For most westerners with a university degree, being asked to show their original university degree certificate by a potential employer would be a little odd. Not in Thailand, where I have been asked for my original university degree certificate more times than I can count. In fact, if you are planning on moving to Thailand to teach English, one of the things you must bring with you is your original university degree certificate. If you want to get a job, that is. Here’s why.
Why You Need Your Original University Degree Certificate – The simple explanation is it is so that the school can check that you actually have a genuine university degree before they hire you. In the past, thousands of so-called western ‘teachers’ in Thailand didn’t have university degrees, so they bought fake degrees on the black market once they arrived.
In recent years, however, the Ministry of Education has become much more strict and many degrees are now checked for authenticity. According to Thai belief, having the original university degree certificate makes it less easy to cheat and easier to validate.
Potential Employers Ask For It – Once you start looking for a teaching job upon arrival in Bangkok, you will see very quickly that many advertisement ask for a photocopy of your university degree certificate to be included in your application. What that means, however, is while they want a photocopy of your certificate to check before they agree to interview you, they often want you to take the original degree certificate with you to the interview. If you get the job, of course, it will be a requirement.
Ministry of Education Asks For It – Once you are offered a job teaching in Thailand, most schools will apply for a teaching license as having one before you are allowed to teach is now the law. (Some schools won’t, and that means you will be working illegally).
In order for the Ministry of Education to be able to issue you with a teaching license, however, they will also need to see your original university degree certification. If you have more than one, a BA and a Masters degree, for instance, they will want to see both.
The Labor Department Asks For It – Up until two or three years ago, it was easy to teach in Thailand without a work permit. Not anymore. In fact, since the Ministry of Education started to demand all foreign teachers in Thailand have work permits, it has also tightened the rules required to obtain one.
That means, as part of the application process for your work permit, you will be required to submit your original university degree certificate, along with paperwork your school will provide, to the Thai Labor Department. If you don’t have your original certificate with you, it’s rare you will be given a work permit.
What Will Happen If You Don’t Have Your Original University Degree Certificate?
If you don’t have your original university degree certificate with you in Thailand, it’s highly likely your work permit application will be put ‘on hold’ until you have been able to contact your university back in your home country to request an original degree certificate be mailed to you. \
Depending on the Thai labor department, sometimes that means they will still allow you to teach while you are waiting. Sometimes it doesn’t. In the latter case, that will mean you will lose the job you have just accepted, as no Thai school is going to wait 6-8 weeks before you have permission to begin teaching.
All of this is why, when you know you will be moving to Thailand to teach, no matter what subject that teaching may entail, be sure one of the first things you pack is your original university degree certificate. That way, once you arrive and start applying for jobs, it should all be smooth sailing. Well, at least until you get into the classroom, that is. Then it’s up to your students.