Teaching English as a Second Language is not the exclusive domain for those individuals with college degrees. As this section shows, a number of developing economies around the world make it possible to teach English Abroad without a degree. Thus, as you will see, it is never too late to start an exciting new career teaching English abroad!
Teaching English abroad is a booming industry. In fact, the demand for native English speaking teachers is so high that a routine industry trope is “if you have a pulse, you have a job.” Unfortunately, like more clichés, this particular saying is not completely accurate. Indeed, in addition to the aforementioned “pulse” most English-teaching hotspots also require a college degree. While the degree does not have to be in any particular discipline – Education and English of course give candidates a leg-up in the application process, though – it is increasingly difficult to teach English abroad without a degree. That having been said, however, many options exist for those interested in teaching without formal credentials but such candidates may need to redefine their expectations a bit.
Most, if not all, positions in developed English as a Second Language markets such as Eastern Europe, South Korea, and Japan, require a degree. In South Korea in particular, for example, a Bachelor’s degree is required by immigration as part of their visa application. As a result no degree means no work visa and, therefore, no access to the market as a whole. Likewise, there are few countries in Central and South America that allow educators to work without formal certifications. Be wary of any offer from these countries that waives the degree requirement; a school may hire you without one but it will be next to impossible to get a legal work permit to teach English with no degree.
All is not lost, however! All you need to do is redefine your expectations and be proactive. If you want to teach English abroad without a degree success lies in your flexibility. For example, in much of the rest of Asia, a TEFL certificate is all you need to land an ESL position. Developing economies – where demand so drastically outstrips supply – are boomtowns for this kind of thing and a quick glance at the rest of Southeast Asia reveal many opportunities for would-be teachers.
Cambodia has the most lax regulations of the region, in as much as it does not require educators to have either a degree or formal certification, but by and large a TEFL certification is de rigueur for both the region’s other two mainstays: Indonesia and China. Plus, a TEFL certification is a good idea in general. Not only does it give you a leg up in the application process (by signaling to potential employers that you are serious about your career and, by extension, them) but it also prepares you for what to do once you get in the classroom.
Because of the high demand of teaching English abroad, it is often consider a seller’s market (where the teacher is the seller) and, thanks to a wide network of ESL recruiters, traditional applicants can land a job without even leaving home. Unfortunately, for those who are trying to teach English abroad without a degree, this is not exactly true. Although the demand is still there, schools are usually unwilling to pay a recruiter to find you. The situation is somewhat rosier for those with TEFL certifications but, by and large, you have to be your own best advocate if you want an ESL job without a degree. That means you need to make your own opportunities and find the job yourself by going to the market in question and inquiring in person. By being ready and willing to work you are not only able to put your best foot forward but also, by default, more attractive to employers than your (now geographically distant) competition. After all, being in the right place at the right time can make all the difference!