TEFL Opportunities in the Far East without a degree

by Dominique

Question: I am half way through completing a CELTA in order to live abroad and teach English. I would like to work in Thailand, Vietnam or Cambodia for at least a year, but I dont have a degree. I am disappointed because most of the jobs I have seen online, require a degree to aquire a working visa, but then I have read on your website that it is possible to work in these countries without a degree.

How do I do this and find out which organisations accept teachers without a degree, as so far there doesnt seem to be any online that I have seen. Would it mean that I would have to work illegally as I don't have a degree? Or does it just mean that I can only work in these places for a short period ot time on a tourist visa?

I would be very grateful if you can advise me as much as possible or head me in the right direction to persue my dream.

Many Thanks


Answer: Your question is one of the most common TESOL questions asked about teaching English overseas. The standard - and best - answer is yes, you do. I recommend getting a degree if anyone really wants to be a teacher. But...

All is not so simple. It is possible to find work teaching English in Asia without a degree, especially if you have a TEFL certificate It may involve teaching illegally, and it may involve working for worse schools who only wish to save money. On the other hand, you may get lucky and find an employer who is just desperate to hire quickly.

Almost every country in the world officially requires a degree for anyone to be employed as a teacher - but many countries in Asia make exceptions to this rule when it suits them. The answer is further complicated by constant changes of policy, and by different officials interpreting the evolving regulations individually.

Indonesia requires a TEFL certificate, but not a degree for a work visa. However, many schools will ask for a degree. In Thailand teachers report particularly inconsistent interpretations of the rules. I have seen ads for English teaching jobs in Thailand, asking for teachers with TEFL certificates - no degrees required. It seems that when there is a shortage of teachers, rules are bent. In some countries it is possible to work legally, if the school that employs you has 'good connections' with the authorities.

Finding ESL jobs online without TEFL certification is hard, but I recommend you type 'teaching english in thailand' into your search engine now, and study the top 10 results. There are sites there looking for teachers without degrees. I know nothing about these companies and am not making any personal recommendations. However, you may find a teaching job you like.

A final point - I believe that anyone who is interested in teaching long-term should just get a degree (part-time or full-time, it doesn't matter) for their own and their students' sakes. To remain a long time in TEFL without a degree will consign you to being a second class teacher.

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