Finding a job in Thailand - the basics
From one newbie to another
If you're considering coming to Thailand on your own to find work as an English teacher, I promise you can do it.
I have done work abroad through programs and felt limited and isolated by the experience, even though it was a good first step. I would recommend anyone who is more autonomous, especially if you have teaching experience, consider going it alone. Here are some tips to consider at each stage of the process.
Getting your TEFL/CELTA/TESOL certification
If you're able, consider taking the course in the country where you want to teach, the same city if at all possible. This will build your connections and give you a chance to get a feel for the area before you sign a contract.
Also consider what your long-term plan is when deciding what course will suit your needs; a less involved course for short-term work and a more involved one for potential career teachers.
If your are confident with your classroom management skills, online courses might satisfy the requirement while people lacking confidence may choose to take the most challenging course available. In most cases, you get what you pay for, you get out of it what you put into it, etc.
Look for jobs
There are three ways teachers generally find jobs; connections with other teachers, showing up in person at schools inquiring about work, and applying to online postings via websites like 'ajarn.com'
The pros and cons of each are as follows:
Connections with other teachers is a great way to get a job as you already have the inside scoop on the school from someone you trust (at least in theory, right?). That same upside can also be a downside if that friend interferes with meeting other people or having a chance to develop your own 'face' outside of your friendship.
This is obviously a personal judgement call but worth considering since 'face' is very important in Thailand and much of Asia. It i also worth noting that you should consider the area where the school is and try not to fall for the low-hanging fruit if it won't be a good fit in other respects.
Instant interviews are another common way that experienced teachers find jobs. It involves researching cities you would like to teach in, showing up, asking a motorbike to take you to the best schools and going into the reception area with your CV/resume to inquire about teaching positions.
It can be intimidating if you've never done it before and timing is key but this method is the best way to ensure you get fair compensation and a good sense of the school prior to signing a contract. Ideally, you go to schools just before the start of either semester when schools are most often looking to fill positions.
Some schools leave hiring to an agency, especially if they don't have enough staff with good English fluency to manage the needs of all the foreign teachers. Usually a school will tell you if they hire through an agency, but often they make exceptions if they have positions they really need to fill.
Applying to online postings is a growing method of finding jobs on your own. Perhaps, in part, because it is new, it can also be the most difficult to navigate. Applying to postings online seems very efficient, but my experience has been that many inquiries go unanswered and postings are often not an accurate representation of the job or are done by agents who will lead you to believe they are from the school. As a result, I've expanded on some important information that I recommend getting prior to agreeing to anything.
Find out what position the person you are corresponding with holds
Find out exactly where the school is if it isn't immediately clear
Ask if there are any foreign teachers or Thai teachers you could meet prior to beginning work (they can give you a sense of the typical day or any distinguishing features of the school or the general area - it is easy to sense systemic problems by interacting with the teachers).
With regards to pay, ask about base salary, housing allowance, health insurance, and whether they pay for the non-b via or work permit (it is not unusual for schools not to pay for this but, if the salary seems low, it is worth asking if they can cover that expense).
Depending on the salary, it might also be worth asking about tutoring opportunities and Saturday school as a way to increase your income.
Ask what hours you are expected to be there, if there are gate duty responsibilities, and how many teaching hours you will have.
Ask about the curriculum and the books and what is expected with regards to lesson planning. Ask about resources like copiers, projectors, craft and office supplies. See if there is a library or whether the school is open to purchasing additional books that might facilitate your teaching (the importance of this will depend on the level of the students and the school's expectations).
Ask about the policy for computer usage.
Ask for the contact information for whoever you are expected to report to and be clear on the chain of command.
Ask about the dress code (many schools wear particular colors on particular days) and whether the school provides food or beverages during the school day.
Finally, while it should go without saying, please visit the school.
It is also helpful to be familiar with Thai courtesy phrases and body language (particularly the 'wai') prior to interviewing as it will go a long way to creating a good first impression, regardless of your experience level. You can find information about this is many places but I thought this was a good summary
The last option I did not touch on is to go through an agency.
I have personally had a bad experience with my agency (in part because they did not disclose that they were an agent until after I came to the school) and would generally just advise you to use caution when considering this option.
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If you are a female, European, or Filipino its no challenge to get a job in Thailand. Being a Afro-Caribbean male a (black male) is very challenging, and most thai schools are intimidate or insecure by black men teaching. If you do get the job you will be facing harassment, as well slight racism from local thai teachers who feeding in to black male misandry.
By Truth, Bangkok (18th January 2021)
You lost me at - approach a motorbike and ask the driver to take you to the best schools. Too lol. They would have absolutely zero idea. This would also be very hot and very expensive.
Every job I've held in Thailand was found on ajarn.com with exception of the one I'm in now and the position I hope to be in six months from now. Neither have need to advertise.
Running about town is an absolute, hands down waste of time and money.
By Jim Beam, The Big Smoke (16th July 2019)
I have noticed the female-only mantra spreading here in Korea, as well. Funny thing...I always see females being the first to discuss equal opportunity and what not...but if discrimination goes in their favor, they are rather quiet about that....double standards must be nice.
Though, I think factors like age and physical appearance being lines of consideration for employment, are not isolated to Thailand, or Asia for that matter.
By Josh, Land of Kimchi and Garlic (26th June 2019)
It is also beginning to be a we want female only environment also. Being female helps, but also other factors like age, what you look like physically, and as you say recommendations from someone that knows both you and the school.
By Terry, Bangkok (4th April 2014)
Yes one of the easiest ways is just head on over to ajarn.com. Make a list of the most popular schools in town, and as you say role up with your game face on.
By dave, Out and About (8th February 2014)