Teaching English in Thailand: How to? - Grade University

How to teach English in Thailand

How to teach English in Thailand


  • Cambridge English
  • Teaching qualifications
  • Tips & Strategies
  • Methodology

As the new year proceeds, it is time to think about completing your resolutions. Do you want to travel more? Have you considered leaving your comfort zone? Would you like to meet new people and get new experiences? 

If your answer is yes to all of these questions, this article is for you because we are going to talk about one more country you should think of as a potential working place in case you want to try TEFL teaching abroad.

And we are about to start the discussion on teaching TEFL in Thailand!

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What does one need to teach English in Thailand?

When it comes to checking a teacher’s educational background, everything is very strict in Thailand, especially for foreigners.

To work officially, you need a Work Permit. If you don’t have it, you are an illegal immigrant and you can actually go to jail. Schools are checked very carefully, especially if they employ foreign teachers.

To get a Work Permit, you need a work visa.

And to get it, you have to do a lot of paperwork, including presenting a diploma translated into English and notarised. Therefore, having only a high-school diploma is not enough.

If the school cancels your work permit, your visa is automatically canceled as well.

It means that your stay becomes illegal unless you leave the territory of Thailand on the same day.

Requirements you need to meet to work in Thailand

Also, to work in a public or international school, you need a teaching license issued by Krusapha.

This is also a lot of hassle because you need to learn Thai and pass an exam to get a 5-year license.

What is more, foreign teachers are supposed to take the TOEIC exam to confirm their level of English.

However, if you have IELTS, you may manage to avoid this extra stress.

Having a TEFL certification allows you to apply for better jobs worldwide and develop a successful career almost anywhere. Thailand is not an exception.

In addition to important theoretical information, professionals who successfully finish the challenging TEFL certification program receive practical training. If you're not sure where to start with your TEFL certification, the professionals at Grade University are always eager to help you get ready.

Be prepared to the CELTA course

Make the first steps in ESL teaching

However, do not rely solely on TEFL!

A bachelor’s degree is still very important, and sometimes even more significant than TEFL, especially since it is often gained through unfair practices here.

That is why, once you arrive in Thailand, you have to either get TEFL-certified in Thailand or verify all your documents in the embassy. 

Still, having TEFL is an advantage, especially if you consider working in private or international schools.

Experienced ESL teachers who work in Thailand advise you to look for a position where the school is willing to do all the paperwork for you.

Turns out that it is not as rare as it may seem. In most cases, schools cooperate with agencies that look for teachers and handle all these issues. This cooperation creates conditions for the preparation of all the documents on time and with little stress.

If the school does not do this, then you are likely to work illegally.

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There are different job opportunities for so-called NES (Native English Speakers) and NNES (Non-native English Speakers). 

The first category of ESL teachers is generally much more welcomed. It doesn’t even matter what your degree is, the main condition is that you have it.

Still, it doesn’t mean that if you are not a NES you shouldn’t go. There are plenty of job opportunities for everybody

Professionals who have already experienced TEFL teaching in Thailand do not recommend teaching in public schools as conditions there are very different and you can never know how lucky you eventually will be.

Still, it all depends on the school. If it has a Mini English Program or English Program, you can choose such a school. These are paid programmes, and they add a lot to the school’s reputation. That is why in such places they treat foreigners with care.

Teaching jobs to apply to in Thailand

There are a lot of alternative job opportunities in private schools.

However, you still need to be very careful not to become a victim of a scam. There is a tendency for schools to pretend to be international while in reality, the only motivation the administration has is to make money.

Plus, they tend to not care about making your work legal. So, the end of such a story might turn out to be dangerous.

To avoid becoming a part of such an establishment, check the reviews very carefully, look whether the school is certified and whether they are hiring only well-prepared educators.

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Plus, it is always a benefit to have a real acquaintance who works in TEFL teaching in Thailand and who can answer your questions.

It doesn’t have to be your friend. You can get to know ESL professionals online. Thankfully, there are enough personal blogs and opportunities to connect with the people you need on social media.

As an alternative, they do advise to try TEFL teaching in Thailand in international schools.

The conditions over there are much better and the job itself is much more rewarding and stable. Frankly speaking, this is the coolest option, and salaries here are two times higher than in public schools.

Choose the place wisely, as you won’t have an opportunity to tutor if the school gets you a Work Permit. It is forbidden. So, you won’t have a chance to have your teaching side hustle.

Things to consider while looking for a job in Thailand

What are the pros and cons of teaching TEFL in Thailand?


Friendly atmosphere

There is a tradition of being very respectful to your teacher, so the students are going to be nice and friendly.

Different teaching culture

If you come from Europe or the USA, it might be hard at first to get used to the way students behave with teachers. 

It might be difficult to build rapport with students and you will definitely have to adapt your strategies to the new environment.

Cheap accommodation

You won’t spend too much on rent.

Relatively low salary

The salary might not be as high as one wants. 

However, the more qualified you are, the more you get. Plus, you can always consider tutoring.

Great destination

Thailand is more than outstanding. You are going to be amazed by nature, cuisine and traditions.

Getting used to a new place

New cuisine and traditions are exciting but culture shock is still real.

A lot of new experiences

If you are looking for a change, Thailand is a great place to look for it. 

Difficulties within the educational system

There might be problems with administration, especially in public schools. You might not have enough resources but you still have to perform. 

Plus, there have been cases of discrimination because the Thai administration likes having white teachers specifically.

Things you should do before CELTA

What are the best places to teach ESL in Thailand?

Perhaps, one of the most challenging tasks is finding your perfect destination in an unknown country. We have collected three options to ease the search.


Average salary range (base pay): THB 35K – THB 50K/mo ($972 – $1388)

Bangkok is a frantic metropolis where everything is possible. The capital of Thailand is a fast-paced city that is not for those seeking solitude. It might truly take your breath away with its festivals, exhibitions, national events and religious holidays. 

Bangkok is modern, cosmopolitan and it welcomes thousands of people from all around the world. 

It is not surprising that there is a great need for ESL specialists who will help to obtain all the important information for building more and more international connections.

Discover Bangkok

Chiang Mai

Average salary range (base pay): THB 30K – THB 40K/mo ($833 – $1111)

Chiang Mai is a popular destination for those who want to experience the local wilderness, hike through the hillside jungles, ride elephants, go river rafting, and see temples and tribes in the north of the country.

It is indeed much smaller and will suit you perfectly if you are more into the tranquil and calm atmosphere. What is more, you won’t lack workload here as it is a popular place for many tourists. Therefore, a lot of locals are interested in learning English.

Discover Chiang Mai


Average salary range (base pay): THB 35K - THB 46K/mo ($972 – $1277)

Phuket is considered to be the vacation capital of Thailand. Indeed, it is home to the country’s biggest beach resorts and has a variety of fine, white sand beaches. It attracts thousands of tourists with its nightlife, great scuba diving places and beautiful sceneries. Needless to say, knowing English is a must here.

Discover Phuket


  • How long can I stay and continue teaching English in Thailand?

As long as you have a visa and Work Permit and your position allows.

  • How long does the working visa last?

Up to 1 year but it also depends on your specific contract.

  • Do I need to know any languages except English?

It is not mandatory but knowing some basics of the native language never hurts.

Article authors & editors
  • Arina Kravchenko

    Arina Kravchenko


    Teacher of General English & IELTS



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