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.

Photo Credit: Chelsea Perez

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.

Public Schools
  • 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 expect many days off (2-3 months off fully paid per year).

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, teachers cannot fail any Thai students. If a student fails a test, the student retakes the test until he/she passes.

Private Language Academies
  • Average salary: $8 - 20 per hour
  • 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 they were the primary employer of English teachers in the past, the most common employer are now public schools. If you apply for work at a private institution, ask how long they have been in business because many come and go due to the difficult 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 small (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/hr but be aware that some contracts prohibit private tutoring and schools will fire teachers for “stealing their customer.”

Universities
  • 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 on 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 fairly 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 also look for a job throughout the year but try to avoid looking for one from December-February.

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.

Qualifications

A Bachelor’s degree in any discipline is required to teach legally 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 was laxly enforced but the Thai government is enforcing the regulation more strictly. Teachers should bring their actual university diploma to Thailand but should always keep the original copy in their sight. If the school needs to bring the original copy to the Thai government, ask the school official to allow you to accompany him/her.

Many schools are disorganized and have a tendency to lose important documents. A teaching qualification (such as TEFL) and/or a prior teaching experience is not required but Thai schools give preference to teachers with prior teaching. Thai schools also prefer native English speakers and Caucasians (over Asians and blacks).

Classroom & Work Culture
  • 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 make sure to always cover their shoulders.
  • Try to avoid public confrontations and disputes. You don’t want to attract the wrath of the spirits. On the other hand, students will rarely say anything bad about their teachers.
  • Thai students are fun but get bored very quickly. Make sure to keep your lessons interesting and informative.
  • In public schools, attend all of the ceremonies throughout the year, even if they are not during school/work hours. Schools want to improve their face by displaying their foreign teachers.

For the complete list, read our internal tips for teaching in Thailand.

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 help you with the process. Then, after arriving Thailand and being granted an initial 90-day stay permit, teachers should apply for a work permit. 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 16,000-50,000 Baht.

Teachers will generally find housing on their own, though some schools might lend assistance. Apartments usually meet Western standards and have air conditioning. Internet might not be available in apartments but are available on campus or internet cafes (for around 60 baht (US $1.50) per hour). You will have to pay for your airfare to Thailand but most schools/providers will reimburse you for your return flight home if you teach in Thailand for at least one year.

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.

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