For years now, droves of excited TEFL teachers have been heading to South East Asia to teach English in Thailand. There’s no doubt the Land of Smiles is a popular destination to teach English abroad. From the low cost of living to the enviable tropical climate, the mouthwatering local cuisine to ancient temples, lively nightlife and endless options for cheap travel, it’s easy to see why Thailand is the number one choice for so many teachers. 

While some expats head to Thailand just to get their careers rolling, others fall in love with the way of life and find that they never want to leave! If you have the desire to teach English abroad, a bit of determination and curiosity about this mesmerising land, there’s little more you need to successfully start teaching abroad in Thailand.

So, whether you’re just beginning your TEFL journey, you’re already applying to teach English abroad or you’re an experienced teacher, discover everything you need to know with our Ultimate Guide to Teaching English in Thailand. 

Thailand at a glance

The TEFL industry in Thailand has grown in recent years, particularly in the sphere of teaching children, as the government has introduced an English Programme within Thai schools. Regulations have also been tightened, ensuring that positions are filled by professionally qualified individuals, rather than just tourists looking to secure extra income. 

While Bangkok is certainly the most popular area and has the largest variety of ESL teaching jobs in Thailand, don’t overlook other locations where your wages might go a little further. The buzzing atmosphere of the capital is appealing to some, but there are also more exploitative employers in the big city. Don’t discount smaller cities or rural areas, where you might get a more authentic experience of teaching abroad. 

In Bangkok, Siam Square is a popular choice for any prospective English teacher, and language institutes are used to teachers turning up with a CV looking for work. Always check the location of a school carefully before you arrange an interview – Bangkok is sprawling, and you won’t be on top form if you have to spend a long time travelling on public transport without air conditioning. 

If you want to avoid Bangkok and tourist areas, other English teachers have found positions in cities like Khon Kaen, Nakhon Sawan, Pathumthani, Udon Thani, and Ubon Ratchathani, where competition is minimal. Here are a few of the essential things you need to know before you teach English in Thailand: 

  • The most popular locations for ESL teaching in Thailand are Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket and Korat. 
  • The average salary for an ESL teacher is around 30,000 THB – 40,000 THB (£740 – £980 / $1,000 – $1,280) per month at a language school, but closer to 50,000 THB (£1,230 / $1,600) in other positions. International school positions can pay experienced teachers from 60,000 THB – 150,000 THB (£1,475 – £3,700 / $1,900 – $4,800) per month. Hourly teaching rates are usually around 250 – 400 THB (£6 – £10 / $8 – $13).
  • English teachers in Thailand must have a bachelor’s degree to receive a Non-Immigrant B Visa, which is needed to get a teaching license. Most employers will also require a 120-hour TEFL qualification. 
  • A Thai school is more likely to hire native English speakers from the US, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Australia, or New Zealand. If you’re a passport holder from another country, it’s still possible to get a visa to teach in Thailand but you may need to prove your English fluency level, usually by providing a TOEIC or IELTS exam result.
  • Previous experience isn’t required to teach ESL in Thailand. However, those who do have a teaching qualification or some prior work experience will find themselves able to better compete for roles in popular locations. 
  • There’s no age limit for teaching in Thailand and it’s common to meet TEFL teachers of all ages.
  • Term times run from May to October and October to March, while the key hiring time for new teachers tends to be from February to March and September to October. 
  • Teaching programmes include the English Programme in Thai Schools, universities, Language Institutes, International Schools, Private Tutoring, Volunteering and Summer Camp
  • You’ll be paid in Baht (฿) (THB) – Thailand’s national currency. In terms of teaching English in Thailand salary wise, the pay is more than enough to live on.
  • Of Thailand’s near 70 million-strong population, almost 90% speak Thai, the country’s official language. In addition, there are more than 70 other languages spoken throughout Thailand. You’ll often hear basic English in the major cities, with around 27% of the population having some understanding. 

Requirements for teaching English in Thailand

The requirements for teaching abroad in Thailand have changed a little in recent years. The country has long been a popular destination for TEFL teachers, particularly those doing it backpacker style and aiming to see as many new places as possible on the cheap.

However, while being a native-level English speaker might have been the only qualification you needed for English teaching jobs in days gone by, incoming teachers now have to apply for the correct visa before they can work. This means you must meet the basic requirements to gain employment. 

So, what exactly are the requirements to teach English in Thailand? First off you’ll need a bachelor’s degree, which can be in any subject. While there are ways to teach in Thailand without a degree (which we will look at in more detail later on), it is a legal requirement if you are applying for a Non-Immigrant B Visa, which you need in order to get a teaching license.

You will usually also need a TEFL certification with at least 120 hours, to be a native English speaker or a non-native English speaker with a TOEIC score of 600/IELTS score of 5+ and to pass background and health checks for English teaching jobs in Thailand.

Remember, these are just the requirements for the working visa – each employer will also have their own set of requirements for individual teaching roles. These can range from holding a degree in education or a related field to having prior teaching experience or simply showing enthusiasm for Thai culture and language. Employers might be able to provide visa assistance in advance, depending on the institution, or whether you’re going through a recruiter.

To sum up, here’s a quick checklist of what you’ll need to teach English abroad in Thailand: 

Securing an English teaching job as a native English speaker:

  • A bachelor’s degree (in any subject)
  • A TEFL certificate (120 hours minimum)
  • Native English speaker
  • A clean criminal background check
  • Clean health check

Securing an English teaching job as a non-native English speaker:

  • A bachelor’s degree (in any subject)
  • A TEFL certification (120 hours minimum)
  • TOEIC score of 600 or IELTS score of 5+
  •  A clean criminal background check
  • A clean health check 

Teaching English in Thailand without a degree

Don’t have a degree? Don’t panic! Teaching English in Thailand without a degree is possible! While you won’t be able to apply for the Non-Immigrant B Visa, there are a few different routes to teaching without a degree in Thailand. Let us explain a little more!

The official route to teaching English in Thailand is to receive a teaching license from the government, for which you must have a Non-Immigrant B Visa, which in turn requires a degree. 

Another possible way to teach English in Thailand without a degree is to join a volunteer programme. These are ideal for those looking for a short contract, with programmes often running from 1-4 months. However, although there are a few free programmes, most involve fees, meaning some upfront costs are required. These kinds of jobs don’t usually include health insurance.

We look at teaching English programmes in Thailand in more detail a little later on in this article.

Teaching English in Thailand with no experience

While teaching without a degree might come with a few caveats, teaching English in Thailand with no experience couldn’t be easier!

Demand for native or near-native English speaking teachers is high, meaning that many places are happy to employ English teachers new to TEFL teaching. 

While teachers with prior experience may be able to demand better roles and higher salaries, those without experience can easily find teaching jobs, especially beyond the competitive locations of Bangkok, Chaing Mai and Phuket. 

To teach English in Thailand with no experience, you will almost always require a TEFL certification with a minimum of 120 hours. If you want to boost your confidence as a first-time teacher or compete for a role somewhere like Bangkok, we recommend Level 5 TEFL certification

First-time TEFL teachers may also want to consider obtaining Advanced TEFL certification, especially for those hoping to teach young learners or business English to adults. These qualifications can be completed at the end of a regular TEFL course and are a great way to make your CV stand out from other applicants. 

Visa for teaching jobs in Thailand

What visa do you need to move to Thailand and teach English?

As we mentioned earlier, the official route is to obtain a Non-Immigrant B Visa, with two different options for how you receive this. You can either apply for your visa before you leave your home country or process it once you have arrived in Thailand.

However, it’s worth being wary of schools that push for the second option as you might find yourself on a tourist visa for longer than expected! 

Once you have your Non-Immigrant B Visa and are in Thailand, you can then apply for a work permit or visa, which in turn allows you to apply for your teaching license. This temporary teaching license is legally required for everyone hoping to work as a teacher in Thailand unless you already hold a degree in education. TEFL certification alone won’t do it.

If that all sounds a little complicated still, don’t worry! Your school or employer should be willing to help with any documentation or red tape you may come across as you apply. In the meantime, here’s a quick breakdown of what you’ll need for each stage of the process:

Requirements for Non-Immigrant B Visa:

  • Original copy of bachelor’s degree
  • Clean, certified criminal background check
  • Passport valid for minimum 6 months after arrival plus two blank pages
  • Passport photos
  • Visa application fees
  • Any required documents from your employer (which they will supply)

Requirements for Thai Work Permit:

  • Non-Immigrant B Visa 
  • Original copy of bachelor’s degree
  • Certified medical check (to be carried out in Thailand after your arrive)
  • Passport photos

Requirements for Thai Teaching License:

  • Non-Immigrant B Visa
  • Thai Work Permit
  • Original copy of bachelor’s degree (plus university transcripts if applicable)
  • Clean, certified criminal background check
  • Passport photos

Both in Thailand and across the internet, you’ll hear people saying it’s easy to find work without any of these three documents by simply working on a tourist visa and doing visa runs to the nearest border.

However, it’s always worth thinking about the ramifications of this option. You don’t want to find yourself on the wrong side of the rules in Thailand. Or worse, facing an early end to your teach abroad adventure with deportation should the local authorities decide to do a work permit check at your school! 

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Teach English in Thailand: Salary & Cost of Living

Teaching English in Thailand might sound like the dream job, but exactly how far will a teacher’s salary stretch? What sort of salary can you expect to make? The good news is Thailand is one of the cheapest countries in Asia, meaning your hard-earned money will usually go quite far. Wages for experienced teachers, especially at private international schools in the big cities, can be extremely generous. 

There are, of course, a few things that will affect how big your salary will be, many of which you’ll decide before you even step on the plane!

These include where you want to live, what kind of school or employer you want to work for and how you plan on spending the majority of your free time. For example, a TEFL teacher with their heart set on working in Phuket might discover that competition for jobs is high, which makes getting one of the well-paid teaching roles more difficult.

It’s also a very popular tourist area of Thailand, so prices in restaurants, bars and shops will reflect this. On the other hand, someone who is happy to teach in a quieter area may find their salary is slightly lower but the cost of living is much cheaper, making it possible to save, and have a more authentic experience of Thailand too! 

Let’s take a more detailed look below at how much you can make and what you can expect to spend teaching English in Thailand: 

How much can you make teaching English in Thailand?

The average salary for a full-time TEFL teacher in Thailand is likely to be in the region of 30,000 THB – 40,000 THB (£740 – £980 / $1,000 – $1,280) per month, working at a Thai school. This can move closer to 50,000 THB (£1,230 / $1,600) in other positions.

At an international school, experienced teachers can make in the range of 60,000 THB – 150,000 THB (£1,475 – £3,700 / $1,900 – $4,800) per month. Meanwhile, hourly teaching rates are usually around 250 – 400 THB (£6 – £10 / $8 – $13).

Of course, salaries vary between public schools and private schools, and health insurance isn’t always guaranteed. Also, the salary you will be offered will depend largely on what location you teach in. Salaries in Bangkok, for example, are up to 30% higher than in other parts of the country. However, it’s worth remembering that the cost of living is almost the same percentage higher too! 

For a new TEFL teacher with no prior experience, a salary of around 32,000 THB (£750 / $1,000) is a realistic aim. If you’re brand new to teaching, TEFL certification from an accredited provider will really help to show your value to a potential school when negotiating a salary.

Meanwhile, teachers with some prior experience can ask for closer to the 50,000 THB (£1150 / $1500) mark. 

Alongside your monthly wage, some schools will also provide accommodation or a housing allowance, and many will reimburse your flight out to start teaching. Some also include a return flight home at the end of one year contract. 

How much does it cost to live in Thailand? 

Thailand is still one of the most affordable Asian countries, making it a popular backpacker destination as well as a top location for newbie TEFL teachers.

Top tourist destinations – which include the idyllic, off-the-beaten-track rural locations and picturesque islands as well as major cities – are obviously more expensive than the places where few visitors venture. 

Wherever you go, living like a local is the cheapest way to save money and have a good time. Local cuisine is great value for money, whereas Western imports have quite a different price tag.

Places offering great deals might, on reflection, be tourist traps. See who the clientele are and ask for local recommendations rather than just heading somewhere with an easy-to-read menu. Great bargains can be found at night markets too, so don’t just head to the flashy shopping centres.

Take a look at the table below for an idea of how much everyday items and utilities will cost in Thailand: 

Country Avg. monthly salary Degree required Start of term Teaching experience Housing & flights included Suitable for non-native English speakers Age restrictions
Teach in Thailand £740 – £980
($1,000 – $1,280)
Yes May No Sometimes Yes None

Restaurants Cost
THB (฿) USD ($) GBP (£)
Inexpensive restaurant meal 70.00 2.14 1.62
Domestic beer (0.5 litre) 70.00 2.14 1.62
Regular cappuccino 60.49 1,85 1.40
Water (0.33 litre) 10.61 0.32 0.25
Markets Cost
THB (฿) USD ($) GBP (£)
Regular milk (1 litre) 55.51 1.70 1.28
Loaf of white bread 43.10 1.32 1.00
Regular eggs (1 dozen) 55.23 1.69 1.28
Apples (1 kg) 87.63 2.68 2.03
Transportation Cost
THB (฿) USD ($) GBP (£)
One-way ticket (local transport) 30.00 0.92 0.69
Monthly pass (regular price) 1,200.00 36.70 27.75
Taxi start (normal tariff) 35.00 1.07 0.81
Gasoline (1 litre) 32.59 1.00 0.75
Utilities (monthly) Cost
THB (฿) USD ($) GBP (£)
Electricity, heating, cooling, water, and garbage (for a regular apartment) 2,134.58 65.29 49.36
Regular prepaid mobile tariff (per minute, local without discounts) 1.62 0.05 0.04
Internet (60 Mbps, unlimited data, cable/ADSL) 649.59 19.87 15.02
Clothing and Shoes Cost
THB (฿) USD ($) GBP (£)
Pair of jeans (Levis 501 or something similar) 1,769.47 54.12 40.92
Summer dress in a chain store 951.20 29.09 21.99
Nike running shoes (mid-range) 2,885.86 88.27 66.73
Men’s leather business shoes 2,555.01 78.15 59.08

While the TEFL industry is still going strong in Thailand, wages haven’t increased as they have done in other Asian countries. However, the cost of living is still low and, on a modest wage, most TEFL teachers in Thailand can save a percentage of their wages for the future. 

Newer teachers might have to settle for a lower-paying position but it’s possible to take on private students if you want to earn a little extra. 

English teaching jobs in Thailand

If you’re thinking about moving to teach English in Thailand, you might be wondering what kind of jobs are available. Positions vary greatly throughout the country, and so do the salaries.

Newly-qualified TEFL teachers with a sparkling new TEFL certificate can easily find work, but will primarily be looking at public schools or language institutes rather than higher-paying positions at international schools.

TEFL jobs can be found at all times of the year, although, for public schools, peak recruitment times are in the months before the terms begin. Many teachers can find a job in April to start with the new term in May. 

For those with good qualifications (a master’s degree or PGCE is sometimes necessary) and several years of experience, there will be a range of international or bilingual schools you can apply to when you decide to teach English in Thailand, as well as the more lucrative language school positions.

If you have experience with CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning), make sure to point this out, especially at international and bilingual schools where they’re keen to hire English teachers who can also teach other subjects.

Thai students are fun, friendly and polite, and it’s not just the children who enjoy playing classroom games!

Expect your lessons teaching English to Thai students to have a focus on spoken fluency rather than accuracy, apart from Business English lessons and university roles. Despite the fun and laid-back nature of many TEFL classrooms, don’t be sloppy – you’ll be expected to dress professionally, and might be surprised to find that even at university students have to wear a uniform.

As well as positions teaching children, there’s also good scope for teaching to adults in the tourism industry, particularly corporate lessons at big hotels.

Let’s take a look at some of the most popular jobs options in more detail below:

Public Schools

If you’re new to teaching in Thailand, you’ll most likely find yourself working at a public school. Each school will be different but teachers can expect large class sizes of between 20-50 pupils, around 15-20 hours of teaching time per week and plenty of time off during the school holidays to travel around Thailand. You’ll work regular hours, Monday to Friday, and have your weekends mostly free, except in the case of school events. 

The school location, size and whether or not they’ve previously had TEFL teachers will make a difference in terms of what resources you can expect on arrival. But don’t worry about this too much as there are numerous websites offering free resources for English teachers. You may also receive training from the Ministry of Education in Thailand before you start. 

New teachers at a public school in Thailand will usually make between 26,000 THB – 32,000 THB (£600 – £740 / $800 – $1000) making this the least lucrative but most common option for those without experience. 

Teaching English in Bangkok

Looking for a location that delivers non-stop new experiences, 24-hours a day? Bangkok’s chaotic mix of ancient sites, all-night partying and adventurous street food could be just the thing you’re searching for!

From Khao San Road – the city’s legendary backpacker hangout with cheap food and drink – to the palaces and temples of Ratanakosin, you’ll never be short of things to see, do (and eat!) out of school hours. But what is it actually like to teach English in Bangkok?

It goes without saying that Thailand’s bustling capital is home to some of the biggest language schools and employers in the country. Demand for teachers is high, but the competition can be equally so. And, while salaries can be more generous compared to those in rural locations, the cost of living in such a popular tourist spot can greatly eat into even a healthy paycheque. 

Salaries in Bangkok

New TEFL teachers might find it more difficult to land a job in Bangkok with a decent salary. With high competition, some take the route of turning up on a tourist visa and going school-to-school with their CV to try and secure a teaching role. On the other hand, experienced teachers will find Bangkok one of the best places for finding more senior, better-paid positions at the top international schools.

Your school may help you to find accommodation in Bangkok. Just remember that, while living in the heart of the city can sound like non-stop fun to start with, it’ll be more expensive, and likely exhausting after your first few months in the country! 

For teachers hoping to save a chunk of money while working, living outside of the city centre, eating like a local and limiting nights out make this wholly doable. 

Bangkok as a base

For those looking to travel around Thailand and Southeast Asia on the cheap, Bangkok couldn’t be a better base.

From here, flights to nearby destinations like Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos are incredibly affordable, while cheap domestic travel via trains and buses to locations like Chiang Mai, Phuket and Krabi makes exploring Thailand’s towns, beaches and islands a breeze! 

Of course, Bangkok won’t be for everyone. There are downsides to living in a city crammed with more than 9 million people. Traffic is intense, the centre can be difficult to navigate during the tourist season and new teachers need to be on the lookout for scams from dodgy employers. But, for most TEFL teachers, spending at least some time in Bangkok should be high on their priority list. 

You can find out more about the top schools to work for in Bangkok by visiting The Good School Guide. 

TEFL Org teacher story 

Want to know what it’s really like to teach English in Thailand? Don’t just take it from us! Our student stories from TEFL graduates are the best way to get an idea of what living and working in the Land of Smiles is truly like! 

Here’s what James, one of our TEFL graduate teachers in Sakon Nakhon, had to say about his experience of teaching: 

“Thailand is one of the most beautiful countries with such a rich culture. Thailand is known as ‘The land of smiles’ as this is evident, especially the further you travel from the tourist tracks with Thai people always going out of their way to help you. Living and working in Thailand has allowed me to travel and see all the things I had dreamed of in England.

“I have been teaching in Thailand now for nearly 4 months and have just renewed my contract to stay at this school for the rest of the year. This has been one of the most amazing, exciting and fun experiences of my life. This qualification means that I can travel the world, not just taking what I can from a country but actually giving something back. Working as a TEFL teacher has allowed me to really make an impact on students’ lives and enhance mine.”

You can read James’ full story on the blog or discover more stories from our students

Frequently Asked Questions

    FAQs

    Obviously, you’re sure to have questions about teaching English in Thailand, and finding English teaching jobs in Thailand for non native speakers and native English speakers alike.

    Here are some common questions people ask before embarking on a Thai adventure.

  • Q. Is teaching English in Thailand hard?

    It’s subjective of course, but our graduates insist that teaching in Thailand can be fun and extremely rewarding.

    The way English is taught in Thailand, it tends to be more conversational. Achieving fluency is the name of the game, and lessons will be relaxed and interactive. That said, appearance is important, so while the lessons might be more informal, the dress code isn’t.

  • Q. Does Thailand need English teachers?

    Absolutely!

    According to the Bangkok Post: “Thailand fell 10 spots in the global rankings of non-native English-speaking countries… [Thailand is] in the Very Low Proficiency group with a ranking of 74th out of 100 countries. The ability to speak English is essential if the country’s economy is to grow and our people are to learn, work and succeed in an ever more internationalised setting, interacting with people from around the region and the world.”

    Thailand, despite having a significant tourism sector, isn’t particularly well-performing in terms of English learning. As the Bangkok Post states, the economy’s growth is very reliant on being able to speak English.

    That, and with the popularity of English worldwide, TEFL in Thailand is fundamental for young learners to have opportunities abroad. In a sense, as an English teacher, you’d be helping to open up the world for young Thai students.

  • Q. Can I teach English in Thailand without a degree?

    Yes! As explored in our dedicated section, it’s possible to teach English in Thailand without a degree.

    TEFL certification absolutely helps, let’s be clear. However, Thailand is full of programmes perfect for temporary visa status, which allow you to help classes from around 1 to 4 months. However, while some of these are free for prospective English teachers, there may be some with upfront costs.

  • Q. How to find teaching jobs in Thailand

    English teaching jobs in Thailand tend to be in Public Schools, Language Academies and International schools. Recruiters are particularly handy for securing that first English teaching job, however, there are sometimes scams in the recruitment industry.

    Find a recruiter with a proven track record and reputation, with a strong online presence and user reviews.

    There are also fantastic resources available online to find a teaching job in Thailand. For example, Teaching Thailand is full of opportunities. As is BFITS Thailand, which hires teachers with a degree and TEFL certification.

    Consult our section on finding jobs in Thailand for more information and resources.

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