Teach English in Thailand – What Do You Need?
So you’ve decided you may want to travel in South East Asia, but have no idea how you will fund it. Teaching English has been a long standing favorite for funding your travels.
The allure of living in Thailand is overwhelming and if you aren’t interested in becoming a scuba diving instructor then the other alternative is to teach English. There is a huge desire to learn English in Thailand and therefore there is a great demand for English teachers.
Teaching English in Thailand – What are the Requirements?
If you are interested in teaching English in Thailand then there are certain requirements that you should meet before hopping on that plane and flying across the world.
- Bachelor’s degree – many websites will say that for Thailand a bachelor’s degree is a nice-to-have by not required. However a lot of schools will insist on a bachelor’s degree, regardless of what you actually studied. Even if you are lucky enough to find a job, this will have an impact on your work permit. While some schools may hire you with no degree, you will get paid less and be working illegally since the government insists on a degree before issuing a work permit. No bachelor’s degree = no work permit.
- TEFL certificate – you will read about how you can land a job without a TEFL certificate, but I don’t believe it. The knowledge you will gain when studying for your TEFL certification will be a huge help when you start teaching and most schools will insist on some teaching certificate.
There are many companies out there who offer online and onsite TEFL courses. Find a company with a good reputation and make the investment. I did my TEFL course onsite in Cambodia and Thailand through International TEFL Academy who were great, visit their website for all the details.
- Teaching experience – for the higher paid jobs it will be beneficial to have some teaching experience; however, for the entry level jobs this is not required.
- Native English speakers – if you are a native English speaker you will be given preference when applying for jobs. If you are a non-Native speaker it is still possible to find work, but it will be very difficult and you should be prepared to spend a few months looking for work.
How to Find a Teaching job in Thailand
Schools are mainly looking for English teachers before the start of the school year, which happens in May of every year. However don’t be concerned if you are moving to Thailand at any other time of the year. The turn-over of English teachers can be very high so schools are constantly looking for new teachers. I arrived in Chiang Mai at the end of May and easily found a job, so don’t be too concerned.
You also need to decide whether you want to teach at a public, private or international school. They all have their advantages and disadvantages so it is a matter of finding what suits you.
- Search for a job on the internet: There are various websites out there that will list English teaching jobs. A good one to look at is Ajarn.com.
- Agencies: Alternatively, you can go to an agency; however do the proper research before going to them. Make sure you never pay them for anything as the schools pay a fee directly to them for sourcing English teachers.
- Hit the pavement: Finally you can hit the road and visit the schools where you want to apply. You do have a short list of schools you’d prefer to teach at, right? This is what I did and it worked out perfectly. However, make sure you look the part and go prepared with all your documents.
Look the Part
Whether you are going to a school for an interview or merely to apply for any available positions, make sure you are prepared and look the part. Remember first impressions last and you want to make a good one.
If you are male, wear a suit and tie with proper dress shoes. Make sure you look neat and shaven.
If you are female, you need to dress as if you are from the 1950’s (well pretty much). Black skirt that goes over your knee, together with a shirt with sleeves to at least your elbow and finish off with a pair of black heels. Not the most flattering, but will make the right impression. Make sure your hair is neatly tied up and you avoid overdoing the makeup.
For males and females make sure you don’t have any tattoos visible or piercings (apart from a pair in your ears).
The thought of dressing up like this is awful when you think of the heat you will be driving around in, but is definitely worth the effort. Even if you are just filling in an application form and leaving your resume, you never know who may see you and if you look the part you will be one step closer to getting that job.
Make sure you are prepared
When applying at schools you will need to fill in an application form. Depending on the school, these can range from 1 – 5 pages. You will then also have to attach a whole lot of paperwork, so make sure you have all the copies you need so you submit a complete application.
Things to take with you:
Cover letter: this is incredibly important and you should include one for every school application. Don’t just do a copy and paste job and have one stock standard letter for all the schools. Remember there are a lot of English teachers out there and more and more are qualifying every day. You want to stand out from the pile of applications.
Personalize your cover letter, by doing some research on the school. Highlight specific details about the school and why you want to work there. Also mention the age group that you are interested in teaching. But research is important; don’t say you are interested in teaching Kindergarten if the school doesn’t cater for Kindergarten.
Pen: you will need a black pen to fill in the application form, so bring one along.
You must have copies of the following documents: (you may also be asked to show the originals at some stage)
Resume: your resume should be a maximum of two pages and ideally printed with a photo of you.
Degrees/diplomas: bring along copies of any degrees or diplomas that you may have. Any sort of studying experience (even if it isn’t a bachelor’s degree could help you).
Police Clearance Certificate: this is important as you need to get it when you are still in your home country. Not all schools will ask for it, but possibly could start insisting on it in the future, so rather be prepared.
ID photos: if you don’t have a photo on your resume make sure you bring one along to attach to your application form.
What will you be Paid for Teaching English in Thailand?
The location of the school as well as the type of school that you decide to teach at, will determine the amount you get paid.
The average salary in Chiang Mai that I have heard of since starting teaching is around 30 000 baht. This amount can go up depending on your experience, bachelor’s degree, native speaker, etc. It can also go down if you don’t have a bachelor’s degree or are a non-native speaker.
Depending on the school you may also receive an allowance for housing and possibly insurance. Read about the details of my English teaching job here.
If you decide that teaching English in Thailand is appealing, then do your research, decide on a course and book the ticket.
Deciding to move to Thailand to teach English has been the best decision that I could have made. You can read about by experience here. I will also be heading off to Laos next month to get my work permit, so watch out for that article on Flip Flop Travellers.
Are you considering coming to Thailand to teach English? I’ll try and answer any questions you have.