$20 off ANY course with code JUN24
Days
Hours
Minutes
Seconds
costa rica

10 Best Places To Teach English Abroad WITHOUT a Degree in 2024

Despite what you may have heard to the contrary, it’s entirely possible to teach English abroad without a degree – so don’t let a lack of such a credential slow you down. Here, we’ll discuss where and how to teach English abroad without a degree.

How to Teach English Abroad Without a Degree

teach english abroad without a degree

Beautiful nature awaits you in Costa Rica

Before we get into the best countries to pursue employment in ESL if you don’t have a degree, let’s first survey some of the general requirements that you’ll need if you don’t have one: 

  • TEFL Certification

    The TEFL must be accredited and at least 120 hours.

  • Related Teaching Experience

    This qualification is helpful, but not always required. Some schools at the higher end of the ESL industry require past teaching experience from teachers, especially ones that have no degree. If you don’t currently have any teaching experience, you might want to consider volunteering first before you pursue a paid position. That said, it’s entirely possible to find work without any teaching experience, as the market demand for teachers is high.

  • Native English-Teaching Status

    This is often preferred but is not a universal requirement – passport holders qualify from the following countries: UK, Ireland, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and US. If you hold a passport from another country, you may be expected to prove your English proficiency. If this caveat applies to you, a standardized test such as the IELTS is a great way to demonstrate your grasp of the English language.

Get Certified to Teach Anywhere!

10 Places to Teach English Abroad Without a Degree

Now let’s get into the meat: where you can find gainful employment as an ESL teacher even if you don’t have a college degree.

Teaching English in Asia Without a Degree

Asia is, without a doubt, the largest employer of foreign ESL teachers in the world as the rapidly developing countries of this region invest heavily in English-language education to support their global economic endeavors.

Thailand

thailand

Thailand, otherwise known as the Land of Smiles, is popular with expats of all backgrounds, including English teachers, for good reason: it’s home to tropical weather, breathtaking beaches, lush flora, and the nicest people on Earth.

And it’s absolutely full of teachers without degrees. I know because I’ve personally worked with several, including a degreeless former Latvian DJ with no prior history in education.

The only major downside to teaching English in Thailand, whether you have a degree or not, is the relatively meager pay.

  • Average Monthly Salary: $1,000-$1,200/month
  • Cost of Living in Bangkok, Including Rent, via Numbeo*: $1,200/month
  • Cost of Living in Bangkok, Minus Rent, via Numbeo: $650/month
  • Cost of Living Outside of Bangkok, Including Rent, via Numbeo: $900/month
  • Cost of Living Outside of Bangkok, Minus Rent, via Numbeo: $550/month
  • Native Speaker Required? No

*For Thailand and other countries here, I will cover the cost of living both including rent and excluding rent. It’s not uncommon for schools to offer teachers housing as part of their employment packages, so for many teachers, rent is often not a relevant expense.

Learn more about teaching English in Thailand without a degree

Malaysia

malaysia

The world-famous Petronas Towers in Malaysia’s capital city, Kuala Lumpur

Just south of Thailand, Malaysia has a similarly beautiful landscape and warm climate. Its culture is markedly different, though, and quite unique as a blend of local Malay, Chinese, and Indian influences.

As you can see in the cost of living versus average monthly salary, you can expect to save a bit more than you would teaching English in Thailand. 

Here are the cliffnotes on teaching English in Malaysia without a degree:

  • Average Monthly Salary: $1,000- $1,800/month
  • Cost of Living in Kuala Lumpur, Including Rent, via Numbeo: $950/month
  • Cost of Living in Kuala Lumpur, Minus Rent, via Numbeo: $500/month
  • Cost of Living Outside of Kuala Lumpur, Including Rent, via Numbeo: $850/month
  • Cost of Living Outside of Kuala Lumpur, Minus Rent, via Numbeo: $450/month
  • Native Speaker Required? No

Cambodia

cambodia

Angkor Wat in Siem Reap is a must-visit in Cambodia

Cambodia, as one of the poorest and least-developed nations in Southeast Asia, is relatively lax in its teacher requirements to attract more talent. Cambodia employment options for ESL teachers range from training centers (working evenings and weekends) as well as kindergartens and international schools. 

Here’s the summary on teaching English in Cambodia without a degree:

  • Average Monthly Salary: $1,000-$1,200/month
  • Cost of Living in Phnom Penh, Including Rent, via Numbeo: $1,200/month
  •  Cost of Living in Phnom Penh, Minus Rent, via Numbeo: $650/month
  • Cost of Living Outside of Phnom Penh, Including Rent, via Numbeo: $950/month
  • Cost of Living Outside of Phnom Penh, Minus Rent, via Numbeo: $600/month
  • Native Speaker Required? No

Teaching English in Europe Without a Degree

If Asia isn’t quite your flavor (and it’s not for everyone), let’s explore some of the top destinations for teaching English as a second language in Europe if you don’t have a degree.

Spain

spain square

Expats commonly move to Spain and promptly fall in love. Aside from its utterly unique cultural heritage, working and living in Spain also opens up the opportunity for visa-free travel throughout much of the European Union. 

Economics-wise, Spain’s government has poured capital into English-language education for its population, so it’s rife with rewarding ESL positions, even for teachers who don’t have a degree.

  • Average Monthly Salary: $1,700-$2,300/month
  • Cost of Living in Madrid, Including Rent, via Numbeo: $1,800/month
  • Cost of Living in Madrid, Minus Rent, via Numbeo: $800/month
  • Cost of Living Outside of Madrid, Including Rent, via Numbeo: $1,500/month
  • Cost of Living Outside of Madrid, Minus Rent, via Numbeo: $700/month
  • Native Speaker Required? No

Learn more about teaching English in Spain

Poland

teach english in poland

Poland has its own unique flavor not matched by any of the countries we’ve explored so far. Located in Eastern Europe, Poland is known to be much more affordable than much of Western Europe and is home to amazing historical destinations, including 16 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. 

  • Average Monthly Salary: $1,000-$1,500/month
  • Cost of Living in Warsaw, Including Rent, via Numbeo: $1,500/month
  • Cost of Living in Warsaw, Minus Rent, via Numbeo: $700/month
  • Cost of Living Outside of Warsaw, Including Rent, via Numbeo: $1,200/month
  • Cost of Living Outside of Warsaw, Minus Rent, via Numbeo: $600/month
  • Native Speaker Required? No

Learn more about teaching English in Poland

Teaching English in Latin America Without a Degree

If you’re American or Canadian, tons of ESL work is available just south of the border in Central and South America. 

Costa Rica

costa rica beaches

Having recently spent time in Costa Rica, I can confirm that the majority of the country is just as compellingly gorgeous in person as it is in glossy tourism ads (although I would recommend skipping the capital, San Jose, as it’s not very welcoming.)

You don’t need a degree to teach in Costa Rica, and native-speaking status is also not a must-have.

The only downside of note to teaching English in Costa Rica is the relatively low pay rate.

  • Average Monthly Salary: $600-$1,000/month
  • Cost of Living in San Jose, Including Rent, via Numbeo: $1,400/month
  • Cost of Living in San Jose, Minus Rent, via Numbeo: $750/month
  • Cost of Living, Outside of San Jose, Including Rent, via Numbeo: $1,300/month
  • Cost of Living, Outside of San Jose, Minus Rent, via Numbeo: $750/month
  • Native Speaker Required? No

Learn more about teaching English in Costa Rica

Mexico

mexico city

If you’re into a laissez-faire political environment, low taxes, and excellent cuisine, Mexico might be your dream destination.

And, contrary to the impression one would get from consuming the media, parts of Mexico like the Yucatan Peninsula are incredibly safe.

However, like Costa Rica, the jobs on offer in Mexico generally don’t pay as well as comparable positions in other parts of the world.

  • Average Monthly Salary: $500–$800 USD/month
  • Cost of Living in Mexico City, Including Rent, via Numbeo: $1,400/month
  • Cost of Living in Mexico City, Minus Rent, via Numbeo: $600/month
  • Cost of Living Outside of Mexico City, Including Rent, via Numbeo: $1,000/month
  • Cost of Living Outside of Mexico City, Minus Rent, via Numbeo: $550/month
  • Native Speaker Required? No.

To learn more about teaching English in Mexico

Nicaragua

nicaragua

City center in Leon, Nicaragua

Sandwiched between Mexico and Costa Rica, but not to be overlooked, is Nicaragua. Nicaragua boasts amazing nature including volcanoes, jungles, ocean (and word-class surfing). Although a relatively small country, Nicaragua has been blessed with two beautiful coastlines, including 30 miles of unspoiled Pacific coastline. 

  • Average Monthly Salary: $500-$700/month
  • Cost of Living in Managua, Including Rent, via Numbeo: $700/month
  • Cost of Living in Managua, Minus Rent, via Numbeo: $550/month
  • Cost of Living Outside of Managua, Including Rent, via Numbeo: $750/month
  • Cost of Living Outside of Managua, Minus Rent, via Numbeo: $500/month
  • Native Speaker Required? No

Peru

peru

Hiking in the Cordillera Mountains in Peru

Peru, home to lush Amazonian jungle, fresh and delicious cuisine, and the world-famous Incan ruins at Machu Picchu – is an ESL dream destination. If you live outside of Lima, you can definitely expect to save some money throughout the school year. 

  • Average Monthly Salary: $500-$1,000/month
  • Cost of Living in Lima, Including Rent, via Numbeo: $1,000/month
  • Cost of Living in Lima, Minus Rent, via Numbeo: $500/month
  • Cost of Living Outside of Lima, Including Rent, via Numbeo: $850/month
  • Cost of Living Outside of Lima, Minus Rent, via Numbeo: $450/month
  • Native Speaker Required? No

Brazil

brazil

Colorful favela houses in Rio de Janeiro

Rounding out our list of Latin American destinations that welcome teachers without degrees, we have Brazil. You can expect to make more per month than other South and Central American countries – and especially high if you choose to teach in more specific niches like medical or legal English. 

  • Average Monthly Salary: $800-1,500 a month
  • Cost of Living in Rio de Janeiro, Including Rent, via Numbeo: $900/month
  • Cost of Living in Rio de Janeiro, Minus Rent, via Numbeo: $600/month
  • Cost of Living Outside of Rio de Janeiro, Including Rent, via Numbeo: $800/month
  • Cost of Living Outside of Rio de Janeiro, Minus Rent, via Numbeo: $500/month
  • Native Speaker Required? No.

Teach English Online Now Without a Degree

The digital revolution has birthed a whole new sector of the global ESL market: online ESL education. The trend accelerated greatly during the COVID-19 lockdowns and has shown no signs of slowing down.

Let’s get into the benefits of teaching English online, your expected pay rate, and a few of the most popular online ESL platforms.

Benefits of Teaching English Online 

There are many potential benefits to teaching English online, with some being more obvious than others:

  • You can do it anywhere, freeing you up to live wherever you please.

  • No commute to work.

  • You can choose your own schedule.

  • Weekend and evening classes.

How Much Can You Earn?

Most platforms pay teachers by the hour or by the class (most classes lasting about an hour) rather than on a monthly basis.

Most online ESL teachers with native-speaking status can earn around $8-$35/hour. The pay obviously varies widely.

In monthly terms, that means about $700-$3,500/month in take-home pay, depending on your hourly rate and hours worked.

Where Are the Best Places to Teach English Online? 

There are literally dozens, if not hundreds, of well-trafficked online ESL platforms. Here are a few of the best-reviewed:

  • Cambly. Cambly is, perhaps second to Preply, the most popular online ESL platform. It’s been around since 2012, so it’s one of the older ones as well. Pay is $10-$12/hour. Learn more in our Cambly Review
  • Palfish. Launched in 2015, Palfish is a Chinese venture that mostly caters to a Chinese clientele. Fortunately for teachers, there are hundreds of millions of Chinese interested in ESL education.
  • Preply. Preply is a giant in online ESL work. Preply’s biggest perk is that set their own rates. Learn more in our Preply Review

For a more comprehensive accounting of online ESL opportunities, see our full list of the 22 Best Places to Teach English Online Without a Degree.

FAQs About Teaching English Abroad Without a Degree

Let’s explore a few FAQs related to teaching English without a degree.

Is TEFL worth it without a degree?

Absolutely. TEFL certification is a net plus for any teacher, but earning one is particularly beneficial for teachers without a degree for getting hired at reputable schools.

Can I teach English abroad without a TEFL certificate?

Yes. However, teachers with TEFL certification have more opportunities and generally earn higher salaries than their peers who are uncertified. See some low cost TEFL options in our list of the 7 best online TEFL certification courses.

Which country pays the most to teach English abroad without a degree?

Spain generally pays the best for English teachers abroad without a degree and has many opportunities.

Example Cert
We give away a FREE TEFL course every month​ – enter to win and start your teaching journey!

By entering your email address you agree to receive emails from TEFL Hero. We’ll respect your privacy and you can unsubscribe at any time.