One of the most common professions for expats living in Thailand is as a teacher. The jobs tend to be quite plentiful and paying a reasonable salary with the qualifications required for teaching English far less than they would be in the UK for example. The jobs that are available tend to be mixed between Government run schools, private schools and of course the International Schools but many of the larger, better known international schools will require formal teaching qualifications from your home country especially if they follow a Western syllabus.
The salary that you can expect to earn depends very much on factors such as the geographical locations – with major cities such as Bangkok paying far more than rural areas; if the school is Government run or privately run and often the desire of the school to employ foreign teachers. Sadly this last factor still plays a very important role with many teachers still experiencing cultural differences with Thai members of staff, particularly in rural or poorer areas.
Of course teaching is a very rewarding job and many people feel a great sense of satisfaction from feeling that they are giving something back to community and the country that they perhaps now call ‘home’. It can’t be understated that there are huge cultural differences between Thailand and many parts of West and it is important that any teacher is fully aware of these differences before entering a classroom. The best way to find out about this is by talking to other teachers or taking a TEFL or TESOL course here in Thailand.
TEFL and TESOL
TEFL and TESOL are the main qualifications that enable you to teach English in foreign schools anywhere in the World. Here in Thailand this is again a requirement so you can either gain these qualifications overseas or in Thailand. There are many benefits to both of these options. Firstly, if you gain the qualification in your home country it is likely to be more respected in other countries outside of Thailand. Sadly, it is fact that you will probably receive better, more rounded training overseas but it is also likely to cost you a lot more.
The benefits of getting the qualifications in Thailand are that you will more than likely gain more of an understanding about Thai culture and what is and what isn’t acceptable practices in a classroom. Many of the TEFL and TESOL schools in Thailand have direct links with schools so it is possible to walk straight into a job. This is obviously a huge benefit and will put you in a good position for looking for other jobs in the future due to the experience that you will have gained.
There are lots of companies offering TEFL and TESOL training and the best way to find them is by doing a simple Google search although it may be advisable to do some research into how reputable they are before committing yourself.
Where to Look for Jobs
There are lots of places that you can look for teaching jobs in Thailand. Teachers in Thailand are known as Ajarn and many schools will advertise using this name. As with most things these days it is always good to start with search on the internet. Popular sites include www.ajarn.com , www.teachingthailand.com and www.jobsdb.co.th. These sites are likely to offer jobs within reputable schools although the competition that you may face for jobs is probably fairly high.
Adverts in newspapers are also still a popular way of advertising in Thailand so a look in the local paper or the Bangkok Post is also a good option. As mentioned above, local training schools are also good options due to their established links with schools. Craigslist is also a potential site to look on but many of the teaching jobs advertised here are more for private tutors, out of school time. Although these may pay at a higher rate it is highly unlikely that they will include a work permit and therefore a working visa.
The Potential Pitfalls
It is hard to stress enough how important it is to have a work permit in Thailand. In days gone by the rules were far more lax with many teachers working in schools on a tourist visa. This is no longer an option with the crack down on border runs so it is important that any role you take includes a valid work permit. Most reputable schools will ensure everything is done correctly and it should raise alarm bells when schools want to do things through the back door.
Another potential pitfall is the fact that there tends not be much job security and schools often choose not to pay teachers during school holidays so it is important to check your contract. As touched upon before differences in expectations can also cause problems so it is important that you are aware of this and go into and job with your eyes wide open. Finally, it should be understood that many schools are quite poor, certainly in rural areas and this may mean that your salary is late or does come at all. This means that you will need some form of financial safety net so consider this.
Teaching in Thailand is very rewarding and gives you the opportunity to live in a fantastic country and experience new cultures. Most teachers love their job and are successful but being realistic is essential. If you use common sense, manners and common courtesy you should be fine and have a great time.