What's a decent salary in Bangkok? What about in rural areas?
You should be aiming to earn between 40-50,000 baht a month if you are working in the capital. This will give you a fairly comfortable standard of living. There are of course people who survive on a lot less in Bangkok (25-30K a month) but I really don't know how they do it.
If you are earning 25,000 a month in the capital, then you are seriously going without. In rural areas however, teachers say you can live like a king on 25,000. It totally depends on the individual and their spending habits of course.
Take a look at our 'cost of living' feature, where numerous teachers describe how much they earn and what they spend it on. You'll find it interesting to compare lifestyles.
Will my accommodation be provided?
It's unlikely. However, in certain cases you may negotiate this with your employer. It is not an industry standard here that accommodation be paid, so if this is important to you, make sure you and your employer are on the same page. If accommodation is offered, make sure you check out the place before you agree to live there. Even if an employer doesn't offer accommodation as part of the package, they will usually know decent places to rent that are near the school.
How many hours a week will I be expected to work?
Most teachers here try not to do more than 16-20 'contact' hours per week with their principal employer. Any more than that could lead to burnout.
It's worth nothing that many schools in Thailand will want you on the premises for more than just your 'contact hour' teaching. There is an expectation that you'll hang around the school doing your preparation work, test-marking, etc. This could also be for the school to advertise the fact that it has foreign 'native-speaking' teachers.
How many days a week will I be expected to work?
Most schools require you to work five days a week. Some will require you to work six. That said, in order to make ends meet, many teachers in Thailand "freelance" and teach private students on the side. If you want to do this, it is possible to burn yourself out by working seven days a week. It's up to you really - and the lifestyle you want to be able to afford. The work is out there, it 's just a matter of whether or not you want to take it all on.
Is picking up work teaching kids relatively easy then?
The teaching of children has always been a large education sector in Thailand and new nursery schools and kindergartens are opening all the time. Teaching kids is not for everyone though. There are teachers who say that kids are wonderful and teaching them is so rewarding. It can certainly be both tiring and demanding.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of full-time and part-time employment?
Full-time employment means that you are paid a monthly salary for a given amount of teaching hours per month. This salary should be paid despite public holidays, school activities, and other random class cancellations.
If you are teaching at a high school, full-time may also mean having to be at school for assembly, and having to join in extra-curricular activities. Full-time jobs may also bar you from doing outside work during school hours even if you don't have any classes. Despite the full-time label, some schools will not offer 12-month contracts, i.e. you will not get paid during the summer months. Universities generally allow full-time teachers to come and go as they please, and usually give 12-month contracts.
Part-time work could also be described as freelancing. Part-time work is paid per class taught at an hourly rate. The upside is that the teacher only has commitments to the classes he/she teaches and not to any other aspect of school life, with the teacher working as little or as much as he/she wants. The downside of course is that a part-time wage is not very stable considering the amount of public holidays, and class cancellations that are guaranteed to occur throughout the year. Overall, part-time work is good for newbies and retirees in need of something to occupy their time.
Are there many Thai adults who want to learn English?
This particular market seems to be falling off fast nowadays. Years ago you saw many private language school chains in shopping malls and office buildings, often catering to Thai office workers who would come and study English in small groups when their working day was done. These private language schools are still around but they are nowhere near as prevalent as they once were.
Where have the Thai adult learners gone? The word is that many of them now study online instead of battling their way through rush hour traffic to study English at a language school. Definitely a sign of the times.
Could I earn 40-50K in the rural areas of Thailand?
Generally speaking - no. You will earn probably 70% of what you would earn in the capital but bear in mind that the cost of living will be lower outside Bangkok. That said, you do occasionally see jobs advertised for teaching positions in rural areas at 40K plus. They are around.
I used to get quite a few emails from people wanting to teach on the islands or in picturesque towns up north. Guess what - most of the teachers in Bangkok would too. There are a couple of reasons why we haven't all rushed to take up these jobs a) there aren't many of them b) the pay can be pretty low.
Another long-term teacher in Thailand adds "for the most part, wages tend to be lower 'upcountry' than those in Bangkok. Anything over 30K baht is considered pretty good. It's certainly enough to live on but whether you'll be able to save anything is up for debate. Rents are generally lower upcountry, and although it's pushing it to suggest that everything is cheaper, it can certainly be argued that money does go further than it does in a major city like Bangkok.
Should I consider the rural areas in my search for work?
If the hustle and bustle and pollution of Bangkok is not for you - head for the sticks! But just remember - you could be miles from civilization and that is not a lot of fun once classes are over and darkness falls. I know three teachers who went to work for Mahasarakham University in the north east. After 6pm, you couldn't get transport into the local town and you couldn't even buy food in the area. They were literally stranded. After three months of cycling and fresh air, they yearned for movie theatres and bookshops - and scurried back to the big city.
It depends on your motivation for coming here and your own personality. If you want to live with the people, be one with the people, learn the lingo & culture and are happy being the only Westerner in a 50 km radius, then go for it. If you enjoy a McDonalds & a pint of decent beer and chatting with fellow farangs once in a while, think again.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of working in a government high-school?
Steady Monday To Friday work with weekends and evenings off.
Less money-oriented management who generally pay on time.
Excellent cheap nosh in the canteen.
Some genuinely intelligent students who are a joy to teach.
It is generally reported that staffroom politics are much less intense, than in higher education institutes
Government wages. Your not going to be looking at much more than 25-30k especially upcountry.
Class sizes are big, sometimes up to 55 students.
Absenteeism and class discipline can be a problem.
You may be required to be at school even when you have no class.
Early mornings Monday to Friday are not for everyone.
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