Teaching ESL without a degree

Teach ESL

I have worked with so many amazing educators of different walks of life including tutors and paraeducators.

I’m often asked about teaching English as a second language (ESL) without earning a bachelor’s degree. There has been a shift in the TESOL  world with online learning platforms becoming a popular and convenient way for learners to have access to an English teacher. As well as, teachers teaching overseas without relocating or the ability to become a digital nomad.

The simple answer is yes. (While teaching aboard certifications vary by country and job placement, I will focus on teaching ESL online and earning a certification in the United States.) There are certifications that can be earned at universities through extension programs that do not require a bachelor’s degree to enroll into their programs.

Transferable certificates:

I recommend earning a TESOL certificate offered through a extension program at an accredited university because if you decide to earn your degree the units are usually transferable and may count towards your degree.

Anyone can teach, but not every can actively inspire, captivate and positively influence an audience of learners. If you’ve never taught in a classroom (whether it be face-to-face or online) then I do highly recommend finding a program that includes a practicum (fieldwork). The schools listed below do.

Recommended online TESOL certificate programs:

The $5 TESOL certificate:

Yes, you read that right. There’s been buzz around the Internet for a few years about a $5 TESOL certificate with a Groupon. 99% off of the original $499 course. It is earned through International Open Academy and can be completed in a few hours. However, it is currently no longer $5, but still at a ridiculously cheap price at 96% off. I cannot attest to how valuable the course work is, but I do question the validity of a $5 certificate. Are units transferrable? Are there transcripts available?

If you are looking to get a foot into the TESOL world, then trying out the Groupon certificate to get a snapshot of what you’ll be studying when you apply for a legitimate certificate/ program, won’t hurt. Remember, you are studying to teach, not studying to memorize/ pass exams. This certificate can be used as a stepping stone to earn an online position through various foreign online companies, but not as a final destination.

Plan for flexibly. The online teaching world is still relatively new. The courses you’ll be studying and the skills that you gain from an accredited program will be applicable and reputable in a face-to-face classroom too.

Good luck on your online teaching journey and earning your TESOL certificate!


A teacher who enjoys digital and techy things.

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