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
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
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
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.
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
Interviewing is pretty much mandatory for any position. Be prepared for your interview with these steps
1. Look sharp – probably 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 lesson – this 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 hand – maybe 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
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!