International Teaching Without Credentials

teaching-credentia-smalll2887514The good news is this: A teaching credential is not always a prerequisite to teach overseas. If you’ve enjoyed a career or worked in any field whose subject matter translates well to the classroom, you could find that you’re a sought-after candidate. GO to complete article.

46 thoughts on “International Teaching Without Credentials

  1. Ignoring all the comments above. I would hire a person who has 10 years teaching experience with no certificate before a first year certified teacher. If a non certified teacher has managed to work hard for ten years, get hired by schools, make a difference in the classroom, and build a portfolio then why not? There are many exceptions to the rule, life is not one way.


  2. I think there many advantages to a teacher’s certificate but one cannot deny being a good teacher is innate. A school would be very fortunte to have a teacher with both. Nevertheless, I have been teaching for 25 years, built an art program in the middle east for three years without a teaching certificate, sucessfully. I can say with confidence that with experience, a person can be an amazing teacher on any level. With no experience but with a certificate there is a good chance the teacher is good. With no experience and no certificate, I would not hire them. Its that simple.


  3. This is such an either or argument – isn’t the point of teaching to be a mentor and role model to the kids in our charge. If I have to have cred’s at a particular school that I really want to teach in – so be it but there are so many excellent forums for education that desperately need mentors, role models and coaches who can help students wade through the learning maze with different methods.

    Each of us must decide what role we are best suited to – before jumping into the teaching game!


  4. A revolution is coming to institutional education as students continue to be “schooled” for a future that no longer exists. More and more, noted educators like John Gatto and Sir Ken Robinson are willing to say, “The Emperor is naked!”

    We, homeschooling parents, who have totally stepped out of the institutional school model are raising our children to have the time and resources to maximize their natural talents and creativity. As the rest of the industrial world continues down a path that no longer serves the coming generation, I beg credentialed teachers to be willing to ask the “unaskable question” (the one that is on the tongue of every student), “Why do I have to learn all this stuff!?”


  5. Duras
    I consider it a slap in the face for your attitude on career changers. I am 50-years-old and I changed careers twice. Now I am a teacher. I teach because I want to make a difference for the next generation and because I love doing it.
    I did not do it to be lazy. In fact I am normally the last teacher to leave my school every day. My dates with my teacher/wife are at a local restaurant grading papers together.
    You bring experience in the teaching profession. that should be valued. I bring other experience. That should be valued too.
    If you think career changers should be considered less than teachers who started out that way, you are missing some big points. Teachers are there to teach and to care for their students. Every teacher should be thrilled anytime a new person joins their profession since we need more and better quality teachers.
    If a student painted a picture of a group of people who did what they did because they were lazy, I am sure you would call their bigotry out. Don’t make the same mistake as painting all career changers with the same brush.


    1. You missed my point. What I say is a generalization, but true in a significant number of cases.

      What made you change careers a third time? You can make a difference in the world and love doing it without being a teacher. There are a ton of organizations out there that will give you this feeling. Why teach to get that feeling? What’s the draw?

      Just because you’re the last to leave doesn’t make you a good teacher. That’s not in the slightest an indication of a good/bad teacher.

      Don’t take what I say personally. This is MY opinion, and I stand by my word.

      I just wish teaching wasn’t so easy to get into. You switched careers. How long did it take? If you wanted to become a doctor, dentist, pilot, etc. it would not be as easy,would it? That’s my point. Because of the relative ease of entering the profession, it often attracts individuals who are just looking for something “easier” with the excuse of ” I want to help/inspire the future”, blah, blah, blah.

      If that statement doesn’t apply to you, then I’m not referring to you. But many who read my previous statement will read it and will secretly know it refers to them. Who would admit something like that? Anywho…thanks for responding.


  6. I feel sort of in the middle about this issue.

    I am a 29 year old teacher. My Bachelors is in Elementary Education and my Masters is in ESL/Bilingual studies. I started teaching right out of college. Although I love teaching, my issues with the profession and those in it began in college.

    I recall being a freshman and sophomore in college majoring in Elementary Education. You pretty much see the same faces in your classes because you have more or less the same curriculum. However, something changed junior year. I began seeing new faces, many new faces. So I asked many, are you new in this department/school? ( I went to a small university of about 10,000 students). The overwhelming majority had some reason like this: “I was in Engineering/Chemistry/Nursing/Biology, etc. but I couldn’t pass the math classes. So I’m going to teach”. or ” Oh I decided xyz profession is not for me (code for too hard), so I’m going to try teaching for a while. The classes are easier”.

    What made it worse was that many athletes (which in my school truly represented the “dumb jocks” stereotype) were in education, mostly majoring in Social Studies or PE. They could barely maintain a C average to keep playing football. I learned then that teaching was a convenient and easy career path to enter for most people.

    I graduated ( I worked my butt off for four years) with top honors. I had six months of student teaching, various research and methodology projects and even acquired a minor in Latin American Studies/Spanish so that I could enhance instruction and relate better to the Latino community in which I would be teaching. I also spent time volunteer teaching in Mexico one summer. And of course, there were the teacher certification tests that one must pass. I passed them. But as one can see, those tests were only one part of the process.

    After doing all of this, I began teaching. During my first year, I was annoyed to see “career changing” teachers who had had a 10+years career in another profession, got bored, fired, not enough vacation time, wanted to spend more time with children, etc., and so decided to become a teacher because that was their “true gift” as they had discovered.


    Let’s be real here.

    Everyone knows that a lot of people are attracted to teaching because of the time off and relative ease of entering the profession. I know, I know, we always hear, “I want to help the children, inspire them, plant a seed. I want to touch their lives, etc.” That’s politically correct and while true for a lot of teachers, let’s not hide other reasons.

    Most of us know someone who became a teacher for the wrong reasons, whether they say so or not. I have heard many people say, “I’m going to leave my job and teach” but I’ve never heard, “I’m going to leave my job as a teacher and do my true passion-go to medical school, become a pilot, lawyer, etc”.

    Do credentials make a great teacher? No. However, it is a slap in the face to those who have worked for those credentials and then someone comes along and gets the same job with minimal work.

    Yes, I must admit. Most of what I learned about teaching happened on the job. School could not have prepared me for everything. That piece of paper,however, means a lot to school districts. It also may show in some ways a teacher’s commitment to the profession in general. It looks good on paper if a school district or school in general has teachers who have gone through some type of rigorous training and are certified. Not just a few courses/classes. Would you like to go to a hospital where most of the doctors don’t have a medical license, even if they tell you being a doctor is their “gift”?

    With that begin said, here’s my solution. I’m really in the middle with this. Professions such as being a mechanic or hairdresser don’t require a four year degree. Vocational school does it. Maybe teaching should be that way. Why get a four year degree in teaching if most of what is learned is on the job? Two years would be enough to learn the methodologies, etc.

    I say this because so many “career changes” into teaching have done something parallel to this and they are making the same as me. So why did I go through all of that work ? I could have done what they have.

    The teaching profession is relatively easy to enter. Much easier than being a doctor, dentist, or lawyer. That’s precisely the problem.

    Yes, of course everyone can’t be/isn’t a good teacher, but I can say the same about being a maid or garbage collector. I can go and be a maid tomorrow, but I would suck at it because I hate cleaning.

    Doctors, lawyers, and many other careers get respect because you know that most everyone in the profession put in equal time to get licensed. With teaching, it’s different. It’s like: “You like children? Do you have good classroom management? Great, be a teacher!” There are so many programs around to convert people into teachers. I never see that with other professions.

    After eight years of teaching, I’ve seen enough of these “career changers” or “my life is easier as a teacher” people. If it wasn’t so easy (relatively speaking) for them to enter the profession, teaching would have a better reputation.


  7. I taught high school ESL and English literature for six years at a private school without being certified. I always felt that I wasn’t a real “teacher” because I didn’t have certification. I did work with many other non-certified teachers as well as certified teachers. I can recall that those who were the best teachers were not always those with certification.

    I went back to Canada and obtained a B.Ed and teacher certification. One of the biggest things I tell people is that it was just one large hoop. In fact I couldn’t believe all the hoops that they had us jump through to get that piece of paper and certification. Yes, it was a lot of work to get that certification, but I would not begrudge someone who was a good teacher, yet did not want to commit the time and money to get certified. For those who get M.Eds or MAs do you begrudge those who are certified but have no desire to get a master’s degree?

    I learned a lot, but 90% of what they covered I already knew. I had been making lesson plans and thinking of assessment strategies for years. I had been using differentiated instruction techniques for years as well. Teaching classes of 25-30 students, I had my classroom management techniques honed. I found that the university I attended wanted to fill my head with too much political correctness nonsense and wanted to promote assessment and classroom management strategies that really weren’t viable in a current classroom. I am glad that I did it though. I came out of it more focused and driven to teach. So my message is, for those who are non-certified, it is worthwhile, as much as you might feel it is a waste of time while you are doing it. You will come out of the process with a lot of knowledge, respect, and the realization that teaching is a profession, and thus being a professional entails more than just natural teaching ability.


  8. Unqualified is relative. I teach at a very reputable secondary school in the US and have 17 years of teaching experience. I have taken courses in Curriculum and Instruction yet do not feel the need to get certified. Does this mean the quality of my student’s education is diminished? If one is pegged as unqualified simply because they don’t have certification, then something is wrong with education. There are plenty of bad teachers out there with certification and there are plenty of good teachers without. It all comes down to the individual and their level of organization, pedagogical knowledge, and creativity. Above all, it takes proven dedication.


  9. I am a retired former principal of a private school who taught his three sons at home–just couldn’t subject them to the trivia presented in public school. Now I am a public school substitute teacher who grieves at what children are required to do “in school”. Most of these kids intuitively understand that what they must learn is irrelevant to their futures but is necessary to keep them busy while they sit compliantly at their little desks.

    I have a Master’s in Education which was purchased at a high cost, not just in money, but in the hours of irrelevant coursework required to receive the degree. When will educators, like ourselves, admit that the Emperor is naked?

    I am the favorite substitute in many schools and I have no teaching certificate. Most school curricula and teachers are preparing students for a test. It’s all about getting a job, isn’t it? I know few (and I mean FEW) certified teachers who know much about how to prepare children for a meaningful life, doing what gives the individual real joy.

    I am not anti-teacher. Most of my extended family are teachers. Historically, certification is a relatively new requirement. It protects those who believe certification actually makes a better teacher.

    “Education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire.”–W.B. Yeats (19th century Irish poet).

    Certified teachers may know best how to work their students through a school’s required curricula. Does their certification give them a greater ability to light fires?


  10. It cost me quite a lot of money, time, effort and energy to get my teaching qualifications. If these people are so clever go and do what I did. I can tell an unqualified teacher at 100 paces. They simply do not understand the pedagogical process of how a student learns. Yes, anyone can teach, but can they teach so that a child takes something away from the experience. In my very long experience, the short answer is NO!


  11. After teaching for nine years in South America and assistant teaching for another two in Canada, I have returned to University to get my teaching certification. I didn’t discover teaching as a career, it discovered me. I stumbled into it when I was in South America volunteering as a graphic artist. When the project was done I was offered a job teaching Art from K through Grade 5 at a beautiful international school of 350 students.

    I was excited about the job opportunity because I loved the country I was discovering and with my volunteer job over, it would mean I could afford to stay longer. I was uncomfortable though with the idea of teaching at the time, not sure I knew how to ‘teach’ and if I deserved the title of ‘Art Teacher’, having not actually studied to become one. However, the seasoned owner/director of the school with his wide range of international experience, including Canada, told me this: “Teachers are born not made”. He believed I had what it took to be a great teacher, the fact that I was a volunteer in a third world country spoke volumes and that he liked my enthusiastic and friendly approach to both adults and children. Well with a slightly inflated ego I figured I could only give it my best shot and I did have a strong background in Art along with Art credentials. So, with great fear (at first) I embarked on what would become my real passion in life – the kids and my love of sharing and passing it on. It was hard work but my director fueled my belief and supported me along the way.

    Over the years I received mentoring from fellow certified teachers and attended workshops. Finally, and with much reluctance I decided to return to Canada to become ‘official’ because of my need to feel I have truly earned that title. Even though I have had a very successful and satisfying career in the international circuit I want to possess this certificate and at the same time learn a few new things to say the least. My integrity is asking this of me. I believe it may be different for everyone, depending on their academic background and level they are teaching.

    I look forward to resuming international teaching in 2012 when I’ll be done. This time I know the world will really be my oyster, as I will also have a Master of Education as part of my designation.

    It’s a long haul both financially and emotionally and I do have days of wanting to forget it all and return to my old school but then remember what drove me back to Canada in the first place. I did sacrifice a lot to make that decision so owe it to myself to see it through.

    Canada is a tough place to meet the strict requirements and there have been quite a few hoops I’ve had to jump through, but I’m still going.

    If you are currently teaching without credentials, are doing a great job and receiving good feedback then you must be ‘born to teach’. Your heart is in it! I think that says so much first and foremost. I too have encountered teachers certified who were not happy at the school or in that country or worse yet, were just plain tired of the profession itself.

    I have also worked with absolutely wonderful certified teachers who I looked up to and respected and who did not judge me. I even taught their kids. No matter what our situation, I do agree that we owe it to our students to know what it is we are doing since we do shape their lives.

    You have to ask yourself if you have what it takes to give them what they deserve, not only emotionally but academically too. If you have doubts then listen to them and do whatever is necessary to feel good about being a ‘teacher’, bonafide or not. Of course this is easy for me to say now that I’m actually doing it, and again, it’s my own personal decision, I was not told ever that I had to do this by any of the schools I’ve applied at or worked for.

    When my studies are done I believe I will still be as passionate about teaching as I was before because I am excited about knowing what it is that I want to do for the rest of my life. A lot of people aren’t so lucky.

    So if you are certified or not, you know inside whether you have what it takes to teach your students what they need to know, not only about what’s in the books but also about life itself and all that matters.

    I’ve attached a few words of wisdom I’ve learned along the way and wish all of you hardworking teachers the best.

    “During my second month of college, our professor gave us a pop quiz. I was a conscientious student and had breezed through the questions until I read the last one:

    ‘What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?’

    Surely this was some kind of joke. I had seen the cleaning woman several times. She was tall, dark-haired and in her 50s, but how would I know her name?

    I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank. Just before class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our quiz grade.

    ‘Absolutely,’ said the professor. ‘In your careers you will meet many people. All are significant.
    They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say ‘hello.’

    I’ve never forgotten that lesson. I also learned her name was Dorothy.”
    (Author unknown)

    And finally..

    “If the school sends out children with a desire for knowledge and some idea of how to acquire and use it then it will have done its work.”
    (Richard Livingston)


  12. There is no discussion here about those of us who teach the subject that we are most experienced in – I have a long and sucessful background in Communications and marketing and now find myself teaching individuals who are interested in increasing their business acumen.

    This is not “credentialed or certified” teaching but my students are thrilled to learn the real thing instead of only book learning.


  13. I’m a school principal and I hire both certified and non certified teachers. I takes some time to train non certified teachers, but some turn out to be outstanding in class some are really born tatented for the job. Sometimes I am desperate and cant find suitable candidates and other times I am very lucky. It all depends on the dedication of the teacher and the enthusiasm to learn.


  14. We have had nothing but trouble in the past with ‘teachers’ who have no experience in teaching and also no teaching credentials. Luckily the school is now requiring those without credentials to work as ‘interns’ and take education courses offered by local universities or on-line, leading to some kind of international teaching certificate. Another school where I worked has been paying local hirees (mostly host-country) for on-line teaching certificates and even paid their trip to another country where they would take their certification exams. A school can help people change career and even offer them experience, but you’re not a teacher, until you have become one when you conform for whatever country’s regulations. Would you go to a medical doctor who is not ‘certified’ or would you like to crtoss a bridge built by a ‘non-certified’ engineer? Having talent and what-it-takes for the job is only the beginning of a long (and expensive) road to becoming a teacher, but you must fulfill and compelete the requirements to become one….there are really no short-cuts and a school that offers the same salary to uncetified and certified teachers is not doing anyone a favor.


  15. Teaching credentials prove nothing. I have worked overseas with dozens and dozens of licensed and credentialed teachers who were total failures in the classroom.

    The only thing that licensing proves is that you have satisfied the bureaucracy in the state you were working in back in the US or wherever. It has nothing to do with your qualifications as a teacher, or administrator. There has also been a lot of research to back that up. Google it.

    I have always been against the idea of state awarded credentials being equated with competence or ability. If you want to work in a government run school, then yes you will probably need government permission, a license, to do so. But this does not guarantee the quality of your work. The other problem I have with licensing is how teaching licenses are used to prevent people from teaching who might have something to offer to kids. Public schools in the US are filled with licensed teachers and their quality continues to decline year by year. Couldn’t these classes benefit from other people with other approaches, even if they haven’t taken a class in methods or state constitution?

    It might be old school but I firmly believe that you either have what it takes be with a group of children or adolescents and facilitate learning, or you don’t. No piece of paper is going to give that to you.


  16. Wow! I am shocked by some of the responses! I think many missed the point of the article. I do not think it was talking about unqualified teachers. There is a big difference between an unqualified and a uncertified teacher.

    Internationally there MANY different standards as to how and who is certified. I am from the States and each state has a different standard of how to become certified. I have been teaching internationally for five years now and to be successful it takes much more than a certification! But, that is a different article or topic.

    First, who is qualified and who is certified is an interesting comparison. I however can only compare the US system as that is where I am from and what I know. As the articles stated certain areas are in high demand math, science etc., there are many programs in the US to transfer people with real world experience into the classroom. Troops to teachers is one that comes to mind or Teach America and a few others. Let us look at what these do. They take QUALIFIED individuals place them in schools and then have them teach immediately while they take a few pedagogical classes and usually the individual state and governmental history. The moment these individuals start they are certified (on a temporary certification) then after successful teaching they get permit certifications.

    Therefore, in my reasoning if an international school does this why would they then be considered third rate? Here is an Anecdotal example so take it with a grain of salt. I have a good friend who is has an economics undergraduate degree, MBA and is a certified CPA. He is teaching in an international High school teaching IB math, economics and accounting. He also is SLOWLY taking classes for an M. Ed., in secondary education. However, only one to two classes a year it will take him two or three years to finish I am sure. Then he would have to return to the states to take the tests and the state governmental history classes to get a STATE certification as there are no national certifications currently. This individual could do the same thing at home and be teaching in a public school there but instead choose to teach abroad.

    I think before you judge someone you should look at what they can bring to the school not which paper they currently have. Then I further reason if an individual has a certification but that is the only thing they have on their resume does this make them qualified to teach abroad?

    Moreover, what about individuals with M.Eds or PhDs who do teach at universities and colleges in western countries or write curriculums and pedagogy for schools or train teachers to teach? Are these uncertified people then unqualified to teach? Then again anyone of the uncertified individuals I spoke about above could start teaching in any classroom in the US tomorrow on temporary certifications if they so choose.

    After this rant I will quantify my stance I think a good school or administrators should ALWAYS and only hire qualified and motivated individuals! But in my opinion qualified and certified do not mean the same thing to me.


    1. Excellent comments.

      My experience is that parents in some countries expect teachers with lots of bits of paper – and my experience in both international schools I’ve been in that’s pretty much want they want for their child – lovely bits of paper – in some countries a bit of paper from the right place will get you further than an actual education, certified or otherwise. What does worry me is that for one of the international schools I’ve worked in (Libya) my interview consisted of absolutely no questions that related to teaching – there was no actual interview at all – no questions about my knowledge of classroom management, materials, methods – nothing. It turned out THIS was a reflection on the director who interviewed me – completely lacking in professionalism and very keen to look good to parents by hiring people with pretty bits of paper (I have both a Bachelor and a Masters in Education) without any insight into their teaching practices. Conversely this same director hired and paid his very underqualified wife (adult ESL certified) to teach English to very young children, at the same salary as the qualified teachers – and the results do not reflect well on that decision – after 12 months “intensive english language” children came back still unable to associated letters with sounds or construct basic, grammatically correct, English sentences. That I find disturbing. Schools should either have a standard that they stick with – and probably quality teaching practices should be that standard, and not be afraid to promote that with parents. Perhaps the greater ‘global’ community need to be made aware that excellent teaching practices are not necessarily dependent on bits of paper. I know excellent teachers with little formal qualifications – conversely I know extremely poor teachers with a lot of qualifications – and visa versa. Surely what’s important is whether the children are happy and learning? We try to teach children young and old the importance of actual quality of their learning (application evaluation etc, not just recitation), so surely the same should apply to teachers? The quality of what they know and how they apply that should far outweigh the bits of paper they might carry.

      Promote quality education – not quality bits of paper.


  17. I agree, having a certificate or a degree is very important, in some schools. But there are many schools in America and overseas that don’t, it depends on what the teacher and school are looking for, its about the fit, not a degree. Pretty logical.

    I am an american teacher with 25 years professional and in class experience (mostly college), an MFA, BFA and three years of IB in an international school with NO teaching certificate. I found a job that would allow me to grow in their school. The reason being,simply, with all the additional experience I had, I was able to “think outside the box” and learn the standards within the subject, find the balance between the two and make a great classroom experience.

    Perhaps my experience is unique? I dont know. But I do know that with hard work and flexibility a non certified teacher can make it work.


  18. I do not agree. Teaching credentials are necessary. There are many accredited teachers that spent time and money to study for teaching a specific subject and I do not think that whoever can take his/her job.

    I might be a very good soccer and baseball player but it does mean that I can teach PE. However, there are many teachers working all over the world without holding the accurate accreditation and there are great teachers that had to accept a position that they are not happy with because sometimes schools prefer to hire teachers without degree to pay less money.

    If we accept that game, sooner or later we will be victims.


  19. I agree with some of the other comments made so far. I have worked with only one person overseas who did not have a teaching certificate and they were just as good a teacher as the rest of us. However I put myself through University and then a Post Graduate Certificate of Education whilst I was a single parent and it was very tough financially. I did this because to teach in the UK you need a PGCE but I have to say that since then I am glad I had to as it indicates to any school that I am a professional in my chosen career.

    As to getting jobs I think my CV and the letters of reference I get should be enough for any school to find out if I am a good teacher. To say that certified teachers can be crap is not a comment on their being certified but on the school who hired them making a poor decision, or someone somewhere not being honest re their abilities.

    I would not go to a doctor, dentist, optician, accountant or solicitor who has no certification, so why is it different for teachers? Are not children the most important thing in parents life? I know my son is for me, so shouldn’t the demand be for properly qualified teachers to educate them? I do not understand where we get this idea that someone who has spent over 10 years teaching in a national system learning how to do lesson plans and curriculum work and keep up with recent educational ideas, who then works in the MYP learning how to assess using criteria etc can be blithely told that someone with none of that experience is just as good!! For me this article just illustrates why teachers are looked down in so many societies in the West, precisely because they are not respected and the rigors of the job are not appreciated.


  20. I am a person who has backed into the teaching profession. I was an instructor in the US Army, then later taught numerous professional development courses for emergency room and security workers. My wife and I decided for a break so I got an ESL certificate to teach a job overseas. When that contract expired a local prep school needed a Business teacher and they hired me based on my business and management background. I then took the plunge and I am now finishing a distance teacher certificate program through Rio Salado College which will end up with me being a certified teacher in April of next year.

    That said, I agree that most uncertified teachers are running at a disadvantage in that you do not know classroom management and curriculum/lesson development. I was able to muddle through in part of my experience as well as my wife is an experienced, certified teacher who was able to mentor me.

    Between Cultures, you might want to check out the Rio Salado College website. I think their teacher certification program can help you in your goals.


  21. I am a person stuck in the middle of all this teaching credential issue. I have been brought up in 2 international schools. I’m a Japanese citizen, but never had a Japanese education besides kindergarten. My Japanese is not good enough to pass a teaching certification in Japan. I finished my Masters related to education from Buffalo State College, but I cannot get a teaching credential, because I’m not a US citizen. Unless I find a way to get a job in the US and get a visa and apply for a credential, I will basically never get a certificate. I would do everything to get my credential and believe me I have tried for years.


    1. Poor you!
      But I do have a solution. Go and teach in Hong Kong (they have a fabulous array of international schools that pay incredibly well and students that are out of this world) You can then apply for certification. They happily accept degrees from foreign universities. Essentially you just have to fill in an annoying form, give copies of all your degrees and sit an interview. Easy!


    2. Thanx oldgreywolf. I will start my process to apply to schools in Hong Kong next year when I finish my contract.


  22. I think some teachers can be good without a cert but only if they have a high level degree and a lot of other teaching experience and are open to positive teaching. Also, it should be noted that keeping up certification in some home countries is very difficult and sometimes impossible in some US states due to very specific renewal guidelines. Many PD things overseas will not count. (note: WA state offers a reciprocal cert (out of state) that has NO expire date–if you don’t live there currently)

    That being said, there are teachers I know who got their cert through teach for America and have ZERO to LITTLE actually certified teaching experience in their content area…Yet they were catapulted to Head of Department because they were good at school politics (and getting rid of the headmaster and teachers who were in their way) I have known a couple of these types of “CERTIFIED” guys and they know how to make things look good on the surface but kick kids out of their class if they are different and do only the minimum teaching required.

    I also know uncertified teachers who are the best teachers I have ever met. They may not look good on paper or write loads of articles etc. But they have the kids’ best interest at HEART and teach from the heart.

    That being said, if a school hires a lot of uncertified teachers it makes one wonder.

    Also I think ISR should add on their site a section for evaluating school climate and a section to evaluate Heads of Department. I would not wish some of the heads I have met on any school. Once that HEAD of put on their CV…even if they don’t actually do ANYTHING —it allows them to be a bit immune to taking responsibility for their sins…much like poor Headmasters are immune in the SA, ECIS, and International hiring systems.


  23. Promoting the idea that someone can walk in off the street and be a successful teacher is extremely disrespectful to the teaching profession. More than 10 years ago, I switched from one profession to teaching. However, I went back to graduate school, did the work and EARNED my two teaching creditials and a Masters in Education. Getting a credential in my state involved a great deal more than passing a multiple choice exam, as was suggested by one earlier blogger. Show some respect for the teaching profession. Go back to school. Learn how to teach and then become part of the noblest profession.


  24. What is the problem with unqualified teachers? Those of us who are qualified, certified, and are required to renew, and do–come to these schools of the previous unqualified teacher…yes there are those who think they are but are without credentials, we literally have to clean up the mess left, to provide even the most remote legitimate education for learning to the students; then, provide appropriate background to justify an education. What’s worse? An unqualified… uncertified administrator. These messes are bigger! And, yes some owners of schools especially hire these way too often!


    1. But there are many … and I mean MANY … certified teachers who are “unqualified.” Simply getting a degree or certificate in education doesn’t make you qualified to teach or interact with students. I’ve never worked in a school that hired uncertified teachers in my area (math). But I have had to come in a revamp programs, raise expectations and fill in very serious gaps in the students’ knowledge. The product of certified teachers. I have, however, had the opportunity to interact with colleagues in other departments who were hired last minute to fill gaps. They were not teachers by profession or training … but I learned quite a bit from them.


  25. I’m a certified teacher, yet I think there are people out there who definitely have a natural ability to teach. I have also met certified teachers that I question how they ever got their degree. Saying that, I also have to refer to a school that did a three-day training of a large group of non-certified teachers to prep them for the school year. I was insulted that my credentials were seen as something that could be taught in a 3-day crash course teacher training. I also have to mention, it was the worst school I ever taught at! I think if there is a shortage of teachers (Is there still a teacher shortage in int’l schools?), a lot of the less than desirable schools are going to need this. The good schools will not hire uncertified teachers. They’ll have enough certified teachers to choose from. If someone is looking overseas to teach, go for it. I leave it up to the people hiring to make the best decisions for their schools.


  26. What do you mean by “certified?” Many teachers, especially those not born in the U.S. have completed degrees in Education, but do not have a U.S. certification (a multiple choice test). I think that to include these types of professionals in a group of “uncertified teachers” would be wrong


    1. The certification process in the US is a far more complicated process than a multiple choice test. It involves a internships and graduate level course work.


  27. Is there a place for partially-credentialled teachers? I am a library technician with a B.A. I have an T.E.F.L. certificate and taught English in Korea and Mexico. I do not have a teaching degree or a Master’s in library science.


  28. I would never teach at a school that hired non cred. teachers. It indicates desperation due to lack of candidates.

    Non certified professionals should be leery of schools who will hire them without certification. I can almost promise that they are third rate schools, where workers are miserable.

    There may be good teachers who are not certified, but it is a crap shoot. Certified teachers have been tested in some form.
    Also, getting a cert, is not that tough. If someone can’t make the small sacrifice to do it, it speaks volumes about their commitment to education.


  29. “Are teaching credentials necessary to teach overseas?” ….. only at the better schools. After teaching many years and working as an administer (HR officer) I found it far safer to hire a very good credentialed teacher than an outstanding (on paper) candidate without a teaching degree or a certificate from an accredited government agency. Why you may ask? Because a candidate with a teaching degree knows how to teach students at various levels (not just subjects), knows how to write a lesson plan, is current on the latest trends in education (IB, etc.), and because of the certification will not have a criminal record (pedophile, felony convictions etc.) Most of the better schools don’t hire first or second year teachers. The demands are great and the pressure to provide an excellent education is unending. There is very little time to learn how to teach a subject or develop the tools necessary to be succeessful. My guess is that it would be safer in the long run to hire an accredited teacher because they are less likely to burn out after a couple difficult years. They are less likely to question their commitment to the profession.


  30. I’ve seen many credentialed teachers that were not able to convey simple concepts to students or colleagues. I’ve also met teachers with out credentials that were brilliant teachers. All the textbook study in the world on the art of teaching does not make a teacher just like playing the right notes does not make a musician. Is someone that colors between the lines an artist? Teaching requires creativity and a credential doesn’t equal creativity. Great article!!


  31. Teaching without credentials doesn’t fit in teaching profession. Its not just the content knowledge that is important but communicative skills and ability to effectively transact in the class room.

    It is said that to teah John a poem, one should know both i.e. the boy john and the poem. Knowing John means understanding pedagogic principles. Any body can teach is unacceptable.


    1. I am non-credentialled teacher who has been teaching in International Schools for more than 9 years. I absolutely disagree- I think the majority of teaching skills are a gift. I have witnessed many certified teachers who are hopeless in the classroom. That is not to say that those with credentials do not have an advantage, however with hard work, constant reading, research and updating of skills- we can all improve our teaching attributes and professionalism. Knowledge of teaching practice and pedagogy is not limited to those who can afford the time and money required for a formal course and accompanying credentials.

      I was one of only two non-credentialled teachers in my previous school and we were reviewed extensively by an accreditation team- in their report I was the only teacher in the entire school who recieved an “E” (exceeds expectations) for my curriculum work and lesson observations.


    2. Being an excellent teacher is not the point. It is disrespectful to other qualified teachers that have made the effort to obtain the qualifications. I do not want to work in a school that employs non-certified teachers no matter how good they are.


    3. I have a Master’s degree in Education, have homeschooled my three sons into successful careers as adults, have been the principal of a private school and a lecturer on education for 15 years at conferences in several countries. I am not certified to teach. I now substitute teach and am stunned to find certified teachers who cannot speak the English language. They say things like, “…qualified teachers *that* have made the effort….” (instead of *who* have made the effort). They treat students disrespectfully. Give me a gifted and passionate “non-credentialed” teacher (who loves kids) any day!


    4. @Christ Davis.

      Nice try, but your grammar is WRONG and out of date prescriptivism. I have a Master’s degree in Education too. So what. I think Louis is wrong, but so is your underhanded character attack.

      That as a Pronoun

      But, of course, it is also more complicated than that. The who-goes-with-people rule is the conventional wisdom (1,2), but, on the other hand, I did find a credible reference that says otherwise. I was shocked to see that my American Heritage Dictionary says,

      It is entirely acceptable to write either the man that wanted to talk to you, or the man who wanted to talk to you (3). [emphasis added]

      Wow. So I dug around some more and found that there is a long history of writers using that as a relative pronoun when writing about people. Chaucer did it, for example (4).

      So, it’s more of a gray area than some people think, and if you have strong feelings about it, you could make an argument for using that when you’re talking about people. But my guess is that most people who use who and that interchangeably do it because they don’t know the difference. I don’t consider myself a grammar snob-–this is “quick and dirty” grammar, after all-–but in this case, I have to take the side of the people who prefer the strict rule. To me, using that when you are talking about a person makes them seem less than human. I always think of my friend who would only refer to his new stepmother as the woman that married my father. He was clearly trying to indicate his animosity and you wouldn’t want to do that accidentally.


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