Although there are several countries around the world that require teachers to have a degree in order to qualify for a work permit or visa, there are still many other great destinations where employers are happy to take on teachers without one. Often the key is to be flexible about your destination and to go where the demand for your services is high.
Table of Contents
Whether you have a degree or not, completing an internationally accredited TESOL certification course before you start applying for jobs will undoubtedly help you in your job search. The vast majority of employers worldwide now expect their potential teachers to have undergone some form of formal teacher training before they set foot in the classroom.
Unfortunately, the regulations have been tightened in China in recent times, which means the largest market for TEFL qualified teachers is now restricted to teachers with a degree in any subject. However, as the demand is so high across the country some schools and recruitment companies will still try to entice teachers without degrees by offering them alternatives to the working visa. If you are offered the chance to work on a business type visa, be wary as this is technically illegal and could end in an unpleasant visit from the authorities. The only legal option for non-degree holders in China is working as an intern on a student visa which is an increasingly popular option despite the low salary.
As the big markets of China, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan are largely out of reach for non-degree holders; Southeast Asia has become an increasingly attractive option for many teachers. Two of the fastest growing markets for foreign teachers in this region are Cambodia and Vietnam as they have no requirement to hold a degree to work legally. Although the average salary in these countries is not high in comparison to some other Asian countries, they still offer plenty of options for gaining valuable classroom experience and for once in a lifetime adventure. Other countries in Southeast Asia that are a little less travelled, but still have some options, are Laos and Myanmar.
Employers in Latin American countries generally pay less than those in much of Europe and Asia, however, the cost of living is typically very low and there are few countries that have any restrictions on teachers without a university degree. Most ESL jobs are located in large cities, although you will often find a smaller number of opportunities in some coastal resorts and other popular tourist areas. The top countries in this region in way of demand include Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Mexico. Elsewhere you will find a smaller yet growing demand in countries such as Colombia, Ecuador, and Uruguay.
Popular teaching destinations such as France and Germany do have a requirement for teachers to have a 4-year university degree, however, there are plenty of other countries that do not. The two most popular countries for teaching English in Europe, Spain and Italy, have no official requirements involving degrees. Much of Central and Eastern Europe is also open to teachers regardless of their academic background. The Czech Republic and Russia are two more great options to look at in the region for non-degree holders.