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.
As a teacher, am I really going to be earning four times the salary of a Thai?
No. And you see this same old line churned out by numerous websites in an attempt to lure you to this South-east Asian paradise. It's a load of old tosh! You might be earning four times the salary of a street-sweeper or the guy who works down at the harbour putting fishes heads in a big net, but then again you would expect to be wouldn't you? You're a professional teacher. The truth is that foreign teacher salaries have increased very little here in the last 20 years. You can read more on the myth that claims "foreign teachers earn four times the salary of the average Thai in this ajarn article.
Is appearance important to the Thais?
Like you wouldn't believe. That doesn't mean you have to look like a tailor's dummy but a teacher in Thailand should look smart. And that means a necktie, a long-sleeved shirt and a pair of trousers that actually covers your ankles. Nothing will make a Thai lose respect for you quicker than if you walk into the classroom looking like you've been mugged on the way to work. (and I've worked with a few of those teachers over the years) Remember also that it doesn't end with clothes. Stinking of cigarette smoke and body odour are both absolute no-nos. Check out ajarn's teacher fashion guide for men. Or a fashion guide for female teachers (not written by ajarn.com)
What's a qualified teacher?
In the eyes of the Thai Ministry of Education and the Thai Labor Department, a qualified teacher has a bachelor's degree (preferably in education) and at least one year's teaching experience. It is NOT a legal requirement to have a TEFL certificate in order to teach in Thailand (but just thought I would mention it)
I'm interested in working in Bangkok for only a few months. Will it be easy to find something?
No. Most schools want you to commit to a one-year contract or 6 months at best. If you are here for a very short time, you will have more luck picking up work teaching kids or perhaps a 10-week corporate gig, where you teach at a company 2-4 nights a week for a couple of hours.
I used to get quite a few emails asking if it's possible to find work for 3-6 months. At present it probably is possible (due to a lack of decent teachers) but you'd be lucky to get enough hours to earn enough to break even. Schools want people who are reliable, will stick around and finish courses and will take the job relatively seriously.
Are there other opportunities for foreign workers apart from teaching?
This is a toughie. I think it is fair to say that there are a number of ex-pat foreigners who work in Thailand who are not teachers. However, in most cases, these people either (a) run their own business; or (b) were in the right place at the right time. That said, other industries where you can find the occasional foreigner working include marketing [firms], real estate [agents], finance sector (to a lesser degree since the crackdown on boiler-rooms), hotels (especially chefs), computers, and the newspaper industry.
From time to time you'll see advertisements in the classifieds sections of the newspapers and on the internet for jobs in these areas. However, as with most things in Thailand, it is likely that your best chance of grabbing one of these jobs is to teach in a school and keep your eyes and ears open.
Remember that the "old" lady you're teaching English to, who keeps giving you problems, may well be the head of HR at her company - and willing to employ you directly. This situation is most certainly not unheard of here.
I fancy working as a freelance teacher. Is it possible?
Working as a freelance teacher is a very common way of making extra money, but most teachers will do it as 'income on the side' rather than something to be relied upon for a full-time salary. Being successful as a freelance teacher often depends upon the ability to 'market yourself' but once you get your first few students, many teachers find that word spreads fast and before long - you're actually turning work down.
Take a look at this Ajarn article on freelance teaching for some tips and ideas and for some of the perils and pitfalls of this type of work.
Is there a demand for English teachers in Thailand?
Demand for good teachers has always been high. In fact I would say I the demand for experienced, qualified teachers has never been greater. Qualified teachers are never out of work in Thailand.
However (and it's a big however) Thailand is certainly not the paradise it once was for unqualified teachers (those that lack a degree, a TEFL certificate, teaching experience, etc) We get a large number of e-mails from teachers without degrees and/or TEFL certificates and frankly they often struggle to find decent teaching work here.
There could of course be numerous reasons for this - perhaps they perform poorly at interviews or perhaps they just haven't looked in the right places - but things have tightened up a lot over the past few years for unqualified teachers in Thailand.
As always, many employers can exploit loopholes and manage to get their unqualified teachers legal. Much will depend on how organized and 'savvy' your employer is and how much they are prepared to go to bat for their teachers.
In Asia, is Thailand the best country to teach English in?
It really depends whether you're looking for a cultural experience or to make money. If you're looking to get rich - Thailand should possibly be the last country on your list, but you will have a lot of fun living here.
Those people who have worked in Thailand, Japan and Korea are almost unanimous in their verdict - You may have a nicer lifestyle in Thailand but in the money stakes, just about everywhere else is better.
There are many jobs in Thailand that pay between 25,000 and 40,000 baht a month. Teachers were earning that sort of money back in the early 90's. I know, I was one of them. Those people who claim that teaching salaries in Thailand haven't risen in almost 20 years could well have a point.
Is it a wise idea to get a TEFL certificate before I start looking for work?
The TEFL certificate is not currently a legal requirement in Thailand. However, many employers still want to see one. If two teachers go for a job interview; both have degrees and one has the TEFL certificate as well - guess who the job will probably go to. Having a TEFL certificate can do you no harm at all.
Having a TEFL cert will make you more employable to majority of employers. True it's not necessary but having one will open more doors for you.
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