Matthew Pape

Take the first job you can get

It's all about getting a foot in the door

Take the first thing you can get, and THEN be picky.

A person asked me a great question the other day. He said he's here in Bangkok, he's been given a job offer of 35,000 baht a month, but wanted to know if it's the norm.

Unfortunately yes it is.

But honestly, it's not that big of a deal.

The guy I was speaking to said he's been a teacher for eight years and personally speaking, I get where he is coming from not wanting to get the same starting salary as someone with little to no experience. That is the kind of pay you give to granola eating vegetarian stinky backpacker hippies (I'm joking, relax) not skilled professionals.

There are "Teachers in Thailand" rooms that I belong to that say don't settle for anything less than 40K, and although I do agree with them, that's easier said than done.

Back in college in America a friend of mine brought up an excellent point about getting your first job out of college. He said, "Take the first thing you can get, and THEN be picky." It was a brilliant point that can easily be applied to TEFL jobs, especially if you are applying for work from outside of Thailand.

What if the job sucks?

So what? Who cares? With most jobs there is generally a 60-day probationary period. That probation is more for the school to sell themselves to you, than for you to sell yourself to the school. During that time, if you don't like it, then you can leave pretty quickly. Just please be smart and try and find a new job before you leave your other one.

Once you get a work permit, that's a different story. You can still leave, but the school needs to turn in your work permit before you can get another job.

What if it doesn't suck?

GREAT! Even better. Just get the first year under your belt and take your time getting to know the area. Network, do your research, and find better paying jobs. You could even step up your game by getting a higher level certification (Trinity TEFL, or Cambridge CELTA). I wrote a blog post about getting certifications on my website clarifying the differences between TEFLs. When you get those high end certifications, you get opened up to a whole new world of options for this career.

Please check out my youtube video that I made a few years ago regarding this topic.

Good luck with the new school year and getting your first job here in Thailand, whether it be here in Bangkok or anywhere else in Thailand.

Bookmark my blog and please keep in touch. I welcome your thoughts and opinions on things.

If you haven't done so already please subscribe to my youtube channel 

Also please feel free to check out my website for other blog posts and useful information about teaching in Thailand and other useful things too. 


IMO if you have no burning desire to be in Bangkok, your credentials a bit wan, not especially ambitious, etc... I would recommend looking at provincial jobs. Pay seems to be increasing this year where Bangkok wages are stagnant for year 1-4 teachers.

I personally don't think costs other than rent (a huge cost) are all that more in Bangkok, rather it's this nagging few baht here and there that add 10-15% to living costs (3-4k for the 35k teacher).

Most of all, like any career even if it's your second or third like me is you need a plan.

Do not work for less than 35k and do not work for an agency, you'll never make it to the end of your waiver. Absolutely guarantee it.

Most of all, go to Korea, China and try to build a real career.

You cannot seriously work for <1000$/£ a month and profess you have any dignity. Showing up and doing a half job is bullshit and claiming it's because of pay is rubbish thinking.

Don't forget to deduct as addl expense your TEFL and any addl courses you will be forced to do for a license or laughably a fourth waiver because your bs school won't do your paperwork because they know you will leave your shitty, 35-40k job.

If you have no wife, kids or additional income only an absolute fool would be working here and working for <40k only proves this.

We will all be replaced by Filipinos as a matter of course. Of course, the only thing they offer students is grammar rules and the schools slave wages.

By Lou Mak, The Big Mango (15th April 2017)

Waste of time really though. Your life will suck when you are earning 30-35k. Not only that but the sort of school that offers that will likely be a government school which will pay you only 9 months of the year. And are filled with half-wits.

By Big bad B, Zhengzhou (5th April 2017)


Sensible advice in my opinion.

I know of very few teachers or other professionals who stuck with their first job. If you want to teach English in Thailand, first realize it is not going to pay well, although of course more is always better than less.

My first job in Thailand was great, although the pay was horrible (220 Baht an hour when then Baht was even of less value than today), but that was ok, I learned a lot and being on the ground made it much easier to move into higher paid work after about 6 months and later as I gained more qualifications and experience I was able to move out of English teaching into other professions.

Those individuals who try to claim if newbie white skinned ESL teachers would refuse to take these lower paying jobs it would increase wages obviously do not understand the basics of how supply and demand shape wages.

By Jack, In front of my computer (3rd April 2017)

I have been teaching in Chiangmai for about 10 years now and my salary is now just above 50 k per month. I started back in the day at 28k a month. I cannot believe that even 50 k can be enough to live in Bangkok let alone 30k.

I agree with Steve G, do not encourage these 'employers' by taking their paltry salaries. I realise that many people are settled here with Thai nationals and have children and these people may very well feel that they do not have a choice in dictating or demanding certain salaries, even if they are experienced esl teachers.

Thailand attracts a lot of very young newly qualified teachers who have had no experience teaching in their own countries they qualified from and many of whom are doing a really abysmal job of teaching their pupils. These qualified teachers are not here to stay but are in fact here to have fun, use their salaries on hedonistic activities then leave. These teachers are not too concerned about how much money they make because they are only here to have a good time. I feel that it is these teachers whom are lowering the basic salaries kingdom wide for serious long term teachers by accepting these low paying positions.

Qualifications certainly seem to come before age and experience and this is to the detriment of the pupils in Thai schools. For those teachers who have been here a while and are doing a good job and have furthered their education by doing a pgcei or a masters in education on top of their degrees, should leave Thailand and work in schools where their knowledge experience and qualifications are valued both monetarily and personally.

Another thing to note is that western teaching qualifications do not have a great focus on English as a second language learner's and this too affects the children's education in Thailand as specific strategies are needed to teach them successfully.

By John Shaw, Chiangmai (3rd April 2017)

Don't encourage them, if you're an experienced teacher and you have a degree, don't settle for less that 50+, especially if you're in Bangkok. A few years ago the schools were paying better wages, and it wasn't great back then. Suddenly it's a market where as little as 25k is being offered for westerners. You're not a charity, and besides, who do you think is pocketing the difference?

To be honest, if you are an experienced teacher, go to a country that will value you and respect you, you don't want to be putting up with the nonsense of the Thai education system for nothing more than food and shelter.

Thai education is a sinking ship.

By Steve G , Bangkok (31st March 2017)

"Once you get a work permit, that's a different story. You can still leave, but the school needs to turn in your work permit before you can get another job."

It is YOUR responsibility to hand in and cancel your work permit, not the schools. Plus, it is only really necessary if you are going to work in the same area, if you are moving province, there is no need to do it at all.

By lloyd turner, Bangkok (31st March 2017)

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