The skyline of Bangkok, Thailand

Posted: 2/15/2020 / February 15th, 2020

Thailand is an English teacher’s dream. With a low cost of living, incredible food, rich culture, plenty of partying, and a mai pen rai (no worries) attitude, the Land of Smiles is a very popular country for English teachers.

For Thais, English is considered a necessity to work in the global market, so there is always a need for teachers. With language schools, primary schools, universities, and other locations offering English classes, there are numerous avenues for employment.

So, how do you get a job teaching English in Thailand?

In order to do so, you need to be a native speaker from an English-speaking country (defined as the US, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand) or prove your fluency, and have a bachelor’s degree.

Because of the popularity of teaching English in Thailand, I’d recommend also having a 120-hour TEFL, TESOL, or CELTA certificate to make you more competitive.

With all teaching opportunities in Thailand, salaries vary greatly depending on the location and employer. In hot tourist destinations like Koh Samui, Phuket, and other spots, expect to earn less than what you would make in less exotic locales, because people will accept a lower salary in exchange for the beach lifestyle.

You will earn the most in Bangkok, followed by Chiang Mai.

Here’s a breakdown of the various ways to teach in the country and what to expect with each position:

Public Schools

Public schools are free from preschool through high school. The school year begins in May and ends in March and includes a three-week break in October.

As a public school teacher in Thailand, expect to work full-time, even if you’re not teaching every moment of the day. Responsibilities range from creating lesson plans and exams to grading papers (none of which you are compensated for if it’s on your own time), as well as keeping office hours at school.

Students range in their knowledge and understanding of English, and often there is little guidance in terms of the curriculum you need to create. You’re basically on your own here! Many teachers incorporate games, television shows, and movies into their classes.

In public schools, the student-to-teacher ratio is high, so expect large class sizes.

Salaries range from 25,000 to 40,000 THB ($827–1,317 USD) a month. Teaching in the cities will earn you the most money. You can expect lower salaries in the countryside, but cost of living is so cheap there, you’ll still end up having plenty of extra money!

a solitary Thai student smiling for the camera

Private and International Schools

There are very few differences between public schools and private and international schools, other than the lower student-to-teacher ratio and the fact that salaries are significantly higher since they are not free to attend.

International schools have the most coveted positions, but you’ll need to be an actual certified teacher to get one of them, as the curriculum follows the West’s. Private schools are a little less strict, but you’ll still want to have some experience. You’ll need to have not only a degree but also a TEFL, TESOL, or CELTA certificate and prior teaching experience, and be a native English speaker.

If you’ve never taught English before or have only a little experience, you’re unlikely to get a job at one of these schools.

Whereas the public schools follow the Thai system and come with little support, these institutions tend to be more like Western schools, so if you’re wondering what teaching is like there, just think back to what it was like when you went to school!

International schools pay the most, roughly 80,000–170,000 THB ($2,633–5,596 USD) a month (which is well above the typical Thai salary and allows for your lifestyle to be more lavish); private schools pay 60,000–80,000 THB ($1,975–2,633 USD).

These positions also come with a lot of perks: contract bonuses, lots of vacation days, health insurance, and sometimes airfare to and from Thailand.


Teaching at a university in Thailand can help give you an edge over the competition for other English teaching jobs in the country. But teaching at a university means teaching part-time and earning only 30,000–60,000 THB ($987–1,975 USD) a month.

The upside is that you can also teach at another school part-time, you get a few months of paid vacation, and you are compensated generously should you have to work overtime (about 1,000–1,500 THB, or $33–49 USD, an hour).

Depending on where you teach, your responsibilities will be different. All teachers must come up with lesson plans, but some may also have to teach faculty or have additional sessions outside of the classroom, among other duties.

You may or may not have textbooks to use for your curriculum. Class sizes at universities are notoriously large, about 50 students.

Language Schools

Teaching English at a language school in Thailand is different than at a public or private school. Classes are normally held in the morning before the workday starts…

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