When I moved to Bangkok to teach English over a decade ago, minimum qualifications for a teaching job in Thailand barely existed. That’s because, if you were a native English speaker, had a white face and wanted to teach, a huge number of schools would hire you, whether you had a university degree and teacher training or not.
Luckily, in the last decade, things have tightened up quite a lot in Thailand when it comes to minimum qualifications for a teaching job. Nowadays, not only are there minimum qualifications set out by the Ministry of Education and the Teachers Council of Thailand if you expect to get a work permit and a teachers license, but many schools are even stricter when they are looking for teachers to hire.
What are the minimum qualifications for a teaching position in Thailand?
Bachelor’s degree – There is really only one set-in-stone qualification for a teaching position in Thailand, and that is a verifiable Bachelor’s degree. I say verifiable as a ‘fake’ degree, something that was common in Thailand only a few years ago, can no longer be used as most schools now check you have the degree you say you have before they will process your work permit application. A fake degree can also land you in a Thai jail.
The degree can be in any subject – political science, geography, maths, English – it doesn’t matter, neither do the grades you received, but it must be a verifiable degree.
Age – You must also be at least 20 years old, as this is the age the Teachers Council of Thailand presumes is the lowest possible age for someone to have a Bachelor’s degree. Of course, that’s not always the case, particularly as I knew an 18 year old British man in Thailand with a BA degree, a teaching job and a work permit, but overall that is the rule.
TOIEC certified score – If you are not from the UK, the US, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand or Canada, you must also have taken a TOEIC test to prove you have the English ability of a native speaker and have a certified score.
This being Thailand where things change by the day, some reports say your score should be at least 600, whereas other reports don’t mention a score but, needless to say, the higher your score the higher your chances of getting a teaching job in Thailand and a work permit.
Other requirements for a teaching position in Thailand
TEFL certified – While having a TEFL or CELTA is not mandated by the Teachers Council of Thailand, and thus not necessary to get a work permit, it is mandated by an enormous number of schools in Thailand nowadays. That means, if you don’t have a TEFL certification and are up against others who do when you interview for jobs, your chances of getting a job are much lower.
A high percentage of advertised teaching jobs in Thailand are now mandating a TEFL certification, so if you don’t already have one it’s worth spending the six weeks it takes to get one. Be aware, though, an online TEFL is not good enough as it must have included observed teaching practice.
As rules for teaching in Thailand do change every couple of years, there’s no telling when the Teachers Council of Thailand will decide a TEFL certification is mandatory, so having one can only help, particularly if you plan on staying in Thailand longer than a year.
Teaching experience – Some schools will still substitute two-years teaching experience for a TEFL certification, which means it you have already taught ESL elsewhere you do meet the requirements for a teaching job in Thailand as far as some schools are concerned.
Finally, you will meet westerners who have lived in Thailand for a long time and who will insist a Bachelor’s degree is not necessary. This is usually because they don’t have a degree themselves and, as they have a job, believe other people can also easily get a teaching job without one. This may have been the case as recently as three years ago, but it isn’t anymore. The rules for the minimum qualifications for foreign teachers have been tightened markedly in the last three years.
Of course, without a Bachelor’s degree, you will get a job somewhere in Thailand but it will be at a low-end school paying an incredibly low salary, one you will have problems surviving on. If you can put up with that, I’m not here to stop you, but simply warning you that will more than likely be your fate.