How to Teach Abroad Without A Degree

Written by TEFL teacher Audrey

Want to know how to teach abroad without a degree? Then you’ve come to the right place!

Here you are! You are FINALLY ready to make the jump, buy the plane ticket, and start a new life overseas… But there is one thing stopping you, A DEGREE. In this day and age we are meant to think that you can’t get a good job without a degree. Well, I’m here to tell you, that’s just not true anymore! I have been a TEFL teacher for the past 3 years (Hi, my name is Audrey) and I’ve made good money teaching abroad, ALL WITHOUT A DEGREE. Want to know how? Well, pay attention, because I am going to tell you how I did it and how YOU can do it too.

Finding a country that’s right for you

You probably have a dream country in mind, as we all do, but, if this country seems to always require a degree, where do you start? If you’re set on the country you have in mind, there are sometimes ways to get around not having a degree. Let’s look into those. 

First, keep your options open. You can teach in a variety of settings: Traditional Schools (public/state), Private Schools, Language Centers, Online for a company, OR Private tutor/Freelance, and work for yourself.  If you’re looking to work in a traditional public/state school setting, you will be more restricted on the countries you’re able to work in without a degree. BUT if you’re more open to different teaching environments, this will open up a lot more opportunities.  

Let me break it down for you. Traditional Schools (Public/State Schools) and Private Schools CAN have different regulations (this is not true for all countries, but some). For example, I have lived and worked in Italy for the past 4 years. Italy requires Public School teachers to have gone through University and to have completed certain classes. However, Private Schools are different, they hire their teachers independently which means they do not always have a degree requirement for English Teachers (I have also found that this was because Private Schools wanted to hire Native English Speakers whereas the Public Schools had Italian teachers teaching English).

Next, Language Centers. These are are usually characterized as “Extra Curricular”, this can also mean that they will have different rules from a Traditional School System. Language Centers can be for adults, teenagers, and children who are looking to improve their English, and it’s likely that you will still have a classroom setting (if this is what you’re looking for) with anywhere from 8 to 20 students!

teaching abroad

And these last two options are rather similar: Living Abroad & Teaching for an Online Company and Private Tutoring/Freelancing. You will not be required to have a degree for either of these options and you can travel while you teach. Heard that there isn’t a market for online teachers with no degree? Not true! There are many online companies that do not require a degree to teach, I have been working for one for the past two years which was a huge part of my TEFL teaching income. I am also a Private Tutor/Freelancer, and while some parents might ask for a degree, none of the parents of my students ever have. Why? Because they were happy to have a Native English Speaker as a tutor. They found that if they had Italian Private Tutors teaching English that often their child would only speak in Italian, because they knew their teacher was Italian. With these two options, if you want to live in the country you’re travelling to, you might need to look into a different visa than a traditional work visa or a tourist visa. You can look into: Working Holiday Visa, Independent Contractor Visa, Self Employed Visa, Digital Nomad Visa and many more. Reminder: Each country will be different, so do your homework. 

Personally, I have taught in a Private School and Online for a company, while living abroad. I have also now added Private tutoring/Freelancing as a side income. And I have to say that I love each of the different settings and styles of teaching. They have all given me different experiences and have improved my skills in different ways.

Now, if you are a person that wants to spend all their time traveling and not having to worry about “asking the boss for a few days off” I HIGHLY RECOMMEND TEACHING ONLINE and living abroad. This is what I have decided to do (coupled with Private Tutoring) because I like to be my own boss: pick my own schedule, decide my own vacation days, and take a month off each year to visit home WITHOUT working or having to worry if I will have a job to comeback to. However, if you are a person that wants to be living a “Normal Day to Day Life”, I would recommend that you work in a Traditional School, Private School, or Language Center: these will give you a sense of structure and routine.

audrey teaching online

If you want a more traditional setting 

Now, if you feel like you only want to go and work in a traditional school (public/state), with traditional teaching structures in place, that is TOTALLY AWESOME. Here are a few countries you CAN teach WITHOUT a degree:

  • Cambodia (Perfect if you want to travel to Asia and get to explore temples, beaches, and meet some of the friendliest people on earth)
  • Spain (Amazing if you want to be in Europe and have the option to travel around easily. It also has a rich culture, incredible architecture, and delicious food!)
  • Mexico (Which is great for history, natural wonders, big cities, and amazing food.)

Don’t worry, there are more places, these are just a few to get you excited!

woman teaching in classroom

You’ve decided where to go… so how do you get started?

You are getting excited but the nerves are also rushing in. SO WHAT DO YOU DO?! Take a deep breath and calm down. Don’t worry, I told myself this as well when I was freaking out that I couldn’t do it. I could, I did it without any help, and then I went on to help 79 other teachers live out their dreams. So let’s go ahead and talk about that resume shall we? 

First things first, I do not want to hear “But I don’t have a degree will they think less of me?”. The answer is NO. A degree doesn’t make a good teacher. READ THAT AGAIN. Because it’s the truth. Think back to your teachers, who was your favorite and why? Who pushed you the most because they knew your potential? Who rooted for you when you did well and who helped you on your low days? Did you care what university degree they had? No. You cared about their ability to impart knowledge and motivate you to learn. Being a good teacher comes from within. Not from a piece of paper. 

Secondly, I don’t want to hear “But I have no teaching experience!” Because that isn’t an issue either, trust me! We ALL have to start somewhere. So, to make a good first impression and make sure your prospective employers know you have what it takes, where are we going to start? Life experiences.  

Yes, you heard me right. I was 21 years old when I got my first TEFL job. I looked like a child, my students were taller than me (I am five foot tall), and I was the youngest teacher in the whole school. Sure, I bet some of the parents when they first saw me said “Who let the middle schooler teach my child” but the school year ended with “Is Miss Audrey going to be here next year too?” “Does Miss Audrey want to do some Private Tutoring?” “Does Miss Audrey want to do some babysitting and tutoring this summer?”. So, how did I get the role? By making sure I showed how relevant my life experiences were to TEFL. 

woman writing CV

Time to get creative…

If I can do it, so can you. Remember, Life Experiences are important. Ok, maybe you have never been a school teacher, but…

  • Were you a coach, a counselor for a kids camp, or an extra curricular teacher?
  • Did you ever volunteer with after school programs or volunteer in general?
  • Have you ever taught or trained someone in your workplace?
  • When you were younger did you ever: nanny, babysit, AuPair or housesit?

These are what we call Transferable Skills and THESE are going to be what get you hired! This is what got me hired with both my In Person and Online Jobs.

And don’t forget this ONE important thing that will REALLY blow them away!!! Research the school that you are applying to and tell them WHY you want to work for their school. Make it personal and find something more motivating than “money”, “because I need to find a job” or “they were the first one I saw”. 

FIND YOUR WHY.

I applied to my Private School because:

  • I saw that half of the classes were taught in English and half were taught in Italian
  • They were an elementary school that had Coding, Yoga, Swimming, Music, and Chinese offered as well
  • They taught student phonics to teach them how to: read, spell, and write
  • They had after school care that wasn’t everyone in one room, each room was a different club: homework club, karate, soccer, and evening COOKING.

This made me really respect them as a school, and make me excited about working there. And this passion came through in my application, which is why it’s so important. Taking this extra time to find your why shows the school that you’re applying for, that you actually got to know them. This is what sets you apart from the next applicant…

 

Well, I gave you all my tips and tricks, so go out there and get the life you have been dreaming of. If a 21 year old can move across the world and do it, so can you! And I hope to hear all about it. Send me a message on Instagram @travelrichmoneypoor and tell me your success story!

 

World TEFL Guide

Need to get qualified before you start? No problem! Arrange for a free call back with one of our TEFL experts and they can talk you through your next steps! 

Already qualified and ready to look for teaching roles abroad? Head to the LoveTEFL jobs board for all the latest vacancies! 

 

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