Is There an Age Limit for Teaching English in Thailand?

teaching in thailand students
Students at a Thai high school – copyright public domain


 Is there an age limit for teaching English in Thailand?

Periodically, I hear teachers wanting to come to Thailand asking is there an age limit for teaching English in Thailand, as they’ve heard rumours older teachers won’t be able to get jobs. Luckily, I can quite categorically say, if you are an older teacher and want to teach in Thailand, while you may face some age discrimination in some Thai schools, in the vast majority of cases you shouldn’t have a problem getting a job at all.

In fact, in some Thai schools, western teachers in their late 50s, 60s and sometimes older are quite highly prized.

Retirement age in Thailand

Where the confusion may come in is the fact that the retirement age for teachers in Thailand is 60 years old. What that means is almost all Thai teachers will retire by age 60 and draw their (paltry) pension, as they prefer to spend their time with their families as they get older rather than work.

Some Thai teachers, however, will then go on to take jobs at private Thai schools, where their being asked to retire at age 60 often isn’t an issue. A smaller number will choose to remain teaching at the school they have taught at for years, as teacher retirement in Thailand at most schools is not forced.

At the first school in Thailand I taught at our Kru Yai (Head Teacher or Headmistress) was 61 years old when I began teaching there. She had recently retired from 30 years teaching at a government school in Bangkok and accepted a new job as the headmistress of the private school as she ‘wanted a change’. She continued as Headmistress at the school well into her late 60s, with no problems from the school or the students’ parents.

No age limit for western teachers teaching English in Thailand

For western teachers, the same is usually true. With western teachers in high demand in Thailand, and particularly now as violence at anti-government protests is dissuading some teachers from moving to the country to teach, many Thai schools love hiring English teachers in their 50s, 60s and sometimes even their 70s. Some schools even look at older western teachers as being more ‘reliable’ than their younger counterparts — and, yes, there is more than just a kernel of truth to that idea.

In Bangkok, I personally know two British men in their early 70s who arrived in Thailand only a couple of years ago, and had no problems finding a good full-time teaching job — one at a language school and one at a Thai government school. Both work legally, have work permits and love their jobs.

Another American friend was in his early 60s when he moved to Chiang Mai to teach English. The last I heard, he had a full-time day job at a Thai government school on the outskirts of the city and was turning down students wanting private tutoring on the weekends as his tutoring schedule was full. What more can I say?

Is there an age limit teaching English in Thailand? Not for western teachers at most Thai schools there isn’t.

Can Older Western Teachers Get Work Permits in Thailand?

Another rumour doing the rounds in Thailand is that older western teachers cannot get a work permit to be able to teach legally. Again, not remotely true.

While 60 is the age recommended for retirement by the Thai Ministry of Education, it’s not set in stone. In fact, it’s nothing more than a guideline – a guideline most Thai teachers decide to follow but most western teachers currently in Thailand do not.

If a teacher is above the age of 60 in Thailand, all the school has to do to be able to get a valid work permit for an older western English teacher is to file a ‘special needs’ request with the Teachers Council and, 99 percent of the time, it will be honored.

Your work permit will be processed as normal, and you’ll be just as legal as a 28-year-old western teacher teaching here.

So, if you’d like to teach English in Thailand and are in your 50s, 60s or even your 70s, don’t worry about being able to find a teaching job as there are many of them, and your age should not be much of a factor in getting hired.

In fact, as Thais are brought up to respect and take care of older people, you might just be surprised at how welcome they make you feel.

For more information on getting teaching jobs in Thailand, check out information about the average teaching salary in Chiang Mai, tips on how to get a teaching job quickly, and information about the documents you will need to bring with you to Thailand in order to get a work permit.

And, of course, don’t miss our teaching in Thailand section, where we have tons of information and answer hundreds of questions about anything you could possibly want to know about being a teacher in the Land of Smiles.