Do you absolutely need a degree to Teach TEFL/TESOL abroad?

This is a common question among the TEFL/TESOL community. A lot of TEFL/TESOL job positions list a University or College degree as a requirement. So the questions always comes up…..Do I need to have a University or College degree to teach English abroad? The easiest answer is NO! You don’t have to have a degree to teach English abroad. However, it limits your options a little bit as to where you can teach and what kind of jobs you can get. That being said, there are PLENTY of great job opportunities out there for non-degree holding TEFL/TESOL teachers!

Teach EFL without a degree

The requirements for TEFL/TESOL jobs are usually reliant on the country or school. For example, some countries have Visa requirements that require a degree to apply for a visa like South Korea. While for other countries, it is more of an industry standard or a requirement for the school or position. That means, that in these countries it is more of a bonus than an absolute. So these countries do NOT actually require a bachelor’s degree to apply for a position.

The importance of getting a TEFL/TESOL Certification

Before I launch into the countries that don’t require a degree. I think it is important to point out that for professionalism sake, it is necessary to get TEFL/TESOL certified. You want to make yourself as employable as possible. So, in lieu of a University degree getting a TEFL/TESOL degree is definitely the way to go!

For more information about getting TEFL/TESOL certified check out the blog post: Get TEFL/TESOL Certified. It breaks down the different TEFL, TESL TESOL jargon, and courses and offers suggestions for accredited courses. You can also look at the different course options here: TEFL Courses (affiliate links!!)

If you find this blog post is helpful and  you’re interested in finding out more about teaching abroad sign up for the Decide to Teach abroad series HERE

The 6 most popular teaching locales that don’t require a degree

Cambodia – although a lot of teaching jobs in Cambodia ask for a degree, it is NOT a requirement for getting a work Visa. That means, that with the right resume, TEFL?TESOL certification, native level of English and a good interview you can easily get a job teaching there!

China pic -Teach ESL without a degreeChina – Although most jobs specify a degree there are other ways to teach in China without a degree (Also their visa laws are changing all the time). One such option is to do an internship program through a TEFL training recruitment company My TEFL or Premier TEFL  or even TEFL.EU. (These are affiliate links! For more information please go to my Disclosure Policy). Applying for an internship program is a great way to try out living and working in China while building your teaching experience for other job opportunities.  Doing an internship is a great start for your TEFL career and side-steps the need for a degree.

Spain – does not require a University or College degree, however, having an EU passport is necessary as most positions won’t sponsor teachers. There is also the option of a Tourist visa and working for private companies, however, I wouldn’t recommend this as a legitimate option.

Russia – The pay is not as high as Spain or other European countries, however, the cost of living is lower and there is less job competition.

Nicaragua – Lower competitive market (more choice of jobs). Jobs are usually concentrated in major cities, like Managua and Leon, you can earn a TEFL certificate in Nicaragua

South America

 TEFL/TESOL jobs in South America don’t require a degree! You can work in most countries depending on the visa requirements. Countries such as Brazil are difficult to get a work Visa for teachers, and many teachers freelance on a tourist visa. However other countries offer full-on teaching positions like Mexico, Argentina, Chile, and Peru. The most common places to teach are Costa Rica who are upping their TEFL game, offering jobs in Primary schools. As well as Ecuador where the jobs are more stable and accessible. And Argentina with hiring mostly done in the spring or end of summer and only require a TEFL/TESOL degree for higher paying positions.

Teach EFL without a degree - SA

Other options in South America for newer TEFL teachers are more underdeveloped locales like Peru, Ecuador, and Chile. Whereas more experienced teachers can look at more developed countries like Mexico and Costa Rica.

Other Possibilities

Other countries that don’t require degrees include India, Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, Indonesia, Jordan, and Madagascar.

Was this helpful? Pin it and share it for later!

Teach EFL without a degree - pin image 1

Teach EFL without a degree - pin image 2

If you found this blog post helpful and want more information about teaching English abroad sign up for my FREE SERIES – Decide to Teach English Abroad.

Subscribe to the Decide to Teach Abroad Series

* indicates required


Follow me on Facebook for job postings and information on living and teaching abroad.

If you need any help getting a job abroad please reach out to me I would be happy to help you with the process! I want you to have as great a time as I did teaching abroad for the first time!

Any experience or interest in teaching in these countries? Comment below!


Welcome to the Unconventional Life Blog! I'm Eliza a professional English Langauge teacher living an international life. Find out everything you ever wanted to know about teaching English, working and living abroad.


    • Hi there! For Turkey you need to have a Bachelor’s degree and TEFL certification to work there. I hope this helps! Best of luck! Feel free to reach out if you have any other questions. Are there any other places you were thinking about for teaching EFL?

  1. My brother’s been teaching in Taiwan for about six years with a TEFOL, but no college degree, so it definitely is possible. A lot of friends ask me if I know any opportunities for certificate only teaching, so now I know I can direct them to this post for more information.
    Thanks for providing some very practical information– it’ll definitely help spark some inspiration for people who want to teach abroad without getting themselves into debt with a 4 year degree.

    • Hi Odessa! Yes it is possible to teach without a degree! I hope this helps people who are looking to teach EFL but don’t have a degree. I think the most important part of being a EFL teacher is having the specific training related to teaching! WHile a Bachelor’s degree is always a great resource and experience to have, getting good solid training with a TEFL course is the basis for teaching. The rest is experience and professional development along the way! Please share with anyone you think might be helpful! How does your brother like teaching in Taiwan?

  2. I’m not a teacher and have never taught TEFL, but it seems like like any other industry, it’s all about supply and demand. Even here in Korea, I find there’s so much demand that if you can market yourself correctly and meet the right people, no one really cares what qualifications or degrees you have. In fact, I know people who have faked having degrees and still do just fine here. A lot of places don’t even bother to follow up and check that what you have is real… great info though, about which countries you could go to for opportunities without the paperwork!

  3. Of all your locations Spain would be at the top for me! I would love to go there for a year and teach but the lack of a EU passport puts a serious dent in those plans just like you said. I guess I could go and try to work under the table somewhere, but the uncertainty of that makes it seem like a very bad idea. Hopefully, I’ll figure it out!

    • Hi Brian, yes me too! I’ve always wanted to teach in Europe but if you don’t have a European passport there isn’t a lot of opportunities unfortunately. But you should look into it. If I find out any more information about it I’ll let you know!

  4. Great tips, thanks! I’m finishing up in Korea this month and will most likely be looking for another teaching job later in the year. South America has appeal, though I do have a degree. I’ve been in Asia for a while… so the change of pace would be fun! Thanks for the motivation 😉

    • You’re welcome Nathan! I’m excited to hear about your travels as well. South America seems to be upping its game as far as English teahcing positions go. If you’re looking at a digital nomad lifestyle taking on a position there could be a nice addition to your blog! Good luck and keep me posted! Happy to give motivation where needed…haha!

  5. I don’t have teaching experience in countries other than South Korea, but from what I understand Dave’s ESL job boards are great resource for finding or researching a gig. You can compare different regions/schools/situations against each other, but talking to someone who has had experience there is pivotal. Lot’s of informational videos from first person accounts on Youtube, blogs and Facebook groups. This is another great source! Thanks for compiling this, Eliza.

    • Hi Alla! Yes you are totally right! Dave’s ESL Cafe job board is great and there are now many others that offer a number of different jobs for teachers thinking of working abroad. I hope to help make the experience a little easier for them and provide more one on one advice, suggestions and experiences for people. I hope to build it into a helpful resource for teachers! Thanks for your kind words!

  6. I was very surprised that Spain don’t always require a degree to teach English there. It seems that everyone in Spain already has a degree since the government support education well so far as I can tell. Thus, it’s surprising that anyone there would take on a teacher without what seems to be the minimum adult education level. I’d like to live there at some point but always wrote of teaching as a realistic option. Nice article.

    • Hi Natasha, yes it was suprising that Europe in general doesn’t seem to require a Bachelor’s degree to teach English. However, a CELTA is a requirement which does help qualify teachers. As important as I think having a Bachelor’s degree is I think having certification in teaching another language is even more important especially because of the salary for most English teaching positions. I hope this helps! It is definitely possible! You should definitely look into it!

  7. I hope though even without a degree, those who get employed as teachers in these countries would go for professional development courses/seminars to be fair to their students. Right qualification is still necessary especially if you are in the field of education. But of course, this is not what this post is all about:-). This list will be a big resource, and a source of hope, for those who are seeking a chance to teach in any of these countries.

    • Hi Wendy! Of course being qualified to teach English is always a top priority. Having a degree doesn’t always mean that people are qualified to teach English. That is why I think taking a TEFL course is a must have for any English Language teacher as it prepares them for their specific teaching field. These are some great opportunities for driven and passionate people who may not have a Bachelor’s degree but are qualified to teach English with an accredited TEFL certification.

  8. Good day

    I have a TEFL certificate, no degree.
    Im available to leave as soon as start of April, and I dont have a specific preference on where to travel for work. AS long as im not in my home country.

    Any chance you can help me?


    • Hi Daniel! Thank you for reaching out to me. Of course I can help! Can you send me an email with a list of any experience you have, or even better a copy of your resume? I’ll see if I can find you some job opportunities and send them your way. Check your email for my email message! (Inbox and Trash).

Write A Comment