I decided to write a blog post about this because I get weekly questions from friends on FB. So here is all you need to know to get set up and become a teacher in Thailand. :)
Becoming a teacher in Thailand is fairly easy, I know people who have done it without a degree or a TEFL but never without both. – If you plan on doing it without one of these, prepare for a long job hunt and getting paid less than the normal rate.
You can make decent money if you do private, but that’s only of you go independent and not through a language school. Language schools only pay 250thb to 500thb per hour max.
If you have private clients or students you can charge anything from 500thb – 1000thb an hour, but finding those clients isn’t always easy.
I found the Thais like OLX, it’s similar Gumtree or Craigslist I suppose. You can maybe put an ad on there and find clients. You should also try and join all the relative Facebook groups. Jobs, second-hand items and information are always popping on there and will really help you get set up.
I originally wanted to work in the hotel industry. I must have sent emails, called and visited 50 different hotels and never got a job that way. I then started worked for a language school called The Best Language School in Phuket, but they were very deceitful and told me I had got my dream teaching job and then interviewed and gave it to someone else – I’m still not sure why. Thai’s don’t like confrontation.
I then posted on OLX and taught business English for 500thb an hour but the drive (40min there and 40min back in rainy season) was not worth it to me. If you land something like this it is awesome but, small groups and one and one are actually more energy consuming, as you need to prepare and be interacting all the time.
I eventually decided to just teach kids as it was more consistent, which is also a problem when you going independent or teaching private. The average full-time job pay is about 40 000thb and starting is 30 000thb. If you qualified in teaching you can earn anything up to 100 000thb a month and more. it varies by area, school and qualification.
When teaching in a school, somedays you only have about 5 or less hours teaching time and the remaining hours can be used to prepare or work on other things. Friends of mine started up a few websites while teaching, I worked on marketing and took a lot of courses through Udemy when I didn’t have school work to complete.
Some things to note is that email or phone calls do not work. Thai’s love to see the applicant in person and it is highly recommended that you have a good photo on your CV. You should try call and arrange a time to go in and see them. They care about appearance and a smart, neat photo with a drop in to see them is memorable and goes a long way.
Some schools get many applications and a picture on your CV will help your case. A great cover letter is also good and some experience with kids or teaching is great and really helps.
Other things you should do and know.
Make sure you come with enough money in an account that does not suffer a lot of bank charges.
I must have lost 10% of my cash through bank charges. I took a long time to find a job I wanted, I subsequently slept on couches to try and avoid bank charges and spending more money. You will need money to do some travelling and meeting people, also for a bike and a month and a half deposit on your house rental, plus rent for the month.
Make sure you have a sufficient cash cushion to get you through to you first paycheck which only comes only at the end of the month.
Buy a scooter
They can be picked up from anything from 5 000 thb – 30 000thb and its really worth buying if you have the money as you can sell it when you leave and not lose too much money – make sure it has a green book (ownership licence).
If you want to rent one you should not pay anything more than 3000thb a month. If you rent a scooter make sure to take pictures of the scratches, so the renting agent doesn’t screw you over and withhold your passport for scratches that were there before the time.
Negotiate better rates if you are staying for weekly period at a hostel or hotels
If they know you are going to stay for awhile they will give you a better price. I stayed at an awesome little hostel in Phuket Town called Ai Phuket hostel, they were super chilled, helpful, the hostel is clean and central.
Join all the facebook groups.
This is how I got my scooter for cheap and moved out the hostel. I saw a post for a housemate and being dead broke I asked if I could crash on the couch. The guy turned out to be really awesome and the neighbors were fellow South Africans, this became my friendship group.
When becoming a teacher, I think it’s important to try meet people that are actually staying long term.
Don’t sign a contract without putting some thought into it.
If you don’t think you will stay the amount of time on it and sometimes don’t carry over a lease from someone else, things may be broken and the deposit will come from your pocket. I know a few people who lost money this way.
Get out and explore
Thailand has so many beautiful beaches, temples, jungles markets. Almost anything you could want in a tropical destination, you can find in Thailand. I made sure I had a quality snorkel and towl wherever I went so I could always do some exploring and scope out a new fishing spot.
Watch out for food poisoning
I was warned against eating from the street vendors because you may get food poisoning. This is somewhat true but most times your body is getting used to the new kind of food and it will take a while for you body to adjust to the food.
My favourite foods were from street vendors. A runny stomach is a common thing in Thailand and the Thais even have a word for this and perceive it as healthy sometimes.
An international driver’s licence doesn’t mean you can drive a scooter around Thailand
Unfortunately from my experience the police in these Asian countries are looking for a bribe or to book you with a ticket any chance they get.
If you staying awhile, it’s worth maybe getting a Thai licence but I’ve heard the process can take a couple of days and is incredibly boring.
If you fall off your scooter, get your wounds cleaned and get the dirt out asap
It’s not fun but sometimes this is inevitable. The hot humid climate and the bacterial sea is not good for wounds, get your wounds cleaned straight away and change your dressing regularly.
If you go to the chemist, expect to get a lot of pills you probably don’t need.
Also note that doctors are open weird hours, like early morning and late afternoon. Also every time I went to a hospital they wanted to put me on a drip and go a little over board – they just doing their job! :)
If you land a teaching job apply for a working visa ASAP
Make sure you get your things in order for a teaching licence asap. This will save you from some scary visa runs (if you go by bus).
The things you need include: 2 inches photo, medical certificate, original passport, letter of employment, certificate of degree, address in Thailand and if you come from South Africa you will need to do a TOEIC test
Bring extra toiletries.
You would think you could find some face wash that doesn’t whiten your face but its not the case. Everything has whitening agents in it here, so bring a few extra. And I also found the deodorants rather bland.
That’s about it.
Some useful links for teaching