When westerners ask questions about teaching English in Thailand many ask if it’s possible to teach in Thailand without a university degree, or should they go ahead and get a fake one? This isn’t as crazy as it might sound, as up until a couple of years ago fake degree holders were teaching all over Thailand. A fake degree certificate could be bought on Khao San Road in Bangkok for as little as 200 baht ($5) so getting a university degree overnight was entirely possible. Fast forward two years though and times have changed for teachers in Thailand.
As Thailand caught several high-profile pedophiles (remember the guy who said he’d killed Jon Benet Ramsey? Yep, he was caught in Thailand), and most of these guys were ‘teachers’, it became obvious to the Thai government they needed to do something to clamp down on all the bogus teachers in Thailand. New rules and qualifications were instituted in order to be able to get a teaching license and having a college degree was one of them.
Not only that but, unlike before where college degrees were never checked, the Ministry of Education is now checking degrees that western English teachers use in Thailand in their applications to get a teachers license. If a ‘teacher’ is using a fake degree or a ‘life experience degree’, it’s almost guaranteed the Ministry of Education will find out and punishment will be severe. In some cases, punishment for using a fake degree has been arrest, imprisonment and then deportation from Thailand. For teachers who classify Thailand as home and have been living here for many years, being deported from Thailand is the last thing they want to have happen but, teaching with a fake degree, is paramount to a guarantee it will.
As for teaching without a university degree, although the Thai Ministry of Education (MOE) says the basic qualifications for an English teacher in Thailand are a university degree and a TEFL certificate, it is still possible to teach and to teach legally without a degree. And here’s how to do it:
1) The school you are working for must write to the MOE saying they don’t have the money to hire someone with a degree so they want to hire you.
2) You have many years of teaching experience and would like the MOE to consider those years in place of a college degree,
3) You’ve completed many seminars, training courses, attended teaching conferences etc. and feel those could be used in place of a college degree.
In these three cases, what will usually happen if the school begs loudly enough or knows the ‘right people’, a work permit and Teachers License will be given to you.
The moral of this story? Do not attempt to teach in Thailand with a fake degree. It’s illegal, the punishments for doing so are not worth it and could get you kicked out of the country and it’s honestly better to just come clean as this is Thailand – there are ways around everything, if you’re willing to do it the right way.