Teaching ESL Without a University Degree

Qualified English teachers please register with World of TEFL and we will contact you with relevant vacancies as they come in.
If you have spent a reasonable amount of time looking at adverts for English teachers, you will have noticed that a large number of them mention that applicants should have a degree. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a degree in English or English Literature. It seems to be chosen as a requirement because having a degree suggests that you are educated to a high level and used to working in an academic setting.

Now that tuition fees have been increased so dramatically here in the UK (and other countries) this basic requirement seems harder and harder for young people to fulfill unless their parents are willing to fund their studies or they are happy to begin their adult lives saddled with debt.

This a very sorry state of affairs indeed but luckily it is still possible to teach English overseas even if you don’t have a university degree. One thing you certainly will need, however, is a TEFL certificate. Have a look at our page on TEFL Certification for further information on recommended course providers.

So, which countries allow you to teach legally without the need for a university degree? Well, the first region to look at is immense: Latin America. You can find work as a professional TEFL teacher in Mexico, Costa Rica, Argentina, Nicaragua, Peru and Ecuador without having a degree. These are all fantastic options but do be aware of two key points. Firstly, salaries are not huge so do not expect to save much money each month, if any at all. Secondly, very few of these positions are advertised online so you really need to visit language centres in person once you have arrived. Make sure you are smartly dressed and do not forget to take a copy of your CV and your TEFL certificate.

In Asia, China and Cambodia are both good options. In Cambodia you are likely to be on an hourly wage but living costs are low and you are in a brilliant part of the world neatly located between Thailand and Vietnam. In China there is likely to be more competition from other English teachers who do have degrees so you will probably have to keep your options open with regard to the exact location of your school. The TEFL market in China is massive so you will always be able to find work.

Russia is another great choice for those who are TEFL certified but do not have a university degree. As with China, the nation is incredibly large and there is a huge demand for English tuition. There is a substantial number of TEFL teachers who do have degrees already teaching in Russia so once again you will have to be flexible when it comes to choosing the area that you would like to work in. An ability to speak basic Russian would go a long way to ensuring you can always find work.

If you aren’t having any luck with any of the countries listed above, you might want to considering volunteering in the short term in a country you are really interested in. Once you have a network of contacts and some experience under your belt you may find that people are willing to help you find a paid position in that particular country of your choice.

Qualified English teachers please register with World of TEFL and we will contact you with relevant vacancies as they come in.

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