So you want to teach English online without a degree? You may have seen that a bachelor’s degree in any subject is often a basic requirement for teaching English online, just like in many cases in the offline world.
But that depends on who you work for.
If you work for yourself, for example, you can teach English without a degree. In fact, you’ll learn soon enough that potential students aren’t interested in your degree or your teaching qualifications. They’re interested in the results that you bring them!
But if you’re not interested in the self-employment route because you need cash and students fast, then you’ll need to freelance, either for a company or a marketplace. The difference is that the company sets the rate, while on a marketplace you choose your rate.
In this post, we’ll look at teaching English without a degree in the following scenarios:
- Working for yourself with or without a degree
- Companies or marketplaces with online teaching jobs that don't require a degree
Bear in mind, no matter what qualifications you have (or not) or which route you go down (freelance, company, marketplace), your students want to know how you will help them achieve their goals.
What will help you do that are the other qualities you bring to the job: your empathy, your ability to listen, your patience, and your ability to coach and support them.
Plus what will reassure them much more than a degree is your own language learning experience. Or relevant experience in the domain where they need to use English, whether it’s healthcare, accounting, hospitality and more.
With that in mind, let’s get into it.
If you want to become a qualified online language teacher and earn a living from home, I recommend checking out CeOLT (Certificate of Online Language Teaching).
How to Teach English Online Without a Degree
1. Work For Yourself
One thing that always makes me smile when I see teachers’ websites is when they write “professional teacher” or “qualified teacher”. But would you ever write the opposite? And do students really care about how many certificates you have on your wall?
What they want to know is:
- Can this person help me?
- Do they understand and empathise with my problem?
- Have they helped people similar to me in the past?
Above all, have you already learned a language?
You don’t have to have learned it to a native proficiency level or anything. But if you already have experience in language learning, working in a multicultural team, or living and working abroad, then this will be much more helpful than a degree, particularly one in an unrelated subject.
When I did my CELTA (Certificate In Language Teaching to Adults) many years ago, they preferred people to have a degree. But they did let one student into the course even though she only had a high school diploma (she had not long finished school!).
Want to know the real deal-breaker for getting on the course? It wasn’t having a degree or not – it was having attempted to learn a second language yourself.
No language learning experience. No place on the course. That’s because the teacher trainers consider that a person who has never learned a language should not be teaching one to others, even if they are a native English speaker.
If you do have a degree, you can mention it somewhere. But it shouldn’t be the first thing people see when they arrive on your website.
Because when so many teachers out there have degrees and teaching diplomas, it doesn’t actually help students make a decision about taking lessons with you.
The most difficult part about working to teach students English online yourself is finding students. For this, you'll need a comprehensive website and you'll need to find effective ways to advertise your services.
How to Promote Your English Teaching Services
When you start out as a self-employed online English teacher, be aware that it can take a lot of work to find your first students.
To get new students, try some of these marketing tactics:
- Promote yourself on social media and interact with your target students
- Offer a free trial class
- Try some paid search engine or social media ads
- Start a blog and write helpful articles about how to learn English, try to cover different topics to what's already out there
- Put posters up in places your target students hang out
The great thing about working for yourself is that you set the rates, don't pay commission, and set your own schedule.
Once you have some steady students who are getting results, you'll find they recommend you to their friends and family. Then you'll have a calendar full of students who want to learn from you!
By the way, if you want to become a better language teacher, check out these 19 quick changes you can make.
2. Teach English Without a Degree Online Through a Company
Teaching English without a degree online is totally possible if you go down the route of freelancing for a company or a marketplace. Here are some companies that are willing to accept applications for online English teaching without a degree.
I don’t endorse any of these companies, nor have I worked for them. I just share them as examples:
- The pay is at the lower end of the scale at 10.20 USD per hour
- You can apply as long as you’re a native English speaker
- You can teach English online without degree or teaching experience
- You’re not guaranteed a certain number of hours
- Offers online jobs teaching English without degree
- You do need previous teaching experience and preferably a teaching certificate
- You don’t have to be a native speaker to teach on this marketplace, but they do expect you to have level C2
- Verbling takes a 15% cut off what you earn but you set your own lesson rates
- You can be an ESL teacher without degree on this freelance marketplace
- Sign up as a tutor rather than a professional teacher
- That usually means lower lesson rates
- You must be a native or near-native speaker of the language or languages you wish to teach on Italki
- You can teach English online with no experience no degree on this platform
- You set your own rates and there are no minimum or maximum hours
- The more hours you do with Preply, the lower the commission they take, it will go down from 33% to 18%
- Typical English teaching rates are 15-25 USD per hour
Listing yourself on these platforms is quick and easy to set up. You'll need to write a great profile so you stand out from the crowd and students choose you.
Even if you don't have experience teaching, share reasons you'll make the lessons fun and engaging. Talk about how you will help students achieve their language learning goals.
If the platform gives you the chance to add an introduction video, don't skip it! It's the best way for students to get to know you before they book a lesson.
Do I Need a Certificate to Teach English Online and What About English Teacher Qualifications?
A lot of people will tell you that, whether or not you have a degree, you’ll need a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate to teach ESL without a degree.
This is generally true if you want to work for an English teaching platform or marketplace. If you're going to work for yourself, nobody is going to ask to see your certifications.
Know What You're Signing Up For
If you decide to do an English teacher qualification, be wary of random TEFL certificates, especially the ones you can obtain online. Most schools will ask for a 120-hour TEFL certificate as a minimum.
In the offline world, most reputable schools require you to have one of only two English teaching qualifications: the Cambridge CELTA or the Trinity TESOL. These are 4-week intensive courses with a minimum of 6 hours of assessed teaching practice.
You spend your time on the course learning about language theory, classroom management, and more. You’ll also learn how to plan and deliver lessons. You’ll spend a lot of your time observing qualified teachers and trainees deliver lessons.
Of course, 4 weeks is still a short period of time. But one of these qualifications is just a starting point. And you’ll develop your skills and experience on the job with support and feedback from other teachers.
At the same time, the CELTA, at least when I did it, mostly trained teachers to teach groups offline. There wasn’t much mention of 1:1 teaching, which is the way a lot of online teaching operates.
But it can still be useful to have training, support and feedback before you start working with paying students. Plus, the courses have evolved since then to include online teaching.
In any case, before you spend money on teaching certificates, do your due diligence, and don’t be afraid to ask questions about what you’ll actually get.
- Who will actually accept this certificate?
- Will you be able to use it offline if ever you want to transition or expand your career? In which countries?
- Is the institution offering this certificate accredited?
Get Some Practice
Getting feedback before you start online English teaching can be a big help. You probably won’t have the same level of support as you would in an offline school as it’s rarer for online lessons to be observed.
If you’re working for a teaching marketplace, no one is going to assess your lessons. Either you meet the criteria for joining the platform or you don’t. As to whether or not your lessons are good enough, that will be for the students who evaluate you to judge.
Being a great teacher isn't about how well you can pass an exam. It's about how you treat your students, how you make them feel and whether or not they learn from you.
To gain some confidence before you start teaching English online, get some practice. Ask people you know to help you find practice students, volunteer at a local English centre. That way, you'll have some skills when you start to accept paying students.
Can You Teach English Online Without a Degree?
So there you have it. You can totally teach English online no degree required!
What students are interested in is your ability to help get them results. And getting the results is often more about your qualities as a human being, rather than the certificates you’ve got hanging on the wall.
Of course, life and job experience can be a big help, whether that’s living in a different culture or working in the same industry as your students.
Empathy is the key as well here. If you don’t know what it feels like to make yourself understood in another language, then you’re going to have a hard time helping anyone learn a language. And that’s even if you have a degree or teaching qualification!
So, if you’re learning a language or you need to brush up on one, double down on that so you can empathise better with your students. And share what’s worked for you or not when learning languages. When you can do that, you’ll be much more likely to help them achieve their goals.
If you want to learn more about how to teach English online without a degree, check out the Online Teaching Accelerator, where you'll learn how to find high-paying students and discover how to start your new career as an online English teacher.