Eastward left behind the confines of the Fortune 500 company office to explore and experience Asia. He has experience working in Thailand.
So You're Thinking About Working in Thailand?
Working in Thailand can be a great experience, but there are some things you should consider before making the leap to the Land of Smiles.
What Kind of Work Do You Want?
There are various types of jobs for foreigners in Thailand, but the vast majority are in the education industry. Primarily, these jobs are for English teachers. The next best possibility for work, in the business sector, for example, is to begin with an employer in your home country that places people in Thailand. These positions are few and far between so learning to speak Thai would be an advantage. Why are other positions so hard to find? In most cases, foreigners are only permitted to do jobs that cannot be done by a Thai person (hence the majority of positions being for native English speaking teachers). Diving instructors and travel bloggers also find success in Thailand (the latter won't garner you the sought after work permit though and extended stays without one are becoming more difficult due to changing immigration rules).
Types of Schools and Teaching Jobs
There are kinds of variables that come into play with teaching jobs in Thailand. Firstly, think about what age group you'd like to teach. Opportunities range from preschool to adults. There are government schools, private schools, international schools and language schools. You'll want to check with the school about their calendar, schedule, holidays and vacation policies. Language schoolwork tends to be heavier on evening and weekend hours while other types of schools are generally Monday-Friday. Many Thai government schools will require you to be at the school by 7:50 a.m. (or earlier) to attend the morning flag ceremony. A teacher may also be required to have "gate duty". In this case, the teacher will greet students as they arrive prior to the flag ceremony. Another thing to consider is if you are given freedom on holidays because, at some schools, you will be required to sign-in periodically. It doesn't make it easy to visit home if you have to sign an attendance sheet in the main office every other day.
Standard salaries for most jobs fall in the 30,000–40,000 Thai Baht range. The outliers will require more or less responsibility and hours accordingly. Salaries can be less for non-native teachers, with frequent job postings for Filipino teachers in the 15,000–25,000 range. To rise above this salary range, international schools will be your best option. Usually, you will need a degree in education to be considered for these positions and they can range from 50,000–100,000 Thai Baht per month. According to www.idc-guide.com, diving instructor jobs pay about the same as teaching jobs. However, salary can vary from the low to high end depending on the season.
Cost of Living
Can you live on 25,000–30,000 baht a month? The short answer is yes. However, you will have to learn to live like a local as often as possible. You'll want to learn the bus, sky train (BTS) and subway (MRT) routes and use them when you can to avoid traffic. There are lots of small street vendors or mom and pop restaurants that will serve you a meal of rice and meat or veggies for the equivalent of a few dollars. This salary range will put you in the upper end of the working class lifestyle or the lower end of a middle-class lifestyle. If you are making international school wages and don't delve too far into luxury, you should be very comfortable in Thailand. Accommodations with air conditioning (it's hot and humid all year round unless you are in the North) and hot water showers start at about 5,000–6,000 baht per month for a studio apartment and can go upwards quickly from there for extra bedrooms, condo building amenities, etc. If you can do without air conditioning and hot water, you can find apartments for less.
Where to Look for Work
The most popular site for teaching jobs in Thailand is www.ajarn.com. The site lets you search for jobs by salary range and location. www.eslcafe.com also has positions but can be a bit more "Wild East" with all kinds of eager entrepreneurs vying to get their piece of the education profit pie. If they pay for an ad, they get listed. So, do your homework online and read reviews when they are available. Ask questions and if you don't get straight answers, move on. Most employers will want you to be able to interview in person, though some will accept Skype interviews. If you are interested in more information about interviewing for a job in Thailand, check out my article here. Good luck!
Thai Employment Poll
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2018 Eastward
Eastward (author) from Bangkok, Thailand on February 10, 2018:
Thank you for your comment, Alexis. While it can vary by school, a day that starts at 7:30 a.m. would normally end at 4 p.m. There may be also clubs, meetings and other special duties that could come into play. Vacations also vary by type of school and school management. A government school will usually have a few months off from March to May and a few weeks break in October. There are also a good number of national holidays spread throughout the year. International schools may follow the schedule of the country their curriculum is based on. Language schools will usually have a more corporate holiday system with around 10 personal holidays per year plus national holidays. One important point to note in Thailand is that during the holiday break, many schools may require teachers to come into work even though the students aren't present. This time would be used for office hours, lesson plans, meetings, and training. There's a lot to consider, so my best recommendation would be to ask a school you are interested in working for about their specific policies.
Alexis on February 10, 2018:
Thanks for the great perspective of finding a job in Thailand, especially in the education field. You mentioned that school starts at 7:30am, what time does the school day usually end? What are vacations/holidays like in Thailand in terms of teachers and students having off? I know it varies widely country to country, but I'm curious to hear what Thailand does!