Do I need a degree to teach English abroad?

If you are TESOL qualified and you have a university degree you will have a huge choice of options for teaching English all over the world. For those without a degree, the options are more limited but still plentiful.

Where do you need a degree to teach English abroad?

Recently, some of the more popular countries for teaching English abroad have begun to demand that teachers have a degree in order to qualify for a work visa. In particular, some of the big Asian markets for teachers such as South Korea, Japan and Taiwan now require a degree to obtain the necessary paperwork to stay and work long-term. Most of the high-salary Middle East countries are also difficult to crack without a certain level of formal qualifications. Despite these examples, there are still many options open for non-degree holders if you are flexible in where you want to teach.

Why do TESOL employers require a degree in some areas?

As mentioned, some countries have made a degree a legal requirement, while in most other areas it is left to the individual employer to decide what qualifications they expect from their job applicants. In areas where the competition for jobs is particularly high, schools can set very high standards which can mean that those without a degree fall to the bottom of the interview pile. However, all is not lost as there are a few things you can do to boost your chances in the job market.

How can I improve my TESOL job prospects if I don't have a degree?

First and foremost, completing a TESOL certification will make you instantly more employable. With an internationally recognized TESOL qualification on your CV/resume you will demonstrate that you have undergone some level of preparation to teach in an ESL classroom. By investing your time and money in the course you can also show your are serious about teaching and not just out to make a quick buck. The other big thing you can do to increase your job prospects is to gain some classroom experience to add to your job application. A bit of volunteer teaching at a local community center or teaching some private lessons to individual students will really help when applying for future jobs.

Where should I look for TESOL jobs if I don't have a degree?

If you complete a TESOL certificate and gain some experience in the classroom your chances of finding a good job will increase, but you might still need to be flexible when it comes to your chosen destination. Certain areas such as Latin America, Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe are all likely places to find work without a degree. If you are actually on the ground in the country and available for interviews, your chances will also greatly increase. Although a degree does undoubtedly provide more options when it comes to teaching destinations, having a TESOL certificate and a strong desire to teach English abroad can often be enough to kick-start your teaching career.