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Teach English in Thailand: Requirements, Salary, Jobs

Teach English in Thailand

If you’ve been thinking about teaching English in Thailand, you’ve come to the right place. Here at Teast, we’ve put together a guide with all the information you need to get started. This includes up to date information about what you need to get started and what salary you would be able to earn as an English teacher. This includes the best teaching jobs and TEFL courses in Thailand.

Thailand is a top destination for people who want to teach English in a place that is exotic, but also cheap and safe. Here you can find every amenity imaginable and at all price brackets. Thailand is known for beautiful Buddhist temples to lush green jungles to crystal blue water. Here the water is warm and the weather is even warmer. Thailand has a tropical climate and has high temperatures year round. If the thought of warm temperature turns you off, don’t worry even a little, as there are air conditioners in most apartments, schools and malls so you can avoid the heat entirely if you prefer.

Thailand is located in Southeast Asia and borders Myanmar to the northwest, Laos to the northeast, Cambodia to the southeast, and Malaysia to the south. Thailand is often pictured as the country with the most beautiful beaches and tropical islands. Here English teachers have the option to teach with those right on their doorsteps in cities like Phuket, Krabi, Koh Samui, Pattaya and more. Once they arrive in Thailand and explore the country they realize that there is so much more. In the north of Thailand they have beautiful mountains and farmlands in places like Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. If you love cities, then Bangkok is the place for you. In Bangkok you will find many remnants of Thai culture, including amazing temples and friendly people, but you will also find all the modern amenities and luxuries you could think of.

Requirements to teach English in Thailand

Would you like to teach English in Thailand, but still not sure if it’s for you? Teachers usually come from a wide range of backgrounds. From recent graduates and travellers, to writers, retired lawyers and experienced doctors looking for a new life experience.

To teach English in Thailand the level of experience required, depends on the school you are applying to. Experience is always a plus, but not a requirement for most jobs. The most important thing is that you have a friendly and positive personality and are willing to learn and work with a team. If you have experience in fields related to teaching, it will help you stand out among other candidates. Jobs such as babysitting, au pair, public speaker, etc are some examples.

Thailand is known as a country that is “flexible” with the laws written on paper and the ones actually practiced, so it depends on the organization you are working with. However, here is the list of requirements set by the government in order to receive a work permit as a teacher:

  • A four-year degree in any major (bachelor’s degree or higher).
  • To be a native English speaker (NES) OR a non-native English speaker (NNES) with a TOEIC score of 600 or IELTS score of 5+.
  • To pass a police background check in your home country.
  • To pass a simple health check
  • A TEFL certificate is preferred, but not required
  • Experience is preferred, not not required
  • You should have an interest in Thailand and Thai culture

Salary for teaching English in Thailand

With the popularity of English growing in Thailand, there are many opportunities for foreign teachers to earn a living teaching English. With friendly people, tropical weather and amazing food, Thailand is a great place to be if you want to live a comfortable lifestyle. The amount you will earn will vary depending on the type of school you teach at and how qualified and experienced you are.

Thailand offers teachers various different teaching opportunities. You can work in a modern metropolis like Bangkok, or surround yourself with beautiful mountains in the north or tropical beaches in the south. Teaching jobs will vary between kindergarten students to adults. Classes can vary from 40 students, 10 students to 1-1 and teaching contracts can range from 6 months to 1 year. Here are the types of jobs and salaries you can earn:

School Salary
Public or Government Schools 25,000 - 35,000 Baht per month
Private Schools 35,000 - 70,000 Baht per month
Private Language Schools 25,000 - 40,000 Baht per month
International Schools 80,000 - 170,000 Baht per month
Universities 30,000 - 60,000 Baht per month
Private English Lessons 400 - 1,000 Baht per hour

Public or government school jobs

Thailand offers Thai nationals nine years of basic education for free. This means that Thai students can attend Public schools for free until grade 9. They are also offered additional 3 free years until grade 12, but these years are optional. At these schools, your students are likely to all be Thai.

Because of the ease of access to these schools, the classes are often on the larger sides, with a high student to teacher ratio. Larger classes give you an opportunity to work with a wide variety of students, but also keep in mind that it might be a bit more difficult to keep order. At public schools, the students' understanding of English often varies. Some students might be able to speak English fluently, and write excellent essays, while others in the same class might not know how to finish a sentence. This presents a bit of a challenge, but a very rewarding one to solve when you see the difference you have made.

The salary English teachers earn at public schools typically range between 25,000 to 35,000 Baht. This also differs depending on the school and location. If you are experienced teachers you can also be offered a higher salary.

Private school jobs

The main difference between public and private schools is that the classes are typically smaller with a lower student to teacher ratio. Because these schools often require a larger investment from parents since they aren’t free, less people are able to attend. At public schools your students might be predominantly Thai, but you can expect students from all other nationalities to attend, depending on the school and location. A school in a larger city, with more expats, will have more foreign students. Private schools are pretty much like the school you attended back in your home country.

Your day to day duties here will be no different than at public schools. At public schools you are often given complete control over planning your lessons and curriculum, at private schools, especially the best ones you can expect to have someone review your lesson plans and make sure you are on the correct track. There is often a strong support system and staff assigned to help you if needed.

Private schools might also have different programs such as a basic program and intensive program, where students can choose to take their classes in Thai, with some English classes or study in both English and Thai.

The salaries at these schools are usually higher than public schools, and will vary depending on location and school. English teachers will earn a salary of 35,000 to 70,000 Baht per month at these schools. Things like your education, experience and nationality could also affect your salary. Benefits here could include a housing allowance and paid vacations.

International school jobs

Expats living in Thailand often send their kids to international schools. Some Thai parents also send their kids to an international school if they believe it will be good for their education. These schools are located in Thailand but follow a western curriculum, usually from the United States, United Kingdom or Canada. There are also international schools for students from other nationalities such as Japan, China and South Korea.

The fees to attend these schools are much higher than other schools in Thailand. Because of this there is a high standard that needs to be maintained. Getting a job teaching at international school usually requires a teacher to have experience teaching in their home country as they want to attract the most qualified teachers. For these jobs it’s best to apply before travelling to Thailand.

These are also the most well paid jobs. Teachers here can expect to earn a salary of 80,000 to 170,000 Baht per month as well as many benefits such as contract bonuses, increases, vacations, health insurance and sometimes flights to and from Thailand.

Language school jobs

Language schools are another great place to teach English in Thailand. Here you won’t be teaching during school hours. Your students will be kids and adults. Adults might study in the mornings or evenings and kids will usually study after school in the late afternoon or evening. Because of this your working hours will be different than working at a school where you will work from the morning to early afternoon.

At a language school, workdays depend on the school, and can be extended to the weekends. The class size also depends on the school and some classes could be group classes and others one on one classes. For most schools, the teacher is responsible for setting up the lessons but some schools do help with this. If not, there are a ton of awesome resources online to help with lesson content.

You could work both full time and part time at language schools. Some pay per month but common practice is to pay teachers per hour. Although salaries are usually higher than public schools, because you work per hour, you often have to work a lot more at language schools. The salary at language schools is usually around 25,000 to 40,000 Baht per month if you work full time or 300-500 Baht per hour if you work part time.

University jobs

Universities are very prestigious in Thailand and teaching English here is a highly respected job, just like being a school teacher. The main difference between universities and schools is that at schools you are required to be at work all day, even when not teaching. At universities you are only required to attend your lessons, and are free to do as you please in your free time.

This could be a great benefit if you are someone who has other things to do during the day or plan to tutor English privately. You could schedule meetings with students when you are not teaching at the University. Because of the high status of universities, working there will also be a great CV boost.

The salary you earn at universities depends on your role and how many classes you need to teach, but also on your qualifications and experience, as well as the university and location. On average salaries are 30,000 to 60,000 Baht per month.

Private tutoring jobs

Many English teachers opt to tutor some students privately after work to earn some extra money. There are even a few teachers who do this full time. It is not that common though because it takes some work and skill to build up your own client base, but can be very rewarding.

When tutoring privately some students might look to hire a teacher to help prepare for exams or tests but most will be interested in learning conversational English which is fun to teach and doesn’t feel like work at all. You could meet up at your students home or at a mall or café for your lessons.

A major downside with private tutoring is the lack of stability, guidance and support and this might turn many teachers away. On the plus side that opens up room for freedom and creativity. English tutors in Thailand often make 400 to 1000 Baht per hour.

Cost of living in Thailand

When you calculate the cost of living in Thailand you need to cover two things. Your needs and wants. Your needs include basic things like rent, utilities, WIFI, food, and transportation. Your wants depend on your personal lifestyle and are any luxuries you plan to purchase. In Thailand, your needs will be extremely affordable, so with your teaching salary you will have no problems enjoying your time. The costs will vary from higher in larger cities to smaller in more rural areas. A single persons estimated monthly costs are 18,000 Baht per month without rent. The currency used in Thailand is called "Baht" or THB and according to Numbeo here are some basic costs to consider in Thailand:

Item Cost
Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Centre 13,421.34 Baht
Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Centre 8,104.26 Baht
Monthly basic utilities (Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage) 2,334.73 Baht
Internet (60 Mbps or More, Unlimited Data, Cable/ADSL) 674.56 Baht
Water (1.5 liter bottle) 16.56 Baht
Chicken Fillets (1kg) 75.45 Baht
Potato (1kg) 41.90 Baht
Rice (white), (1kg) 37.34 Baht
Banana (1kg) 86.21 Baht
Local Transport (One-way Ticket) 25 Baht
Fitness Club, Monthly Fee for 1 Adult 1,592.28 Baht

Things to know about Thailand and Thai culture

Thailand is well known for its unique culture. There are a few things to note about how Thai people live and show respect to others. Don’t worry too much as they don’t expect foreigners to understand it, but they will respect you if you take the time to learn a few things. Thai people are very tolerant of foreigners so if you do things that are disrespectful, they will understand. But it will be great if you took some time to understand a few small pointers and show Thai people that you are respectful of them and their culture. Here are a few basic cultural points that can help you when moving to Thailand to teach English:

  • No more handshakes. In Thailand, people greet each other by performing a Wai. This is performed by pressing your hands together and slightly bowing your head. It could mean hello, goodbye, thank you or sorry. It is not something friends will do with each other every day and is more common when engaging with someone older or respected. The Thai word for “Hello” is “Sawadee”, and can be used when bowing. You don’t need to go around performing a Wai to everyone, but if someone performs it to you, try to do it back.
  • Thai people smile a lot and because of that, it’s often called “The land of smiles”. In Thai culture they are taught to be kind and friendly to others, so smiling is important. Which means they will smile in most situations, even if they are sad or angry, they will smile. This is important to understand, because although Thai people are extremely friendly and welcoming, it’s important to understand the situation, because a smile won’t always mean what you think. So remember to smile as much as possible in the classroom and at your fellow Thai teachers and you will be seen as a friendly person.
  • Similarly Thai people don’t say “no” easily, so if they do, it 100% means “no”. Thai people don’t want to disappoint others, so they might say yes even if they don’t want to or have no intention to do something. Try to equally show your respect by reading the situation and not bringing something up again if you think they don’t want to do it. Losing face is regarded as one of the worst things that can happen. If you disagree with a Thai colleague about anything, do not confront or correct them in front of the students or other teachers. Simply call them aside and speak to them in private about it.
  • Age is important in Thailand and they will call seniors my “Pee” and Juniors by “Nong”. If someone is older, it is important to show them respect. Age is just one of the many factors that can influence your status. Your family, income, job and education can also affect your status, which is important to most Thai people.
  • Thai people do not show affection in public. Holding hands might happen, but it is not common. Hugging, kissing and anything else is a big no, and is considered very inappropriate. Younger generations are more open to it, but still not nearly as open as western countries.
  • In Thailand, they consider the head as high, and the feet as low and dirty. So never touch anyone on the head, as it is considered very rude. Even if you just want to rub some kids' heads, or give them a pat, it’s not polite. Similarly, don’t use your feet to touch anything, don’t use them to open doors and don’t put them on tables or chairs. It’s not uncommon for a new English teacher to throw their feet on the desk and lay back, just to hear the students shouting. Thai people also take their shoes off when entering some buildings. Please take note of when you need to do it, and do the same.
  • Thai people love their country. The national flag is raised in many places every day along with the national anthem playing. It is played at schools and also on the radio and TV. Remember to show your respect, and don’t do anything that might insult their culture or traditions. The king is also loved and respected dearly by the people, so don’t say anything to criticize or offend the king.
  • Thailand is a Buddhist country and one thing you will notice is that there are monks. You will see them at the temples, walking the streets or on public transport. You need to be careful with your actions around monks. Women should never touch a monk or even sit next to him or his belongings.

Do I need to speak Thai in the Classroom?

Most schools will ask you not to speak any Thai even if you can. They want the students to be in an English environment. Most teachers will stick to this rule and that’s perfectly fine. If you manage to learn a few words, it will be helpful in building a good relationship with your students.

Do I need to be a native English speaker?

While looking for teaching jobs in Thailand the words, “Native English Speaker” or “NES” will pop out often. What this means is that you come from a country which Thailand recognizes as a country where the main language of communication in English. These countries are, The United States, Canada, The United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. South African teachers, however, are required to pass a TOEIC exam to prove their English proficiency. The reason for this is that South Africa has many official languages and some teachers might not be a native English speaker.

If you are not a native speaker from these countries, you will also be able to get a teaching job. Just like South African teachers you just need to pass a TOEIC exam to prove your proficiency. When applying for a job, schools will want to know about your qualifications, experience and also your ability to communicate clearly. A reason schools choose native English speakers is because they are able to communicate in a way that students can easily understand, so if you can show that you can do the same, you will be able to get a job whether you are a native English speaker or not.

Do I need a TEFL to teach English in Thailand?

A TEFL certificate is not a government requirement in Thailand, so you will be able to get a job without it. However, a solid TEFL training course will help prepare before jumping right in. You will learn about teaching methods as well as other important things like classroom management and Thai culture. If you plan to teach English as a second language, most of your students will not be fluent in English. A TEFL, TESOL, or CELTA course will prepare you well for these situations.

You will learn more than just what’s in the English textbook like grammar, spelling and pronunciation, you will learn how to teach your students in a fun and engaging way and manage the classroom. You will learn about how to prepare your lesson plans, how to use games to make your students enjoy your lessons, how to use your body to communicate (This is called TPR and is extremely helpful in communication where students have a low language proficiency) , you will also learn about important do and don’ts in Thailand as every culture is different and certain things you might think to be fine, might be offensive in their culture, so this is very important to learn.

Can I teach English in Thailand without a degree?

It is possible to teach without a degree. A degree is usually a requirement as it is needed to issue a work permit for teaching jobs so most employers will ask about your degree. There are however many employers who would still hire you. One way they can do that, is by hiring you as a teaching assistant or some other position that doesn’t have a degree as a legal requirement for the work visa.

There are also some teachers working illegally. They will arrange alternative visas such as an education visa or work on a tourist visa doing border runs. If you decide this is an option you want to consider, please take careful note of the risks involved. Working illegally, puts you at risk of being deported and also being taken advantage of or not being paid by your employer. Another option to teach without a degree, is to a private tutor. You can tutor people at their homes or at cafes and public meeting places. Working as a private tutor can be lucrative, but it could take some time to find and build a regular roster of students.

How to get a visa to teach English in Thailand

To legally teach in Thailand, you will need a Non-Immigrant B Visa (“B” stands for “Business”). Working without it is illegal and there are fines and penalties if caught. By working illegally you also lose your workplace rights and any legal disagreements with your employer cannot be pursued. Being deported or being taken advantage of by your employer would definitely leave a sour taste in your mouth about Thailand, so please make sure to get your visa sorted.

The Non-Immigrant B Visa is valid for 3 months. Your school or company will then apply for a work permit and then your visa will be valid for the length of your work permit. Usually the length of your contract. The final step is to then apply for a teaching licence (If you have an education degree you will be exempt from this) which will be valid for up to six years.

It is common for schools to ask teachers to come to Thailand on a Tourist Visa and then apply for a Non-Immigrant B Visa in Thailand or by doing a border run. You can also apply for this in your home country before traveling. If you apply from your home country please check with your local embassy or consulate as they might have different requirements. The documents required Non-Immigrant B Visa in Thailand are:

  • Your passport with at least six months validity and two blank pages for the visa
  • Passport photos
  • Your original degree and transcripts and they should be authenticated
  • A criminal background check
  • Documents to confirm where you will be working (provided by your employer)
  • Visa application fee (varies by country)

When to apply for a teaching job

In Thailand, the school calendar is not the same as in most western countries. So the starting dates will differ. The first semester starts in May and runs up until the break in October. The second semester starts in December and runs up until the end of March. Then there is a long holiday until the first semester starts again in May.

The best time to arrive will be in April/May, just before the first semester or in October/November, just before the second semester as schools are on a hiring spree this time. If you plan to take a TEFL/TESOL course you should try and arrive a month earlier than that. This is the time when it is the easiest to get a job, but in Thailand schools will hire throughout the year, so feel free to arrive anytime and you will easily find a job anytime of the year.

How to apply for a teaching job

Getting a teaching job in Thailand is easy, but getting a good job means that you need to stand out from the others. You can find jobs on our Thailand job board, Facebook groups, Craigslist, or Ajarn.When applying to schools or agencies, you need to remember that they will be receiving hundreds to thousands of applicants depending on the vacancy. As a recruiter in the field, we know exactly what will help you stand out and here are some tips:

  • Dress professionally: this is important, it helps the schools see that you are serious about your work and can be a strong asset to their team.
  • Smile! Teaching English is fun, and every student loves a friendly teacher. This helps show that you are a positive, friendly and energetic person.
  • Speak clearly: Accent is important. This is one of the reasons the industry focuses on native English speakers. The students will have a tough time if they cannot understand what their teacher is saying.
  • Update your CV: Make sure you’ve updated your CV with a recent photo of yourself as well as all your qualifications and past experiences.
  • Send a video: When applying for jobs, don’t just send your CV. Record a short clip introducing yourself and applying the above 3 points. Dress professionally, smile and speak clearly. This can just be a few seconds long, introducing yourself and sharing something interesting about yourself or why you want to be a teacher in Thailand.