A readers question - finding teaching work at 60
What did the teachers on Ajarn social media have to say on the matter?
Let's begin with Steve's question.
Hi, I am looking for some honest advice. I am a 60-year old British man, living in Nonthaburi, and just about to retire from working for a large company in Thailand. I have thought about taking up teaching English but I don't have a bachelor's degree as I joined the RAF at 18, and have only ever done technical training through my 43 years of IT work. Is it worth my while to get a TEFL certificate and still find a reasonable teaching position without a degree? Thank you in advance, Steve.
So what about the replies and advice?
Stewart shot straight from the hip
"Steve, you are too old to work here as a teacher. They want young teachers that are more willing to adapt to the school's and students' needs. If you also don't have a degree also that is another problem"
Dewi was more encouraging
"Do you need the money? don't you have a pension? or are you just looking for something to keep you occupied? If it's the latter, then doing a TEFL course would keep your brain active. There are loads of opportunities for voluntary English teaching in Thailand. And neighbouring countries don't require a degree, actually"
And so was Ste.
"When I did my BA in TESOL at a college in Bangkok, there were people older than you doing the degree. It's never too late to start! Doing a degree would also provide you with a visa. The course also ran on weekends and Thai school holidays"
Simon had some decent advice
"You’ll definitely get work, but you probably won’t get access to the higher paid/better gigs. My advice? Take any gig that looks half decent then work your way up, you obviously have skills, you can do a good job for someone"
Could teaching online be the answer? Brett seemed to think so.
"Being over 60 your best bet is to teach online. However, you would certainly need a TEFL or TOESL"
"No degree, no experience, and being an older man, your pay for teaching online (even if you're accepted by a company) is going to be almost zero"
Don't think Stewart liked the idea either
"What the Chinese online teaching companies want is babysitters not teachers"
Both Gary and Mike felt the lack of degree would be a sticky point.
"Very difficult (if not impossible) to get a visa and work permit without a bachelors degree nowadays in Thailand"
"For the better jobs, you will definitely need a degree now"
Glyn offered his viewpoint on the degree issue
"Hi Steve, you are just the sort of person we need at our vocational college - a guy with real experience and knowledge in a technical working environment. However we always stick to the law and with no degree we would not be able to get a teacher waiver or non-b visa for teaching. Go for the degree as I feel sure you have much to offer Thai students. Good luck!"
Mark is a teacher with years of experience working in Thailand. He has grave doubts.
"Twenty years ago I would have said 'definitely'. Ten years ago I would have said 'yes'. Today I would strongly advise against it. This has nothing to do with the virus, but the new laws (and the efficiency of the rigorous enforcement of them) that penalize schools for hiring people illegally. It's not worth their risk and consequently, it's not worth yours to even try. You MAY find work, but you will be at the mercy of your employer and the work will be very poorly rewarded. You're in for a world of disappointment if you don't heed my advice.
We'll leave the last word to another Mark
"Steve, just enjoy your well-earned retirement"
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Stumbled across this thread, and I'm hoping that the commenters here might know the answer to a related question...
It's apparent that Thai govt. schools enforce the 60-year-old age cap on hiring. Does this apply to universities, as well? I ask as some countries have carve-outs for universities, making them immune to mandatory retirement age laws. Does Thailand do this, or is it the same across the board? For context, I'm a full professor (re. PhD), and I'm well-regarded (albeit far from famous) in my field, so qualifications shouldn't be an issue. If it is possible, I find the idea attractive to teach for awhile in Thailand after I retire from my current post in a few years, but that will be somewhere between ages 65 and 67. Are public universities a possibility? Are private ones possible? Thank you for any information you can provide!
p.s., I'm well aware of the poor state of university salaries in Thailand, so no need to tell me. I'm much more interested in the intellectual stimulation and I hope to continue interacting with students as long as health permits.
By Prof. Stix, East Asia (14th December 2022)
Here's the best case scenario imo.
I started teaching as a second career. I'd married and needed to get out of the condo. Additional income helped with the cash burn and the fact my with will outlive me by 15-20 years was a wake-up call and I needed to finance our senior years better. I was no stranger to the concept of teaching and almost went into the profession out of university and later as a substitute. I have held a substitute credential for over 20 years.
I worked extremely hard at being what a saw as the typical slacker teacher. I'd put in huge amounts of time learning the craft. My rise through many of the most important public and private schools in Bangkok was nothing short of meteoric.
I hold a full Thai teaching license you'd think was gold.
I'd assisted students in accomplishing some amazing things. In six years and five schools I'd nearly doubled my salary. Recommendations flowed like wine.
My resume for jobs in the 60-65k range was almost always responded to. Prior, when I was making the climb from 35k to 65k the response rate was perhaps as high as 65%
The school I'm at most would think a dream. It's well funded and the rules are both many and lax. The teachers are just has bad as anywhere else unfortunately and is a large reason I'd thought about leaving on many occasions. Many.
I tell you all this so set the stage of what I'm about to inform you.
When I hit 60 no one is interested. Of course, if I was interested in working for an agency at half the wage and twice the headaches I believe that possible. The irony is I am unquestionably a better teacher than my peers. It's not even a contest and that goes for energy as well.
Therefore, my experience shows that schools do not hire 60+. To this end two great schools and perhaps three either don't hire or reduce pay. I know this as a first hand fact.
If you are not in Bangkok you'll run about spending thousands of baht trying to nail down work. Work at your kid's school or someone in town asked you to teach? This will not end well. Even the best schools are full of drama and headaches.
Teaching is a difficult and tiring enterprise the notion that some retiree is interested in *teaching* makes me shudder. You're way to old to start, lack energy (looking at coworkers) and most importantly never be any good at it by the time you quit. Assuming you can get hired the students will suffer. 35k is absolutely nothing. Enjoy your retirement. If you need to return to the workplace go get a job at Walmart and holiday here.
60+ you won't work anywhere worthwhile, do anything worthwhile and will burn out in a few years assuming you can get work at all.
Finally, VERY important. Many government jobs force retire. employees at 60. Public schools observe this although some teachers return on per diem for a year or two. Privates may keep older teachers on as sort a a supplement to their meager pension offering. If you must teach apply to private schools. Do not work for an agency 60 yos simply won't have the patience for the BS.
By Jim Beam, The Big Smoke (6th November 2022)
The last Mark who said just enjoy your well earned retirement has zero understanding of the human psyche and is very insensitive. This gentleman has much to offer and probably more than Mark. How would Mark feel about being put out to pasture to do nothing and waste away ? He will be there someday too. Older people are often excellent teachers.
By TC, Cambodia (25th November 2021)
Hi to all teachers
Do any of you teachers out there work in high schools? If so are some of the Thai teachers still using corporal punishment? My next-door neighbor is a Thai high school girl of 17 and she only told me the other day that she and her friends still get caned despite the ban by the government. Can any teacher tell me of any news about this? Thank you
By Dermot Kelly, Hua Hin (20th February 2021)
I am 65 and work full time with a work permit and visa in Phuket. Hitting 60 in Thailand is a problem because the government stipulates that you cannot be employed in any Thai state school. Therefore, no contract, work permit or visa. My solution was a private school. If they are reputable in the area then the Labour Dept. and immigration can rubber stamp it. However, I am fully qualified and experienced which helps. I have 3 months to go until my UK pension kicks in and I leave the farce that is Thai education. I can't wait.
By Martyn, Currently in Phuket (10th January 2021)
If he had a degree, he would easily find work. I'm 62, teaching an a Thai school, and could easily keep on teaching for years if I wanted to, which I don't. I know of one well known Christian school in Udon that currently has an English teacher from the UK aged 75. Most of the other foreign teachers at the school are over 55.
Doesn't Steve have a good pension from the RAF? What is his motivation for wanting to teach? Does he think it will be fun? I should warn him, most of the time it just isn't. The western teachers that I know either all needed money, the visa, or in some cases just wanted to be away from their Thai families for as many hours of the day that was possible.
By Rory, Udon Thani (17th December 2020)
Not a comment but a request for advice. "Ste" mentioned the option of obtaining a BA in Tesol in Thailand. I'd like to get recommendations for authentic, recognized unis in Thailand.
By Ron, NYC (15th December 2020)
My uni asks for a Masters but accepts Bachelors. I know as I only have a Bachelors. However, at 60, he is probably too old to be accepted, but if they will keep people on after 60. The problem Uni's have is that their job promotion is poor, and they advertise the salary they are allowed to by the government. Most positions have many extra ways of making cash, such as marking exams, grading essays, and attending events.
I know people who are 60 working in shopping malls in Nonthaburi. As long as you look presentable and can deliver classes they don't care too much about age. If someone younger interviews at the same time then you will probably lose out, but in Nonthaburi there are lots of malls and not so many NES teachers.
By John, Bangkok (11th December 2020)
I've taught here for many years and also never went to university when I Ieft school in the 1980s. Of course there is always a demand for English teachers here - you may need to start at a small language school and work your way up. Pay won't be great to begin with, but take it from me, if you are dedicated, create interesting lessons ( instead of just 'following the book' as many do ), cover more than one subject and get on well with students and parents, your pay will increase to the point you can survive comfortably by just putting in a few hours each day. As for work permits etc. the official line is that 'teachers' need a degree for a business visa and WP, so that includes most employees at schools. But you can just call yourself something else like a 'training manager' and work at small companies instead. I got a WP by doing exactly that. Be creative. Don't follow the herd. Best of luck!
By George, Bangkok (11th December 2020)
Actually our university now requires a master's degree as minimum and yet still only offer the 29K baht a month salary. They do occasionally employ people over 60 years and I guess I don't have to say why.
By Petedk, Bangkok (10th December 2020)