How do I get a job teaching English in Thailand?
Thailand is firmly established as one of Asia’s must-see destinations and is a favorite stop for many on the traditional backpacker trail. For those who want to stay on for an extended visit the good news is there is a healthy demand for English language teachers in many parts of the country. Although wages may not match those found in some of the region’s teaching hotspots, you can still earn enough to live a comfortable lifestyle and to enjoy all that this beautiful country has to offer.
In the past it was almost the norm for teachers to work ‘under the table’ without a proper work permit, however, those days are largely gone and you now need to have the necessary paperwork in place if you want to earn a good salary. To be granted a work permit you need to possess a degree in any subject and we also recommend that you complete a TEFL training course before applying for jobs. Although it is not a legal requirement to teach in Thailand, schools increasingly expect their teachers to hold TEFL certification and many insist upon it. As well as opening up a wider jobs market with a higher earning potential, TEFL training will also give you the specific skills and knowledge you need to feel confident when you enter your own classroom for the first time.
The majority of teaching positions are found in government schools or in private language academies. Government schools offer a fixed routine that usually runs from Monday to Friday with plenty of public holidays spread throughout the year. Private schools generally pay slightly more but working hours often include evenings and weekends as students are normally attending in their own free time. Teachers with additional qualifications and significant experience will also have access to international schools and universities which offer higher salaries and greater responsibility. If you find that your salary is not going as far as you would like, private tutoring is widely available and offers a great way to earn additional income in your spare time.
Although it is entirely possible to organize a teaching job in Thailand from the comfort of your home country, either via a recruitment company or by replying to individual job posts, it may not be the best approach. Only a small number of employers advertise their positions online as the majority prefer to hire people who are already in the country. Appearance is highly important in Thai culture and a local hiring policy is the simplest way for employers to find out if you are suitable for the job. This policy is also good for the teacher as you can go from school to school to meet the staff and check out the facilities before you sign a contract.
As demand for qualified teachers is strong throughout the year there is no specific best time to look for work in Thailand, although December and January are probably the quietest months. Generally you can arrive at any time of year and start knocking on doors and arranging interviews straight away. The largest number of job openings can be found in the bustling capital Bangkok, whilst Chiang Mai in the north and Phuket in the south are also popular teaching spots.
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