Career Options in Teaching for People without a Degree
Most teacher positions in K-12 schools require a bachelor's or master's degree, and teaching at the university level usually requires a doctorate. However, there are a few job options for those who want to teach but don't have a degree. Some of these positions are found in schools and involve academic teaching, while others involve teaching skills, crafts, physical activities or even teaching animals.
|Job Title||Median Salary (2016)*||Job Growth (2014-2024)*|
|Self-Enrichment Education Teacher||$37,330||15%|
|Library Assistant||$25,220 (for clerical library assistants)||5% (for clerical library assistants)|
|Fitness Trainers and Instructors||$38,160||8%|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Career Information for Jobs in Teaching that Don't Require a Degree
Although teaching assistants usually need to complete at least two years of college coursework, they don't need to hold a degree. The majority of teaching assistants work in elementary schools and high schools, though some work in preschools and day care centers. The teaching duties of these assistants involve going over the day's lessons with individual students or small groups to make sure they fully absorb the material. These assistants also perform tasks to support the classroom teacher, such as taking attendance, discussing lesson plans and checking homework.
Self-Enrichment Education Teacher
If you like to teach but don't love academic subjects, becoming a self-enrichment education teacher to lead classes for personal enjoyment and lifelong learning may be right for you. Almost anything can be the subject of an enrichment class: choosing fine wines, knitting, personal finance, cooking, woodworking, journal-writing, and so on. Expertise and enthusiasm in their subject matter is required for a self-enrichment education teacher, but a degree is not necessary; a high school diploma is the typical entry-level education for these jobs. These teachers may lead classes in school settings or elsewhere, like community centers and senior centers.
The job duties of library assistants involve general library upkeep, like organizing, cataloging and re-shelving materials, and they also have some teaching tasks. Library assistants may teach patrons how to find the books, periodicals or other materials they're looking for, and they also teach patrons how to use other library resources, like databases. These assistants need a high school diploma or the equivalent, as well as on-the-job training, and work under the supervision of librarians and library technicians. They may work in school libraries, public libraries, or specialized libraries found in places like museums, healthcare facilities and even government agencies.
Fitness Trainer and Instructor
Fitness trainers and instructors can teach a wide variety of exercise and conditioning activities, including strength training, yoga, Pilates, aerobics, exercise for seniors, and many more. These instructors may lead group fitness classes or see clients one-on-one. Their teaching involves demonstrating techniques, watching and correcting clients, and adapting the exercises to the client's abilities. A high school diploma or the equivalent is required to become a fitness trainer or instructor, and employers prefer to hire those with certification in CPR and in their specialty; for example, a yoga instructor would typically seek certification from the Yoga Alliance.
Not all teaching jobs involve teaching people, and animal trainers teach dogs, horses and other animals how to obey and respond to commands. Animal training has a variety of purposes: trainers may prepare animals to compete in shows and agility trials, teach commands to improve the animal's daily behavior or even train a dog to work as a seeing-eye dog for a visually impaired person. Dog and horse trainers typically need a high school diploma or the equivalent and on-the-job training, and they may also need to take some courses from a 2-year school or a private institution devoted to animal training. There are also marine mammal trainers, but that position requires a bachelor's degree.
Recreation workers lead groups in activities at parks, playgrounds, camps, aquatic centers and senior centers, teaching activities like kayaking, golf, tennis, swimming, horseback riding, dance and archery. On-the-job training plus a high school diploma or the equivalent is the typical requirement for these positions. Depending on the types of activities these workers teach, they may also need certification; for example, a recreation worker who leads swim lessons would need lifeguard certification. These positions allow for a lot of interaction with people, and the job often requires creativity and flexibility to design and implement lessons that are effective at a range of skill levels.
Childcare workers often work in a family's home or at a child care center and teach very young children the basic skills they'll need as they prepare to enter school, like sharing, taking turns, working together, counting and early language skills. They are also responsible for daily care and may perform tasks like feeding children, changing diapers and bathing children, all of which provide an opportunity to teach the child good hygiene skills as well. Different states have different educational requirements for childcare workers, though a high school diploma or equivalent is typical. Some college coursework may be needed, but not necessarily a full degree, and certification as a Child Development Associate is a common requirement.