Page 1 of 1

TEFL teaching without a degree

Posted: 05 Oct 2010, 14:41
by matcolo
Hi there,

I’m undertaking a CELTA course in November, and I wanted to know if there is anything I can do in advance of completing the course in terms of finding myself a TEFL job abroad.

Specifically, I am a little concerned about the paucity of options for people without a degree-level qualification; although I do not have a degree, I have many years’ experience as an editor and writer, as well as the confidence and willingness to immerse myself in other cultures, plus lots of experience of managing people and events.

When I applied to do the CELTA, I was told that, with the possible exception of Japan and South Korea, a degree is not a prerequisite for most TEFL jobs. However, on browsing the jobs database on, the vast majority of posts worldwide stipulate a degree as a requirement.

In your experience, is there any possibility of circumventing this, providing that I pass the CELTA? Or is the degree requirement totally immovable?

Also, is it worth applying for posts in advance, or at least registering an interest in working for a specific language school/company? Or would this be pointless given the fast-paced nature of TEFL appointments?

Many thanks in advance,

Re: TEFL teaching without a degree

Posted: 16 Oct 2010, 12:48
by pokedmund
My advice...if you still want to try teaching english abroad, send your CV and cover letters to the employing agencies, explaining that you will completed the CELTA in November.

I can't think of anything else you can do to improve your chances. Allegedly, some people have mentioned the Open University as a "degree alternative".

The better jobs are the ones which require you to have a degree. But people with degrees don't make better teachers. People with degrees is just an easier way for companies to filter out their applicants (whether its in China, Japan or even the UK).

Good luck with applying for jobs!

Re: TEFL teaching without a degree

Posted: 17 Oct 2010, 09:18
by Susan
Hi Pokemund,

The Open University isn't a degree alternative: the OU awards degrees. It provides an alternative way of studying. Most of the work is done as distance learning and the OU was founded in a way that allows a working person to obtain a degree. It is not an alternative to a degree; just an alternative way of achieving it.

Of course, a person can choose to study at the OU and not work towards a degree. That is a different matter.

Re: TEFL teaching without a degree

Posted: 10 Nov 2010, 14:32
by talkabouteach
Recently completed TEFL course. Have applied for jobs but most employers have not bothered to reply. One in Spain reiterated the need for degree (doing one) and the place where it is supposed to be easiest to get work (Czech Republic) not even an email back! The only success so far was for volunteer position in Georgia (and still waiting on background check). One job in Italy required no degree or experience, seemed in a rush to employ and I even sent a copy of statements and cv in Italian offering to do webcam interview! I am prepared to give up everything here so I feel a little let down by the whole scenario!

It seems to me getting a TEFL does little for you in reality. I don''t want to lie or over exaggerate what I''ve done so where do I go from here. Was thinking if i could get volunteer position, could gain 1 year experience which would help me greatly, then go from there.

Any advice would be great...

Re: TEFL teaching without a degree

Posted: 11 Nov 2010, 04:51
by robin
I have been teaching ESL for over 20 years. I do not have a degree, but do have the CELTA and the DELTA. It has sometimes been an obstacle to getting employment, but in my experience as the years pass it becomes less of an issue. I am currently working in the UAE, which is one of the best paid locations available in the ESL world, so my advice would be to do the CELTA, gain a couple of years experience, then take the DELTA.

Re: TEFL teaching without a degree

Posted: 11 Nov 2010, 09:53
by Dziekuje
I presume that you are a native speaker so that is a big plus for you. Yes, there are a lot of countries where you require a degree for visa purposes but as another post commented 'this doesn't make you any less a teacher, it is just a method of filtering out applications'. Without a degree you cannot afford to be so choosy, everybody wants to go to Spain, Saudi and the Far East, for the money probably as much, if not more than the experience

I was in the same situation as you, I did a CELTA after 20 years work experience (no degree) but was able to find a job through International House (Head Office) in London. Having worked for them for a few years I am now working for a local company on a contract basis. You could also try looking at work in Summer Schools in the UK they are usually on the look out for staff from early in the year, be careful as there are a lot of less than reputable companies running schools so don't give up looking for work until you have signed a contract for one of them - a verbal agreement is easily broken in this business!

See if you can find a copy of Teaching English Abroad by Susan Griffiths this has a lot of useful contacts and information. Don't bother with the British Council they told me not to bother even to try for a CELTA without a degree. I have now been teaching (mainly!) happily for 9 years. You will probably never get rich but you will have a chance to escape the rat race and start to enjoy life

Re: TEFL teaching without a degree

Posted: 11 Nov 2010, 14:03
by Cinderella
Hi - just to say that I've been teaching for years without a university degree and with a CTEFLA
in France. I've only had to show my TEFL certificate once here - and that was only when they were trying to sack a teacher unfairly! So don't be discouraged, it is possible. As someone else said, you don't have to have a degree to be a good teacher. You could have a degree and be a bad or really boring teacher. Or you could not have a degree and be a really good one. I know a fantastic teacher with the DELTA and no degree in Spain. I'm a firm believer in life experience being just as important - however, given the opportunity again, I would do a degree - I just didn't know what to study at the time! 30 years later I have a clearer idea!! I wouldn't spell out the fact you haven't got one either!! The main thing is to get an interview somehow then win them over with your personality. Good luck!!

Re: TEFL teaching without a degree

Posted: 18 Nov 2010, 00:01
by bobbybobbob
I'd say that the problem is that a part of the field you're entering is English, which you clearly know as a writer; however the other field is education. There are lots of countries with high levels of English teacher employment (which have the good jobs) who just wouldn't understand why somebody who's smart and from a country with a (pretty much) free education system wouldn't have a degree. They (my main experience is in Asia) want people who share their 'education ethos'. This is deep rooted in many cultures and is why visas for educators are so hard to get without a degree there. In fact, there are many teaching jobs that are hard without university experience e.g. working in universities, in university English support or academic preparation (the latter two being the business that many private language schools would like to attract).

There are so many new teachers with degrees that it's now ever harder for those without one unless they're established and experienced (10 years ago it was far more open). I know people who teach without a degree, but it will always be an achilles heel if you don't have one. It tends to point towards non-visa (illegal) adult teaching, 'shark' cram school teaching (which I wouldn't wish on my worst enemies) and kindergarten (aaaarrrgggghhhh). Good luck though!

Re: TEFL teaching without a degree

Posted: 24 Nov 2010, 02:20
by sarahdownunder

I am in the same position, I do not have a degree I have spent the last 6 years working and travelling. I really want to combine both my passions in life, Travel & Training and therefore think that Teaching English as a Foreign Language would be the right career path for me (although it has taken me a long time to come to this conclusion!)

I have been looking at courses, wither I should take one here or return to the uk and take one, then I was deeply upset that I could only have the chance to work in a possible 4 countries because I am degree'less! Even though I have spent my twenties working in a Learning and Development role, training, coaching and mentoring which would be ideal experience for a teacher I am unable to travel and work as much as I expected.

I am at a loss as to what to do, one half of me thinks I should return to the UK and pay to get a degree however the thought of returning after such a long time away, and the thought of having to pay for a degree and leave with a huge a amount of debt is not very appealing.

However I would really love the opportunity to chose other countries other than the 4 that allow degree'less teachers!

Anyone have any thoughts to help me out??

Re: TEFL teaching without a degree

Posted: 15 Dec 2010, 00:53
by Mikedt
I do know about a bit about teaching without a degree in China. In many of the more developed provinces and metropolitan cities, a BA level degree is a must. Myself I do not have a degree, but I do have a 120 hour TESOL qualification. Which is enough for provinces like Inner Mongolia, Tibet, Shandong and Liaoning provinces, etc.

IMO don't try going for a fake degree though (diploma mill or whatever), because if you're caught. Well the consequences can be serious. At least it means being deported.