Degree vs TEFL certificate

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If I don't have a degree, can I still teach ESL in Japan with just a TEFL certificate?

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Nov 22, 2016
Teaching Without a Degree
by: John

Hi and thanks for the inquiry.

It depends upon the country you come from. If you qualify for a working holiday visa then your visa requirements are met so finding work simply is a matter of knocking on doors until you find work. Why? Because you can legally reside in Japan and knock on those doors.

One thing you need to get straight is that there is a difference and it is vast, between finding work and being able to legally reside in a country.

Finding work is a matter of personal qualification, TEFL certification, teaching experience, connections,diligence, luck or all of the above. Getting a visa is a different matter. It is the ability to legally reside.

So TEFL qualifications should not be confused with having the ability to legally reside. How can you reside in Japan legally? Student visas, spousal visas, and of course, SHIS visa which is typically given to ESL instructors because they meet the qualifications that are mandated by the government in order to extend the visa to the applicant(a 4 year degree etc.)

Please check with MOFA as there are a host of visa options dependent upon the applicants situation.

Large chain will not give visas out to those without a degree. When we say large chain schools we mean, Geos, Aeon, Amity, ECC, Berlitz and Nova. And of course government run programs like the Jet Program. Why should they when they have a ton of qualified, and degree carrying ESL teachers beating down their doors?

If your visa requirements are met, then part-time work is something that you can find quickly. You just pick up a few classes here and there. There are also websites that match up Japanese looking for English teachers. Work can be found there. Word of mouth plays big here.

In general part-time work, especially teaching children is much more doable then trying to find a full time position if your teaching qualifications are very limited and TEFL certifications help a great deal here.

So it is best not to get the cart in front of the horse. Get your visa situation squared away first and then line up the work.

If you can't find teaching work right away there are other jobs that you can do as long as you can legally reside here to tide you over until you can slowly line up teaching jobs in Japan.

I hope this helps

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