We’re often asked: is a TEFL qualification all I need to teach English abroad? The honest answer to this depends on where you want to teach. You need a degree to teach in certain countries due to visa requirements, but don’t worry if you don’t have one – there are still opportunities out there for TEFL-qualified teachers who don’t hold a degree!
When it comes to teaching in Asia it’s true that your options are limited, as almost all countries require a degree. It’s possible to work in some for a period of time on a working holiday visa if you meet those requirements but this can be tricky and there are often a lot of restrictions. Thankfully, there is one incredible country that does welcome teachers without degrees – Cambodia!
Why teach in Cambodia?
You won’t get rich teaching English in Cambodia, but money isn’t what draws teachers in (although you can expect to earn enough to live comfortably and be able to explore the country!). The lower entry requirements draw in teachers who don’t have a degree but are keen to experience Asia. It’s a country often overlooked in favour of its neighbours, Thailand and Vietnam, but with stunning landscapes, a fascinating history, and extremely friendly people, Cambodia offers a lot to EFL teachers who choose to work there.
TEFL Org UK graduate, Daniel Gillard, who completed our 140-hour TEFL course, fell in love with the country on a trip through Southeast Asia in 2015. The next year he was TEFL qualified and on a plane back! After a year and a half teaching English in Cambodia, Daniel returned to the UK at the start of this year only to realise just how much he’d fallen in love with the country and realised that was where he felt at home. He’s recently taken up a fantastic position as an English lecturer at a university in Phnom Penh and feels like the “luckiest TEFL’er in the world!”. Here’s what he has to say to those thinking about teaching in Cambodia:
“If you’re thinking about moving to Cambodia, remember that it’s known as The Kingdom Of Wonder. Or alternatively, ‘The Kingdom Of I Wonder What On Earth Is Going On?!’ Logic takes a back seat here, giving way to the ebb and flow of life in and around the beautiful Tonle Sap and Mekong Rivers.
Whether it’s Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Sihanoukville, Battambang or the Khmer provinces that you head towards, you’ll find students keen to learn in a country keen to welcome you. It’s a truly strange and foreign land, but one that makes you feel at home and bit by bit takes hold of your heart. Once you arrive, you might never leave…”
Can I really teach in Cambodia without a degree?
Yes! The reason you can’t teach in neighbouring countries such as Thailand and Vietnam is because in those countries a degree is a legal requirement for a work visa. No such rule exists in Cambodia! It’s true that some employers may prefer applicants to have a degree but there’s enough demand for English teachers in Cambodia that you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding a job without one.
Cambodia is the only country in Asia where you can easily – and, crucially, legally – teach without a degree.
Do I need a TEFL qualification?
It’s only becoming harder to find a position teaching English without a TEFL qualification. It’s not impossible, but we don’t advise it – not just because it’s unfair on students to pay for lessons from someone who hasn’t been trained to teach English – but because a TEFL qualification will secure you a better wage with a better employer. Remember, employers who don’t show any concern about the credentials of their teachers are often best avoided! Find out more about keeping yourself safe from TEFL scams and bad employers.
How much can I earn?
Teachers can expect to earn around $10 to $14 per hour teaching in Cambodia and most teachers work 20 to 25 hours a week. With low living costs this salary will more than cover the essentials and leave you with enough to enjoy your time in the country. As is the case with most countries, EFL teachers with more qualifications and experience will be able to command higher salaries.
Your chances of finding work are better in-country rather than online. If you’re already in Cambodia you should be able to find work easily but if you’d rather sort out a position before moving out there keep an eye on jobs boards and join relevant Facebook groups – don’t let adverts that state a degree is required put you off, there are plenty of jobs for those without! Phnom Penh is where you’re most likely to find work but the popular tourist destination of Siem Reap also presents opportunities.
Where else can I TEFL without a degree?
The main options for TEFL without a degree are to be found in Europe (if you’re an EU citizen) and South America. Find out more about teaching without a degree here.