If that travel bug has bitten you and you yearn to make a big change in your life, ditching your 9-5 in favor of a global adventure, you’ve probably considered teaching English abroad. Many people, maybe like you, with this dream don’t have degrees for a variety of reasons: you’re too young and are just on a gap year, you couldn’t afford one or perhaps you decided to shun the crowds and do things your own way, hoping to be the next Zuckerberg, Jobs or Assange.
But you’ve probably heard that you might need a bachelor’s degree to qualify. So let’s explore this and get your questions answered!
So how important is it to have a degree?
In most circumstances the requirements to teach English overseas will include a bachelor’s degree. This is particularly true of destinations like Vietnam, China, South Korea and Colombia among others where a bachelor’s degree is a prerequisite to signing up and being offered a job.
A lot of the time the local governments set these rules but occasionally it’s the schools or language centers who set this requirement and with the sheer number of degree-holding applicants applying, particularly from North America, there is no short supply of qualified would-be teachers.
I’m still waiting for my degree certificate, can I apply?
Perhaps you’re in the process of completing your degree or perhaps you’re graduating soon but haven’t received your certificate yet. That’s not usually a problem, so long as you have it by the time you’re ready a few weeks prior to starting your job.
Countries like Thailand and Vietnam might require you to have it 6 weeks or more prior to starting, South Korea will require you to be in possession of one in order for you to start interviewing and Colombia usually requires you to have your certificate in possession when you apply.
Is there anywhere that doesn’t require a bachelor’s degree?
Out of all the destinations, one of the most exciting doesn’t require applicants to hold a bachelor’s degree in order to teach there. That’s right, you can teach English in Thailand without a bachelor’s degree! They require a minimum of you being 20 years or older, you’ve completed high school (grade 12) are a native English speaker with a good command of spoken and written English with a clean criminal record and hold citizenship of one of 7 countries.
It must be pointed out here that bachelor’s degree holders are generally preferred in Thailand as they’re in highest demand, however there’s still a chance that you could get placed without one. Also having one will often mean you will be paid more than if you did not have one.
Why is a degree so important for teaching English abroad?
Well for one it’s a quick way for employers to see the calibre of person they’re getting. While not all hard working people hold degrees, most degree holders would have proven their ability to work hard having put in the time and dedication to complete a degree. It also shows employers a level of intelligence as most bachelor’s degrees have high requirements for enrollment and for passing and are regulated to some sort of internationally recognized standard.
It will also show them that you have the ability to communicate effectively; having completed written assignments, presentations and exams in English means you know how to explain yourself to others. Finally though, the parents of the children you’ll be teaching and sometimes the students themselves (particularly if you’re teaching adults) want peace of mind that the often high fees they’re paying to have their kids taught are securing the highest calibre teachers.
What about diplomas and associate degrees?
While these often require you to do just as much work as a bachelor’s degree unfortunately they’re just not held in as high regard internationally. There are a number of reasons for this, particularly that colleges offering these aren’t required to be kept to the same internationally recognized standards as those offering bachelor’s degrees.
Courses can vary wildly in terms of standard and requirements for both enrollment and passing and it makes judging the quality of the certificate really difficult. This means that schools in general, the world over, have a blanket rule of not accepting diplomas and associate degrees as a qualifying certificate.
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