Your STRESS-FREE Guide to Teaching English in Thailand (with costs)

Last Updated on April 27, 2024 by Kylie

Thinking of teaching English in Thailand? As a former kru farang, I’ve got you covered with this step-by-step guide full of tips and recommendations to help you get started with ease. Keep reading to find out more!

All photos were uploaded with permission

Teaching English in Thailand

General requirements for teaching English in Thailand

These are the basic requirements you’ll need to teach in Thailand.

  • Be a native English speaker
  • Hold a Bachelor’s degree or higher (some schools make exceptions to this)
  • Receive a TEFL certificate of 150 hours (not always required, but highly recommended)

What is a TEFL certificate?

A TEFL certificate (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) is an internationally recognized qualification most jobs require from foreign teachers. Although it’s not required by every school, it opens doors for many more teaching opportunities.

With a TEFL certificate, you will:

  • Have a refreshed understanding of English grammar rules
  • Be introduced to cultural differences in the education system
  • Understand tips that work best for each grade level and English proficiency
  • Identify learning styles
  • Earn a higher monthly salary

TEFL courses range between $150 to upwards of $1500. Check out this article comparing the most popular courses to find which one is right for you.

Teaching English in Thailand

Where can I find teaching jobs?

Teaching jobs in Thailand are commonly found through programs such as CIEE/OEG and Greenheart Travel, and Ajarn. Each has its benefits, but ultimately the decision on securing a job comes down to what you’re looking for.

Pros and cons of teaching through a program

Pros:

  • Step-by-step guidance through the entire process
  • Handling of your visa, work permit, and other backend paperwork
  • Guaranteed placement and housing (with rent covered by the school)
  • Orientation to ease your transition into Thai culture

Cons:

  • Can be very expensive (upwards of $2000 USD)
  • Doesn’t cover your flight
  • Unable to change your placement
  • Less salary than finding a job without a program
  • Lack of communication once you leave orientation

Pros and cons of finding work through a job site

Pros:

  • Much higher pay (upwards of 20,000 baht extra a month) with the ability to negotiate
  • Freedom to pick your school
  • Significantly cheaper than going through a program
  • Schools may help you find an apartment

Cons:

  • Schools often prefer teachers already in Thailand
  • Schools will not cover rent
  • Broken contracts often result in a fine
  • May have limited guidance on required documents and visas
  • Longer contract periods (1-2 years minimum)

My experience teaching in Thailand (broken down by cost!)

If I’m being completely honest, I had no idea you could teach English in Thailand without a program. Regardless, I’m glad I did. I wasn’t comfortable moving to Thailand entirely on my own and felt much better knowing I’d have a guaranteed placement and a seamless process to obtain my required documents and visa. So to me, the price of a program was worth it.

Disclaimer: I saved up for a year time to afford the big move!

  • Program fee (year long contract + visa assistance + full coverage of visa processing + international accident and sickness insurance): $1950 USD
  • TEFL Certificate: $1100 USD
  • Flight (one way): $520 USD

Here’s a breakdown of my basic living expenses:

  • Rent: 3000 THB ($100 USD) covered by the school
  • Utilities: usually around 2000 THB ($60 USD)
  • Yearlong phone plan (20 GB/month): 2500 THB ($80 USD)
  • Monthly salary: 30,000 THB ($945 USD)
  • Meals: 20-200 THB ($0.63-$6 USD)
  • Toiletries: around 2000 THB altogether ($80 USD)
  • Apartment items: around 500 THB altogether ($15 USD)
  • Laundry: 50 THB ($1.30 USD)

Through our program, the schools provided fully furnished apartments that included (most typically): a blanket, one set of bed sheets, pillows, a refrigerator, wardrobe, desk, vanity, and outdoor drying rack.

If I could go back in time and tell myself what I knew now, I’d say …

  • Don’t get a TEFL certificate OR find a cheaper TEFL course. If you’re teaching for a year or less (through a program), TEFL may not be worth the investment. With TEFL, you will be offered higher pay, but it doesn’t balance itself out in the end.
  • Teach through a program for a semester, and then use Ajarn. To me, going through a program was worth it. They got me to Thailand, ultimately saving me the hassle of figuring it out on my own. Finding a job through Ajarn for the second semester would’ve been ideal since 1) I was already living in Thailand 2) had the required documents to secure a job 3) Had teaching experience 4) could negotiate higher pay and 5) had the freedom to choose a new location.
  • Start a side hustle. Teaching 2-3 classes a day gave me SO much free time! I wish I utilized it to start my blog sooner or teach English online. Having that second stream of income would’ve been nice!

Ultimately, teaching in Thailand was well worth the experience! This gave me a good amount of time to immerse myself in a new culture and travel around Southeast Asia. If you’re considering teaching abroad, DO IT! Teaching in Thailand is an incredible opportunity to experience a new lifestyle around the world!

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