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May 24, 2005

Q & A - Do You Need A Degree?

Good morning all,

There is one question that comes up time and time again: do I need a degree to teach ESL?

Here's a question that I recently received:

"I am desperate for some help and advice! I am due to start an intensive TESOL course on June 13. I have been reading advertisements for teaching posts. They all seem to have one thing in common - one of the prerequisites for a teaching position is a 'degree'. I have an HND and several other certs, but no degree (didn't finish my dissertation). Is there anyway around this? I don't want to begin the course if I can't secure a position at the end of it. I have given up everything to persue my dream and now it looks as though I have hit the proverbial 'brick wall'! Any advice or suggestions will be greatly appreciated. Thanks for your time."

I hate to give this answer, but it's really the only one that I can: it depends.

While I always recommend having a teaching certificate when looking for a position, having a degree may or may not be important. It truly just depends on where you want to work. For example, if your goal is to teach in a University, then yes, it's likely that you'll need one. On the other hand, if you want to teach in a private school, it simply depends on that school's requirements AND (perhaps more importantly) thier current needs and options.

Just for kicks, I took a poll around here and asked all of the ESL teachers that I could find whether or not they had a degree. Guess what? Many of them don't, and they're working right alongside those who do.

Here's my guess as how the schools think. They run an ad and include their wish list for a candidate, and most of the time that includes a degree. But when it's time for a hiring decision, many things could override the need for a degree. A great personality, years of experience, or simply showing tons of enthusiasm may just be your ticket in.

So, what to do if your dream is to teach ESL, but you don't hold a degree? March on! Apply for those jobs, and make sure that those things you can offer the employer are clear and well-defined.

As I always say, don't let anything hold you back from pursuing your dream. The ESL profession isn't a black and white one--things can, and often do, change in a split second. A school that requires a degree today could quite possibly forget that requirement tomorrow.

Anyone have experience with this? If you are teaching without a degree, there are a lot of newbies who read these posts who could sure use your advice and comments! Drop us a line!

Until next time,


*To read more ESL Questions and Answers, please click HERE!

Posted by msimmons at May 24, 2005 12:23 PM

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