Thailand remains one of the most popular far flung destinations for English teachers, with its consistently hot climate, incredible food and cheap cost of living.
Since the recent change of government, stricter regulations have been enforced with regard to the recruitment of foreign teachers, but if you hold a first degree and a recognized teaching certificate (TEFL or TESOL) you should always be able to find work.
There are numerous job opportunities for teaching in Thai language Schools, government schools or on private dedicated English programs. If you are highly qualified, with many years of experience, then the International Schools and Bilingual Programs pay well and offer better terms and conditions.
English Teacher Salaries in Thailand
Teaching in Thailand will not make you rich, nor will it enable you to save much. Salaries have not increased significantly for the last few years, still remaining around 30,000 Baht per month outside of Bangkok and around 35,000 – 45,000 Baht in the capital. However, compared to your homeland you’ll probably find your salary goes a lot further, especially when it comes to food, entertainment and accommodation. Teachers who work here are not primarily in it for the money, go to Japan, China, Taiwan or Korea for that!
If you are lucky enough to be one half of a teaching couple then you can live to a very high standard on combined salaries. Some teachers choose to share accommodation in order to reduce costs. Bilingual programs or international schools usually offer accommodation on campus and these positions also pay upwards of 60,000 Baht, so understandably there is more competition for this type of job.
When to Find a Teaching Job in Thailand
Government high schools and primary schools cry out for qualified language teachers between February to May and August to October, ready for the start of the new academic year and second semester. Most newcomers don’t realize that the Thai academic year runs from May through to March the following year, so the timing of your arrival in Thailand is significant. School summer holidays start in mid March and finish in mid May. However, international schools usually follow the British, French or US curriculum and base their terms accordingly.
The main bulk of recruitment takes place from February to April when schools are desperate to fill their vacancies. If you can arrive in Thailand just prior to this you will vastly increase your chances of finding a suitable position, providing of course you meet the necessary Thai visa, teacher’s license and work permit criteria.
There is also a large amount of teaching work available during the school holidays at Thai summer camps, where teaching requirements tend to be more lenient. This is a good way to obtain some practical experience for first-time teachers to Thailand.
Where to Find a Teaching Job
Bangkok, without doubt, has the most job opportunities and offers the best salaries, but not all teachers want to work in the City of Angels, or the Big Mango, as it is so often referred. Male teachers far outnumber their female colleagues, so if you are a woman teacher you are off to a good start . Most schools, as a result of bitter experience, tend to view women as less likely to be tempted by Thailand’s infamous nightlife, and therefore a safer bet in terms of reliability and longevity.
Transportation is cheap and getting around, if you are near a sky train or metro route, is easier than you think. Accommodation can take a sizeable chunk of your salary but some bargains are available if you take a bit of time to look around.
Certainly Bangkok is no more expensive than living in one of the main tourist resorts such as Phuket or Hua Hin. Your new school may assist you in finding accommodation or can certainly give you recommendations on where to look. Bear in mind that most landlords will require ‘key money’ – a 2 or 3 month deposit or upfront payment.
Chaing Mai in the north offers healthier living and a quieter pace. Popular beach resorts such as Pattaya, Phuket, Koh Samui, Hua Hin now have their fair share of job opportunities, mainly based in government high schools or local language institutes.
Check local teaching websites for more information, the most popular being ajarn.com – the Thai word for teacher. Their job database is extensive, regularly featuring more than a hundred jobs all over Thailand. Daily newspapers, The Bangkok Post and The Nation regularly advertise a large number of teaching positions and also have online versions. One of the best ways to find a job outside of Bangkok is to consult the relevant local English Language paper such as The Phuket Gazette, Hua Hin Today or Pattaya Today, or visit the classified section of their online sites.
Bear in mind that in Thailand the majority of recruitment is done once you are inside the country, with employers demanding face to face interviews. In order to increase your chances of finding work you need to get on a plane. The exceptions to this are the international schools or private bilingual programs, which are more likely to advertise in US or UK based educational publications and on international teaching sites such as Dave’s ESL Cafe.
You’ll also find that, in the eyes of an academic director, the more experience you have in teaching Thai students, the more employable you will be.