
Where You Can
Those looking for an escape to Southeast Asia can breathe – Cambodia has come to the rescue. Sometimes described as a place with no rules, at least for western backpackers. Whilst regulations are a bit more lax here than elsewhere, that’s not entirely true. Standards are rising and there are numerous reputable schools to work in the cities.
Most of Europe (depending on employer)
Europe is a great continent to teach English without a degree. For EU citizens traveling within the EU, visas are a thing of the past – work permits are not a necessity when moving to another member country. This means degrees would only be a requirement if made so by an employer. As there are 28 countries in the EU (plus another 20 on the European continent itself) it’s hard to pin down where employers are most strict.
Generally, Spain, Italy, the Czech Republic, and Poland are the most popular destinations to teach. A degree won’t always be necessary for employers but do make sure you are qualified to teach English, with an accredited certificate.
While ‘Latin America’ is quite a broad term, since it refers to a region of up to 33 countries, it is not inaccurate to say that it is a great place to go for degreeless teachers! With some of the fastest-growing TEFL industries (in the world) in Mexico, Brazil, and Colombia, you’d be silly not to give Latin America some thought.
Getting TEFL qualified
You might have noticed that I talked about ‘getting qualified’ a couple of times, and you may be asking yourself what exactly that means. Well, in case you didn’t already know, to teach English abroad it is strongly recommended that you complete a training course provided by an accredited organization. This shows employers that you have some knowledge and experience in the field – they’re also more sought after than not.
The more hours a course the more attractive it is to an employer – that’s a basic rule of thumb. The most commonly sought-after qualification is 120 hours of training – obtaining this will open up quite a few doors. It’s important that you complete your training with an accredited provider, as mentioned. Without accreditation, there’s a good chance that the quality of the course is low and the providers will not be recognized by any schools.
The most accredited TEFL certification provider is The TEFL Org. They’ve been training up teachers for over a decade now and are known worldwide – make sure to check them out!