We often receive e-mails from people asking what the average salary for a farang (western) teacher is in Bangkok, Thailand and is it possible to live on it? The average farang English teacher salary in Thailand varies immensely, depending on what job you do and where you work. If you are a qualified teacher in Thailand, of course, you’ll make more money than the many farang teachers who are not. Qualified teachers make a higher salary and also get the better job offers.
Overall, though, average salaries in Bangkok for farang English teachers are quite low — particularly compared to countries like Japan and South Korea, which pays their foreign English teachers far higher salaries.
Average Salaries at a Thai Government School in Bangkok – Thai government schools usually pay the lowest salaries. Anything from 28,000 to 35,000 baht is standard and, in Bangkok, where the cost of living can be high, it’s difficult to live on 35,000 baht a month.
Of course, some farang teachers (usually men, who are unqualified teachers and so don’t have a lot of job options) will tell you it’s possible to live on this.
It is if you don’t mind living in a one-room Thai-style apartment, eating street food every day, socializing only once a week, and taking buses almost everywhere you travel – yes, it’s doable. But if you want any kind of social life, be able to eat western food once in a while, and don’t wish to live in a box, then 45,000 baht a month is the minimum salary you should aim for, and 50-60,000 baht would be better.
Average Salaries at a Bilingual School in Bangkok – Most of the bi-lingual schools in Bangkok will only hire qualified teachers (with a university degree, TEFL or CELTA and at least 2-3 years teaching experience). That also means, however, they pay more.
My first job in Thailand was at a bilingual school, an excellent school with small class size, 8 weeks paid vacation, health insurance and a myriad of other benefits. My starting salary was 48,000 baht a month plus 2,900 baht housing allowance. With a total salary of 50,900 baht every month, my lifestyle was already better than a farang teacher at most Thai government schools, plus I got a 2,000-3,000 baht pay increase every year that helped even more.
Most bilingual schools in Bangkok pay between 45,000-65,000 baht per month, depending on qualifications and experience — and with that kind of money you can live quite well. You should even manage to save a little bit.
Average Salaries at a University in Bangkok – You would think that average salaries at a Bangkok university would be high but, in many cases, they are some of the lowest paying jobs in Bangkok.
The positive side of teaching at a Thai university is, unlike many other English teaching jobs in Thailand, you only have to be at the university for the hours you teach and with teaching hours usually at 20 hours or less (some only teach 12 hours a week!) then a 30,000 baht average salary isn’t too bad. Especially as this gives you a lot of extra time to find a second job.
Depending on the university, average teaching salaries can be as low as 30,000 baht a month and as high as 60,000 baht, but most pay on the low end. Universities, however, do look good on a resume, although most Thai universities leave a lot to be desired, as they’re nowhere near the standard of an average western, Japanese or Korean university.
Average Salaries for Full-Time Corporate Teaching – I used to teach at an international company in Bangkok and started out on a salary of 60,000 baht a month. That’s actually low for a full-time corporate job in Bangkok, where the average salary is 70-85,000 baht a month, but full-time corporate jobs are few and far between and, as the company I worked for decided to hire their English teachers through an agency, that meant my salary was less.
Benefits include teaching less than 20 hours a week and often having a lot of freedom to teach what you want, plus very little paperwork. Don’t forget too, you can take on a part-time job like I did to make some extra money, which gave me a salary well over 80,000 baht a month. And yes, on a salary over 80,000 baht, you really are living close to the lap of luxury. The lap itself, though, is reserved for the international schools in Bangkok.
Average Salaries at International Schools in Bangkok – An average salary at an international school in Bangkok is between 85,000 and 140,000 baht a month, plus, housing allowance of anything from 10,000 baht to 30,000 baht a month.
A friend works at one of the top international schools in Bangkok and his salary is 125,000 baht plus a 35,000 baht a month housing allowance that he uses to rent a four-bedroom house with a swimming pool, so he’s riding high.
Jobs in true international schools are difficult to get though, requiring an Education degree, plus 5-10 years teaching experience outside Thailand. International schools so usually only hire from outside the country.
How much money does a western teacher need to make in Bangkok?
In order to have any kind of decent standard of living in Bangkok, a Western teacher should be making at least 45,000 baht salary a month and preferably 50,000 to 60,000 baht to have any kind of cushion for emergencies.
Some teachers will disagree, but when I’ve seen the rooms they live in, the clothes they wear, and realize they can’t afford to eat out with me often as the restaurants I eat at are beyond their budget more than a couple of times a month (more than $5 a meal) then I know which opinion I’m prefer to keep.
For more information on average teaching salaries in Bangkok, there’s a good set of interviews on Ajarn.com (a teaching website for farang English teachers in Thailand). Read Cost of Living in Thailand for some excellent interviews with real teachers teaching in Thailand.