Yes, You Can Teach English Abroad Without a College Degree!

By Jennifer Collis
November 13, 2019

One of the best things about the field of teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) is that it’s open to just about anyone. There are opportunities to teach English abroad for people young and old, with or without teaching experience, and whose native language is or isn’t English. But what about teaching English abroad without a degree?

Basically, as long as you have an open mind and are flexible, there’s a teaching location that fits your qualifications! Here are 10 awesome countries that don’t require a degree to teach English! 

  1. Costa Rica
  2. Mexico
  3. Peru
  4. Cambodia
  5. South Korea
  6. Spain
  7. Italy
  8. Russia
  9. Other European countries
  10. Online from anywhere!

1. Costa Rica

This nature lover’s paradise packs active volcanos, rainforests full of wildlife and, of course, fabulous beaches into one tiny Central American location. You don’t need a degree to teach English at many language schools in Costa Rica– or throughout much of Central and South America– just TEFL certification. (Learn the best way to connect with TEFL jobs in this region!). Teach in the Central Valley of Costa Rica where the TEFL market is strongest, and enjoy spring-like temperatures most of the year.

Read an interview with Greta, teacher in Costa Rica

2. Mexico

Mexico has something for every type of teacher, and you don’t necessarily need a bachelor’s degree to get hired here. Teachers who prefer the fast pace of a big city don’t have to look further than Mexico City, the sprawling cultural center of this diverse country. Other cities, such as Guadalajara, Cuernavaca, and Puebla offer their own charms at a slightly less frenetic pace.

Lorena is teaching English in Mexico’s Riviera Maya.

If turquoise waters and white sands are more your speed, there are teaching positions along the coast in the Riviera Maya region (the Yucatan) in cities such as Playa del Carmen and Merida.

3. Peru 

South America has many opportunities for teachers without a four-year degree and Peru is definitely one to consider for those looking for a cultural experience and a dose of outdoor adventure. Teachers here will find plenty to explore during weekends and holidays, such as the famed Machu Picchu (a UNESCO World Heritage site) and other remnants of the Incan empire, stunning Colonial architecture, and beautiful Lake Titicaca. Jobs can be found in bigger cities such as Lima (the capital), Cusco and Arequipa, as well as smaller towns throughout the country.

English teacher with students in Peru

Learn about four-week TEFL certification courses in Peru.

4. Cambodia

Unlike most other Asian countries, this ruggedly beautiful and somewhat under-the-radar country has opportunities to teach abroad without a degree.

Carol, English Teacher in Cambodia

Carol, a teacher trainer in Cambodia

Teach in the exciting capital of Phnom Penh and take weekend trips to explore the country’s sites, such as the crumbling splendor of Angkor Wat, the emerald green rice paddies in the countryside, or the sunny, tropical islands in Cambodia’s South.

5. South Korea

I know what you’re thinking – teaching English in Korea requries a degree! Well, yes and no. For most paid positions in South Korea, teaching requirements are firm, and a four-year degree is one of those requirements. However, there’s an opportunity through Korea’s government-sponsored English Program in Korea (EPIK) which is open to currently enrolled college students who have completed at least 2 years of study. Its’ called the Teach and Learn in Korea (TaLK) Program and it offers participants 1 month of training followed by a 1-year teaching contract in a South Korean elementary school. So yes, you actually can Teach English abroad in South Korea without a degree!

TEFL Teacher in South Korea

Read an interview with Katie, a teacher in South Korea.

6. Spain 

Do you dream of teaching in Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, or another magical city in this sunny European destination? Well, the good news is, many positions in Spain hire teachers with TEFL certification only and do not require a degree. The catch is, some language institute positions require that you’re eligible to work in the European Union, so this country may still be out of reach for American teachers.

Kids in park in Spain

However, opportunities exist to teach in Spain’s public schools through a program called Cultural Ambassadors. The program offers a monthly stipend and medical coverage for teachers in exchange for 12-16 hours of teaching per week.

7. Italy

That’s right! This European country is more flexible than some others when it comes to degree requirements. And what’s not to love about Italy, home of bucket-list cities like Milan, Venice, Rome and Florence, all with a strong demand for TEFL teachers. While you may not need a degree in this stunning Mediterranean teaching location, TEFL certification earned in a traditional classroom, rather than online, is often preferred.

Camille taught young learners in Italy.

8. Russia

If Eastern Europe is on your bucket list, why not get a job in Russia, home to novelists like Tolstoy and Dostoevsky and architectural wonders such as the baroque Winter Palace? Teaching jobs in striking cities like Moscow or St. Petersburg do not always require a college degree. You will, however, need TEFL certification, and experience is helpful, too. (You can even get TEFL certified in Russia!)

9. Other Countries Throughout Europe

Wait, what? Don’t most jobs in countries like France, Germany and the Czech Republic require a four-year degree? Yes, they do. But what you may not know is that there are often short-term opportunities to teach at English to kids at immersion summer camps, and these kinds of positions don’t usually require a degree. Summer teaching jobs like these are a creative way to teach in a country that usually has a strict degree requirement, and the experience teaching young learners looks great on your TEFL resume, too!

CETP American director Mary Rose and Hungarian director Hajni Vancsik at restaurant on the little Danube in small city of Szigetszentmiklos

Mary (left), teacher turned school director in Hungary

10. Online from Anywhere! 

Okay, this isn’t a specific location abroad, but when you’re a location-independent online English teacher, you can teach from anywhere in the world!

Teach online without a degree

Ben, online English teacher in Nicaragua

Online English teachers might work for themselves or may work for a tutoring company that does not require teachers to have a degree (some will and some won’t), and Specialized TEFL certification in teaching English online can make you more competitive when applying. A few companies that do not require teachers to hold a bachelor’s degree are CamblyQKids, and Open English.

Download our free eBook to learn more about teaching locations worldwide: Where to Teach English Abroad.