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Getting a Job as a Teacher in Thailand: Truths and Tips

First of all you might find everything and nothing on the net and might wonder where is the truth in all that. I have heard quite a few comments and questions from people here, via Sataban, in private, or just while surfing the web and decided to get a FAQ sort of article for 2015-2016.

Getting a job in a school in Thailand

It does not work like anywhere in Europe or in the USA where teachers usually apply for a teaching position for the next semester or the next coming year. Over there, teachers need to plan a while before getting a full time job and tend to kill the time by substituting in the meantime. Thailand works totally differently! Over here, it works a bit more like first come first serve so to speak (not all the time, but most of the time). If you want a job in Thailand, make sure to be available immediately or within a couple of days at most.

Teaching in a Thai school and Thai language

How odd as it can sound, schools prefer you to speak only English. I have heard some teachers who shared with me they got in trouble for speaking Thai to students (eventually some got even fired).

Is it difficult to find a teaching job in Thailand for Non-native English speakers?

Yes, it is! However a non-native speaker willing to work under the radar as a nursery or pre-k teacher might eventually find the right school after some research. This is only if teaching in English language.

In other word, if you are a native English speaker and have no degree what-so-ever, Thailand is the right place to start as it will be very easy to find a job in a public or private school (not so for international schools).

Worse scenario: Can I give private English lessons in my home?

Once more, legally no. Yet, language school centers and private tutoring flourish throughout Thailand.

What about illegal teachers?

This is a fact that a large majority of foreign teachers working in Thailand and which the Thais called “Farangs” (that is “white people”) are paid under the table and work illegally –living off multiple visa runs, multiple tourist visas, retirements visa: it is all about who you know and how much you are willing to pay.

What visa do I need?

Legally you need a B visa at entrance so your school can later on apply for a work permit on your behalf. If you are not sure you want to work for a long time in Thailand or want to teach, then you do not need anything: tourist visas, visa runs will do.

Teacher salary

Teacher salary does not really increase and it looks like starting salaries are even decreasing these days (25,000/30,000 Baht being a more common starting salary than 35,000 and up). Bonuses, paid vacation and sick leaves being on their way down too.

Will I get paid on time?

In private schools, most people do get paid before the second of each month. Sadly, some recruiters placing teachers in Thai public schools seems to have a different schedule at times. Make sure to have 2 or 3 months saving money should you work for a public school (about 90,000 Baht saving).

Teacher turn-over

The teacher turn-over of foreign and Thai staff is just huge! It depends a lot where you work but in general the teacher turn-over is at least 10 times more important than in California or France (and that is a very low estimate).

Thai work permit

A valid degree is necessary to obtain a Thai work permit and it is better to have a “beautiful” paper document, printed with pretty Gothic letters than one obtained online (like those from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing whose accredited teachers need to download their teaching certificate online). I personally have a couple of teaching certificates from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, and both have been declined. Luckily I have some hard-paper-printed diploma and documents which have been approved.

Fake degrees and transcripts

It might work to get a job for a certain period of time but if sent to the Thai Ministry of Education, they will generally find out about the veracity of the provided documents. Once the counterfeit documents discovered, the outcome might end up being a real nightmare or at best very unpleasant and costly.

Many try to cheat while providing fake degrees and transcripts, know that the hiring staff are usually foreign and have the skills to determine whether they are looking at a fake or valid degree/transcript. Does it mean you will get in trouble for it? In my knowledge I have never heard of a recruiter reporting a fake document to the Thai Ministry of Education. Mind you, you might even think you will not get the job afterwards? In Thailand, everything is possible… who knows, you might even get hired with a fake one! (you might eventually get hired without any, so up to you if you want to take any risks though.) A TEFL or TOEFL in hands can come quite useful too.

Black listed Teachers

Particularly awkward and unpleasant foreign teachers working in private Thai schools with bilingual programmes can eventually end up being black listed by the APEP (The Association of Private Schools for English Program).

Regarding the Filipinos looking for a teaching position in Thailand

All of them are near native speakers and have degrees –sadly they make only 15,000 baht a month while a “Farang” will make between 30,000 to 40,000 baht.

Coming from Africa or being just of a darker color

It is much more difficult for darker-skinned-color-people to find a teaching job in Thailand (so it is for long-haired, bearded, pierced ears and tattooed fellows by the way). It seems though that Bangkok and faraway villages do offer teaching positions for a wider range of colors. Hopefully, the whole country will soon start to look not only at the silhouette and general appearance but also at the inner qualities and skills of each individual.

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