As a decent-paying job that is widely available across all of Thailand, TEFL is a great way to earn money while exploring the many attractions in Thailand or soaking in the easy-going culture. In fact, TEFL in Thailand is the #1 that foreigners from the West finance their journey in the Land of Smiles. Jobs are plentiful, and with the right qualifications (a 4-year degree from a Western university and in-person or online TEFL certification) a pioneering adventurer can relatively easily and quickly land a job. Here, we’ll explore what to expect while teaching English in Thailand as well as a few tips for success in the workplace.
Financial Expectations of TEFL Work in Thailand
The minimum pay in Thailand for a Western English teacher is typically 30,000 baht (around $1,000 USD) per month or about $12,000 USD per year. While this may not seem like a lot of money in South Africa, Europe, or North America, it is much higher than the average Thai salary.
Public government-run schools usually start teachers without much experience at this salary level. International schools, however, pay much more. A seasoned teacher with the right credentials can make 100,000 baht (around $3,300 USD). This is enough to live more than comfortably, even in the most expensive high-society areas of Bangkok.
Navigating the Thai Workplace
Office politics are essential aspects of work-life everywhere, and Thailand is no exception. The difference in the Land of Smiles is that the values are quite different from those found in Western office cultures.
Perhaps the single most important thing to understand is the concept of saving face. When conflict arises, the vast majorities of Thais will not address it head-on. Whereas it might be normal in a South Africa workplace for two colleagues to discuss any sources of conflict forthrightly and directly, this will likely not happen in a Thai office.
Thais generally avoid open conflict at all costs. A teacher may offend his supervisor or workmates and not even realize it. This has historically led to many misunderstandings between Thais and foreigners, especially in office environments. The best way to overcome this pitfall is to become familiar with Thai culture to avoid violating norms (even unwittingly) as much as possible.
Overall, teaching English in Thai schools can be an enriching experience of navigated properly. This career path can not only sustain a robust lifestyle while in Thailand but also builds the foundations for high-paying work if/when the teacher returns to the West.