Can You Do a CELTA Course without a Degree?


Some people receive their teacher calling later in life while for others, responsibilities get in the way of completing their tertiary education.

If that’s relatable, you may now find yourself wondering whether teaching without a degree is possible and are exploring the countless formative options promising to help you do just that.

CELTA is a teacher training course that is structured to prepare you to lead an English class as soon as you get your certificate. Some programmes are only 10-week long, others will keep you busy for a year. 

Can you take a CELTA without a degree? Yes, you can but you need to show that you have some kind of teaching experience or qualifications similar to a degree. This means non-university graduates can be accepted on a CELTA course, with tips on this below.

On this page, you can find useful information for those who dream of teaching English without a university qualification — including the CELTA entry requirements, how to gain teaching experience before the CELTA, and getting a teaching job with no degree.

Background: CELTA Entry Requirements

As mentioned, you don’t need a degree to access the CELTA training. However, this doesn’t mean that everyone is eligible to start a course.

In order to sign up for your course, you must meet the following CELTA official requirements for entry:

  • Age requirements. Trainees must be at least 18 years old.
  • Qualifications. You must have finished your secondary education. That means that the school qualification(s) you already hold would allow you to enter university.
  • Language skills. Of course, you must be fully proficient in English. CELTA students don’t need to be native speakers but are asked a high proficiency in English — equivalent to a C1 level or the IELTS band 7. You’re unlikely to be asked to provide a certificate, however, your level may be tested during the interview process.

Are There Other Criteria that Will Be Considered?

The most important (and hardest-to-prove) requirement for entry is a genuine interest in teaching English and willingness to work hard. 

The CELTA qualification is known for being a demanding course and those who aren’t really passionate about becoming a teacher are unlikely to put in the necessary work.

Soft skills and unofficial requirements for CELTA may include:

  • Strong determination to become a teacher and enthusiasm for the English language
  • Empathy and the ability to understand others
  • Exceptional communication skills
  • Investment in the course
  • Desire to get practical training rather than academic 

Experience Needed for a CELTA If You Don’t Have a Degree

In theory, you don’t need experience or specialised preparation prior to starting CELTA. 

However, if a little research and planning can’t hurt trainees who are fresh out of uni, those without a degree can take steps to ensure that they get accepted into the course and complete it successfully.

There is no one-fit-all way to measure your preparation for the CELTA. As a general rule and as outlined above, your experience should show that you’re already committed to building a successful career as a teacher. 

It’s all about convincing the centre that you love what you do and have what it takes to become a full-time professional.

How to Get pre-CELTA Teaching Experience Fast

It’s much easier than you think. Start by looking around and taking advantage of your existing network

  • Volunteering is a fantastic way to accumulate hours of teaching experience. Small organisations are unlikely to require an extensive CV for a volunteer position while they will probably be happy to write you enthusiastic references.  
  • Helping friends. If you live abroad or have friends who are non-native speakers, you can start from your social circle. Chances are, many would jump on the opportunity to improve their own English skills or have someone help out their younger siblings. 
  • People in your community. If no one you know personally needs English classes, your friends, neighbours, and other people in your community almost certainly know someone else who does. Make sure to let them know that you’re looking for an opportunity. The son of your pharmacist may be after a tutor, while your cousin’s friend may need help with their citizenship test.

Basic Academic Writing and Referencing

Refreshing your grammar knowledge is a smart move regardless of your pre-CELTA education level. Another field you may want to improve is academic writing. 

Written assignments will be a mandatory part of your CELTA course. Assignment topics can vary greatly from centre to centre so it’s impossible to predict exactly what you’ll be writing about. 

However, like everything else in the programme, these tasks are designed to develop and test actionable skills that you’ll be using as a teacher. From drafting a student report to planning a lesson and proving relevant knowledge of English linguistics, the CELTA assignments will be as targeted as possible.

There’s no need to worry excessively, though. You won’t need to write at the highest academic standards

The most important thing to remember is to follow the instructions closely. For example, the word limit is between 700 and 1,000 words and is enforced strictly. Erring excessively on one side or the other of your allowed word count may penalise you.
You’ll also need to use a specific referencing style. For this purpose, you can use the free help of sites like citethisforme.com.

Drawbacks of Doing CELTA without a Degree

As we’ve seen, completing CELTA training successfully without a degree is absolutely doable. However, you may encounter a few more obstacles than your graduate peers during your job hunt and/ or your professional career. 

Work Visas: Can You Teach English Abroad Without a Degree?

In many countries around the world, whether or not to hire graduate teachers only is up to the individual school or institution. However, that’s not the case everywhere.

Visa policies change from nation to nation and obtaining a work visa in order to be employed as an English teacher may require you to hold a degree in a relevant course. In places like Thailand, for example, if you want to work legally as a teacher you will need an appropriate university qualification.

Also bear in mind that immigration laws are always subject to change.

This doesn’t mean that you have to go back to school in your home country. Some decide to start teaching as a volunteer on a different visa while they complete their studies locally or online. 

There are plenty of options available that can suit your lifestyle, aspirations, and commitments. The most important step is to research your dream teaching location and its regulations thoroughly.

Lower Pay: Are Teachers without a Degree Paid Less?

Unfortunately, even if you’re allowed to teach by law, you may end up being paid less as a teacher without a formal tertiary education.

The highest-paying jobs (like those in international schools or corporate organizations in Asian capitals) are sometimes reserved for professionals with a degree. In some institutions, you will need to obtain specific qualifications in order to get a promotion and progress in your career.

Your salary will depend on many factors such as the country, town, private or public school, and even the department you’ll be teaching in. 

Related Questions

Can you get jobs after CELTA with no degree?

Absolutely. Countries and institutions around the world employ teachers who don’t hold a university degree. Just make sure to research the work visa requirements if you decide to apply for jobs abroad.

Is CELTA a degree?

Formally, CELTA is a Level-5 qualification. That means that it’s higher than a secondary school certificate. It proves specialised knowledge. Other examples of Level-5 qualifications include Foundation degrees, Higher National Diplomas (HND) and a Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE).

However, CELTA is not equivalent to a bachelor’s degree, which would be a Level-6 qualification.

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