Although not quite as popular as nearby South Korea and neighbor China for teaching English abroad, Thailand has nonetheless caught up in terms of being a great place to teach in Asia over the past decade.
A hot, tropical climate (which some people love...), friendly people, and a high but affordable quality of life have all added to the attractiveness of teaching English in Thailand.
If you're interested in teaching abroad in Thailand, read on for the low-down on teacher salaries, visas, and how to find a job.
In order to teach English in Thailand, most teachers will require native proficiency and a bachelor’s degree. TEFL certification is not always required. The average salary for teaching in Thailand is $800 - $3,500 per month.
Most teachers will end up teaching at either a private language school or a public school. There are also quite a number of opportunities for teaching young learners at preschools.
The possibility to teach at a university also exists, but isn't quite as common. Same goes for teaching at an international school: there are opportunities, but they are competitive and often require that teachers have a teaching certificate from their home country.
- Average salary: $800 - $1,000 USD per month
- Schedule: Monday - Friday; 40 hours per week
- Requirements: A bachelor's degree and fluency in English. A TEFL certificate is a plus.
Most teachers teach in public schools and can expect to receive training from the Thai Ministry of Education. Depending on the region, the resources available could range from limited (in poor areas) to modern. Expect to have many large class sizes (around 50 students in a class) but also know that you'll have between few weeks to a few months off per year to relax and travel.
The numerous tests Thai students take (4 weeks of testing per year) further cuts into teaching time. While students might normally be stressed over tests, there is a No Fail Policy in Thailand. This prevents teachers from failing their students. Instead, if a student fails a test, the student retakes the test until he/she passes.
- Average salary: $600 - $1,500 USD per month
- Schedule: Varies; nights and weekends often required. Average hours are 18 - 25 per week.
- Requirements: A bachelor's degree and fluency in English. A TEFL certificate is a plus.
While language academies were the primary employer of English teachers in the past, the most common employer is now public schools. If you apply to work at a private institution, make sure they are well-established -- many come and go due to the tough business environment.
Working in a private language institution can result in a more erratic schedule to accommodate business people (early morning) and students (afternoon and evening). Class sizes are generally smaller than public schools (around 10 students per class).
Teachers may be able to earn additional income by offering private tutoring to their students for around 300-700 baht per hour but be aware that some contracts prohibit private tutoring and schools will fire teachers for “stealing their customer.”
Private International Schools
- Average salary: $3,000 - $5,500 USD per month
- Schedule: Varies by school
- Requirements: Valid teaching credential within home country
Working at a private international school in Thailand is probably one of the most coveted positions due to the high salary. Since these schools have tuition, these institutions have the capacity to pay the teachers more (and even provide benefits like housing or airfare stipends). If you've already completed a degree in education and are looking to teach abroad, this may be a great option.
- Schedule: 10 - 12 teaching hours per week.
- Requirements: A bachelor's degree, usually higher. A TEFL certificate and/or a teaching certificate is a plus.
Teaching at a university is highly prestigious and comes with few contact hours (10-12 hours per week). However, the salaries are similar to the salaries of public school teachers and professors must have at least a bachelor’s degree, usually higher. The high prestige allows many professors to obtain other work and supplementary income while teaching at the university.
When and Where to Look for Jobs
The Thai school year is composed of two semesters starting May and November, respectively. Semester breaks are in April and October. Finding a job in a popular city, such as Bangkok and Chiang Mai, might be difficult due to the competition but otherwise, finding a teaching job in Thailand at any time of the year is relatively easy.
Private institutions hire year-round, but public schools and universities generally recruit teachers from March-May. Schools may also need to hire replacement teachers during the mid-year break in October. You can look for a job throughout the year but try to avoid searching for one between December-February.
You do not have to be in-country to look for jobs. In fact, jobs for teachers in Thailand are posted often on the Go Overseas teaching job board and Ajarn is a great resource for jobs, tips, and connecting with other teachers in Thailand.
English Teacher Qualifications in Thailand
A bachelor’s degree in any discipline is required to legally teach in Thailand -- though you can still find jobs or schools willing to work around this if you don't have a degree.
In the past, this requirement has been lax, but the Thai government is implementing the regulation more strictly. Teachers should bring their actual university diploma to Thailand, but make sure to keep the original copy with you so it doesn't get lost. If the school needs to bring the original document to the Thai government, ask the school official to allow you to accompany him/her.
A teaching certificate (such as TEFL) and/or prior teaching experiences are not required, but Thai schools give preference to teachers who have these qualifications. Thai schools also prefer native English speakers.
Classroom & Work Culture in Thailand
- When teaching, men should wear long pants (not jeans), a collared shirt, and loafers or dress shoes. Black pants and shoes are preferred. Women should dress more conservatively and make sure to cover their shoulders when at work and in the classroom.
- Be aware that there is, generally, a more relaxed approach to time. Meetings and gatherings tend to start late.
- In Thailand, the most sacred part of the body is the head. If you dip your head lower than your students (if kneeling or sitting down), it can make them uncomfortable.
- In public schools, attend all of the ceremonies throughout the year, even if they are not during school or work hours.
Read more insider tips for teaching in Thailand on our blog.
Working Visas for Thailand
Teachers in Thailand will have to obtain a Non-Immigrant B Visa before entering Thailand, but the provider or school will usually help you with the process. After arriving in Thailand and being granted an initial 90-day stay permit, teachers should apply for a work permit. You will generally need your approved visa, passport, and a copy of your degree. Be ready to provide transcripts and a criminal background check as well. For more information on obtaining your work permit and your visa as a teacher, we've got a detailed guide on how to teach legally in Thailand.
Salary & Cost of Living
With a very low cost of living, teachers can live elegantly in Thailand with a monthly salary of around 21,000-50,000 Baht ($650 - $1500 USD).
Teachers will generally find housing on their own, which can cost as low as $200 outside a city center or as high as $600 in a big city like Bangkok. Some schools might provide a housing stipend or arrange the apartment for you. Accommodation usually meets Western standards and may include air conditioning. Internet might not be available in apartments but can be easily accessed on campus or at an internet cafe for around 60 baht ($1.50 USD) per hour. You will have to pay out of pocket for your airfare to Thailand, but many schools and providers give a reimbursement. If you teach in Thailand for at least one year, your return flight home will get reimbursed as well.
In general, teachers living in Bangkok can get away with a monthly budget of about $1,000 USD (more or less, depending on your lifestyle), while those outside of the city can live on even less -- from $300 - $800 per month. Typically, the teacher salaries and cost of living in Bangkok are about 30% higher than anywhere else in the country.
Head over to our blog if you want more in-depth details on teacher salaries in Thailand.
Teach Abroad Programs in Thailand
Volunteer Teaching Programs in Thailand
How can I teach English in Thailand?
Most teaching jobs in Thailand will require a near native level of English fluency, as well as a Bachelor's degree. A TEFL certification may be required in some cases. Teaching jobs can be found through a number of different means: you could go through a recruiter, a third-party organization that will set you up with a job, or apply directly by looking at job boards and searching for international schools.
What are the requirements to teach English in Thailand?
While not always the case, most teaching jobs will require you to be a native speaker of English and to hold a Bachelor's degree. Some may also require TEFL certification. Teaching abroad through a volunteer organization can be a good way to get teaching experience without necessarily fulfilling these qualifications.
How much money can you make teaching English in Thailand?
Salaries vary depending on the type of school you teach in, ie public, private, or international. On the lower end, public schools may pay around $800 per month, while private international academies can pay up to $5,500 per month.
Can you teach English in Thailand without a degree?
Most schools will require all English teachers to hold a 4 year Bachelor's degree. For non-degree holders, volunteering can be a good way to still get classroom experience.