Unless you are moving to Thailand as a reassignment by your present employer or retiring, you will need to find a job and teaching English in Thailand is one of your options. In fact, it is about the only choice you have for employment here. Thailand, as well as other countries in Southeast Asia, has a constant demand for native English speakers. You are not going to get rich doing it but if you love teaching then you will have some rich experiences that you will never forget.
The Basic Requirements for Teaching English in Thailand
The English teaching jobs that offer the best salaries in Thailand are found from employers that have higher standards. This means that as soon as you get to Thailand, if you haven’t done so already, get into a TEFL or CELTA course. TEFL stands for Teach English as a Foreign Language and CELTA stands for Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults.
While the better schools require these credentials, you can still find jobs teaching English in Thailand where all you must be is a native speaker and a degree or certification is irrelevant. These jobs are typically found in private language centers. They are also unstable, pay poorly, and have high turnover of foreign teachers. A person teaching English in this type of environment will not be able to get a work permit, will have no benefits, and will probably not have consistent work. The best recommendation is to stay away from this type of job.
Teaching English in Thailand Job Options
There are several areas where you can find a job provided you meet the qualifications. These are international schools, Thai government schools, bilingual schools, private language centers, and private instruction (freelance).
Getting a job teaching English in Thailand at an international school is by far your best option. Salaries usually start in the range of 45,000-60,000 THB per month. Some schools even pay in the neighborhood of 80,000-120,000 THB per month. International schools will be able to get you a work permit. They are also stricter on the teacher hiring standards and usually require that you have a master’s degree in education.
Then there are jobs available for native English speaking teachers in the Thai government schools. They can also get you a work permit. Salaries are typically between 28,000 and 35,000 THB per month. The environment in Thai government schools can be quite demanding with large classrooms of up to 50 students. As a westerner, you will also have an uphill climb getting control of your classroom so that real learning can take place.
The bilingual schools of Thailand offer reasonable salaries for teaching English in Thailand, have manageable class sizes, and add other perks as well. Bilingual schools are those where the curriculum is taught in both English and Thai. They typically have higher standards for teachers and require not only a degree and teaching experience but TEFL/CELTA as well. Salaries range between 45,000 and 65,000 THB per month and many of these schools offer housing allowance and paid vacations.
One type of school you will notice in cities such as Bangkok is the private language training center. They hire corporate and private English teachers all of the time. However, they typically do not require you to have a degree and will overlook the TEFL/CELTA requirement. They also will not get you a work permit. Their business model is to offer private instruction to walk-in students and they send teachers to businesses.
While there may be some good jobs in language training centers, they are few and far between. Because they do not give you a work permit, you will have problems getting any sort of extended stay visa. The pay is unstable and depends on how many customers enroll in courses at any given time. Pay ranges from 400 to 700 THB per contact hour. Teachers that must go to a corporate site to give instruction will typically not be paid for transportation, will conduct classes on weekends or after business hours, and will be victimized by frequent student cancellations. Student cancellations result in a teacher not getting paid for that day so the opportunity cost must be factored in as well.
Then, some who are teaching English in Thailand opt to give private (freelance) tutoring to both students and adults. This can be a great way to learn the city however the best way to do this is as a sideline job while holding down a regular full-time teaching position. If you try to go totally freelance, you will not be able to get a work permit and will also be a victim of frequent cancellations.
One thing about this career is that you will find many positions available. Many who have lived in Thailand have developed a network of friends and business contacts by teaching over the years. If you love sharing knowledge with others, teaching English in Thailand may just be the career of a lifetime.