So you’re interested in TEFL but don’t have Bachelor’s degree. Where do you look for opportunities? Unfortunately you’ve decided to approach TEFL on hard mode. There are some countries that allow work visas for potential teachers that don’t have a Bachelor’s degree: Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Argentina, Mexico, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Spain along with South Korea having specific exception in its rules.
Myanmar, Costa Rica, and Mexico do not require a Bachelor’s Degree. However, finding an employer that is willing to hire you without one is whole other ball game. If you look at job postings from Myanmar for example on Dave’s ESL you’ll find that the employers ubiquitously want teachers with BAs. Mexico and Costa Rica don’t have as many job postings as Myanmar but if you spend some time Google searching for jobs you’ll find a similar pattern. While it is possible to find a job without a BA it will be difficult and it certainly won’t be a premium job.
Spain and South Korea’s exception to the Bachelor’s requirements are for students with either an Associate’s or in their final years of a Bachelor’s program. For job seekers without any post-secondary education or individuals that just started their college education it is best to look elsewhere. Korea’s program for those with an associate’s or in their last years of their Bachelor’s program is called TaLK (Teach and Learn in Korea). Spain has a similar program to TaLK, auxiliar de conversación, and has ample volunteer opportunities that you could look into. While you won’t save much if any money volunteering it could prove to be a valuable experience.
This just leaves us with Laos, Cambodia, Argentina and Nicaragua left to discuss. These countries do not require a degree for their work visa. However, I do not know what employers are looking for in an applicant. I have no idea because I have never seen a job posting for these countries. Perhaps if you went in person you could find something. However, that seems like a risky leap of faith to take. I’d recommend asking someone who has found work in these countries directly.
This whole post must seem rather discouraging to anyone without a degree and dreams of TEFL. And, well, it’s supposed to be. Your best bet to finding TEFL work is to simply get a BA. There is just no way around this blunt truth. Volunteer positions are the most likely to take non-degree holders. However, that will probably end up costing you money.
“But wait!” you cry, “I’ve heard of people getting jobs in China and other countries without a degree?!” That’s because they are working illegally which I will never recommend. If you choose to work illegally you will get screwed. What will you do when your ‘employer’ decides to not pay you? What will you do when you get sick and don’t have health insurance? How will you manage your finances without a bank account? There is simply no way to live securely while working illegally. You can’t do something as simple as have a phone number if you are illegally working in Korea or China for example.
While this piece may be discouraging for some of you I do hope it is informative nonetheless. As always, please send feedback, questions, and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org