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Foreign teacher employability in Phuket

Legacy Phuket Gazette



PHUKET: Soon Thai schools throughout Phuket will finish this year’s first term and break for a respite before the second term begins in late October.

This being the case, prospective teachers will be hitting the pavement in search of a job and this is a perfect time to assess an applicant’s chances of employment. While certainly not scientific, the following assessment has been done on a points system, based upon common criteria found in Phuket’s job ads.

A bachelor’s degree is a mandatory requirement to obtain a teacher’s license, so a degree is worth five points. A master’s degree will impress employers and is therefore worth seven points.

Applicants with a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) should give themselves eight points, while anyone holding Qualified Teacher Status or a license to teach from the West should proudly award themselves ten points.

In addition to the right education, professional training goes a long way in Phuket’s competitive job market. With so many fresh applicants seeking employment throughout the year, schools can afford to be picky and routinely require a minimum of a TEFL certificate.

Whether it’s a CELTA or an equivalent TEFL certificate, anyone with this qualification receives three points. Diplomas in TEFL are twice as good and earn applicants six points – and an increased salary.

A native-English-speaking teacher is the natural choice for an English program so genuine native speakers receive four points. However, non-native speakers who are truly fluent in English can find employment and should award themselves two points.

Experience also goes a long way, and is required for better-paying positions. Award yourself one point for each year of teaching experience. Working in Thailand as a teacher is typically more favorable, so for each year of domestic experience, award yourself two points.

Thus far, it would seem that hiring practices in Thailand are similar to those in the West. However, hiring practices do have a darker side here and one would be remiss to gloss over local realities such as gender, age and race.

Thailand’s TEFL profession is saturated with males, so schools love to see female applicants walking through the door. Rightly or wrongly, this is the reality and women have a definite advantage. Final points total in this battle of the sexes: Women 2, Men 0.

As it relates to age, Thai schools place a priority on youth – or at the very least, a youthful appearance. Those under 30 get three points while those aged 30-39 get two points. Applicants in their 40s get one point and anyone aged 50 or more will find it difficult to land a teaching job with a Thai school.

Finally, racial stereotyping does permeate the teacher selection process in Thailand, and regardless of one’s morals, Caucasians are preferred by Thai employers over those of Asian and African descent – regardless of nationality. Without condoning the system, no points are awarded to black applicants, a point goes to Asians and two points go to Caucasians.

Based upon this grading scale, applicants will earn the following marks: A (21 points or more), B (17-20), C (13-16), D (10-12) , F (9 or less). Similar to their students, teacher applicants must achieve a passing grade to ensure success and the over achievers will be duly rewarded with the best jobs.

Remember that when applying for jobs, no amount of points will make up for error-ridden CVs, a sloppy appearance or a terrible interview. Rather than resting on factors as basic as nationality, race and age, approach a job interview in Thailand with the same attention to detail as one would for employment in the West.

— Eric Haeg


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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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