Why Teach in Thailand?
Ever wondered what it's like to live in paradise?
Thailand is heaven on earth for nature lovers, beach babes, foodies, free-spirits, and travel addicts.
Thailand hosts about one tenth of all animal species currently present on Earth, and that figure doesn’t take into consideration the different species of tourists and expats that you find lurking around. With its bustling cities, gorgeous forests, exotic wildlife, pristine beaches and ample opportunity for adventure (regardless of your definition), it is no wonder that Thailand is a popular destination for tourists and expats alike.
There are tons of English teaching positions available throughout Thailand. There is a shortage and the bulk of the work is with children, but adult education roles absolutely exist – if that’s more your jam. The salaries offered usually allow for saving, depending on your lifestyle, and there are expats in abundance, so you don’t have to worry about being lonely or homesick – not that you’ll have much chance, with all that’s going on around you.
Qualifications to Teach in Thailand
With a Work Permit
Native Speaker: Flexible
Bachelor’s Degree: Required
Master’s Degree: Not Required
TEFL Certificate, CELTA Degree or Equivalent: Required
Criminal Background Check: Sometimes Required
Health Check: Required
If you're not a native speaker, you can get an English teaching job & a work permit. You'll just have to do a bit more digging to find a school to take you.
Without a Work Permit
Native Speaker: Flexible
Bachelor’s Degree: Flexible
Master’s Degree: Not Required
TEFL Certificate, CELTA Degree or Equivalent: Usually Required
Criminal Background Check: Not Required
Health Check: Not Required
You can find work in Thailand without having to satisfy the above requirements (i.e; work illegally)- but that often means you'll miss out on some benefits and might have to accept a lower salary.
See our discussion on visa options below if this applies to you.
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A TEFL degree is your golden ticket to getting hired in Vietnam.
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Not only will a TEFL degree open doors for you in Thailand, but also the rest of Asia. Most ESL countries require a TEFL degree and every country favors a TEFL degree.
Increase your chances of getting hired
Increase your value as a teacher and thus increase your pay
Allow you to land a job in practically every country in Asia
Use our link and get a 5% discount off of your online course or a 5% discount off a 4-week TEFL course in Asia.
How to Find a Job in Thailand
There are plenty of teaching opportunities in Thailand, you just have to be creative in finding them! We've got some options...
Option 1: Fly to Thailand and Search on the Ground
The best option for finding a job in Thailand is to arrive in the country, pick a city, print off a bundle of resumes and then leg it to all of the local schools.
You can check out the following teaching forums that routinely advertise vacancies here:
Option 2: Take your TEFL Course in Thailand and Land a Job
Immerse yourself in Thai culture while you earn your TEFL degree by the beach!
The on-site TEFL course in Phuket offers you a once-in-a-lifetime experience to ease you into the Thai culture, language, and customs. You'll study in a classroom with other aspiring TEFL teachers from around the world and at the end... you come out with a TEFL certificate and a they connect you with a teaching job in Thailand.
Sign up, and you can be in Thailand as soon as next month or schedule your course 6-months down the line.
The course includes
Luckily, the best TEFL course in Thailand also happens to be on of the cheapest. Yes, please.
Use our link below and automatically get a 5% discount on your TEFL course at check-out.
Option 3: Search Online for Language School Job Openings
You will only find a handful of language schools advertising job openings online, but it's worth a shot.
Check out sites like Dave's ESL Cafe or check listings with Teach Away. For these jobs, you need to be totally qualified with your TEFL and University Degree in order for these schools to invest time in you. You're interview process will be through Skype and they may help you secure your visa before you come to Thailand.
The only downfall: you don't get a real sense of the school until you're there. During your interview, remember to ask questions of your own!
120 hour TEFL qualification
Orientation and 24/7 in-country support
4 weeks’ practical teaching experience
Thai Language & Cultural Classes
Teaching Job Connections
Airport pick-up and in-country transfers
Visas for Teachers in Thailand
The most common visa situation: Teachers arrive in Thailand on a tourist visa and then go about finding a job.
Visa on Arrival via Air: Fly into Thailand and get a 30-day stamp in your passport
Visa on Arrival via Land: Cross into Thailand by land and get a 15-day stamp in your passport
60-Day Tourist Visa: Before you come to Thailand, apply for a 60-Day tourist visa at a Thai Embassy (this visa can be extended to 90-days once in Thailand).
Teachers will do a "visa run" where they must leave the country and apply for a work permit at a nearby Thai embassy (Malaysia, Cambodia, Singapore). Once they've got the new work permit in their passport, they enter on a 1-year teaching visa.
The process of transitioning to a work visa can be confusing and plenty of conflicting information can be found online. Your best bet is to let your employer guide you through the process.
Route 1: B-Visa & Work Permit Sponsored by your School
The B Visa is Employed or Sponsored by Thai Company- meaning that your school will help you to apply for it. Usually the documentation needed to apply for the B Visa includes...
A Certified Copy of your Degree
Original Criminal Record Clearance
An Official Letter of Recommendation
A Copy of the School Contract
But let your school worry about that stuff.
Once you've got that B Visa (valid for 90 days), your employer will apply for a teaching license/ work permit for you to work legally in Thailand.
Route 2: Temporary Teaching License (2-4 years validity)
You can be granted a temporary teacher’s license if you want to teach English legally in Thailand. These are valid for two years and can be renewed once after the lapse of the first license.
Bachelor’s Degree from a Recognized University
A Criminal background Check from your Country
If you’re not a native speaker or are from a non-native speaking country, you’ll also need...
A TOEIC score of 600+ or IELTS score of at least 5
That 60-day permit you've got in your passport will be void once you leave the country.
Let's say you want to leave within that 60-days and come back, you'll need to apply for a re-entry permit to keep that 60-day status.
The process is easy. Go to immigration with the following documents and they'll sort your out...
The correct fee (currently 1,000 baht for a single re-entry)
A 2-inch passport photo (can get these taken at immigration, as well)
Photocopy of passport (main page and latest entry stamp) (photocopies at immigration, too)
There is a separate 'Non-immigrant Visa O' for people entering Thailand as a volunteer to teach English and it is valid for 90-days.
You can apply for this visa at a Thai embassy near you. Double-check the documents your embassy requires as if may differ, but here is the standard list of documents needed for the Non-immigrant Visa O...
Visa Application Form (check your embassy's website)
Passport with no less than 6 months validity
A Photocopy of Passport Page
Two passport photographs, size 3,5cm. x 4,5cm.
A Letter of invitation from a company or an organization in Thailand indicating your position, qualification, responsibilities of your work, any supporting from the company and period of stay in Thailand
CV-employment certificate or education record
Reference letter of previous work experience.
Criminal Record issued
It's technically illegal to volunteer on a tourist visa in Thailand, so do so at your own risk.
Working without a work permit can be risky. There is high demand for teachers in Thailand and there is definitely a market for teachers working illegally. If you get caught, the likely penalty is a fine and deportation. This is not something that’s illegal in theory, but okay in practice; the authorities have definitely been swooping in on the hot spots for illegal workers. Nonetheless, the practice persists and it is an option.
In any event, save for the lucky ducks who are hired in advance of their arrival, it is likely that you’ll have to bear the expense and potential hassle of doing a visa run to a neighboring country in order to obtain visas after your arrival. Keep this in mind when considering the timing of your arrival and costs of living.
Three Options for Tourist Visas for Thailand
Once a Job is Secured...
There are two routes you can take to work legally in Thailand:
Volunteering Visa for Thailand
What's Included in the Job
Schools in Thailand differ slightly on what they include in a teaching job, but usually this is
Assistance arranging visas and accommodation.
12 month contracts.
35-40 working hours per week over 5 days.
Salary varies based on experience and location. Typical monthly salaries would be between 15,000 THB at the (very) low end and 35,000 THB for lucky first timers (approx. $550 - $1,200 USD).
Paid holidays – these vary depending on the type of employment you pick up.
Visa Run Expenses
Airfares might be reimbursed upon completion of a really good contract, but don't get your hopes up. Also note that illegal workers are likely to be subject to less employment benefits than those with a work permit.
Cost of Living in Thailand
Cost of living is relative to your lifestyle. Where you live, what amenities you require, and the big one- how much you drink- all determine your overall cost of living. But for measurement's sake, here are the basics…(Prices are in USD roughly according to numbeo.com and individual research– Updated August 2017)
$760 per month total
One bedroom apartment in city center: $630
One bedroom apartment on the outskirts of the city: $235
$650 per month total
One bedroom apartment in city center: $328
One bedroom apartment on the outskirts of the city: $211
$775 per month total
One bedroom apartment in city center: $431
One bedroom apartment on the outskirts of the city: $229
For those of you looking to live in smaller, less-touristy towns such as Surat Thani, Kanchanaburi, or beyond, you can expect an even lower cost of living!
Monthly Cost of Living - by City
Taxi (1km): 25 cents
Gasoline (1 Liter): 84 cents
Cinema – International Release (1 ticket): $5.70
Milk (1 Liter): 25 cents
Chicken Breast (1 kg): $2.85
Loaf of Fresh White Bread (500g): $1
Draft Beer (pint): $3
Restaurant Meal: $3
McDonald’s Combo Meal: $5
The Low Down on Thailand
Currency: Thai Baht; Check the THB conversion rate here
Type of Government: Unitary Parliamentary Constitutional Monarchy
Religion: Theravada Buddhism
Crime: Numbeo considers the crime rate in Thailand to be moderate. Crime tends to be of the petty theft variety and occasionally related to drug use and corruption.
Safety Concerns: It's safe to walk alone during daylight hours and moderately safe to walk alone during the night in Thailand, according to Numbeo.
Street Food: If you’re stressing about the worldwide reporting that the street food era was coming to an end in Bangkok, don’t. There are countless street food vendors throughout Thailand offering everything from the common Pad Thai to wild and unusual Rod Duan for around $1
Public Transportation: Monthly public transport passes are available from about $20 - $35 / 700-1,200 THB.
Fun Fact: Spoken standard Thai and Laotian are mutually intelligible, so any language skills picked up whilst teaching can be put to use elsewhere!
What's it like Living in...
Known affectionately as The City of Angels, Bangkok is a huge and chaotic city with a pulse and electric feel. The city boasts some phenomenal temples and you simply MUST experience a river cruise in the traditional boats while you’re there. With this image in mind, it’s hard to imagine the traffic jams, noise pollution, skyscrapers and the general hustle and bustle. It’s an exciting place with all of the Western amenities you would expect in any major city. Obviously, the cost of living in Bangkok is higher – but that’s the price you pay for city living and Bangkok definitely won’t disappoint, if that’s what you’re after.
For the trendy Thai area, hang out in Thong Lo or Ari; for a western community, rent a place in On Nut; if you want to live in what feels like Thailand 20 years ago, check out Samrong. So many options!
This adorable jewel is the growing hub of the south. It is well connected and there are beaches, rainforests and adventures galore within easy reach. It’s cheap too, with a one bedroom apartment in the city center costing 5,000 THB ($150). The food is fresh and delicious and seafood is sold in abundance. The Kaow Praram is said to be the best in Thailand! Food markets, street food and restaurants aren’t hard to come by and the food scene is expanding at the same rate as the city. Restaurants serving Western style food are popping up left, right and center – including the likes of KFC and McDonalds - and Korean restaurants aren’t too hard to find either.
The town has a growing expat community, complete with a Facebook group and cafes/restaurants owned by foreigners. You’ll be able to spot the expats in bars and nightclubs as well.
As always, it’s not all sunshine, rainbows and roses and there are some downsides. The level of English in the area is quite low, so anyone settling down here would need to be willing to learn a bit of Thai. Also, The Lonely Planet guide describes the town as “unglamorous”. The definition may seems harsh, but there is a bit of truth to it - you’ll want to get out of the city and experience the beaches, forests and meditation retreats that all exist within a stone’s throw. You can’t assume you’ll be offered an abundance of entertainment in the town.
If you’ve heard of Thailand, you’ve probably heard of Chiang Mai. It’s a tourist hot spot and a bustling city, with hospitals, international grocery stores, legal services and specialist health care. It is known to be a particularly safe city with very little violent crime, and is probably a good starting point for Western folk who might struggle with culture shock.
It is well connected, culturally diverse and has hundreds of temples located throughout. Mountains, waterfalls, lakes and forests are all within easy reach, so you can get easily get out and about on your days off, as is the border to Laos (for those of you needing to do visa runs).
You won’t have any difficulty finding expats to hang out with and the standard of English within the city means you can get by without a firm grasp on Thai (it never hurts though). If you’re looking for a home away from home, you’ll find it in Chiang Mai.
Phuket is the wealthiest district in Thailand, take from that what you will (higher living standards, greater cost – whichever is important to you). It boasts amazing infrastructure, world class medical care, beautiful beaches and the possibility to get your adventure on close to home and in the nearby forests, wildlife sanctuaries (make ethical choices!), beaches and islands.
There is a huge expat community, the food scene has been described as the heart and soul of the island (read: very delicious). The island itself is well connected with flights and ferries leaving regularly for various Thai hot spots.
This adorable town just a hop, skip and jump away from Bangkok, but it feels like a different planet. Surrounded by incredible countryside with jungle covered mountains (that’s right, not just the jungle, or a mountain, but both!) within eyeshot and caves/waterfalls/hot springs/heaven all within easy reach.
The expat population is a little lower, so you’ll have to make the hundred odd kilometer trip to Bangkok to stock up on the Western goods that you miss. The worst thing about this is that the beach is about the same distance away, so you’ll have to decide whether you would rather go to Bangkok or go to the beach – which can be a hard choice sometimes.
There are frequent vacancies at the local schools, although there are slimmer pickings on the job front here than other areas in Thailand. It is known to be one of the most beautiful provinces so the competition is slightly higher also.
Also, please don’t think that it’s a main street, some jungle and nothing more. The town has a few night clubs, bars, restaurants serving Western style food and delicious local dishes. It’s an expanding hot spot for tourism as well, so new places are cropping up everywhere.
What's to Love about Thailand?
The food in Thailand is delicious, fresh, exotic and exciting! The cuisine varies widely and you’ll absolutely be able to find something that works for you. Expats often consider the kitchen in their accommodation to be a waste of space, given the low cost and high quality of the food available throughout the country.
There is building porn to suit every eye with temples and other culturally significant buildings, sky scrapers, village huts and mansions scattered throughout the country.
The locals are known to be friendly and helpful. If you stay in Thailand for any period and interact with the locals, you’ll be sure to see it for yourself.
Thailand has everything, lush forests, stunning beaches, bustling cities and glorious mountains. The country absolutely offers something for everyone.
It’s super easy to get around by any standard, not just South East Asian. Enough said.
What's to Dislike about Thailand?
The morality of sex tourism is a conversation for another day, but just know that if you harbor really strong negative feelings towards sex tourists or old men who come to Thailand to date young, thirsty Thai girls, then Thailand may not be the place for you.
Humidity. Rainy seasons. Heat. It’s a tropical climate so snow bunnies – consider yourselves warned!
Just kidding. The beaches are a dream come true.