How to get a job teaching English in Bangkok
Thailand is a popular place for English teachers and there is a lot of demand. While there are positions available all around the country, both in cities like Chiang Mai and smaller towns, the biggest number is in the capital, Bangkok. If you are thinking of teaching English in Bangkok, here are some tips from people who have worked there.
Types of jobs teaching English in Bangkok
Most government schools in and around Bangkok employ English teachers to deliver language lessons to their students. You work directly for the school and take lessons with different classes each day. Class sizes in Thailand can be large, so you can expect 50 students in a class. There are two types of English classes – those on the Thai program and those on the English program. Students on the English program study most of their subjects in English and so have more English lessons per week. Those on the Thai program will only have a couple of English lessons in a week and will generally thus be lower level.
Your workday will be a typical school day and you will likely get weekends off. You will also get the school holidays off work, but not all schools will pay you during the holidays.
The Thai terms run from April to October, and then from October to February or March.
Private schools also employ teachers for their English classes. Since students have to pay for these schools, class sizes can be smaller. Some private schools are bilingual, so teach in both Thai and English. Again, you’ll work a normal Monday to Friday week with weekends off, and won’t have to work during school holidays.
In both Government and private schools you can also get a job teaching other subjects. In schools where subjects like science, maths and I.T are taught in English, English-speaking teachers with degrees or further in those areas are in demand to teach the subjects.
Jobs in Government and private schools start at around 30,000 baht per month, although you can get much more.
Teachers work at the various universities in Bangkok, either preparing students for degrees delivered in English, teaching on degrees in English or providing English lessons as an additional subject. Hours at universities tend to be low – around 12 per week, but the salaries are also low (less than 25,000 baht a month). Many teachers make up these salaries with extra lessons or private classes.
There are exceptions to this. Stamford University employs well-qualified and experienced teachers, both native and non-native, and pays well. Assumption University also pays better wages and gives you accommodation on campus. Both will recruit from abroad.
Teaching jobs in universities in Bangkok can be difficult to get at first because they tend to be in demand.
There are language schools teaching English all over the city. Most teachers are employed on a part-time basis, although there are some that offer full-time contracts. Language schools teach all ages: after-school and weekend classes for children and teenagers, and group and 1:1 adult classes. Some specialise in preparation for exams such as the SATS (necessary for Thai students to attend some of the English medium university courses), TOEFL and IELTS. There are also a lot of business classes offered in offices around the city.
Work tends to be evenings and weekends, with some lessons during the day and you may have to do split shifts. If you work in businesses you may also have to travel around the city. You will work all year round.
Language school classes pay around 300-600 baht an hour, depending on experience. Once established, you can get more, particularly for business and exam classes.
Finding a job teaching English in Bangkok before you arrive.
It’s possible to find teaching jobs in Bangkok before you arrive. Some schools do recruit teachers from abroad. If you have a CELTA or Trinity TESOL certificate and two years experience you can get a job with the British Council from your home country. The full-time package for those recruited from abroad is good and includes flights, paid holidays and health insurance. Bell Education work with partner schools and recruit teachers from abroad to work on the English program in Assumption College (an English medium private school). Other schools and agencies will also organise teaching work for you before you get here. If you do that, make sure that you thoroughly research the school or organisation.
Finding a job teaching English after you arrive in Bangkok
A lot of people don’t organise work before they arrive, but just turn up and find something. Schools in Bangkok quite reguarly want to meet a teacher before they employ them, give them a face-face interview rather than on Skype and perhaps see a demo lesson.
Your first place to start is the website Ajarn.com. As well as advice about teaching in Thailand, Ajarn (meaning ‘teacher’ in Thai) has an extensive and up to date jobs list. Schools, universities and language schools all post their vacancies here.
Another strategy is to get off your computer and pound the pavement. Many shopping centres around Bangkok have ‘learning zones’ where you will find several language schools. You can see what floor they are on from the Centre Directory. Put your smart clothes on (don’t look like a backpacker!), print off copies of your c.v. and a covering letter and call into the various schools. Ask to see the director, but if he or she isn’t there, leave your documents for them to see later.
Hopefully some of the schools you contact through Ajarn, Facebook or by calling in will call you or send you an email inviting you to an interview. Again, wear your smart clothes, be polite and act like you would in any interview.
Interested schools may ask you to do a demo lesson. They usually just want to see what you are like in front of a class, your classroom management skills, and overall, your personality. You will probably be given a topic for the demo, and maybe materials, and be told the age and level of the students.
Can you get a job teaching English in Bangkok as a non-native speaker?
There are no visa restrictions regarding nationality for teaching in Bangkok. In fact, there are many non-native speaking teachers working there. Many Filipinos work in the bilingual schools, for example, teaching subjects other than English. Some job posts may say they prefer native speaking teachers, but you shouldn’t let that put you off. If you have a high enough level of English, a degree and teaching qualifications, you should be able to find work in Bangkok, regardless of your passport.
Finding somewhere to live in Bangkok
Bangkok is big, it’s very, very big and the traffic is dreadful. There are not only traffic jams at peak times, but also at random other times that don’t seem to make sense! Unless you want a massive commute, you want to live either close to where you are working, or on either the BTS or the MRT. The BTS Skytrain has two lines: Silom and Sukhumvit and the MRT metro two lines. Ideally, you don’t want to have to change lines, as the hub stations get busy.
If you don’t know where you are going to be working, then don’t look at renting an apartment long-term until you do.
When you first arrive, book a hotel or guesthouse for the first few days. Somewhere on the Sukhumvit BTS line or the MRT would be a good idea. I’d suggest somewhere either around Asok BTS/Sukhumvit MRT or Sala Daeng BTS/Silom MRT because they are the transport interchanges. You can easily hop on either mode of transport to get around.
Alternatively, get an Airbnb apartment on a short-term basis. You can rent them by the week or by the month. Try out one or two areas where you might like to live and try out the commute.
Once you have a fixed workplace, you can start looking for somewhere longer-term to live. You can rent an apartment on a tourist visa. There are two main ways to do this: through an agent and by just turning up at the building.
Most people coming to live in Thailand don’t speak enough Thai to rent an apartment, so they use English-speaking rental agents. Bangkok has loads. You can find them through websites like Renthub and Hipflat. There are many Facebook groups for expats in Bangkok where agents advertise their apartments, such as Bangkok Expats Classifed.
Another option is to find an area you like the look of that is easy to get to from your school, walk around and call into the reception of the condo buildings and ask if they have any vacancies. Apparently, the management office will have a list of vacant apartments and the landlords. We didn’t try this, so we don’t have direct experience of it, but we’ve heard of plenty of people who have. If you have a Thai speaking friend, it would be a good idea to take them with you to do this.
Most landlords will want you to sign a year contract. They don’t want to have to keep advertising and letting the same apartment. Some will let you negotiate a six month or maybe even three-month let. You’ll probably need to pay more rent if you do this though.
To move in, you will need to pay your first months’ rent and two months deposit.
If you are not sure how long you are going to be in Bangkok, you can also take over someone’s lease who is moving out. Since you can lose your deposit if you break a contract, people who need to leave Bangkok early advertise for a tenant to take over their apartment. You can find a lot in the Facebook groups mentioned above. There is even a group Bangkok – Take over my lease dedicated to just that.
Another idea is to find a room in a shared house or apartment with other people, either locals or expats. This has the added advantage of helping you meet new friends (assuming you like them!) as well as moving into a place that is ready stocked with furniture and gadgets and already has the utilities connected. You can find people looking for roommates on the Facebook groups mentioned above, and on Craigslist.
What to bring to teach English in Bangkok
To teach legally in Bangkok you do need a degree. This seems to be because it’s a requirement of the teacher’ license that is connected to the work permit. People do teach in Thailand without a work permit. There are also ways to get one without a degree if a company employs you in a non-teaching role. I don’t want to advocate this as it might get you into trouble, but it is done.
If you have a degree, you need to bring it. Schools need it to apply for your non-immigrant visa.
You also don’t need to have a teaching certificate to teach in Thailand. Many schools will ask for one, though. You can read our thoughts on teaching English certificates in this blog:
You can do a CELTA at International House in Bangkok and ECC in one month. There is also a Trinity TESOL Certificate in Khao Yai national park, which sounds like an awesome place to study! There are also many other schools offering generic TEFL certificates, including some that will train you and then place you in a school.
If you already have a certificate in teaching English, of course, bring it. Again, this will be used to get your non-immigrant visa and work permit.
Talking about visas, it’s a good idea to get a tourist visa before you arrive. Tourist visas give you 60 days in the country and then you can renew it for another 30 days. This gives you 90 days to get a job. Your work will then apply for a non-immigrant B visa for you. It’s supposed to be possible to do this within Thailand, but a lot of people go to the Thai Consul in Vientiane, Laos for this.
You can get a tourist visa at any Thai Embassy or Consul in any country. It doesn’t have to be your home country.
Make sure you have enough pages in your passport for all these visa stamps. Both the Thai and the Laos visas take a whole page. You can get a new passport in Bangkok, if necessary, though. Your passport also needs to be valid for at least another six months to be allowed into the country.
If you don’t get a tourist visa you will only get a 30-day stamp on arrival in Thailand. This can only be extended for a further 30 days, so doesn’t give you as long. Also, if you haven’t got a visa and you don’t have proof of a ticket out of Thailand or a return ticket, the airline may not let you on the plane.
A vital thing you need to arrange before you go is insurance. Don’t be one of those people who thinks “it won’t happen to me”. If you have an accident while you are here, you need insurance to pay for your healthcare and potentially to airlift you back home if it is serious. While healthcare is relatively cheap in Thailand, the cost of treatment for a serious condition will really mount up.
We’ve written more on this topic in this post:
A good company is World Nomads, because you can extend the policy while you are abroad. You don’t know how long you are going to be working here so this helps.
It goes without saying that you need to bring money. Even if you have a job arranged before you arrive, you’ll need to last the first few weeks before you get paid. You’ll also have things like the deposit and first months’ rent to pay for.
It costs 200 baht to get money out of the ATM in Bangkok. I wouldn’t suggest carrying a lot of cash over, but look into getting a bank account or card at home that allows you to fee-free withdrawals abroad, or at least low-cost ones. You don’t want to spend all of your hard-earned cash on bank charges.
We have some advice and suggestions on this in this post:
Otherwise, bring some smart clothes for teaching and interviewing and comfortable shoes. In Thailand, teachers tend to wear trousers and shirt for men, and trousers/skirt and shirt/top or a dress for women. Ties are not always necessary for men, but it’s a good idea to bring at least one. Some schools have other uniforms for different days, like sports kit and traditional Thai clothes, but you can sort all of that out when you get here.
I wrote a slightly tongue-in-cheek post about what to bring to Bangkok that you might want to read (it’s mainly about what you don’t need to bring, to be honest):
Your first few days in Bangkok
Your first purchase should be a pay-as-you-go sim card for your phone. You can find them in some 7-11s, and on the IT floors of the big shopping malls like MBK, Terminal 21 and Fortune Town. You can also pick one up at arrivals at the airport. The main networks here are True, AIS and Happy. The cards come with various offers, and you can arrange packages for things like data. I found this blog which gives you a rundown of the types, packages and costs: Which mobile company should you choose in Thailand.
Obviously, to use a Thai sim card, your phone needs to be unlocked, so make sure you do that before you leave home. In the UK mobile operators will unlock a contract phone once your contract is up, and a pay-as-you-go phone for a small fee.
When you get online, download the app Line. This is the free call and messenger service that everyone uses here. It’s very similar to Whatsapp or Viber. Schools may want to use this to get in touch with you.
You are going to spend a long time on public transport in Bangkok, so get travel cards. The BTS skytrain has the Rabbit card and the MRT metro has a card without a cute animal name. You buy the card and then just top it up with cash. Doing this removes the need to queue to buy tokens or one trip cards.
It’s quite difficult to organise a Thai bank account until you have your work permit. While people do manage it, it will involve visiting lots of bank branches and asking until someone agrees. Alternatively, you can just wait until your work permit is processed. This can take several weeks, if not months, so like I said above, make sure you have a bank account from home that doesn’t charge you a fortune to take your money out.
Right, so you have a job and somewhere to live. It’s time to meet some people and set up your social life. Hopefully, there’ll be some nice folks where you work. Meetup is a great website for, well, meeting up. It’s basically a lot of groups people set up for a massive range of activities. In Bangkok alone there are hundreds of groups including yoga, chess, golf, life drawing, book clubs, role-playing, running and theatre. Then there are the groups simply for socialising. We wrote this blog on this very topic:
We particularly like Bangkok Afterwork, which also has a Facebook group. Each month they hold an event at a bar around the city. You pay an entry fee, usually about 250 baht, and for that get a free drink and snacks and the chance to mingle with lots of other like-minded folks.
Another date for your diary should be Random Thainess. Again, they have a Facebook Page. Once a month, about six people give short talks about aspects of Thai culture, including why there is a wai, to becoming a monk and muay thai.
Have fun teaching in Bangkok. It’s a great city to live in and there is a lot to do. If you have any more questions, just write a comment or send us a Facebook message and we’ll get back to you.
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