For a long time, intrepid adventurers have been flocking to the ‘Land of Smiles’ to teach English in Thailand. That’s no shock – Thailand is known worldwide for its gorgeous tropical climate, fantastic food, and buzzing cities.
It’s also full of incredible sights, 7 of which are on the UNESCO Heritage List. From the beautiful natural splendour of the Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai Forest Complex to man-made historic sites like the historic City of Ayutthaya, Thailand is packed with fascinating history and culture to sate any adventurer’s thirst.
No surprise, then, that the Asian country greeted over 7 million tourists in 2022 alone. More than that, though, Thailand has a thriving community of ex-pats from the US, Canada, the UK and elsewhere. So, while learning Thai and getting integrated with the culture is a must, there are some home comforts to fall back on when you need to.
A varied and wildly fascinating country, Thailand makes total sense as a tourist destination, or somewhere to make your home.
What about teaching English there, though? The Land of Smiles has become a TEFL destination of repute, even within the crowded field of Southeast Asia. As with anywhere, teaching salaries are relative to the cost of living, but how comfortably can you live on a teacher’s wage in Thailand? What benefits do employers offer in Thailand, and what are the differences between types of schools in terms of salary?
We’re going to answer all that and more, as salaries in Thailand go under The TEFL Org’s microscope.
How much can you earn teaching English in Thailand?
The big question: how much money can you make teaching in Thailand? What salary expectations should you have as an English language teacher, what’s the typical salary, and how does it rank in Southeast Asia?
Much depends on the kind of school, but if you’re TEFL certified, most new teachers at a Thai school earn around $1,000 a month, which will more than adequately cover basic living expenses – especially outside the larger cities like Bangkok.
It’s important, here, to break it down into where English teaching in Thailand is conducted, within the intricacies of the schooling system and beyond, into universities and the world of private tutoring. There are all kinds of jobs teaching English in Thailand, after all.
With that information, you can make the best decision for you – relevant to your own teach abroad experience and qualifications – if teaching English in Thailand is your ultimate goal.
Public schools salary
The most obvious and well-trodden route into teaching English in Thailand is, of course, the public school system.
In recent years, the Thai government has invested in the English teaching infrastructure. This is common within Southeast Asia, with English being the lingua franca of business, it’s important to have people with proficiency in English to aid a burgeoning economy. Foreign English teachers, then, are in demand.
So what can teachers expect to earn at a government school? Typically, 30,000-40,000 Baht is the monthly salary, which equates to around $1,000 a month at the current exchange rate. Is it a lot? Probably not in a US dollar context, but the cost of living in Thailand is far cheaper than in the US, meaning your earnings as a teacher of young students or high school pupils definitely stretch more than they would at home.
We’ll cover the cost of living in Thailand in a later section, but to cut a long story short,
expect a salary equivalent to around $1k a month when you get started teaching English at any of the country’s public schools.
Programmes and internships
There are, of course, some great internships and teaching programmes in Thailand, with none more exciting than the Teach Thailand Programme, which sends plenty of enthusiastic, highly-qualified TEFL teachers out to Thailand on an annual basis.
You would need a bachelor’s degree, fluency in English (obviously!) and hold a passport from any of the United States, Canada, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom or Ireland. If you can commit to at least one school term in Thailand, the rewards are considerable, including:
- 30,000 to 45,000 Baht per month (USD 800 to 1,200 per month) for 18 to 25 in-class hours per week
- Contracts start from four months upwards depending on your preferences
- Airport pickup
- Visa support and assistance
- Orientation week in Thailand before placement
The program fee is £995, which is a handy investment considering the experience, the pay you’ll receive in return (which, as covered, is about the going rate for a starter teaching job in Thailand) and how impressive the program looks on a CV.
How much money can you save teaching English in Thailand?
So, another big question: can you actually save money teaching in Thailand?
The short answer is: yes, you can. It involves being strict with your budgets and frugal where possible, but it’s impossible to deny that if you’re coming from a country like the US where the exchange rate from Dollar to Baht is favourable, you can save your pennies.
We’ll get on to the cost of living in Thailand before long, but the wages on offer to ESL teachers stretch further in the Land of Smiles than they would in America, the UK or Australia, for example. While $1000 a month, at the lower end, could be seen as “low wage” from a Western perspective, it’s relative to how much factors like accommodation, utilities and groceries cost in Thailand.
To summarise; yes, you can save money teaching English in Thailand. Why is that the case? Let’s explore.
Living costs in Thailand
What are those living costs we’re talking about, then?
According to Numbeo, a constantly updated resource for cost-of-living comparison, you can get quite a lot for your teaching salary in the Land of Smiles. Take, for example, accommodation: for a 1 bedroom city centre apartment in Bangkok, you’re looking at a spend of around 13,000 Baht, which is approximately $300. If you need more space, a 3 bedroom apartment is approximately the equivalent of $1,100 – likely far cheaper than at home, especially for a buzzing city centre.
What other costs do we need to take into consideration? Basic utilities on a monthly basis (Electricity, heating, water) cost around 2,100 Baht, which is equivalent to just over $60 in US currency. That’s quite the saving, while a three-course meal at a mid-priced restaurant will set you back a mere $23. If you’re craving McDonald’s, good news: a typical meal deal costs 200 Baht; you’d get change for $6.
Looking for things to do? A new release at the cinema typically costs 200 Baht a ticket, so again, we’re looking at 6 bucks for an evening’s entertainment. Want to hire a tennis court? Sure! For an hour at a top tennis facility, you’d be forking out the equivalent of $9, while monthly membership of a fitness centre works out at just $45, on average. For what you earn as a TEFL teacher in Thailand, these are very low-cost activities.
So, to answer the question “can you save money teaching English in Thailand”, it depends a lot on your normal lifestyle. However, considering that teaching wages start at about $1000, you can make considerable savings, due to the comparatively low cost of living. You can, according to research, spend 55% less in Thailand than you would in the United States.
What benefits do employers offer?
Employee benefits when you teach in Thailand, you’ll be delighted to know, are quite
considerable. Holidays are always plentiful, meaning you’ll have a great deal of time to explore places like Phuket, the historic City of Ayutthaya, and loads more fantastic attractions.
Depending on the job, you might be offered free accommodation. This is particularly common with universities, though schools (especially international and private schools) might either provide a place to live, or help with the process of getting a roof over your head.
Motorbikes are ubiquitous in Thailand, so it’s not uncommon to be given a rental bike when you take your new teaching job. That’s not to keep, though!
Health insurance is one of the other benefits you’re likely to receive for teaching English in Thailand. Getting healthcare in Thailand isn’t too difficult, and the standard of care is generally excellent at the public level, but private and international schools are likely to offer some kind of private healthcare incentive.
What about actually getting to Thailand to teach? Again, it depends on where you work, but it’s not uncommon to be offered reimbursement for the average ESL teacher who takes up a job in Thailand. Teaching English abroad often doesn’t include this feature, and foreign teachers who teach abroad often have to provide their own travel.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. How much do you get paid teaching English in Thailand?
If you’re looking to teach English in Thailand, rest assured you can live comfortably with the wages on offer. At the lower end, you can expect to make about $1000 per month, which stretches further due to Thailand’s cost of living, and as much as $4000 at the top end.
Q. Are English teachers in demand in Thailand?
English teachers are very much in demand in Thailand. Government policies have seen the number of teachers working in Thailand increase rapidly, and that demand is only growing across private international schools, private schools, public schools, bilingual schools and the rest.
Q. Is teaching English in Thailand worth it?
Absolutely, teaching English in Thailand is “worth it”; you can live comfortably on a teacher’s salary, while other benefits including health insurance, travel and the gorgeous natural sights of the Land of Smiles make teaching in Thailand an easy choice.
Q. What is a good salary for Thailand?
Thailand, compared to East Asia and countries like South Korea, may look like it has lower wages, but it’s relative to the cost of living. A salary equivalent to anywhere between US$1000 to $4000 is on offer to teachers from public schools to bilingual private schools and Universities.
Q. Can you teach English in Thailand without a degree?
Yes! It’s possible to become a TEFL teacher at a Thai school without a degree.
TEFL certification absolutely helps, let’s be clear. However, Thailand is full of programs perfect for temporary visa status, which allow you to help with 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.