Is a degree a requirement for teaching English abroad?

If your CV/resume includes a degree and a good quality TEFL certification you will have little trouble finding a teaching job in the location of your choice. However, if your portfolio is lacking a degree, a TEFL qualification will still give you plenty of options in many areas.

Which countries require a degree to teach English abroad?

Over the years more and more of the most popular countries for teaching English abroad have tightened their regulations regarding overseas workers. For EFL teachers this means that countries in Asia such as China, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan all require a degree in order to qualify for a work permit or visa. Also, the lucrative teaching markets in the Middle East are largely off limits to those without the necessary formal qualifications.

Why is a degree necessary in some areas?

In many cases it is down to the rules and regulations laid down by governments and their immigration policies. However, in other areas it is down to the individual employer to decide what criteria to set for their potential employees. In locations that are particularly popular with overseas teachers schools are able to set the bar higher than in less popular areas in order to attract teachers with more experience and higher qualifications. In these situations, applicants without a degree will typically go to the bottom of the pile.

What can I do to improve my job prospects if I don't have a degree?

The most important advice for non-degree holders is to complete a TEFL certification course before applying for jobs as it will boost your chances immensely. Having this qualification on your application form will demonstrate to the employer that you have undertaken all the basic preparation needed to start a teaching career. By voluntarily investing your own time and money in the course you will also show employers that you take the future of their students seriously and you are prepared to work hard to achieve good results.

One other big advantage you can give yourself in the recruitment process is to gain some classroom experience before applying. Community centers and local charities often run English lessons for immigrants and refugees in many parts of the world and offering your services to these good causes will look very good on your job applications. Alternatively, you can offer private lessons to individual students who need help with their English.

Which areas are best for TEFL qualified teachers without a degree?

By gaining a TEFL qualification and some level of classroom experience you will greatly increase your options in the international job market. However, you might still need to have a certain amount of flexibility when it comes to your chosen destination and avoid countries with strict visa laws. Latin America, Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe are all great regions for teachers without a degree as official restrictions are generally less stringent. If you are able to head to your country of choice and then start looking for work on a local basis you will also be in a very good position. Ultimately, having a degree will give you more options in the job market, but having a TEFL certificate and the drive to look for the right opportunities will also stand you in good stead.