It is possible to get a dream teaching job in Thailand
Have you ever thought about teaching English in Thailand? Wondered what it would be like to live as an expat? Wanted to learn about a different culture and a new way of life? Then teaching in Thailand might just be for you. But how do you get a dream teaching job in Thailand? Here is what you need to know.
Thailand is a country with amazing sights, sounds, smells and colors. It’s unlike any other. The people are friendly, the food is great, the climate is hot and sunny all year round, and the beaches are gorgeous. There are also plenty of jobs for Western English teachers who have college degrees (in any subject!). A teaching certificate is also necessary, either a CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults) or TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate.
Salaries are obviously a lot lower than in Western countries, but so is the cost of living.
When I was teaching full-time, I made 65,000 baht a month (about $1,850) and on that money, I lived well.
I had a one bedroom apartment with maid service, security and cable TV. I took taxis everywhere, ate out 2-3 meals a day, bought as many books and DVDs as I wanted, traveled to the Thai beaches every couple of months and to Malaysia, Vietnam, Hong Kong etc 3 or 4 times a year.
On top of that, I still managed to save around $500 a month, something I had never managed to do in the US, even when I was making $60,000 a year!
So, if the lifestyle is so great, how do I get a dream teaching job in Thailand you might ask? Actually, it’s not difficult, and here is a step-by-step approach of how to do it, once you’ve arrived in Thailand.
1.The most important thing, if you don’t have a TEFL or CELTA certificate, get one. Having a certificate showing you have studied to be able to teach English as a Foreign Language is paramount. The Thai government is now mandating this certificate for many teaching jobs. My recommendation would be come to Thailand and do one of these courses here as they’re cheaper than in your own country.
There are many different ones offered in Thailand, from the British CELTA, the top-rated certificate, around $1,600 for a 4 week course, to the 6-week TEFL, costing between $1,100 and $1,500. Most schools offer shortened versions of the course too, but be warned the Thai Ministry of Education is now requiring a 120-hour TEFL certificate for many jobs. So the shorter courses will not always qualify you.
2. Do research on jobs and salaries. Once in Thailand, and while you’re doing your TEFL course, start looking for available jobs. There is one website that has many of the teaching jobs available in Thailand listed – Ajarn. Most teachers get their jobs either through this site or by physically visiting some of the many language schools.
Do NOT accept a job in Thailand while you are still in your home country. Most of the schools will try to trap an unwary foreign teacher with a lower salary and less benefits than you could get once you arrive. Come to Thailand first, talk to other teachers to find out what their salaries are, then make up your mind what your salary requirements are. Don’t worry about not having a job when you get here. I don’t know of any Western teacher who hasn’t found a job within a week of arrival. For many, they even get jobs their first day looking!
3. Begin the job hunt on the internet. If you are looking for a dream teaching job in Thailand I would recommend looking at jobs that are listed on Ajarn first.
Take note of the ones you’re interested in, making sure the location is close enough to you that you don’t spend hours on the bus every day. Bangkok is huge, and it can easily take you 2 hours to get to work if you pick the wrong location. A job within 15 minutes of the sky train or underground system is often the best.
Once you have found several jobs that interest you, e-mail them your resume and a recent photo. Thais are obsessed with photos, so want to know what you look like before they’ll call you in for an interview.
4.Hit the pavement and knock on doors. There are hundreds of teaching jobs always available at language schools all over the country. In Bangkok especially, there are many language schools with many branches. Most of them are located in shopping malls close to the sky train or underground, so they’re easy to get to.
If you’re male, dress in dress pants, a long-sleeved shirt and a tie. No need for a suit as it’s too darned hot! If you’re female, a skirt or pants, and a nice professional shirt, either long-sleeves or three-quarter, are preferable. Also make sure you wear either full shoes, or sandals with a strap at the back, never strapless sandals as they are ‘not polite’ for interviews in Thailand. No need for panty hose, again, it’s too darned hot!
Choose three or four language schools preferable close together, and do a walk-in. Ask if they have jobs available, give them your resume and photo and, often, you will be meeting with an interviewer within 15 minutes of walking in the door. Don’t be surprised if you get a job offer immediately.
Make sure though that you tell them you’ll get back to them. You will find you will get many offers so it’s not always good to take the first one that comes along. Especially if you want to hold out for your dream teaching job in Thailand.
5. Review your options and accept a job. Once you have been given several offers from language schools or from your e-mailed resumes, sit down and review your offers before accepting one. First, look at the location, the salary and benefits. Which is closest to your apartment? Which pays the most? Who offers medical insurance, the most holidays, and free lunch?
Most importantly, see if they will pay for a work permit and visa (some will, some won’t). Some schools don’t want to pay for the visa and work permit because the cost is around $230.
The good schools will pay and, because there is usually a teacher shortage in Thailand, there’s no need for you to pay it yourself. If the school won’t pay, move on to a school that will.
Also, if you’re going to be teaching children in a primary or high-school, avoid the schools that offer 10-month contracts. This means they will pay you for 10 months but, when you are on your 2-month school holiday, surprise, no paycheck! Again, the better schools in Thailand give you a one-year contract and if you’re planning on being a great teacher, there’s no need to take less.
And, if you’re not sure what a dream teaching job in Thailand is, these tips will help.
Once you’ve made your decision, call the school and tell them you’ll accept their offer. Don’t be surprised if they ask if you can start tomorrow. Yes, some of them are desperate! Feel free to tell them you need more time before you start. Believe me, if you look like you’re going to be a good teacher, they’ll wait.
The most important thing to remember about teaching in Thailand is this.
Thailand is a relaxed place and Thais love to have fun. If you come here, do your job, love to have a laugh, take problems with a pinch of salt, and enjoy teaching, you will have it made. Your life will be wonderful, you’ll make lots of friends, you’ll have a great time in the classroom, and you’ll be making a difference.
So, good luck, and welcome to Thailand!