Frequently asked questions about teaching in Thailand

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Many travellers who wish to teach in Thailand definitely have questions about the whole process. From visas to degrees, to being a native English speaker, we have the most pertinent information for you below on working as an educator in Thailand. The most frequently asked questions are listed, along with answers to help guide you in your job search.

1. Can I teach without a work permit or visa?

With Covid-19 wrecking the usual process for obtaining a visa before entering Thailand, it is still illegal to work without a work permit and accompanying visa. However, as most schools have a 90-day probationary period for teachers, they frequently delay the process of giving you a work permit.

This is due to the costs, length of time, and making sure you are a great fit for the job. Moreover, depending if you came to Thailand before finding work, it could be tricky to switch over to the appropriate visa that would allow you to gain a work permit. All of this is recommended to check out with your potential school before accepting a job offer.

Many schools find it difficult to offer a work permit and may elect to have you work part-time. Although it is illegal to work in Thailand without the proper visa and permit, it is quite common for teachers to get around these rules by working part-time.

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Foreign teachers in a Thai classroom

2. Do I need a university degree in order to teach?

Many schools prefer teachers that have earned a diploma or university degree, but many hire teachers who don’t. As there are hundreds of foreign teachers who are working in Thailand without degrees, it is definitely possible. The Ministry of Education does require teachers to have degrees, so it is a risk if you don’t have one.

When schools check for degrees, however, the process isn’t exactly fool proof. Many schools will have you ‘certify’ your degree at your embassy. But, this usually means you visit your embassy with degree in hand, and notarize it yourself. This process only indicates that you are personally certifying your own degree as most embassies don’t actually check its validity.

Another option if you don’t have a degree, is getting a job at an agency. As it isn’t technically a school that would be hiring you on paper, the agencies have the ability to hire you without a degree.

3. Can I get a job if I’m not a native English speaker?

Although most schools want a native English speaker, there are plenty that will accept non-native English speakers. However, the average salary for a non-native English speaker is usually lower. If you want to increase your chances of getting hired, the best thing to acquire is a TEFL certificate. And, taking the English proficiency test called the IELTS is also a way to prove your fluency. Lastly, having a university degree will also improve your chances of getting hired.

4. Is there an age limit for teaching in Thailand?

Although there is usually not an age limit to teaching in Thailand, many schools prefer younger teachers. As the retirement age for Thai nationals is 60, there are some foreign educators that are still teaching at this age in Thailand. It all depends on your qualifications and the needs of the school.

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Primary Thai school students

5. Is a background check from my home country required in order to teach in Thailand?

Technically and legally, Thailand’s Ministry of Education requires foreign teachers to have a criminal background check from their home countries. However, many times it is not asked for by the schools or the Ministry. The best answer is to go ahead and get one just in case you are asked. Getting one after you have arrived in Thailand is usually pretty difficult, so it is advised to get one before you fly out.

6. How many hours will I teach per week?

Teaching hours vary based upon the school, however, most contracts state that you must teach at least 20 hours per week to be considered full-time. Keep in mind though that just because you aren’t teaching, you most likely will be required to be in the teaching office or on school grounds.

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A foreign teacher with his class

7. Is the demand for foreign teachers high in Thailand?

The demand for foreign teachers in Thailand is always high. And, if you are qualified with at least a TEFL certificate or are a native English speaker, you will find a job quite easily. Even those who aren’t native English speakers can find jobs as long as they are confident in their abilities.

8. Is getting a TEFL certificate worth the time and cost?

Earning a TEFL certificate is usually the first requirement in order to get hired at a school in Thailand. Although it is not required by law, it is usually the minimal qualification that schools want for their teachers. With most TEFL certificates being quite cheap (less than $200 USD), it is highly recommended to invest in one.

Moreover, a TEFL certificate can be used anywhere in the world, so it will definitely open up your chances of getting a teaching job abroad. Aim for at least a 120 hour TEFL certificate as most schools have that as their minimum amount of hours needed. However, a higher amount of hours will definitely only help you with being hired.

There are many things that need to be considered when embarking on your teaching journey in Thailand. However, our list above should help dispel any rumours or myths you may come across. The bottom line is that Thailand needs foreign teachers who are at least qualified with a TEFL certificate. And, the more qualifications you have, the easier it will be to get a great job with a better salary.

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Ann Carter

Ann Carter is an award-winning journalist from the United States with over 12 years experience in print and broadcast news. Her work has been featured in America, China and Thailand as she has worked internationally at major news stations as a writer and producer. Carter graduated from the Walter Williams Missouri School of Journalism in the USA.

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