How Can I Teach Overseas Without a Degree?
Oct 7, 2011 Career Development 2360 Views
I should say right off that not everyone agrees with people going overseas to teach if they don’t have a degree. These are usually folks who have spent a lot of money to earn their degree. They don’t see why someone can come along and get a job without going through the same rigorous academic process they did – and who can blame them for feeling that way.
I have said for a long time that it was possible to teach overseas without a degree and I stand by that. Sure, education and immigration authorities in some countries are getting tougher and it is becoming more difficult to find a niche. They are out there though but you have to go where the jobs are. What you will find is that the law of supply and demand still works. Where there are a lot of applicants and few jobs, authorities can afford to set stricter standards. However when the number of teaching jobs outweighs the number of applicants, schools are willing to hire people who do not have a degree – but do have some teacher training such as a CELTA or TESOL certificate. These schools also have clout with the immigration authorities who are generally well aware of the need for more teachers. Every country has regulations in place but sometimes they are prepared to turn a blind eye if the need is pressing.
Some 14 years ago, I developed a TESOL course based on my personal teaching experiences and formed an online school to offer it. One graduate said, “They didn’t teach us about this in teachers’ college!” TESOL and CELTA are good credentials and carry a lot of weight with teaching authorities. Personally, I think TESOL is better because it is broader and trains you to teach all ages not only adults. Sometimes schools feel that a one-month specific course in teaching English as a Second Language is as valuable to them as a four-year degree program, much of which is theory and generalities. (Their opinion and they are the one with the need!)
The secret to getting a good teaching job
The secret to getting a good teaching job, whether you have a degree or not, is to go where the jobs are (fish where the fish are biting). That doesn’t really change. Without a degree, your chances of landing a job if you don’t have a degree will be much better. Since finding a teaching job without a degree is an area that some people have a problem with, we may as well add fuel to the fire as the saying goes.
If you don’t have a degree but want to try your hand at teaching, the first thing you should do is to get a TESOL certificate. That will get you in the door. If you are presentable, keen and cheerful, it may be enough to sway the school in your favour. Remember though, if two candidates apply for the same position, the one with the best combination of education and experience will usually get the job. Oh, and, be absolutely sure there are no spelling or grammatical errors on your resume or CV. That will kill your application very quickly.
Perhaps you don’t feel inclined to spend four years wading through Latin and Greek tomes to earn a degree from a brick and mortar university. On the other hand, maybe you just plain can’t afford to do it. A four-year degree in the US can cost up to $25,000 per year. That’s $100,000 for a four-year program most of which ends up as a repayable student loan. Great way to start off, huh, owing 1/10th of a million dollars? Well, here’s another option for you. Now, let me say that this is not for everyone but it is something to consider. Whether or not you’ve ever been inside a church, synagogue, temple or mosque, you could get a religious degree. Whoa! Me? Well, why the heck not? Religious degrees get a bad name because there are some that you can get free or for a song. Other religious organizations however, take into account what you have done in your life so far and count these as prior learning credits, then require some study. The cost is usually nominal and generally, because of the nature of the issuing organization, this is on a donation basis in lieu of tuition. In the USA, registered religious organizations are fully and legally entitled to issue both honorary and earned degrees to worthy individuals.
Not every country will accept them but as I said earlier, go where the jobs are. Get that degree and a TESOL certificate and start applying. Your resume (CV) should clearly state the nature of the degree and issuing organization. Ideally, the degree should have a teaching or educational component. For example, Interfaith -Academy, offers a Bachelor of Theology and Teaching (BTT), Master of Theology and Education (MT Ed) and a Doctor of Philosophy in Religious and Educational Studies (Ph D). Donations they receive go towards educating and helping needy children in Thailand.
As I see it, everyone benefits. You get a degree, the organization gets a donation they use to help children and somewhere in the world a school in need of a teacher will receive your application and offer you a teaching job! I’d recommend applying to China – a vast country with an enormous need for ESL teachers and a wonderful opportunity for a cultural experience for you. Email me and I’ll be happy to help you get started.