What better way to extend your time in Asia than teaching in Thailand? From north to south, teaching opportunities are in abundance, and are a fantastic way to learn about Thai culture more deeply than you would if just visiting for a few weeks. Jobs range from playing with kindergarteners to discussing international trade with businessmen, and can last from a few months to a year (or two!). Below is a quick guide to your opportunities in Thailand.
What do I need to know?
There are a few details to keep in mind when looking at these teaching jobs. First, teaching is one of the most highly respected professions in Thailand, so it’s a great job to have if you’re making a life in the Land of Smiles. Be prepared to see lots of wai (traditional bowing) from students, and ensure that you come to class neatly dressed and well presented - no genie pants here! Slacks, button-ups and ties for men are best, and blouses and pressed skirts or trousers for women.
Jobs vary from part-time to full-time, and teachers rarely have more than 20 teaching hours a week. If you’re teaching more hours than that, it’s usually with overtime pay. Class size can range from tutoring sessions with one student to school classes with 50 kids. In the larger cities, you might be one of many foreign teachers, whereas in smaller towns, you could be the only foreigner around! And don’t worry about trying to arrange a job before you arrive - it’s far easier to start your job search once you’re actually in the country and employers can meet you in person. Schools can also help you find apartments and get you a working visa, so there’s no real need to try and sort that out before landing in Thailand. Come with a tourist visa and start meeting potential employers face-to-face!
What qualifications do I need?
Most job opportunities in Thailand require that you be a Native English Speaker (NES) and have a bachelor’s degree. The degree doesn’t necessarily have to be in teaching or education. Having a TEFL / TESL / TESOL certificate (which can easily be obtained online or in-country) or teaching experience will improve your chances, though neither are obligatory.
Some schools will look for teachers under 45 years old, and there is a higher demand for female teachers, especially for positions in primary schools or with small children.
TEFL, TESL or TESOL?
During your research into teaching opportunities in Thailand, you’re going to run into these three acronyms fairly often. So, what’s the difference?
Really, none. Respectively, these acronyms stand for ‘Teaching English as a Foreign Language,’ ‘Teaching English as a Second Language,’ and ‘Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.’ They’re most often used to refer to the type of teaching certification you have. Though there are very subtle differences between the meaning of these terms, it’s important to note that they’re used interchangeably - and no employer will really be a stickler for the difference. A TEFL certificate can get you a job as a teacher even if the application asks for a TESL certificate.
However, keep in mind that CELTA (‘Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults’) is a different qualification, and that you will need a CELTA certification to apply for CELTA jobs.
Where can I teach in Thailand?
Teaching opportunities exist in many different forms in Thailand - from English camps, to public schools, private language academies, and corporate classes - and are available in both tiny towns and massive cities.
By far, the quickest job to get is teaching at English camps in Thailand. These camps are typically 2-3 days long, usually at a school or a conference centre, and consist of little more than playing games and leading activities with students. They pay in cash (usually 1,000 baht a day), cover your food and accommodation, and are ideal for backpackers looking for a quick buck as there’s no contract and no real qualifications. Don’t count on these camps to keep you in Thailand long-term, though - their schedule is sporadic, and they’re best just to get some pocket change.
For long-term options, consider working at public schools, universities, or private language academies. These typically have contracts of 6-12 months and teaching hours of 15-20 a week. Public school jobs and universities will most often have steady Monday to Friday working hours, with weekends, evenings, and public holidays off. Class sizes can range from 20-50 students, and you’ll typically have assigned textbooks to work with. In the case of university jobs, you’re not always expected to be on campus between classes - which means more time to explore your new home!
Private language academies are typically open for longer hours than public schools, which means that teachers can work evenings or weekends. Class size tends to be smaller than in public schools, and there are sometimes opportunities to teach additional classes for overtime pay. Additionally, some private language academies run very specific classes, such as Business English or test-prep, so you might have to tailor your lessons for a specialised subject.
There are also institutes which send teachers to businesses in order to teach English to their employees, which take you out of the classroom and around the city. These jobs are ideal supplements to public school or private academy jobs, as you can sometimes take them on in your free time and make some extra travel money.
How much lesson planning you have to do will depend on your school - some will have their own textbooks and a strict curriculum, while others will give you more freedom in the lessons you design. Make sure to ask a potential employer how much lesson planning their teachers do each week, so you know what’s expected of you outside of the classroom.
If you’re a qualified teacher looking to teach a different subject than English, there are also jobs with international schools in Thailand. In these cases, you’d be teaching students from all over the world who already speak English, and would be employed to teach a subject like history, math, literature, etc. You’ll need accreditation from your home country and previous teaching experience to land these positions, and though they’re more challenging to get, the pay and rewards are often higher.
How much do teachers get paid in Thailand?
Most teaching salaries in Thailand hover around 25k-40k baht per month, or 200-400 baht per hour for part-time work. International schools and language academies with good reputations will typically pay more. To boost their income (as in the case of Bangkok-based teachers), many teachers take on private tutoring jobs or freelance teaching hours. Though you won’t necessarily be saving a lot of money each month, it’s easy to live on these salaries in Thailand, especially since the cost of living is so low - a simple meal out can cost anywhere from 20-40 baht!
If you’re looking to save money through teaching English in Asia, Korea and Japan are better choices than Thailand - but few can argue with the quality of life in the Land of Smiles. After all, expenses are low, and no matter where you are in the country, jungles and tropical islands are never far away!
Where can I find teaching jobs in Thailand?
The biggest resource for finding these jobs is Ajarn.com, TeachingThailand.com, and ESLCafe.com. Once in the country, you can also look up language schools online and visit them door-to-door - take copies of your resume, dress smartly, and make sure you have a cellphone number for potential employers to contact you at!
For the short-term English camps, check out the Bangkok Craiglist’s Job section, or contact the camp companies directly. AYC and Dragonfly English Camps are the biggest.
Whichever option you choose, teaching English in Thailand is a fantastic opportunity to get to know this country better than if you were just travelling through - so grab your degree, a friendly smile, and stick around for a while!