No Degree & TEFL: What are your options?
It’s no secret that there are many TEFL positions that require a degree and list this in their adverts. Mostly this varies from country to country and the type of position offered. A big roadblock for teachers without a degree is getting visas in certain countries to teach English. These countries include China and South Korea where a degree is a visa requirement. Unfortunately, there is no way around this so if you don’t have a degree, these countries might not be an option for you.
That’s the worst news over with! This doesn’t mean that TEFL is impossible for you if you don’t have a degree..There are many routes you can take which will lead to an equally adventurous and fulfilling TEFL career. Once you get enough experience and knowledge, the degree won’t matter as much to many employers as they will value your teaching skills more. You might then choose to develop your qualifications in TEFL even further. If you don’t have a degree, there are many options still available to you:
Research where you can apply to?
As previously mentioned, unfortunately there are just some countries that require a degree for visa purposes so the options are limited. These countries are mostly based in Asia. Anyone who offers you a paid job here without a degree is probably offering you it on the basis of an illegal visa. Some agents might try to have you working on a tourist visa which isn’t the greatest idea!. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is and you should question this with the employer.
Instead, focus on where you are able to teach without a degree. South America is a great option for native speakers who have little to no experience in teaching or no degree. Here, your English language skills will get you hired and the rest can be history! Employers in this market value native level English even more than a degree. Add that to arriving with more qualifications in specialist areas, this will get you even more noticed and you’ll have your choice of jobs in this part of the world.
Europe also has many opportunities for teachers without a degree. Countries like Spain, Italy, Romania and Greece will accept TEFL teachers regardless of a degree and can be wonderful experiences. Each country has its own culture, language and adventures wiring for you! Working in Europe might require you to have a work permit so factor this in if you’re not from this continent. EU nationals can find work easily within the EU. Non-EU nationals might have to jump through some more hurdles but it’s not impossible to find work in countries such as Spain or Romania.
If you’re sad at missing out on heading further afield and teaching in Asia, why not head to Africa? There are many places that accept teachers with no degree such as Morocco, Egypt and South Africa. You could even head to an exotic island such as La Reunion or Mauritius for a TEFL adventure! There are so many different cultures waiting for you to explore them – a TEFL qualification will open up these doors for you.
As you can see, you shouldn’t let your lack of degree limit you as the TEFL world doesn’t. There are many countries which will accept teachers with no higher education, it’s just up to you to investigate and explore your options! Being flexible is key, don’t count anything out until you’ve done your research!
Work on your TEFL qualifications
If you don’t have a degree in a related field or any degree at all, you absolutely need to get a higher level TEFL qualification. A 180-hour TEFL course will give you a much better standing and more confidence. Employers will expect to see a TEFL course of this depth if you don’t have an academic background on your CV. It’s also a good way to relate to your students studying, if you have also undertaken a more demanding course.
It wouldn’t also hurt to do other specialist courses such as teaching online, Business English or young learners courses. Continue your professional development to compensate for not having a degree and fill your CV with lots of TEFL-related qualifications. Show that your skills and qualifications make you a must-hire teacher! Employers will value your knowledge in these areas even if they don’t require a degree. These courses will push your CV to the top of the pile and give you the confidence to explore other TEFL areas.
Volunteering is a way that new TEFL teachers can get experience and build up their teaching hours. It gives you confidence starting out, lets you put your knowledge into practice and not to mention, it looks great on your CV for potential employers! Many volunteering programmes will happily take teachers with a TEFL qualification or working towards one, even if they don’t have a degree. Volunteering programmes value English language skills and commitment more than anything. If you have TEFL knowledge, then even better!
If you are really keen on teaching in South Korea, Thailand, or another country that normally requires a degree, you could look up volunteering roles here. These are not limited by applicants not having degrees so this can be a way for you to experience working and living in the country of your choice. Ensure that the position is a legit volunteering position, and not a full-time job that you are offering to do for free!
You can also look at joining internships in these countries as a way to get around the degree requirement. In any country, internships are a good way to sample the TEFL lifestyle and work well for those who might be nervous about moving to a new country. You receive full support and guidance with all aspects: visas, accommodation, placements and more. Internships can range from 3 months to 12 months so you can pick one that suits you. You might decide that you want to stay even longer than you planned!
Teaching online can be a good way to get into TEFL and gain some experience. There are some companies that require a degree but there are others which do not have this in their requirements for teaching online. Since the covid-19 pandemic, there is a big demand for teaching online so it’s a good time to tap into this market and get some hours online.
For teaching online, you’ll need a stable internet connection, a good laptop or computer and a good webcam and headset. You’ll also need a quiet, professional background. Make sure these things are already set up before you do any interviews. You don’t want to create a bad impression of your technology in the interview!
The companies that hire non-degree holding teachers include:
Palfish- this is a mobile app for learners to connect with teachers. There are opportunities for both native and non-native English speakers. This can be a more relaxed way of teaching and doesn’t involve a lot of planning.
Cambly- You need to be a native speaker to join Cambly and it’s a little different to traditional teaching companies. The goal is for the learner to be able to practise their conversion skills with a native speaker, not take a course. It’s very flexible and easy-going for both teacher and student. You’ll get to talk to lots of different students from different backgrounds, and be paid for it!
Preply- Gain the right following of students and this can be a real money maker for teachers of all backgrounds. Teachers set their own hours and rate of pay so you have complete control. If you specialise in a more niche area of TEFL, you can charge higher rates and find a lot of students. You don’t need a degree to advertise on Preply, you just need to build up your profile.
Verbling- One of the higher paying platforms, it is important to have experience before teaching for this company. However, you don’t need a degree but TEFL qualifications. If you have established yourself as a capable teacher and have the TEFL CV to prove it, you can do well on this platform. You might want to start on one of the others to get some hours on the clock, then apply to teach here for a pay rise!
ITalki- Another platform where teachers can set their own hourly rates and timetable. There are lots of students who use this platform, as well as many teachers. Again, it’s a platform that can work well if you have developed your teaching in a niche area or specialised more in a specific area of TEFL. The lessons are not limited to TEFL so if you can teach another subject or language, you can advertise this too.
This list is by no means definite and there are many more companies which hire teachers with no degree. If you don’t have a lot of experience, you might need to start at a lower rate of pay but you will soon work your way up. Many companies offer incentives depending on the amount of hours you work and your reviews. The way to be successful financially is by developing your own rates of pay which reflect your experience and qualifications. Developing into other areas of TEFL besides General English, will allow you to charge more.
When you do see job adverts that require a degree, you might feel that the TEFL world is shutting its doors on you. However, you can see that there are many options out there for you and good ones too! Don’t let one requirement hold you back, look for alternatives and show them that you are just as hirable and valuable as a teacher with a degree through your qualifications, attitude and hard work! Getting the experience is the biggest hurdle sometimes, once you get your classroom hours up, you can have your pick of jobs across the world!