How to teach English abroad without a degree

You’ve tried the college thing for a year or two and you’re just not feeling it. Or, alternatively, you knew the more-school-route wasn’t for you from the get-go and have yet to sign up for a college class. Wherever you fall on the scale, we’re pleased to tell you that teaching English abroad without a degree is not only possible — it can be done relatively easily.

Don’t believe us? Scroll south and prepare to be amazed as we debunk the teaching English overseas requirements.

First Things First — a TEFL Certificate Will Help

While there are many schools and programs that will accept students who have not completed a bachelor’s degree, you will up your chances of getting hired if you happen to submit your job application form after completing a TEFL certification. Why? A TEFL certification is the key to success in the classroom (and in the job hunt). Without significant teaching experience or an accredited course under your belt, your ability to be an effective teacher to your ESL students is more limited.

Group of students
You do not  want to stutter in front of your students, they might not all be this friendly

Not only is it a crash course in not stuttering while standing in front of 20+ pairs of eyeballs, it breaks down the nuts and bolts of English grammar, provides a support group as your adventure unfolds, and prepares you for all those nitty-gritty questions that you forgot the answer to (“Why is the plural of ‘goose,’ ‘geese’ but the plural of ‘moose’ isn’t ‘meese?’” “Um, because I said so.”).

Lucky for you, there are plenty of ways to earn a TEFL certification. You can complete one online from the comforts of your home, apply for TEFL internships abroad, or even snag TEFL scholarships! With so many options just a click away, it’s a no-brainer to invest in getting TEFL certified prior to finding English teaching jobs abroad.

Group Of Anglo TEFL Students
The Anglo-TEFL Scholarship, one of our many ways to get TEFL certified

Alright — I’m TEFL Certified. Now what?

With your shiny, new TEFL certification carefully stored next to your passport, the steps towards teaching English abroad are that much clearer. Here’s our go-to outline:

  1. Choose your program location.
    Whether it’s the opportunities for adventure outside of the classroom, a deep-seated interest in a particular culture, the sheer number of nearby-countries to dig your heels into, or the potential to earn the big bucks, there’s a teach abroad destination for you. (Psst — we’ve outlined popular ones below!).
  2. Narrow down your preferences a step further.
    Once you know the country you’d like to teach abroad in, it’s time to ruminate on the type of experience you’d like to have in-country. Do you want to be in a busy metropolis? Does rural Japan strike you as interesting? How important is public transit to you? Being armed with more clarity around your ultimate destination — and what your deal breakers are — will make your program selection process easier, and your eventual program happier.

    Metropolis vs Country
    Do you prefer the hustle and bustle of a big city or is the quiet life for you?
  3. Start searching for programs.
    If your TEFL certification course doesn’t offer job placement assistance (#shamelessplug — Premier TEFL does!), it’s up to you to hit the interwebs to find a job opening or agency that can place you in open ESL jobs in your desired location. Be sure to filter your search results by eligibility requirements that don’t require a college degree (lest you be filled with disappointment/utter rage!).
  4. Consult reviews to get a better picture of life abroad.
    As you sift through program options for teaching English abroad without a degree, pay special attention to programs that have received stellar ratings from past participants. Read between the lines and be critical as you digest all of this information. Trust your gut and only choose to reach out to organizations which give you a good feeling!

    Premier TEFL review
    We’re pretty well thought of…
  5. Send some inquiries and set up appointments/interviews.
    Expressing interest in a given program will put you in touch with a handy-dandy advisor, the kind that can walk you through the process and your inevitably long-laundry list of questions (What kind of visa do I need?! Can I teach adults?! Will people like me?!). They’ll be your best-bet for program and country-specific information. Bonus points if you ask to be put in touch with a past alumni to dive a little deeper into what the teaching gig will be like.
  6. Prep for your interview!
    Much like you would for any serious big-wig corporate job in your home country, you should practice and prepare for your ESL teacher interview. Do yourself a favor and research the program, the country, cultural norms, and best practices, and brush up on your TEFL certification knowledge to further impress the recruiter. Since you are trying your hand at teaching English abroad without a degree, it’s more important than ever that you nail this interview.
  7. Get hired and get outta here!
    Once you’ve found a job that’s a good fit, it’s only a matter of days before you receive your first international paycheck. Be sure to dot your i’s and cross your t’s — get your immunizations in line, pack extra pencil sharpeners, sort your visa — and then hit the tarmac because your ESL adventure has already begun!

Top Locations for Teaching English Abroad Without a Degree

Some countries are more picky than others, so instead of sending out tons of inquiries without getting any bites, it’s better to zero-in your search and focus only on countries with job markets that are friendly to ESL teachers lacking collegiate-level qualifications. Here’s our top recommendations for how to teach English abroad without a degree:

  • China
    China is more than a long wall and futuristic skylines. It’s a hot job market for ESL teachers, with plenty of specialized language schools and tutoring programs that work with non-degree-totin’ native English speakers.

    Students in China
    Teach English in China
  • Chile
    The longest country in the world frequently welcomes ESL teachers without bachelor’s degrees. From the windy streets of Valparaíso to the shadows of the Immaculate Conception on San Cristóbal Hill in Santiago, Chileans are eager to master English. It doesn’t hurt that weekend trips can double as adventures in Patagonia!

    Picture of Chile
    Teach English in Chile
  • Romania
    We get it. There are vampires. And vagabonds. But there are also plenty of jobs for those who want to teach English abroad without a degree. An oft-overlooked yet severely underrated destination for teaching jobs abroad, don’t be surprised if you fall under Romania’s spell.

    Picture of Romania
    Teach English in Romania
  • India
    While volunteer teaching placements are common in India, you can also find paid teaching jobs here. Their teaching English overseas requirements do not include traditional four-year degrees, making this sunny (and well-seasoned!) destination a natural favorite among renegade teachers.

    Picture of India
    Teach English in India
  • Argentina
    Say “Si!” to hardworking students, creative lessons, and… delicious steak. Leave your degree behind before heading south (way south) to teach English in Argentina. No tango or native English speaking skills required, either.

    Picture of Argentina
    Teach English in Argentina

Check out even more awesome teach abroad destinations that don’t require a college degree here.

There you Have it! Our Complete Guide to Teaching English Abroad Without a Degree

We *told* you it was easier than your decision to not fill out tons of college applications. A lack of higher education does not equate to a lack of the necessary skills and passion to successfully rock life abroad as an ESL teacher. What are you waiting for? Get your TEFL certification and find English teaching jobs today!

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