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Teacher licensing regulations 2009

What you will need to do or have in order to become a legal teacher

With the help of one of Bangkok's top teacher recruiters and a few contacts at the Thailand Ministry of Education and The Teacher's Council of Thailand, ajarn.com has come up with the following information regarding what will be involved if you want to teach legally in Thailand as of mid-May 2009 (the start of the next academic year). Please be aware that this information is correct as of 14th May 2008 and we've deliberately used the word 'probably' in the title - simply because this is Thailand and overnight changes are part and parcel of life here.

There are THREE types of applicant and FOUR methods to apply for a teachers' licence.

Applicant Type 1 - Method 1
For any teachers possessing a Bachelor Degree (or higher) in Education

People in this category must possess / obtain and/or complete the following:

1) Must possess a valid Non-immigrant visa.
2) Must attend and successfully complete the 20-hour 'Foreign Teacher Thai Culture Training Program' which has been designed by The Teachers Council of Thailand. This course generally runs for four days over a one-month period and can be completed in four Saturdays from 9.00am to 4.00pm. The cost of the course is approximately 8,000 baht. At the end of the course you will receive a diploma proving that you have successfully completed the program.
3) Must possess a valid work permit.
4) Must have at least one full academic year's teaching experience and be able to provide documentation to prove it (university teaching internships are acceptable)
5) Must have a certified translation of all academic documents (transcripts, diplomas, certificates, etc). This translation must be done by a licensed translation service.
6) Two 1 inch color photos.
7) A receipt for the 500 baht application fee for the teachers licence itself. This can be got from the The Teachers Council of Thailand in Bangkok.
When you have all of the above items, you can apply for (and receive) a teachers licence.

Applicant Type 2 - Method 2
For any teachers possessing a Bachelor Degree (or higher) in a field other than Education.

People in this category must possess / obtain and/or complete the following:

1) Must possess a Bachelor Degree from an internationally accredited institution.
2) Must complete a Teachers Licensing Course (called Baw Bundit in Thai). The course takes one year to complete, is 30 credit hours long and will be taught at accredited institutions approved by The Teachers Council of Thailand) The cost will be approximately 60,000 baht and the 20-hour 'Foreign Teacher Thai Culture Training Program' (mentioned for applicant type 1) will be included in this program. The course is held on weeknights and/or weekends for those who work full-time.


Method 3

After you have passed the 20-hour 'Foreign Teacher Thai Culture Training Program' you can then take a four-part exam (instead of the one-year long Teachers Licensing Course) If you pass the four-part exam (each exam will cost 1,000 baht) you will then receive a teachers licence for the Kingdom of Thailand.

Applicant Type 3 - Method 4
For any teachers possessing a High School Diploma (or less) but NO Bachelor Degree.

People in this category must possess / obtain and/or complete the following:

1) A letter from the school you currently teach at -
a) stating how long you have been teaching there.
b) signed by The Principal
c) stating that the school does not have the budget to hire qualified teachers, as they demand a much higher salary.
d) stating that you are a fantastic teacher and the world as we know it would simply stop spinning if the school lost you, so please, please. please (with sugar on top) give this foreign teacher a teachers licence.

Whether or not the Teachers Council does or does not grant you a teachers licence will be entirely up to them. Even if they do, and before they do, you will STILL have to complete the 20-hour 'Foreign Teacher Thai Culture Training Program' and you must have completed this course BEFORE you send the letter from your school to The Teachers Council.

Do the new rules only apply to new applicants?
by Jason Alavi

The new licensing procedures do NOT only apply to new applicants. Even people who have had teachers licenses from many years back have to get a new one. I've had one for 6 years and I'm in the same boat. This is for two reasons:

1) It is a lifetime teachers' license and (according to The Teachers Council) there has never been a licensing procedure for non-Thai teachers that is this comprehensive. We will now basically have to go through the same hoops that Thai teachers do in order to get a teachers license. I showed several Thai friends of mine, who are teachers, the entire process and they said that it's exactly the same process they had to go through. The 20 hour "Thai Culture Course" in conjunction with either a Bachelors of Ed or a 1 year Teacher Training Course will in theory, produce farangs who are as well educated in both cultural and esoteric educational points as Thais with a Bachelors of Ed. The new teachers license will be similar to a license for a physician. A physician only gets licensed once, but may work for many hospitals and or care providers throughout their career. The new license will no longer be 'employer dependent'.

2) It is no longer tied to a specific place of employment. Under the old process, private schools would have to request a "Teachers' License" from the O.P.E.C. (Office of the Private Education Commission, www.opec.go.th) office in their province, before they could go to immigration to request a one-year Non-Immigrant Visa on the applicant's behalf. This so-called, "Teachers' License" was nothing more than a pretty piece of paper to hang on the wall of the private school and a step in the visa acquisition process. All a private school had to do was give basic data about the teacher and OPEC would grant it. No 20 hour "Thai Culture Training Course" existed or any 1 year "Teacher Training Course".

This process for private schools only was streamlined in anticipation of the new Teachers' Licensing regulations on March 5th, 2008. That is the date that OPEC sent a memo to all private schools nationwide allowing the private schools themselves to "appoint a foreign national as a teacher or officer" of the private school. This letter, issued by the private schools themselves, will now be given to immigration in lieu of that easily obtained "Teachers' License" in the Non-Imm acquisition process. Phew! I'm exhausted!

Now, whether you currently work at a public or private school, you and NOT the school you work at apply for it. It has nothing to do with your current employers' licensing class under MOE regulations. You don't even have to be currently teaching to apply for a teachers' license! When you leave any place of employment, your license follows you since it's a lifetime license. It is now the responsibility of the individual, not the school, to prove that they are licensed to teach through proper channels.

Ajarn Comment

Applicant 2 Method 2 is completely insane. It has to be said. And we have it on very good authority that there are even a few employees at The Thai Ministry of Education shaking their head in disbelief. Unfortunately the head-shakers aren't the decision makers. Seriously, who is going to invest 60,000 baht and a huge chunk of time to take a one-year program of this nature? Even those who are looking to teach here for 5-10 years or maybe looking to settle here for good will think twice about it. As for those people on a gap year or coming to teach English in Thailand for the short haul - forget it. It's a complete non-starter. There's a school of thought that so many schools and employers are going to be up-in-arms about this that there has to be a U-turn from the MoE. It's either that or many schools will either have no teachers or be forced to employ teachers illegally.

Applicant 3 method 4 is interesting and there are many teachers who will go down this route. I guess that the success of method 4 will largely depend on the failure of method 2.


The so-called "permanent" teacher's license is valid for only 5 years, at which time it must be renewed. The applicant must have completed a minimum of three activities that enhance their pedagogical abilities - writing a magazine article on teaching methods, observing other school's teaching methods, participating in a seminar.

By Jack McKenzie, Bangkok (18th August 2010)

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