Jobs teaching English as a Second Language are like snowflakes in more ways than one. Not only are no two are exactly alike but, especially in recent years, there has been quite a lot of them. Indeed, the demand for native speakers is so high – and the supply so low – that more and more developing economies are allowing would-be educations to teach English without a degree. Although a bachelor’s degree in any discipline is still obligatory for some of the ESL industry’s most popular destinations like Japan, South Korea, and Eastern Europe (and an MA in TESOL de rigeur for teaching English as a Second Language in the United States and Great Britain), a significant number of counties only require a TEFL certificate.
Several countries in Central and South America, for example, have no set qualifications standards for private English teachers. As a result, employers are left to their own discretion when it comes to establishing those standards. In cases such as this a TEFL certificate, which serves as a strong indicator of your commitment to the industry, can provide a significant advantage over the competition and help you to secure a better position.
In many developing countries in Asia, however, a TEFL certificate is obligatory if you want to teach English abroad without a degree. While the Cambodian ESL market is similar to the Central and South American ones (in that it does not require educators to have either a degree or formal certification), both Indonesia and China are quite different. Work visas in these two large – and growing! – markets are only issued to applicants who have, at minimum, a TEFL certificate. Not that this stands as much of a barrier to entry: with some online programs taking as little as two weeks you could be well on your way to an international teaching career by this time next month!