It is definitely possible to teach English without a degree. There are plenty of language schools that will gladly hire you regardless of your educational background. Even though having a degree opens more doors and opportunities, there is no reason for not pursuing your dream of teaching English abroad if you don't possess a degree.
Why is a degree required to do certain TEFL teaching jobs?
The question of whether a degree is required to find a teaching job is arbitrary, as it is for many other occupations. There is no reason why a university-educated English teacher would be more effective than one who does not possess a degree. One might argue that certain characteristics, such as passion, commitment, and the ability to establish rapport with your students, are far more important than a college diploma in this career.
These qualities should, however, be supported by the teaching knowledge gained from a TEFL course. While it is possible to teach abroad without a degree, doing so without a TEFL qualification is much more difficult and not recommended.
The country where you will be teaching usually determines whether or not you need a degree to teach TEFL. Some countries have rules or restrictions that require foreign teachers to have a degree in order to obtain a work visa. Language schools and other employers are required by law to state in their job advertisements that you must have a degree.
If you hear about teachers who have worked around visa restrictions, they may be doing so illegally, which we strongly discourage. You put yourself at risk of being exploited by dishonest employers, as well as facing serious legal consequences.
How can I get a TEFL job if I don't have a degree?
Before you start looking for places where you can teach without a degree, there are a few proactive steps you can take to increase your chances of landing a good teaching job.
1) Obtaining TEFL certification.
Should a teaching job not require a degree, you will almost certainly need a TEFL certificate (and even if you don't, there are plenty of compelling reasons to get one). In a nutshell, your chances will be much better if you have a TEFL certificate rather than a degree.
2) A specialized TEFL certificate will add to your CV.
A certificate in teaching young learners or teaching business English will help you stand out from the crowd and make you even more employable.
3) Apply for teaching positions in-person in the country where you want to teach.
Being present in person and demonstrating your abilities can make a significant difference when compared to applying online. Many schools prefer to hire in-person rather than through online job boards, especially in Europe and Latin America.
4) Teach English online.
Online English teachers are in high demand and many online teaching platforms do not require a degree. This means that you can theoretically teach online from anywhere in the world, though you should research any visa requirements in the country where you intend to live and teach.
Where can I teach English if I don't have a degree?
If you are a British or Irish citizen, you can legally teach anywhere in the EU (although Brexit might change this in the future). This means that, unless otherwise stated by the employer, a degree is not required. However, given the high level of competition for jobs in many European countries, many employers would prefer you to have a degree. If you are already on the ground there are still options.
Teachers without a degree often have better opportunities in Central and Eastern European countries such as Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Greece, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia.
The market for English teachers in most Asian countries is extremely big, and many of the most popular countries, including China, South Korea, Thailand, Japan, and Vietnam, require their teachers to have a university degree.
Cambodia and Laos provide the most opportunities in Asia for English teaching without a degree. In Cambodia, there is a high demand for English teachers, and most schools will hire teachers without a degree if they have a TEFL certification. A degree, on the other hand, may be required for higher-paying jobs in international schools or universities.
India and Sri Lanka are two other options. Because English is an official language in India there is a lot of competition for teaching positions. Overall, there are more volunteer positions for teaching English without a degree available in India than paid positions.
Central and South America
Without a doubt, this vast region provides the most opportunities for non-degree TEFL graduates. Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, and Uruguay are all viable options if you don't have a degree.
The Middle East and North Africa
Most Middle Eastern countries have strict TEFL job requirements, with many requiring a Master's degree, a TEFL Diploma, and/or several years of experience. However, in countries such as Jordan, Morocco, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Qatar, a career without a Bachelor's degree may still be possible.