So how do I get a job teaching English in Thailand?

Me, correcting a math assignment
Me, correcting a math assignment

Whether you’re already in Thailand, ready to buy your ticket, or just considering teaching, check out this guide to get you started:

Step 1: Research Teaching in Thailand

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Is this something you really want to do? Is this something you can afford? What’s it like? I highly recommend you check out other posts in this blog and do your own research to make sure teaching English in Thailand is the right thing for you.

Here is a great link to many questions people have about teaching in Thailand. It answers FAQ’s and debunks certain myths about ESL teaching. Check it out!

Step 2: Be Qualified to Teach

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1. Be a native speaker: You must be a native English speaker to teach in Thailand.If your English is iffy and you have no degree or TEFL background, you will have a hard time getting a job.

2. Have a Bachelor’s degree: technically the only requirement you need to teach English in Thailand

*I have known teachers that don’t have it and their agency more or less lies for them. However, not having a degree means you can’t legally get a work permit to teach English which you WILL want if you plan on staying in Thailand long-term (and supposedly immigration is cracking down on repeat tourist visas, so you’ll definitely want that work permit).

3. Have a TEFL certificate: Absolutely not necessary but will give you better options for teaching jobs and a leg up on the competition

*I know a lot of teachers who received teaching positions without a TEFL certificate but employers like to see it on a resume. It shows you have at least some training and experience. My TEFL course personally did not prepare me very well for teaching, but that’s not to say others wouldn’t be helpful.

4. Experience teaching: Definitely not necessary, but helpful. However, if you want to get a good paying job in Thailand, experience is the way to do it.

*Experience will also help you in the classroom as a teacher. Walking in on my first day was scary. All the students were going nuts, staring at us, yelling at us in English (remember, all-male high school). It was so overwhelming! I felt like I was going to get eaten alive. I didn’t, and I have a great time at school now, but experience would have been helpful. Now I feel like I could take on any class at any school.

Step 3: Apply for a Job

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Get to Thailand first! Don’t try to get a job outside of the country – most (if not all) schools prefer for you to live in Thailand when you apply. Also, getting a job with an agency beforehand can be very iffy-I wouldn’t recommend it unless you know the agency has a good reputation for placements.

Where to apply: My go-to recommendation sites are Ajarn.com and Craigslist.com.

Ajarn.com is great for finding jobs. It’s slightly more competitive because most people look for jobs there, but if you send out many applications (via your virtual CV that you create) odds are you’ll get some responses. The website also has a lot of useful information about teaching and living in Thailand.

Craigslist is awesome for finding agencies. Agencies are less competitive because a lot of them will take just about anyone – but this can be to your advantage! Have no TEFL? No experience? Then an agency might be a great way to get your foot in the door. But beware; some agencies also suck, so do a little research, on here for example, before committing.

*Craigslist is also a good way to find tutoring opportunities and short-term English camps.

You can also check out Bangkok Post for job listings. I haven’t personally applied there before, but there’s a lot of great listings.

You can go into a school in person as well to give them your CV and potentially be interviewed. A lot of people online recommend this, but honestly, if you’re just starting out, then walking into a school can be super intimidating. I would recommend applying online unless you have experience teaching in Thailand.

Step 4: Interview

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Interviewing is pretty much mandatory for any position. Be prepared for your interview with these steps

1. Look sharpprobably the most important. Sadly, a lot of Thais judge you immediately by your appearance. They can decide you’re not right for the job just because you look ‘messy’. Skirts and dresses for women with a collared top are the best bet, slacks and a collared button-up for men. Shoes should be close-toed and look nice, although it’s a bit more flexible for women. No it’s not necessary, but if you want to increase your chances, dress well.

2. Plan a mock lessonthis isn’t always a requirement but on many interviews I was asked to prepare a mock lesson. Sometimes they want to just look at it, but most want you to ‘deliver’ it. It’s very easy because you will give the lesson to English speakers. Better schools almost always require this. Also, one time they did not tell me beforehand and then threw me in a live class of preschoolers to see what I could do. Yeah, it was awful.

3. Have copies of your CV, degree, passport, etc. on handmaybe this should be obvious, but I foolishly walked into a couple of interviews empty-handed. They already had all of my documents, why would they need a second copy? Nope. A lot of my interviewers didn’t know anything about me, they just had my name on a list. Kind of ridiculous, yes, but it will be much easier for you to be prepared! And if you want to sign a contract right there and then, having all of your docs will make it easier.

Step 4: Accept a Position

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If/when you are offered a job, make sure you take some time to think about it.

ALWAYS negotiate your pay. A lot of newbies are a bit naïve (like me) and don’t realize you should always ask for a little more. They offer you 32,000? Ask for 34,000. If the say no, then oh well, at least you tried!

Also, make sure these questions are answered, so you know what is expected of you:

1. Paid holidays? (public holidays at a government or private school absolutely SHOULD be paid, though summer and fall breaks may not be).

2. Teaching hours expected per week (this should never be more than 23-24)

3. Breaking contract – are there penalties? How much notice is necessary? This can get you out of sticky situations if you have an awful school and want to quit without being penalized

4. Sick days – how many? You should get at least 2 per semester. This means you can miss school with proper notification ahead of time and still be paid (in other words, don’t call an hour before school starts saying you won’t be there and expect to still get paid)

5. Is a work permit sponsored? Most places should pay for this and arrange it for you. However, in my experience, agencies really drag their feet, preferring you to pay for visa runs to stay ‘legal’ in Thailand (though illegally employed)

6. Hours per day that you are expected at school – obviously only relevant for government/private schools but definitely something that should be in your contract. 7:30-4:30 is pretty standard

7. Gate duty? A lot of schools want teachers to do gate duty, where you stand at the gate and watch the students come in. Not sure how standard this is, but it was in my contract (my school didn’t make me do it)

Chok dee, ka! (Good luck!)

Do you have a different experience with finding work in Thailand? Did I miss something important here? Are any of these way off base? Please let me know in the comments or in an e-mail here!

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25 thoughts on “So how do I get a job teaching English in Thailand?”

    1. I got it in Thailand at a university in Chiang Mai before I started working. It was sort of expensive to do the program (about 1200$) but living in Chiang Mai was so dirt cheap that it was worth it for the 4 week course. Also, I got a 3 month student visa which meant I could travel for two extra months before having to figure out a new one.

      Also, a TEFL is not necessary for teaching positions in Thailand. If you have a bachelor’s and/or ANY teaching experience, you’re gold.

    1. Getting a job can take a little time searching and interviewing, but it will happen eventually. You just have to be flexible, open-minded, and willing to put in the work (looking at job adds, replying, interviewing, etc.)

      My boyfriend and I looked all over hell and back for a place to live, but we were looking for a 2-momnth lease which is a lot harder to find than say a 6-month or one-year lease. We also wanted a one-bedroom which is extremely picky for month-to-month rentals. If you’re okay with a studio, there are a ton of options in Bangkok (the only place I’ve really looked for apartments other than Chiang Mai). For finding short term apartments, check out this blog post: http://migrationology.com/2012/02/rent-cheap-apartments-in-bangkok-thailand/

      For longer term rentals, you can check out http://www.thaiapartment.com or http://www.mrroomfinder.com. If you work in a school or with an agency, your co-workers can be an invaluable resource for finding you a cheap apartment. Thais have access to much, much cheaper rates than foreigners do.

      Hope this helps!

  1. When you say 23-24 hours, do you mean those are the hours spent teaching but you are at the school 5 days a week 7:30-4:30 or is it 23-24 hours present at the school total? Asking because I teach online and was thinking of doing both in Thailand (school & online).

    1. Well, it really depends where and what you teach. As a math and science teacher, I had 16 50-minute periods a week. My boyfriend who taught English subjects taught between 21 and 23 50-minute periods a week. And yes, you are generally at the school between 7:30 and 4:30 (but something closer to 7:45-3:30ish is more accurate in my experience). I will also say that for me I spent about half of my down time at school planning or making worksheets and the other half doing whatever I felt like. However, a lot of my coworkers that just taught English hardly ever had to prep due to their textbooks being super useful so even though I was at school all day a lot of that time was spent working on this blog, skyping, reading the news, sending emails, etc. Also, your schedule is fixed so I think you could definitely do both as long as you have a consistent schedule. It’s a bit more laid back than jobs in America because no one cares what you do with your down time. This was just my experience, but I hope it helps!

  2. Hi Bee!

    I was planning a 3 month backpacking trip to Thailand and Southeast Asia, but the more I am reading about Thailand, the more time I want to spend there. I have been looking into teaching in Thailand. I am 25 years old, and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree 3 years ago, and live in the US.

    The TEFL/Celta courses seem to be super expensive, as you know, over $1,000 and over $2,000 with board. What are you thoughts about not signing up for a course and just trying to look for a job when you get there. Is that risky?

    I am particularly looking at Phuket. Is it harder to get an English teaching job there?

    Also, I LOVE your site. Reading it makes me so excited to come out! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences!

    1. Oh I also forgot to ask you one question. You can take online classes to get your TEFL certificate. Right now it is $416.00 to take the entire online course, which is a lot cheaper then taking it in Thailand. Have you heard anything about the online courses? Are they still accepted in Thailand? What are your thoughts?

      1. My thoughts on online courses is that they are OK if you get at least 20 hours of actual teaching practice. Most schools/agencies want you to have a 120 hour TEFL degree which means 100-ish hours of instruciton (which can be online) and 20 hours of live practice. If there is no in-person practice, then it’s a rip-off.

        You might get away with an online degree in Thailand, I can’t say for certain, but if you wanted to use that degree to get a position in any other country, or if you planned on teaching in Thailand for more than a year, you might want to splurge for the better course. If you’re just looking at 6 months or a year, an online course might fly. I would just google whichever company you’re looking at and see what people have to say about it. Hope that helps, good luck! 🙂

    2. Hi Rachel,

      So glad that you’re thinking about spending more time in Thailand! I would say the risk level is quite low for job hunting without a TEFL degree. A lot of companies prefer it but the most important requirement (which you need to get a work permit) is having a bachelor’s degree, so you’re good there. I think a TEFL certificate helps, and makes you a more competitive candidate for better positions, but it’s certainly not necessary.

      I don’t know much about Phuket, I personally find it to be quite seedy and hard on the local economy. I also know that because there are so many tourists, there may be more competition to teach English there.

      Your best bet is probably Bangkok because there are so many language and government schools there that need teachers.

      I absolutely loved teaching in Bangkok and had a lot of down time to travel South to the islands (my personal favorites are Koh Lipe and Koh Tao).

      Good luck and enjoy your travels, Thailand is a wonderful place! Please let me know if you have any more questions 🙂

      B

      1. Thanks B! I appreciate your quick response.

        Do you need to get a work permit yourself, or do you get the job first and they get you a work permit?

        How long have you been out in Bangkok?

      2. The company or school that employs you will get the paper work together for your work permit, then you apply for it. Then you’re legit for a year!

  3. Thanks B! I will stay in touch! Again, love reading everyday about your experiences~awesome you started this blog!

  4. How strict is Thailand about needing a bachelors? I’ve spent 10 years teaching English in China and loved every minute of it. I work hard and take my job seriously but don’t have a bachelor’s degree, in China a University I worked for made a degree for me as the government in China doesn’t check anything and doesn’t really care except every couple years when they pretend to crack down…

    1. Not strict at all at the moment. Most of the people I was working with had no bachelor’s degree. You technically need a bachelors to get the work permit, but somehow people without it were getting work permits all the same. Agencies are especially good at getting around that requirement, so I’d recommend starting out with an agency until you have some experience and a work permit, and then looking at schools on your own.

  5. Your blog is absolutely insightful and has helped me a lot on my quest to find out all I possibly can about teaching in Thailand! Unfortunately I do not have a degree (I do have some college) but will most likely be taking the CELTA course in Bangkok. Do you know if this course is the best one to take? There’s so many different ones, it’s enough to make a person flustered. I understand it is difficult to land a job without have a degree but i’m hoping things will fall into place.

    1. Hi Jocelyn! I’m glad you’ve found the blog helpful. I know CELTA is more rigorous than TEFL and it’s also from Cambridge, so I think it’s a fine choice. Just be sure that the course you select has you practicing weekly with actual students. If it is all studying and no application with real students (at least 20 hours I believe), then it’s not a good program. I hope that’s helpful and good luck on your journey! Thailand is such a wonderful place 🙂

    1. It depends how you do with a heavy workload. I had tons of downtime around my teaching hours (which can range anywhere from 12 to 24 hours a week). You can’t actually leave school during the day (between around 7:30 and 4:00) but if you get your planning done you could easily spend a couple of hours a day working on homework. I spent that time working on this blog, emailing friends and family, or coming up with creative lessons. However, it’s up to each person to decide how much work they can take on during the day. Some days I needed that extra time to just decompress and read a book. Good luck, and thanks for reading Holly!

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