I don’t have a degree. Can I still apply for TEFL jobs?
Are you itching to apply for TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) jobs while you’re still studying for your degree? Or perhaps you don’t have a degree but would love to teach and travel your way around the world. Either way, a quick skim through any TEFL jobs board and you could be put off, as the phrase ‘degree essential’ jumps out time after time.
We can’t tell you to ignore this completely – without a degree, your options for TEFL jobs are more limited. There are some parts of the world where a degree is part of the minimum requirements for teaching English abroad and you’ll be wasting your time if you apply for a TEFL job without one.
On a far brighter note however, there are many brilliant TEFL opportunities across the globe where a degree is not mandatory – although you will need to make your application stand out.
Here are our tips for how to apply for TEFL jobs if you don’t have a degree.
Get TEFL certification
Regardless of whether you’ve got a degree, if you’re planning to teach English abroad, we’d highly recommend taking a TEFL certification course. It will equip you with the teaching methodology and practical skills you need for TEFL and most reputable TEFL employers will expect to see it on your application.
If you don’t have a degree however, TEFL certification moves from the ‘highly desirable’ to the ‘extremely important’ category. TEFL employers need to know that you do have the skills necessary to teach English – and that you can show commitment. A TEFL course gives you proof of both. If you’ve not already got your TEFL certification, start studying now!
Build up teaching experience
TEFL employers want teachers who will be effective from day one. If you have teaching experience on top of TEFL certification, your lack of a degree will become less relevant.
Check out local colleges and community centres in your local area. These often run TEFL classes and welcome volunteer helpers – particularly if you’re TEFL trained. It’s a great way to build up your skills, demonstrate that you can do the job and gain a key reference for your CV.
Focus on broader skills
So you don’t have a degree. But have you travelled before? Can you speak any other languages? Do you have any experience of working with groups of children or adults? Are there any presentation or leadership skills you can point to? If you can add any or all of these experiences to your TEFL application it will immediately look a lot stronger.
In some parts of the world, particularly in Asia, TEFL teachers are required to have a degree in order to get an appropriate visa or work permit. This is a government stipulation, rather than anything TEFL related, so don’t waste your energy applying for paid TEFL jobs in these countries without a degree – it won’t happen (or not legally, at least). Instead, focus your efforts on countries where your lack of a degree does not automatically rule you out.
If you’re a European Union (EU) citizen, for example, you can work in any other part of the EU without any visa restrictions – so you’ve only got to convince a TEFL employer to give you a job, rather than trying to wade through red tape too. Outside of the EU, the rapidly increasing desire for English language skills in Eastern European countries, such as Russia, means that there’s a massive demand for TEFL certified, native-English speakers – with or without a degree.
Central and South America also offer amazing opportunities for TEFL and travel. A degree is seen as a plus in countries such as Costa Rica and Mexico, however it’s not mandatory. You definitely can pick up a good TEFL job across this fascinating continent without a degree.
Take a look at the best places to apply for a TEFL job if you don’t have a degree
Do a TEFL internship
A different route to finding a TEFL job without a degree is to look for a TEFL internship. This will normally offer you training in TEFL combined with an in-country placement in a TEFL classroom. TEFL internships are usually classified as study rather than work, even if you get paid a living allowance. As a result, visa restrictions tend to be a lot less rigid – meaning you even can apply for TEFL internships in countries such as Thailand where a degree is normally required.
Getting that first foot on the TEFL ladder can make all the difference, particularly if you don’t have a degree. You’ll build up confidence, contacts and experience that will make it that bit easier to find your next TEFL job
Good luck – and let us know how you get on!