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Where will a degree-level professional qualification count as a degree?

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  • celtacfrost
    15 May, 2020 at 13:19
    • Total posts: 2


    I’m in a strange position in that I’m looking to apply for ESL positions in Japan and Korea, but I’m worried about my qualifications.

    In terms of experience, I am newly CELTA-qualified (got the certificate before lockdown so have had classroom experience) and have been teaching ESL online to a couple of private students, so I’m really quite new indeed.

    The qualification I have is CIMA, a professional accountancy qualification that’s the equivalent of a Master’s Degree but is from a professional body rather than an academic university. (I’ve been working as an accountant for many years.)

    I’ve looked at the job boards online and made one application so far – to a Korean ESL recruitment agency – but they’ve said I’ll be unable to teach in South Korea because I don’t have a degree from a university. I’m now worried this will be the case in Japan too, as it seems like the only places that will hire without a degree are maybe not that reputable?

    I can understand why my qualification might be an issue – if I do successfully change careers, at some point, my CIMA membership would lapse – but at the same time, I spent 4 years of studying and exams gaining the qualification and it is recognised, within the field at least, as Master’s level so I feel like somewhere there must be someone who’d accept this as a degree? :(

    Has anyone else been in this, or a similar, situation? Or does anyone have advice?

    Thanks in advance!

    15 May, 2020 at 15:17
    • Total posts: 268

    Most employers quite rightly recognise that having a degree does not normally make you a better teacher, so it’s not often the employers themselves who impost this requirement.

    Instead, the reason employers ask for a degree is usually because of government visa regulations. If a government states that a foreign teacher needs a degree to work legally, then employers (or at least reputable ones, and you wouldn’t want to get involved with non-reputable ones) will require a degree.

    I agree that it doesn’t seem at all fair that, if you have a qualification equivalent to a Masters, you aren’t eligible to work in a certain country just because the qualification doesn’t have the right letters. Occasionally there is some wriggle room, depending on the country, so it’s certainly worth applying for jobs and asking individual employers, explaining your situation. If they like the look of your CV, and there is any legal wriggle room, then they may be prepared to make it work.

    Hope that helps.


    16 May, 2020 at 9:46
    • Total posts: 2

    Thank you for the reply, Keith. It sounds like it’s more or less as expected, but good to know that there’s potentially a chance in some countries (I’ll see if I can find a website that lists specific countries where a degree is a definite government requirement). I will keep trying and hoping for the best.

    19 August, 2020 at 11:03
    • Total posts: 1

    CIMA “ACMA” or “CGMA” equivalent to a Master’s

    I like to know how this issue is resolved. I too am a CIMA member without a university degree but thinking of TEFL or similar.

    Do you know if a person took a Master’s e.g., in Finance (easy to meet entry requirements) then that would count? Or the if degree has to be a humanities/liberal arts one?

    Also, have you explored teaching/coaching in business English, such as corporate-speak in Committees and Boardrooms.

    The National Recognition Information Centre for the United Kingdom (UK NARIC) assessed the 2015 Syllabus as being comparable to a British Master’s degree standard:
    “UK NARIC has recently completed a benchmarking exercise on behalf of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), to evaluate the entry level Certificate in Business Accounting and the three levels of the CIMA Professional Qualification, based on their updated syllabus to be offered from 2015, against the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF).”

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