So, you’d like to TEFL but are worried that not having a degree means you can’t? Well, this article is here to tell you that you can! While having a degree is definitely valued and will offer you a wide range of teaching options, there are still teaching jobs available to you without one!
This article is going to take you through some useful tips and advice to help you take your first steps towards a career in the TEFL industry. If teaching English abroad has been a dream of yours for too long, not having a degree is no longer an excuse not to do it!
Here’s what you need to know.
Get TEFL qualified from an accredited provider
First and foremost, you’ll need a TEFL qualification before you even think about starting the job search. You should get your qualification from an accredited course provider. Investing in a quality course is really important if you want to ensure you have the best chances of being hired. You can then trust the integrity of your qualification and know that it’ll be respected by employers. As well, you want to feel prepared to teach and feel confident in your ability to succeed – it really is very important to find the right course.
It’s recommended that you complete a course that is a minimum of 120-hours. You need to demonstrate that you’ve applied yourself and have the necessary skills and knowledge to get started.
Fluency in English
It goes without saying that to teach English you’ll need to have a great grasp of the language yourself. That doesn’t mean to say you have to be a native English speaker, but you might have to prove your proficiency to prospective employers if English isn’t your first language. An IELTS certificate is worth considering if this is the case, as it’s highly regarded by employers all over the world to evidence your knowledge of the language. Unfortunately, being a native English speaker is sometimes an employer requirement.
Often, non-native English speakers make especially great EFL teachers because they’ve learned the ins and outs of the language and can relate to the learning process, whereas native speakers won’t have given many English grammar points a second thought before.
Research where you’re eligible to teach
First, you should find out which countries list having a degree as a requirement to TEFL. There’s no way around this, as it’s a legal requirement, so these countries are unfortunately off the cards. For example, if you’re hoping to teach in Asia you’ll only be eligible for a working visa in Cambodia, unless you’re teaching on some kind of voluntary basis.
Once you know where you need to rule out for visa purposes, you can start your research. It’s also important to be aware that a degree in any discipline might not be a visa requirement in these countries, but it can be an employer requirement. There might be some flexibility with this but it’s best to keep an open mind and be flexible.
You’ll need to provide the necessary documentation
For working visas and employment purposes, you’ll have to prove that you’re eligible to teach in that particular country. Common documentation requests include a criminal background check and getting certain documents legalized, such as your TEFL qualification.
Make your CV stand out
Your CV should never be generic, you want to stand out to employers. You need to let them know that you have what it takes to excel as an EFL teacher. Use your CV as an opportunity to showcase your skills and qualifications, don’t hold back!
It’s especially important to put a lot of effort into CV writing if you don’t have a degree. Especially if you’re applying for a more competitive position. One of your fellow applicants could have a degree, so you want to give them plenty of reasons why you should be considered too. Volunteer work and completing further TEFL training are all ways in which you can stand out on your CV.
Watch out for scams
Unfortunately, there are scams and dodgy employers out there. Be wary of this, if a job sounds unusual or too good to be true, it probably should be avoided. There are some tell-tale signs of dodgy employers and scams that you should be aware of.
Teach on a working holiday visa
Long term contracts are off limits in countries where a degree is a requirement for a working visa. However, if you’re really set on teaching in one of these countries, there may be the option to teach on a working holiday visa. So, if you do your research, you may find that you’re eligible to work in one of these countries short-term – alongside your travels!
Without a degree, you can also volunteer. It’s rare for volunteering placements to ask for one, so it’s worth bearing in mind if you want to do something worthwhile with your TEFL qualification and earning money isn’t a priority. However, many volunteering opportunities will include accommodation, so that’s one less expense to think about while working away from home.
It’s a great way to get started in the TEFL industry, giving you real-life classroom experience that’ll help make you a better and more understanding teacher. The time you’ve invested in making a difference and improving your skills will only improve your future job prospects too.
Your love of teaching will be furthered by volunteering and you can be sure that you’ll have gained transferable skills to take into your next job, wherever and whatever that is.
There are some short-term programmes and internship opportunities out there that you’ll be eligible to do without a degree. They can be a great experience and employers will often make sure you’re well looked after – providing accommodation, support and meals!
TEFL graduates without a degree unfortunately will find the application process a bit more time-consuming. But be patient and persevere because there’s plenty of work out there available to you.
Be open-minded and flexible about wherever you go because there’s work for you out there. Enthusiasm will go a long way while looking for your first TEFL job – you’ve got this!
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