Teaching English Abroad Without A Degree… Possible?

Qualifications required to teach English abroad

An opportunity to teach English in a foreign country would be extremely exciting. You need to have the necessary qualifications to stand a chance of getting a slot though. The sets of qualifications are not typical in all countries though. Different countries have different requirements.

The demand to learn and speak English in Non-English-speaking countries is driven by different factors in different countries. As such, each country has a certain level of English proficiency that they need their students to achieve. These aspects inform the set of qualifications a country will demand from those seeking to teach English there.

Expect to be asked for one, two or all of the qualification below while seeking an English teaching opportunity abroad.

Bachelor’s Degree

This is the most basic qualification for anyone looking to be a professional English teacher in any country. It does not necessarily have to be an education or English-related degree. Many countries will be okay with any bachelor’s degree if you are a native English speaker.

If you are an ESL (English as a Second Language) speaker, many countries will require that you have and a degree in the English discipline. A bachelor’s degree is not mandatory in some countries as well. Some countries will be content if you have adequate professional training.


TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) is the second most-demanded qualification while seeking English opportunities abroad. Countries such as Thailand, South Korea, China, and Japan make it mandatory for you to have the TEFL certification before you can teach there.

Even in countries that it’s not mandatory, you will have an added advantage when competing for opportunities. English teaching opportunities are quite competitive in some countries.

TEFL certification qualifies you to become an English teacher, even if you don’t have an education degree.

Some countries do not demand the TEFL certification. For instance, you just need a bachelor’s degree to teach English in Spain. Be wary of such roles though. The compensation and working conditions might not be very favourable, or up to the required standards.

Master’s Degree

A master’s degree is required when you want to teach English at the university level. It also allows you to teach English communication classes at universities abroad. Such roles require higher qualifications, as you will be teaching students who want to learn English so that they can use it in another course.

Some international elementary schools, as well as high schools, might demand a master’s in education as well. Many schools in the middle east have such high demands. The remuneration and working conditions there are always very attractive though.

In most instances, prior teaching experience is not mandatory but it will always give you an edge in highly competitive cases. A TEFL certification is enough to make you eligible for many English teaching opportunities, especially in Asian countries. Teaching English abroad is always a great way to experience different cultures, and explore the world. You get to learn some new and interesting languages as well.

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