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American, no degree, Europe--No chance?
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plantagenet



Joined: 09 Nov 2009
Posts: 23

PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2012 4:26 am    Post subject: American, no degree, Europe--No chance? Reply with quote

I was wondering what the chances are of a 23 year old American male finding work in Eastern Europe without a degree? Particularly Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Hungary. I am interested in any/all of these countries. I am also interested in Ukraine and Russia, but not as much as the former group.

If I can rack up some experience volunteering ESL at my local college, use what tutoring experience I have, and get a CELTA certification, will I be able to find work anywhere? I also have experience controlling a classroom and working with children (about 1 year.) I am willing to start out in smaller towns out in the boondocks so to speak if need be. Making decent wages would be nice, but I am used to living on low wages so as long as I can survive and have a little extra money, that would be fine too.

A side question instead of making a new thread---Can one earn a degree part-time while doing TEFL? Be it online or in a foreign university? My main issue is I want to get out of the United States and I don't want to go to school full time in the United States and have to wait before I can do ESL.

Thanks in advance for any information or assistance you can provide.
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Kofola



Joined: 20 Feb 2009
Posts: 148
Location: Slovakia

PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2012 8:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi,

It is possible to teach in Slovakia without a degree. They tend to be low-end jobs and particularly schools that do the Callan Method, which are popping up like a rash here at the moment.

It's useful to bear in mind that absolutely everyone in Slovakia has a degree (more so than in the UK for instance).

You can do a degree with the Open University http://www.open.ac.uk/ - one of many possibilities.

Hope it helps.
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plantagenet



Joined: 09 Nov 2009
Posts: 23

PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2012 6:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi, thank you for the information. The reason I don't have a degree is because it didn't seem worth it to me in regards to the price of a degree vs the prospects of getting a job with said degree, at least here in the US. I have many friends who have 4 year degrees, upwards of $50,000 in debt, and either work jobs that wouldn't have required a degree anyway or have no job at all. Some have upwards of $100k in debt and no way to pay it back. I didn't want to end up like them.

Now I realize that I will be a less desirable employee than say an EU citizen or people with degrees, but how low are many chances really? Slim to none, or is there work to be found? It seems many English teachers go to the bigger cities, what about work in smaller cities and towns? What about non EU countries like Russia and Ukraine?

As I mentioned earlier, making a lot of money isn't something that is so important to me. As long as the low-end jobs would bring me enough to survive and perhaps eat out once in a while, I would be happy.

Also, I apologize for posting this topic twice....not really sure how it happened because I only hit submit once.
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9589
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2012 6:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You're doing well to focus on countries where non-EU member citizens can legally get work permits (mostly, the 'new' member countries). The lack of a degree obviously hurts, as most other newbies on the job market will have one, not to mention - as kofola has already pointed out - most adults from the region also hold university degrees. However, there are no legal requirements in the region that I know of for a degree to teach for private language schools, so it's mostly a matter of making yourself attractive enough to employers to overcome the lack.

As you probably know, most jobs in this region are not found from abroad. You'll need to plan to come over and interview in person. Pick a city (or two or three) to focus on.

As you have no CELTA or equivalent certification, this will be your next step. As most newbies on the job market here have this PLUS a degree, it's not a good option for you to try without certification. You might well consider taking a cert course in the country where you want to try to get work - it's a good bridge into country/culture. Most training centres will handle logistics like airport pickup, housing during the course, and local orientation. Your practice teaching students will be really representative of those you'll work with when you start, and fellow trainees can form your first social network. You can also be sure your certification will be recognised by employers in the region.

You may not be aware that most entry-level work here is not with children, but with businesspeople in their offices. You may find a job at a school with children, but they are not the norm for starting out. In regular public schools, English is typically taught by local teachers with skills in both the local language and English.

Timing will be essential. You probably know that you have 90 days in the Schengen zone to get working papers arranged (google Schengen zone if you're not familiar). As most contracts are September - June, one way to optimise your chances of success is to get on a cert course somewhere here in August, and then job hunt immediately afterwards.

No, you won't make much money, but you should be able to make enough to enjoy the place you are in, and, yes, to eat out now and then and to travel around the country. Saving much isn't usually feasible - nor would be paying off student loans or other debt back home Cool

Be sure that you're financially set for the up-front costs - as schools do not generally hire from abroad, you'll be facing flight costs and the start-up costs as well. People generally just about break even by the end of their first contract period.
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plantagenet



Joined: 09 Nov 2009
Posts: 23

PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2012 7:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for the informative post spiral78. I do plan on getting the CELTA in time for the hiring seasons, so hopefully this will help me. While it is possible that it could happen, I just don't want to fly out to Europe, spend the money on the CELTA, and not be able to find employment at all.

Would you have a particular recommendation of the Eastern European countries I have listed where doing the CETLA and finding a job without a degree might be more successful?

From what I've read, Ukraine and Russia don't require a degree and may be easier to find work in than the EU member states. Perhaps it would be a good idea to start here? While I would prefer the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, or Hungary, I wouldn't mind going farther East if need be. Really, if getting experience would help, I wouldn't mind going to China or Argentina/Uruguay as a springboard to Europe, but I would strongly prefer to go to Europe right off the bat.

Finally, what does experience count for in this industry? I understand that a lot of the times a degree is required due to visa requirements, not necessarily the school's requirements. If one could start working in the industry and teach for a few years and eventually obtain the DELTA, would his chances be any better?

As I mentioned, I wouldn't mind going to school online or abroad while teaching to earn my degree, if this is feasible. I really just want to get out of where I am now (New Jersey) as I feel there are no prospects for me here, and I've always wanted to go abroad and teach. So I just keep my fingers crossed that there is hope for me.

Thanks again.
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9589
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2012 7:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

None of the countries you mention have any legal requirements for a degree that I know of.

I can speak for the market in the Czech Rep to some degree (I've been here part-time for nearly 15 years and have friends in the TEFL industry). You could probably get something if you took a course in Prague in August and started a job search in September - always assuming that you make a professional appearance and can convince prospective employers that you will be reliable and do a good job with their clients.

Experience in Asia and Latin America will not help you much in Europe - the students, approaches and methods, and expectations are very different. If you really want to be in Central/Eastern Europe, it's probably best to come straight here.

Yes, a DELTA is well-regarded. You normally need a CELTA first plus about two years of experience.

For long-term planning: everyone's first year is pretty much subsistence level. When you've been in a city long enough to make some local contacts and gain some local reputation and language skills, you can get in line for the 'better' jobs around. It takes some time to move up the ladder - most newbies in the region are in a city only for one or two contract periods, so if you can stick it out longer, you've got a 'home turf' advantage.

Sure, there is hope for you:-) I actually know someone with no BA who started out in the Czech Rep a long time ago, was ultimately accepted for an MA TESL/TEFL programme based on experience and writing skills, who's done very well over the past decade in the region. It doesn't happen for everyone, but there's hope Very Happy
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morrisonhotel



Joined: 10 Feb 2010
Posts: 44

PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2012 8:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

plantagenet wrote:


As I mentioned, I wouldn't mind going to school online or abroad while teaching to earn my degree, if this is feasible.


As you're thinking about this route, bear in mind the University of London's International Programme. You'll pay about $5,500 for the entire degree. You'll struggle to find any other reputable university that can match that.
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plantagenet



Joined: 09 Nov 2009
Posts: 23

PostPosted: Fri Jan 20, 2012 12:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

spiral78 wrote:
I can speak for the market in the Czech Rep to some degree (I've been here part-time for nearly 15 years and have friends in the TEFL industry). You could probably get something if you took a course in Prague in August and started a job search in September - always assuming that you make a professional appearance and can convince prospective employers that you will be reliable and do a good job with their clients.


Interesting. If one took the course in Prague but searched for jobs outside of Prague, would their chances be better? It seems to me that the stiffest competition would probably be in Prague compared to some of the smaller cities. Any cities outside of Prague you can recommend? Beggars can't be choosers but I would prefer a city with nice historical architecture as I am a big history buff.

Perhaps a better question would be of the countries I listed which is the one I am least likely to find a job in? Poland?

spiral78 wrote:
Experience in Asia and Latin America will not help you much in Europe - the students, approaches and methods, and expectations are very different. If you really want to be in Central/Eastern Europe, it's probably best to come straight here.


Alright, point well taken. I didn't really want to go to Asia or Latin America anyway.

spiral78 wrote:
For long-term planning: everyone's first year is pretty much subsistence level. When you've been in a city long enough to make some local contacts and gain some local reputation and language skills, you can get in line for the 'better' jobs around. It takes some time to move up the ladder - most newbies in the region are in a city only for one or two contract periods, so if you can stick it out longer, you've got a 'home turf' advantage.


Sounds good. I wonder what the freelancing scene is like for someone without a degree. Perhaps freelancing would be a good way to supplement ones income on top of their normal pay from the school they are hired by.

spiral78 wrote:
Sure, there is hope for you:-) I actually know someone with no BA who started out in the Czech Rep a long time ago, was ultimately accepted for an MA TESL/TEFL programme based on experience and writing skills, who's done very well over the past decade in the region. It doesn't happen for everyone, but there's hope Very Happy


Thanks, that is reassuring. I just was trying to make sure I wasn't having unrealistic expectations by trying to find work in Eastern Europe without a degree. It would be nice if I can make this happen.

morrisonhotel wrote:
As you're thinking about this route, bear in mind the University of London's International Programme. You'll pay about $5,500 for the entire degree. You'll struggle to find any other reputable university that can match that.


Wow, that does sound like quite the deal. Thank you for the information, I will look into it.

I am thinking of becoming a TEFL teacher for the long haul, I want to do this as a career more than just as a means of travel. I understand the usefulness of a degree in this regard, but my main thing as I mentioned earlier is not wanting to wait until I compete a degree here in the US, as I am already 23. I want to get out now, or as soon as possible.
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9589
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Fri Jan 20, 2012 8:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It won't matter substantially if you take a course in Prague and then search outside the city. That's pretty commonly done. You could also consider Ceske Budjeovice, Pisek, Brno, Bratislava, etc. The job markets in smaller towns are - smaller. You might find an opening more easily, or possibly not, but either way you'd be here on the ground to try in person, which certainly maximises your chances of success.

I don't think that anyone will be able to really tell you which country in this region offers the best/worst chances. The job markets are fairly similar at entry level and your chances are probably about the same across the region (I am speaking of Central Europe here).

So far as freelance work, again, local reputation and connections are usually needed. It's a bit difficult because the bulk of the work at newbie level is with corporations, who may/may not want to contract with a freelancer as versus an established school.

Private lessons are easier to build up, but they are also less reliable as income, obviously.
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Larryj917



Joined: 25 Nov 2011
Posts: 21

PostPosted: Sat Jan 21, 2012 9:20 am    Post subject: Bratislava Reply with quote

I want to get out now, or as soon as possible.
Quote:


I would echo what both Spiral and Kofola said, and add that I teach at a private university here, where many of my students teach English for language schools part-time. The pay isn't too great, but some of them live on it. Having said that, though, the work-permit process is tough in Slovakia, and you'll need bi-lingual help. I would insist that any school you hook up with help with that.
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plantagenet



Joined: 09 Nov 2009
Posts: 23

PostPosted: Sat Jan 21, 2012 10:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the information everybody, it has been very helpful. I am starting to get an idea of my general plan and the steps I have to take in order to achieve this. I think my biggest difficulty will be narrowing down the main country I should focus on. Since spiral said that the job markets are relatively similar, it makes it more difficult to choose, because normally I would try to start with the country that has the highest chance of success to get my feet on the ground.

Beggars can't be choosers, but ideally I would like to be in a city with lots of history and historical architecture, being that I am a massive history buff.

Of course with every endeavor worth taking there are risks involved, but my biggest fear would be spending my savings on the flight over, living expenses, the CELTA, and then wind up failing to get employed and having to wait until the next hiring season. I suppose I can maximize my chances for success by presenting myself as professionally and confident as I can, as has been suggested. Perhaps another strategy would be to spend a few days applying to every single school I can find.

Another question for those who have taught in any of the countries I've listed: Beyond the job market, which of these countries have you enjoyed the most overall? If anyone could chime in and give me some recommendations, I'd appreciate it.

Thanks again,

Plantagenet
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evolving81



Joined: 04 May 2009
Posts: 135
Location: Tampa

PostPosted: Fri Feb 10, 2012 5:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

spiral78 wrote:
You're doing well to focus on countries where non-EU member citizens can legally get work permits (mostly, the 'new' member countries).


That's good to know. I was under the impression that Americans (non-EU people) wouldn't be able to get a work permit in Europe at all. I had just about given up on that dream. haha

However, unlike the OP I do have a BA and an MA in TESOL. Does the MA have much influence over there? It seems that in some places there is no real benefit to having an MA in TESOL and I would just get a regular entry level job like everyone else.
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Mike_2007



Joined: 24 Apr 2007
Posts: 344
Location: Bucharest, Romania

PostPosted: Fri Feb 10, 2012 12:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi evolving81,

Quote:
I was under the impression that Americans (non-EU people) wouldn't be able to get a work permit in Europe at all


It's exactly the 'non-EU people' that work permits are for. EU citizens don't need work permits, just as a Texan doesn't need a work permit to work in Florida (I assume!). It's only the non-EU people who have to secure work permits to work in EU countries. The problem arises because employers will obviously prefer (and are in some case obligated) to employ EU citizens first, because it's a hell of a lot less paperwork and hassle. All other things considered equal, if you're up for a job with a candidate from the UK/Eire, then he/she is likely to get it over you, unless they particular want someone from the USA/Can/Aus/NZ/etc because of the course's focus.

Back to the OP's question: There are some countries where having a degree is required by the government in order for you to receive a permit to work as a teacher (although in some case companies/schools will get around this by employing you in another capacity). In other countries it's just a standard requirement of most institutions who might employ you. As spiral78 says, you can do it, but you have a lot of things against you.
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9589
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Fri Feb 10, 2012 1:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
However, unlike the OP I do have a BA and an MA in TESOL. Does the MA have much influence over there? It seems that in some places there is no real benefit to having an MA in TESOL and I would just get a regular entry level job like everyone else.


Unfortunately, in the Central European region where US citizens can get work permits, the MA will not help much (I've got one myself, along with over a decade of experience in Europe, and I would very much love to be working in the Czech Rep, but simply can't afford to long-term).

The problem is that university teachers - like health care workers - in the region are stuck on a very low pay scale (holdover from the old political system). Entry level teachers doing business classes for private language schools can very often make more money than a highly-qualified university instructor!

The job market is very heavily slanted towards private language school, entry-level jobs, there being many certification centres in the region (turning out newly certified teachers regularly) and the businesses who employ teachers being satisfied with entry-level qualifications. Turnover is high every year, though there are people who stick it out and develop local language skills, reputation, and contacts and thereby find better-paid niches eventually.

Most state schools under university level employ locals to teach English and other languages, so that's not much of a job market (and the pay in this sector is also very low relative to cost of living).

I would say that the only way to get the 'better' jobs here, regardless of your qualifications, is to come over, pick a city, and basically pay dues in terms building local reputation, contacts, and language skills.

A few teachers are able to work directly for corporations, thus cutting out the school middleman. These jobs are difficult and tricky to get, though, as most legitimate corporations strongly prefer to have the name of an established school on their tax records as opposed to that of an individual teacher.

International school positions come up rarely, and usually require someone certified to teach a core subject in their home countries, but very occasionally there is one for a TEFL teacher (well, I've heard that this is true, but have never myself actually seen such a position nor do I know anyone over the years who's gotten one!).

There are also the DOS and teacher trainer routes (teacher training doesn't usually suit teachers for more than a year or two at a time); both require local contacts with language schools and certification centres, and are very competitive.


Overall, you'd surely find work in the region so long as you focus on the countries where work permits can be had (not Western Europe) but it would be very difficult to find jobs that would financially reward your qualifications, sadly.
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oipivo



Joined: 02 Jan 2012
Posts: 159
Location: Poland

PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 10:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I taught in the Czech Republic with no degree for nearly two years. I took a TEFL course in August and found work the next month with no problems. The biggest problem that you'll run into is finding a school that will get you a visa. I believe there are complications with getting a visa for someone who doesn't have a degree (I could be wrong on that), so more and more schools are requiring one.

I am currently living in Istanbul and it's no problem finding work here without a degree. It's a great place to get some experience before going to more desirable countries. The pay is decent and many schools offer a nice bonus after finishing a contract. A lot of people go to another country (Italy, Portugal, Czech Republic, etc.) for their TEFL and then come teach in Turkey since there is so much work. Let me know if you have any questions.
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