It seems like I get an email with that question in an email almost every week. The answer is a ‘qualified’ yes … for now. More and more countries are not granting work / teaching visas to anyone unless they have a degree. Some countries are more bureaucratic than others. Here is an example:
In Thailand, where I taught for 14 years, three ministries are involved in the process: Education, Immigration and Labor. It cannot be officially taught without all its seals of approval. Let’s say you receive a job offer from a school in Thailand. What you need to do is go to the nearest Thai embassy or consulate and get a 3-month B non-immigrant visa. The ‘B’ allows you to travel to Thailand and work while your documents are verified and processed. You should also receive a letter from your local police department stating that you are a good person and that you are not on anyone’s wanted list. Once you arrive in Thailand, your school should be able to do most of the groundwork for you … whether you are going to be employed by a public, private or international school. Some employ so many foreign professors that they have a specific department created to process visas, renewals, etc. Send your papers to the Ministry of Education. Until that ministry approves them, you will not be able to obtain your work permit. Something that all aspiring teachers should keep in mind is that Thailand and some other countries now require their original documents: title, transcripts, and diplomas. If you only bring copies, you will face delays, so always find out exactly what you need to bring. In South Korea, you can bring certified copies from the nearest South Korean embassy or consulate.
By the way, Ministries of Education are aware of undergraduate degrees, so don’t even think about trying that route.
In some countries, there are still ways to teach without a degree.
Option 1: If you don’t have a degree and want to teach, there are opportunities in countries like China, Vietnam, and some Eastern European countries. I think these will eventually toughen their requirements as well, but for the moment, opportunities still exist, although perhaps not in the larger centers. These change all the time, so you will have to find out at the nearest embassy or consulate. Most of these would also be online. Having a TESOL or TEYL certificate will help your cause.
Option 2: You can try to find a teaching position in a corporation. Almost all companies want their managers, supervisors, and anyone who has to deal with customers, suppliers, headquarters, branches, visiting dignitaries, etc. abroad can communicate in English. While many send their people to local English schools, some find it more profitable to hire in-house instructors. If you are lucky enough to fall into a corporate teaching job, you have to take a different route to gain government approvals, and being added to their staff as a ‘specialist’ and a degree, while helpful, is not always a prerequisite. Having a TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) certificate or a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate will definitely help. It shows that you have real training that will benefit you in modern classrooms.
How would you find these opportunities? You can search the internet or take a trip to the country and explore while you are there (presumably as a tourist). If you found a position while there, it could involve traveling out of the country and entering with a different visa. Be prepared for it. Countries vary considerably in their requirements. If you are given an interview, be sure to “dress well.” Look like a teacher. Have your resume ready, neat, grammatically correct, and a photo (required abroad). Foreign teachers usually wear suits and ties. Knee-length skirt and conservative blouse for ladies.
Option 3: Do you have specialized knowledge that a particular school might need? This could be as an aeronautical technician, for example. If a company needs someone with your knowledge and skills, this would be another way for them to hire you as a ‘specialist’ with a special waiver to work / teach in the country.
Option 4: Contact organizations that are looking for volunteers to teach in certain countries. See what their education requirements are and ask for their advice. Maybe you can go ahead with them and see what comes up while you’re abroad. As a volunteer, you would not normally be paid, but accommodation and meals would be covered. Who knows what teaching opportunities may arise?
No options: I mention them because some people try to circumvent the law by entering a country on visas such as Tourist, Education or Retirement. None of these allow you to work / teach … at least not in Thailand. Some of these visa holders want to stay longer than their visa allows, or their budget allows, so they look for schools where they can teach and earn money that allows them to stay longer. Some schools are less interested in regulations than in bargain-priced teachers. They may be willing to hire teachers willing to work for less than the current rate, as their qualifications are not sufficient or they are friends of a friend. They would not appear as teachers on the school payroll and would be paid cash under the table. I know this happens, but I do not recommend using this plan. Claiming ignorance of the law is not enough. You could end up in jail or deportation.
I highly recommend that you find a way to earn your degree. If you are lucky enough to find employment, you can earn your degree online for a period of time. Even many of the established traditional institutions offer degrees online now. If you are serious about teaching, you must also be serious about advancing your education. I believe that. In my experience, the best teachers are lifelong learners and I hope you become one.
In addition to your degree, I mentioned earlier that having a TESOL or TEFL certificate is good. Many schools are applying for one of these now in addition to a degree. There are also other valuable teaching certificates:
CELTA – Certificate in Language Teaching to Adults (British)
TEFLA – Teaching English as a Foreign Language to Adults. (similar to CELTA)
TEYL – Teaching English to Young Students
These three are specific to an age group and are therefore great as supplemental qualifications. Initially, you need a more comprehensive certificate: TESOL or TEFL. Why do I say that? Many schools specifically request one of these two qualifications, and while their goal may be to ‘teach adults in Europe’, for example, the reality is that most schools will look for someone who can fill a position in primary or primary classes. high school. . FYI, Western Europe is difficult for new teachers to enter and schools generally want British qualifications. It’s fine if you have them, but I always suggest “fish where the fish are.” In other words, look for a teaching job where there are many openings. You have a much better chance of finding a position, and if you don’t have all the qualifications other places would require, you have a better chance when supply and demand tilt in your favor. See it as an opportunity to a) find out if you enjoy teaching, b) gain practical experience, and c) work towards your degree. Once hired, you will find opportunities to teach adults that are offered to you for night or weekend work if you wish. Take it. It is more experience for you and a step towards your ultimate goal. Any money earned by moonlight could be deposited into a special account to achieve that elusive degree.
Every week I post a new ESL job listing to my ESL job board and China leads the pack with over 200 jobs that need to be filled most weeks.
Final thoughts …
As a teacher, you want your students to respect you. If you’re teaching them and you don’t even have a bachelor’s degree, are you going to earn that respect? There are many reasons why people don’t go to college right after high school. Many cannot afford it. Four years of college can cost up to $ 100,000 + and leave you with a huge debt to pay off. Not such a great way to start your work life, is it? I didn’t get my bachelor’s degree until I was forty. While teaching abroad, I completed my master’s degree and then my doctorate.
So can you teach abroad without a degree? In some countries it is still possible, but the opportunities are increasingly rare. My best advice is to get your TESOL or TEFL certificate first. This is a rating that schools are looking for. Then look for one of these teaching opportunities so you can quickly find out if teaching is for you. Once you have your certificate, go to Google, Yahoo, or Bing and search for “Teaching Jobs on ____”. (try China or Vietnam first). Send educated inquiries to schools with a one-page resume excerpt. Make sure to use proper English in your cover letter and resume. Remember that you are applying for a position as someone qualified to teach English. Your inquiry letter and resume should reflect that! Spelling errors will cause your application to be dismissed quickly. Tell the schools that you are working to complete your degree. Once you are hired and started working, you can, even if it takes a few years to complete like mine did. You will feel much better about yourself. You will set a good example for your students. It is good to have self respect and it will reflect on your students by encouraging them not to drop out of school or to be satisfied with a high school diploma. Your degree will also open many more doors to better jobs, so I urge you to do yourself and your future students a favor and work toward a degree. Become an inspiring teacher and lifelong learner. Thousands of students expect to learn from you.