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Overview

The Kingdom of Thailand draws more visitors than any other country in Southeast Asia with its irresistible combination of breathtaking natural beauty, inspiring temples, renowned hospitality, robust cuisine and ruins of fabulous ancient kingdoms. Few countries are so well endowed. From the stupa-studded mountains of Mae Hong Son and the verdant limestone islands of the Andaman Sea, to the pulse-pounding dance clubs of Bangkok and the tranquil rural villages moored along the Mekong River, Thailand offers something for every interest.

Thailand is very much a “teacher’s market” with regards to TEFL, there being more teaching positions, both for newly-qualified and experienced teachers, available than teachers to fill them. There are a myriad of different types of positions available, from private kindergartens to government secondary schools to universities, with private after-school language academies being the most prevalent. As one fourth of Thailand’s population lives in the greater Bangkok metropolitan area, that is where most of the jobs can be found. The other large job market is in Chang Mai, in the north of Thailand, though jobs there tend to be somewhat harder to get, as teachers in Chang Mai usually stay there for a long time. Both Bangkok and Chang Mai have very well developed public transportation system, so owning your own car or motorcycle\scooter is not needed. Outside Bangkok and Chang Mai, the majority of teaching positions are in rural government primary and secondary schools and universities.

The TEFL market in Thailand mirrors the general Thai economy and is thriving and fast growing, with many new niche markets, and new teaching positions, opening up every day.

Salary and hours
In Thailand, a teacher’s salary and hours can vary greatly, depending on what type of school they are working at. In general, teachers at private institutions tend to work longer hours and receive higher pay, while teachers at government schools work fewer hours and receive less pay.

On average, teachers in private academies can expect to be contracted for 20-25 hours teaching a week, although at busy times of the year, such as the October and March\April school breaks, they may be asked to do extra work. As well many academies have ‘split shifts,’ with teachers working early in the morning and then again late at night, and weekend classes on Saturdays and Sundays. For a newly-qualified teacher, salaries at private academies tend to be around 30,000 to 35,000 baht a month before tax.

In the government schools, teachers can expect to teach from 12-18 hours a week, with a set schedule and evenings and weekends off. One of the most appealing perks of working in a government school are the long, usually paid, vacations which can add up to almost 5 months at some schools. For a newly-qualified teacher, salaries tend to be around 20,000 to 25,000.

Type of teaching
Teachers can expect to teach a wide variety of age-groups and class-types. Teenage secondary school and young primary school aged students being the most common, though increasingly there is more and more demand for pre-school and business corporate classes. Teachers almost universally teach at only one school. Having a CELTA\TESOL certificate will open up the higher level positions, but most schools don’t require it.

Accommodation
In Thailand, accommodation is secured and paid for by the teacher. However, accommodation is generally fairly in-expensive, especially outside Bangkok. In Bangkok there are numerous apartment complexes with a wide variety of amenities, so finding a place to live is rarely a worry. Watch out though for utility costs, as given Thailand’s climate, frequent use of air conditioning can really add up at the end of the month.

Start of school year/ best time to look for work
The Thai school year starts in May, with a semester break in October. Most government schools only hire new teachers just prior to those two months. Private academies, however, hire new teachers all year long.

Red Tape
Any foreign teacher wishing to teach and live in Thailand will have to obtain a Non-Immigrant B Visa, followed by a Work Permit and Teacher’s License. The Non-Immigrant B Visa is only issued by Thai embassies and consulates outside Thailand, so the teacher will have to get it before arriving in Thailand, or by making a ‘visa run’ to a neighbouring country, such as Malaysia or Cambodia. After obtaining the Non-Immigrant B Visa, the teacher must apply to the Thai Ministry of Labour for a work permit and the Thai Ministry of Education for a Teacher’s License. Generally, with most teaching positions in Thailand, the teacher will be responsible for obtaining and paying for the Non-Immigrant B Visa, while the school will pay, and handle the paperwork required, for the Work Permit and Teacher’s License.

Miscellaneous advice
Thais are friendly and welcoming to strangers, but they are also fairly conservative in regards to dress and behaviour, so new teachers to Thailand must remember not to wear causal clothes while teaching, and to watch their personal behaviour both inside and outside the classroom. As well, although Thailand is a cheap country to live in with a fairly low cost of living, the many entertainment options available can swiftly deplete a teacher’s bank account if they are not careful with budgeting.

Useful Websites

Ajarn

Thai Visas

Bangkok Info

Wikitravel - Thailand

ESLcafe