Teach Abroad

7 Best Countries in Asia to Teach English Without a Degree

Teach English in Asia in these great countries – no degree necessary!

When searching for TEFL jobs abroad, it’s common to see a bachelor’s degree as a requirement – especially in Asia. However, it is possible to teach abroad in Asia without a degree. If you know the right countries, you can be on your way to a new teaching career overseas.

Why do some countries require a bachelor’s degree for TEFL teachers?

Popular TEFL countries in Asia like South Korea, Japan, and China require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree for those who want to teach English abroad. This is because to get a visa to work legally, you need to present paperwork verifying you’ve earned a degree. The job markets in these countries are more highly regulated and offer higher salaries.

If you want to stay in the TEFL industry and have higher-paying countries in your sights, you could always earn your bachelor’s online part-time while you teach abroad in one of the following countries.


A crowd of people walk up to Angkor Wat in Cambodia.

🏠 Cost of living: $700-$1,000
💰 Average monthly salary: $700-$1,200
✏️ Requirements: TEFL/TESOL certification, native English speaker

Often at the top of the list for teaching overseas, Cambodia is one of the easiest places in Asia to find a job teaching English without a degree. A beautiful and varied country, the cost of living here is very low, but the wages can be too. We recommend checking out teaching opportunities in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Kampot, and Sihanoukville.

You will need a Type E visa to work in Cambodia. This is relatively easy to get and you can apply for it online.


Two men ride horses with decorative saddles in the street in India.

🏠 Cost of living: $300-$450
💰 Average monthly salary: $100-$600
✏️ Requirements: TEFL certificate, native English speaker

Teaching jobs in India tend to be volunteer positions, however, you may be able to land a gig that pays a small monthly stipend of around $100-$300 USD while also providing accommodation and meals. While you won’t get rich, your basic needs will be covered.

If you’re unable to find a job with a stipend, volunteer teaching programs usually cover room and board. You can always earn a bit of cash on the side with online teaching or other remote freelance work if you want some pocket money. This can be a great jumping-off point for new TEFL-certified teachers to gain skills and build their resumes. There’s a lot to love about India so even if you can’t earn a steady salary right away, your experience will be priceless.

It’s best to look for a job before you arrive and think carefully about where you want to live before you dive right in. Our suggestions are to start with volunteering for a month or two and see how you get on before making the full commitment. Bigger cities like Mumbai and Delhi can be amazing places to live and offer many higher-paying positions.


Cars line the street with a palace in the background.

🏠 Cost of living: $850-$1,000
💰 Average monthly salary: $600-$1,500
✏️ Requirements: TEFL/TESOL certification, native English speaker

If you’re looking for a more immersive local experience, you won’t find any better than the small landlocked nation of Laos in the heart of Southeast Asia. While the international schools in Laos tend only to hire teachers with degrees and experience, there are plenty of other schools around Vientiane that will accept those with only a TEFL qualification. It can be tough to find paid work outside of the capital and you may have to gain experience by volunteering over there first.

Finding paid teaching jobs in Laos can be on more of a ‘who you know’ basis, so networking here is important. It is also better to be in the country to seek work as there aren’t many jobs posted online. Pay also tends to be on the lower end, but with the low cost of living and easy lifestyle, things definitely balance out.


Temples dot green hills in Myanmar.

🏠 Cost of living: $750-$900
💰 Average monthly salary: $700-$1,000
✏️ Requirements: TEFL/TESOL certification, native or native-level English speaker, some teaching experience preferred

Myanmar, also known as Burma, has become a popular tourist destination in recent years. After years of isolation from military rule and international coverage of the ongoing refugee crisis in the Rakhine State, the country is working to promote tourism and improve its image abroad.

A beautiful country filled with temples, beaches, and plenty of natural landscapes for adventure travel, Myanmar is a great option for English teachers. As more tourists visit the country, the demand for TEFL teachers in Myanmar will continue to increase. You can expect to find jobs in private language academies and as private tutors. However, working in an international school generally requires a bachelor’s degree and a teaching license.


A street view of buildings in Kuala Lumpur.

🏠 Cost of living: $600-$850
💰 Average monthly salary: $600-$1,500
✏️ Requirements: TEFL/TESOL certification, teaching experience preferred

Perhaps a slightly unexpected addition to the list is Malaysia. Although it is among the most developed countries in Asia, it has lower educational requirements than the likes of China, Japan, and Korea. This is good news for those without a degree! There are a variety of options for English teachers in Malaysia, but those without a bachelor’s will be best trying the private language schools where a TEFL or a CELTA alone will often suffice.

Generally, pay for those without a degree is slightly less, but the wages here are still relatively high compared to some of the other Southeast Asian countries. Kuala Lumpur is a great city to start as an ESL teacher, but there are plenty of other interesting places to teach in Malaysia, including Penang – famous for its food and street art – and the port city of Melaka.


People walk down a street lined with vegetation and buildings in Bandipur, Nepal.

🏠 Cost of living: $400-$600
💰 Average monthly salary: voluntary
✏️ Requirements: TEFL/TESOL certification, native or near-native English speaker

English teaching positions in Nepal are largely voluntary but if you’re a new teacher, it can be a fantastic place to start your TEFL career. Nepal has a lot to offer by way of trekking and cultural immersion and its low cost of living makes it ideal for gaining experience while exploring a dynamic and welcoming country.

Most volunteer teaching programs in Nepal ask for a program fee but usually include room and board which can be less than what you’d pay for rent back home. If you have a side income from a digital nomad job you’ll get on quite well in Nepal.

Read more: Everything You Need to Know About Volunteering in Nepal


Neon signs glow around the entrance to a night market in Taiwan.

🏠 Cost of living: $900-$1,300
💰 Average monthly salary: $1,400-$2,000
✏️ Requirements: TEFL certificate, associate’s degree, native English speaker

While some countries are a little strict about only hiring English teachers with 4-year qualifications, a few countries only require evidence of further education but not necessarily a full bachelor's degree. Surprisingly, Taiwan is one of those! Having a two-year associate’s degree and a TEFL certificate will allow you to find a job teaching in Taiwan where the salaries are comparatively higher than other countries on our list.

Despite the high salaries, it’s important to know that Taiwan also has a relatively high cost of living.

Read more: What Salary Will You Earn Teaching Abroad in Taiwan?

Should you earn your TEFL certificate online or in Asia?

Depending on your personal and financial situation, earning your TEFL certificate abroad in the Asian country you want to work in could be a strategic move. Many TEFL providers who offer in-person courses have links to local job markets and can assist you in securing a position.

Online TEFL courses are accepted across Asia, though. They are usually cheaper than in-person courses and are more convenient for people who are working while they study. If you earn your TEFL/TESOL certificate online, you can take advantage of job search assistance from the provider or look for your own opportunities online.


No bachelor’s, no worries

Whether earning a degree is something you have planned for your future or not, teaching abroad with just a TEFL and your talent is possible. While you may not earn as much as in other Asian countries, you’ll gain priceless experience to move up the TEFL ladder in the future. That coupled with the excitement of living abroad makes teaching English in these destinations a no-brainer!

Learn more about teaching English in Asia: