With several hundred thousand native English speakers teaching English around the world at any given time, you might be surprised to hear quite a large number don’t have university degrees. That is because some countries don’t demand a university degree as part of the qualifications needed to teach there, while others have schools that offer lower-paying teaching jobs to those people who don’t.
If you have always dreamed of teaching English overseas but thought the lack of a college degree meant you couldn’t, think again. As a former teacher in Thailand, I know many teachers who don’t have university degrees and that didn’t stop them getting teaching jobs here or elsewhere in Asia, so it definitely shouldn’t stop you.
With a number of countries allowing people to teach without a university degree, which are the top three countries for teaching without an undergraduate degree as far as the number of jobs available and the salaries paid?
Thailand – While the Thai Ministry of Education has changed the rules in the last four years for foreign teachers wanting to teach in the country, now saying a degree is necessary, in reality, this being Thailand, it actually isn’t. The Ministry, along with the Teachers Council of Thailand, has set it up so that those without a university degree can still teach in Thailand as long as they are willing to work towards becoming a certified teacher in the country.
What that currently means is, as long as you take the Thai Cultural Course one weekend, and look into teacher development classes, you can actually get a provisional teacher’s license to teach in Thailand; a teacher’s license that will ultimately allow you to teach in the country for up to four years.
For more information on the requirements, check out the Ajarn.com article about each level of requirement for the teacher’s license. Without a university degree, you would fall under ‘Applicant Type 3, Method 4’.
China – I know a few teachers who used to teach English in Thailand and who moved to China as salaries tend to be higher. Two of these teachers don’t have university degrees, so China was the first place they looked at when they decided to move to another country to teach, considering many language schools in China don’t ask for a university degree.
Officially, all foreign English teachers in China are supposed to have university degrees. In reality, however, as there is such a shortage of native English speakers wanting to work in China, many language schools will hire you without one. The government is even turning a blind eye in some cases and issuing work permits, which shows how dire the teacher shortage is.
Do be aware, though, you will need to have a TEFL certificate before most language schools will seriously consider hiring you.
For more information on teaching English in China without a university degree, the Foreign Teachers Guide to Living and Working in China has an excellent article online that is a must read for any would-be teacher.
Russia – If you’d love to teach English overseas but don’t have a college degree and are not that interested in teaching in Asia, then Russia could be a great fit for you. Not only is there a demand for native English speakers to teach English, but salaries are quite high and the cost of living is still affordable.
Language schools are the best places for you to start your job hunt, as there are already many open all over Russia and more opening every month. That’s because Russians are now realizing if they want to compete in the global economy, and particularly in Europe and with the EU, then they must speak English with at least reasonable fluency.
That also means opportunities for freelance teaching or taking on private students are also numerous in many Russian cities, so making extra income won’t be a problem either.
Jobs in Russian language schools also often include airfare from and to your home country, which means you won’t need any more start-up costs than enough money to get through the first month and a half of basic living expenses.
The Complete Guide to Teaching English in Russia is an excellent resource for anyone considering teaching there.