I moved to Thailand to teach English in 2002. I then taught in the country for over 12 years, with nine of those years either teaching full-time or picking up evening classes now and again to add to my income.
During all that time, I met thousands of teachers. Some of whom had obtained their teaching jobs in Thailand while inside the country. Others had applied for theirs will still living overseas.
In almost all cases, unless the teacher was working at a top-tier international school, I noticed the ones that had obtained their teaching jobs while inside Thailand had the better jobs. The ones who had applied while overseas usually did not.
Why is that?
And why is it that I always recommend you should always get a teaching job in Thailand from inside not outside the country? (There is only ONE reason why you should not — head to the bottom of this article to read about that one).
Jobs are filled quickly
When a teaching job in Thailand is advertised, many schools want people to start within a few days. Some even need a teacher the day after they put up the job ad.
For those who are still living in their home countries then, the chances of even having their application replied to are slim to none for most teaching vacancies.
After all, when a school needs a teacher to start next Monday and you haven’t even begun packing to leave, there is no point them even acknowledging your existence.
Because, for them, you don’t exist until you are actually in the Land of Smiles.
Better paying jobs
The main difference in teaching jobs obtained from inside Thailand instead of applied from while overseas is the salary.
With an average teaching income in Thailand still being the same it has been for more than 20 years (between 28,000 and 55,000 baht — $933 – $1,833), teachers who apply while in Thailand tend to be making at least 38,000 – 42,000 baht. Those who apply while still in their home countries often start at the bottom of the ladder on just 28,000 baht.
Yes, you can live on 28,000 baht in Thailand, but you will not have anywhere near a luxurious lifestyle.
Add an extra 10,000 baht though, and you suddenly have money for taxis, to eat out every day, an evening or two out drinking with your friends and a shopping spree at least once a month. If you are really frugal, you may even be able to squeeze a weekend in Hua Hin out of it.
The reason most better paying jobs are obtained from inside Thailand is due to one main reason.
Low-paying jobs are usually advertised via agencies, who take the money the school is offering to pay the teacher and then deduct their own often exorbitant fee before passing it onto the person doing the actual teaching.
Teachers already in Thailand know to avoid these agencies. Those who have not yet arrived do not.
Jobs through agencies
Most teaching jobs in Thailand that are filled from overseas are through agencies. Many of these agencies pray on people who do not understand the Thai teaching industry.
They tell them they need an agency’s help to get a job (you most definitely do NOT!).
They tell them the average income for a western teacher in Thailand is under 35,000 baht (this is usually only the case if you do not have any experience and do not have a university degree).
They tell them jobs are difficult to find (you can literally apply for a job today and walk into a job tomorrow, as there are so many teaching jobs for western teachers in Thailand).
And on and on.
In other words, they lie about the teaching industry to people who don’t live in the country, and so have no way of knowing if they are being told the truth or not.
That is why so many people who go to Thailand to teach English (or any other subject) through a teaching agency quickly discover they have been lied to.
Instead of being in a big city like Bangkok or Chiang Mai, they are stuck in a town far away from anywhere else while being paid a barely livable salary.
Instead of being at a school with good resources and well-trained teachers, they are in a low-income government school having to buy their own school supplies and with western teachers who are not qualified to teach.
And instead of being able to spend their weekends out with friends, taking short trips to the beach or buying that new laptop they have always wanted, they are stuck at home barely being able to afford a trip to the movies or a fast food lunch.
This is one very important reason why you should get a teaching job in Thailand from inside and not outside the country.
Best jobs are through someone you know
In my over 12 years teaching English in Thailand, I got every job I applied for from inside the country and via someone I knew.
This is because the best teaching jobs in Thailand are usually through someone you know.
Thai schools like to hire people the teachers they already have and like know. Many schools also do not want to spend money advertising for a teacher, so they ask their staff to ask friends instead.
That is why, if you want the best teaching job in Thailand with a good salary, in a great school and in a location you are going to love living in, only apply for a job while inside Thailand.
After all, you probably won’t know people already teaching there until you arrive in the country.
Getting a teaching job in Thailand is incredibly easy and fast
In 12 years of teaching, I did not know of one teacher that looked for a teaching job in Thailand for longer than five days.
Not only are there thousands of jobs being advertised every day, schools hire quickly.
If you want to teach corporate English, most Thai companies hire quickly as well.
That means you can arrive in Thailand, spend a week on the beach, look for a job and be in a classroom teaching in less than two weeks.
The ONLY reason why you should apply for a teaching job in Thailand from outside the country
There is only one reason why applying for a teaching job while still living in your own country is the best option, and that is if you are a fully-qualified teacher in your home country and are planning on applying to a top-tier international school.
These jobs are almost always filled from outside the country and, if you are lucky enough to be hired for one while in Thailand, you will usually be paid a lot less.
For instance, one of my friends took a job with the top international school in Thailand while already living in Bangkok.
While he was hired by the school, he was paid 20,000 baht ($670) a month less than teachers who had been hired from outside the country.
He was also given a lower housing allowance and, if he wanted to ship anything in from his home country, unlike teachers who had been hired from outside the country, he had to pay for the shipping costs himself.
Rule of thumb then — if you want to teach at a top-tier international school in Thailand, apply while you are still in your home country or while living elsewhere outside Thailand.
Otherwise, always get a teaching job in Thailand from inside not outside the country, and you will always be better off.