Can I teach English with just a TEFL certificate?

We should start by acknowledging that there are some countries where a degree is required for certain teaching jobs. However, even within these countries there are often opportunities for teachers without a degree. In such situations you would need to be more flexible in terms of the type of job and conditions. As we will see later, undertaking volunteering or internship programs are examples of such flexibility.

The main point here is that you can teach in many countries without a degree, provided you do have some other attributes or qualifications that employers are looking for.

One of the most important qualifications worldwide for EFL teachers is the TEFL certificate. If you have a certificate of at least 120 hours then you should be able to find a number of jobs available to you. You can also look at enhancing your entry level 120-hour certification with an EFL specialism. There are three particular specialist areas you can consider, these being:

  • Teaching English Online
  • Teaching Young Learners
  • Teaching Business English

Where can I teach EFL without a university degree?

There are two main areas where you can find work without a degree. Firstly you can teach online. Many online companies only require that you have TEFL certification. The second option is a job in a country that does not require a degree and we will consider those next. The three continents of Latin America, Asia and Europe offer the majority of EFL jobs worldwide and you will find employment on each of these continents with a TEFL certification.

Latin America

In Latin America salaries for EFL teachers are generally higher than average earnings for the population of the countries and there are few restrictions for teachers without a degree. Most of the jobs, as you would expect, are in the larger cities of each country. You will find many opportunities in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico and Uruguay.


Asia has some of the fastest growing markets for EFL teachers. China is going through some changes and you should look at specific opportunities to find exactly what is required. Cambodia is one of the fastest growing markets in Asia and there is no requirement for teachers to have a degree. Other countries with similar conditions include Vietnam and Indonesia.


There are good options for those who have a TEFL certification. Spain and Italy are both very popular and have no official requirements for degrees. Other good options include the Czech Republic and Turkey. The further East you move in Europe, generally the easier the restrictions become.

Highlight on Spain

Most employers in Spain generally require their employees to possess a TEFL certificate. This applies to language schools and people looking to hire a private English tutor.

Each nationality will need different documentation to be eligible to teach. Europeans have the easiest route.

Since Brexit, UK applicants will need to follow the latest advice from Spanish government websites.

Canadians and Australians can get a working holiday visa which allows them to work for a set period of time. Again it is recommended that you check out the most up-to-date requirements of this option via the Spanish embassy in your home country.

One way for US passport holders to work in Spain is to obtain a student visa which allows you to work a certain number of hours a week while also being enrolled on a course studying Spanish.

The main employers of teachers in Spain are private language academies in the big cities such as Barcelona, Madrid, Seville, and Valencia. However, there has been a growth in private tutoring in recent years, which is particularly good news for Americans who are only able to get a tourist visa.

Finally, consider internship programs or volunteering

These two options are great, even for countries where teaching usually requires a degree. Typical programs last six months to a year and often include basic accommodation and some meals. As a way to gain experience in teaching and to get to know the real culture of a country these two options are a very useful choice.