Teaching English abroad is a dream for many of us.
It’s a chance to shake up the ordinary and throw yourself into a new experience.
It’s a chance to live somewhere completely different and spend time traveling.
It’s a chance to impact the lives of children while learning about what it means to be a teacher.
No matter what you hope to gain from teaching abroad, it’s an experience that will change you and your life.
Can I teach English abroad without a degree?
If this blog title caught your attention, you’re probably wondering what qualifications you need to secure a teaching position abroad - is a degree one of them?
And, more than likely, hoping you can still find some awesome ESL jobs abroad without a degree.
If you’re still in school (or are doing just fine without college ) and thinking it’s impossible to find a teaching job anywhere in the world without at least a bachelor’s degree - think again! There’s something on this list for you.
The lowdown on teaching English abroad without a bachelor's degree
Now that we’ve got your eyeballs, it's time for some words of caution and advice.
Nowadays, hiring schools in many of the bigger English teaching hotspots overseas will reject applicants who don’t have a bachelor’s degree - or some sort of post-secondary education, like a diploma or certificate.
Typically, the most sought-after teaching jobs abroad (those that pay well, in reputable schools) do require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree to apply.
Here’s why you can’t teach in, say, Korea or Japan, without a degree
The reason for this is a combination of government rules, visa restrictions or, in some cases, simply the school’s preference. Although it’s not the be all and end all in life, a bachelor’s degree provides hiring schools abroad with a uniform level of experience against which to assess candidates.
There are certain regions of the world like the Middle East and parts of Asia that are particularly strict when it comes to qualifications. You can’t teach English in China and Korea, for instance, without a degree. You probably can’t teach English online without a degree, either.
So, if you’re still eager to jump into teaching abroad before graduation, just know that the search may be more slightly more difficult and time consuming than if you wait until after graduation.
However, there are still some wonderful locations to choose from that do accept applications from English teachers without a degree. In these locations, the demand for teachers is so high that the minimum requirements are slightly less strict. Which is great news for you.
And, as always, to really enhance your job prospects (with or without a degree), we can’t recommend enough investing in a TEFL course!
Recommended reading: Can you get a teaching job in China without a degree?
So take note: If you get your TEFL certification first, your chances of finding a teaching position abroad without a degree will greatly improve.
In short, no degree and no TEFL is the death knell for your job prospects in the global ESL job market. With that out of the way, let’s get into our favorite countries that don’t require a degree to teach English.
Why are these our top 5 places to teach English abroad without a degree?
These countries are unique, culturally interesting, on almost all continents on the globe and offer a variety of ESL jobs - no degree needed.
In fact, you might be inspired to pick up some handy Spanish phrases after reviewing this list - a whopping four out of five of these places have Spanish as their country’s first language! But don’t worry, English is still a widely spoken and understood language in all of these five places.
Where to teach English in Central and South America if you don’t have a degree
Private language schools in Mexico usually require a bachelor’s degree, but not always. In fact, the government of Mexico recently made it possible for English teachers to obtain work permits as long as they hold a TEFL certification.
So if you don’t have a degree but are interested in getting your TEFL, you’d be set for Mexico!
Most schools in Mexico do not provide accomodation for teachers as part of their package. Luckily, the cost of living and rent is inexpensive so you should be able to live a comfortable lifestyle in this tropical country.
You can’t really argue with the perks of teaching in Mexico. Most teachers spend their off time in one of the country’s many resorts in Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, Acapulco or Playa del Carmen.
Got a degree? You’re in luck - it’s time to find out which countries pay the most money for teachers abroad!
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Another one on our list of countries that don't require a degree to teach English is Nicaragua.
Nicaragua is a relatively new destination for English teachers abroad, making the competition for positions less intense than other countries. But it’s popularity is growing fast, so you might want to explore this option sooner than later!
Non-degree holders will have the opportunity to apply for positions in private schools or language institutes. Positions are available in universities but TEFL certification is required for these roles. The school year runs from February through November, but hiring happens all-year round. As with other countries, your salary depends a lot on your past experience and certifications. Luckily, if you don’t have a degree, rest assured that even with a lower salary the cost of living in Nicaragua is low. Most teachers have found that they are able to live comfortably on a teaching salary.
Argentina is a massive country stretching across the base of South America. When you close your eyes and picture it, you might see snow-capped mountains and beaches (yes it has both!)
Argentina is a great option for candidates looking to teaching English abroad without a degree because of its high demand for native (and non-native) English speaking teachers. Most of the English teaching jobs are in Argentina’s capital, Buenos Aires.
A TEFL certificate is strongly encouraged to be competitive for positions here, but is not required. It’s not common for schools to provide accomodation for teachers, but many have found a comfortable way of life sharing an apartment with a housemate.
The school year takes place from March through to December, so schools normally do their hiring in December, January and February. Some schools will have a second hiring period during the summer months (July and August).
Where to teach English in Europe if you don’t have a degree
Teaching in Spain - what a dream! It might be surprising to hear that such a popular European country like Spain is an option for teaching English without a degree, but it is.
The variety of culture and energy is what draws teachers to Spain. From Barcelona and Madrid, to the southern cities of Seville and Granada - there is something for everyone.
Not only is it possible to find teaching positions with no previous experience or qualifications, there are also paid volunteer English teaching jobs available in Spain! That’s a win-win.
The only catch is that it might be challenging to apply for all jobs without an EU passport. We recommend checking in with the positions at schools in more detail to find out.
Where to teach English in Asia if you don’t have a degree
Cambodia, located in Southeast Asia, is a vibrant country with a lot to offer English teachers. Currently, there is a high demand for teachers in this location.
For English teaching positions in Cambodia, a bachelor’s degree is preferred but not required. If this location interests you, look into the lifestyle and culture of the major cities of Phnom Penh or Siem Reap - this is where the majority of teachers have found positions in the past.
Luckily, if Cambodia is one of your top choices, hiring for ESL positions happens all year round - so you can get started on your application right away!
No degree? Have you considered volunteer teaching positions abroad?
If you don’t have a university or college degree you can also explore volunteer teaching positions in China and other countries overseas. These positions offer a stipend instead of a salary, and their setup means that they are options for you if you haven’t yet graduated or have prior teaching experience. What’s great about these roles is that they are short-term, and allow you to test the waters of teaching without committing to the profession full-time. If you end up loving the experience, you can supplement what you have learned with a TEFL course or certification!
Now, close your eyes and imagine your favorite destination. Is it Argentina, Spain, Mexico, Nicaragua, or Cambodia? Picture yourself there, and let us help you make it a reality!