Bangkok is city that even people who say they don’t like cities will love. You will feel its energy from the second you step off the plane. The city maintains all the characteristics people come to love about Thai culture, from the extremely helpful nature of the locals to the mouth watering food. High up you'll find shining offices and beautiful apartments, but stick to the ground and walk through floating markets, pass fresh fruit shake stands, and mounds of sizzling peanuts. The greatest number of teaching jobs in Thailand is offered in Bangkok in a variety of schools, and the booming business of the city has left the population eager to learn English.
Teaching Jobs in Bangkok
Private Language Institutes are very popular in Bangkok often offering English language courses for specific industries, such as tourism and business language classes. Something to note about the private language schools is that they are ALWAYS open. A teaching job in Bangkok at one of these schools will likely result in unusual work hours.
Public Schools. Opportunities to teach English abroad in Bangkok through teaching positions at public schools are popping up more and more. Teachers are usually contracted for 16 to 20 classroom hours, but will be expected to spend additional hours at the school for lesson preparation and other tasks. Opportunities to teach subjects beyond English in public schools are available as well.
International schools are Western style schools with curriculum taught entirely in English. These schools will expect teachers to have a degree in education, and teachers will teach their subject of expertise rather than English, or perhaps both.
Universities will have higher requirements for foreign English teachers in Bangkok. There are many private and public universities located in Bangkok, and some of the most highly regarded universities in Thailand, such as Mahidol University and Thammasat University. Many will require a masters degree, but it is possible to get your foot in the door with a bachelors degree and some good teaching experience too.
Contracts. One year contracts are expected and common place, though short term jobs teaching in Bangkok are available too. Hiring a foreign teacher as a paid worker requires a lot of paperwork and effort from the school, so if they are putting a great deal of resources into you then they will want you to stick around for awhile.
Freelance. You don’t necessarily have to work in one school at all. There are many adults looking to learn English, many parents who want their children to learn, plus schools that hire part time teachers or tutors. If you can get a few connections and build a reputation for yourself, it is completely possible to make a good living as an English tutor in Bangkok.
Schedule. The peak hiring season is in early spring, March through May, but you can find a teaching placements in Bangkok year round. The academic year starts in May and includes many long weekends for Buddhist holidays.
Thai Classrooms. Thai students are quite different from most Western students, they tend to be shy and respectful. They will expect foreign teachers to be authoritative, but will also want to learn all they can about their teacher’s life. Tip: Don’t pose participating as a question simply tell them what they will be doing.
Life in Bangkok
You can skim the top sites in a couple of days and think you’ve seen it all, but sink in a little deeper and the things to do will fill your calendar for years. You will find some of the most stunning temples and architecture in Thailand such as The Grand Palace where the king himself prays to Emerald Buddhas or Wat Pho which houses the world famous Reclining Buddha. The image spans over 160 feet and is covered in gold leaf. The best place to marvel is from behind the bottoms of his 12 feet tall toes, which are inlaid with mother of pearl.
There are also many Thai language schools and museums so you can learn more about Thai culture easily while teaching abroad in Bangkok!
Salaries & Costs
Thailand isn’t famous for extremely high teacher salaries, but their are paid teaching jobs in Bangkok, and at higher rates than other areas of the country. The average salary is 30,000 to 35,000 baht per month, or around $1,000 to $1,200. It is plenty to give teachers a comfortable lifestyle while teaching in Bangkok.
Bangkok, and Thailand as a whole, is one of the most affordable places to teach English abroad. Not only is food and transportation cheap, but it is fantastically convenient! Rarely will you find such an amazing combination of affordability and quality. It is possible to get about anywhere in the city using public transportation for around $5, except the airport which will cost usually more like $10 to $12 if you use a taxi.
Accommodation & Visas
Accommodations are much like they are in any large city. There many different neighborhoods with many different feels. Some programs combine English tutoring with homestay accommodation for a more affordable, informal teaching job in Bangkok. A one bedroom apartment will start at around $300 a month, but more luxurious options will be double that.
Some apartments may charge more because of where they are located in relation to public transportation. Traffic in Bangkok is horrendous to put it lightly, but there are excellent public transportation options. The Bangkok Transit System, or BTS as everyone refers to it as, is a skytrain in Bangkok, and the MRT is the underground version. These are both prompt and super easy to use. You won’t be able to get everywhere in the city directly, but you should use them for at least a portion of the trip if possible if it is around rush hour. Once you have found a teaching job in Bangkok, look around the area or ask fellow teachers about good places to live nearby.
Visas. Americans arriving through an international airport will receive a 30 day tourist visa stamp upon arrival in Thailand. To teach in Thailand legally and for an extended period you will need to apply for a nonimmigrant visa. Your school or employer will need to help you with this as you will need to provide information about your contract as well as have a recommendation letter from them.
Don’t rely on Visa runs. For years, taking 24 hours to run across the border to Cambodia or Laos has been the main means for people to prolong their stay in Thailand. However, new laws have been passed that limit the amount of times people can enter through land checkpoints.
Benefits & Challenges
Love Your “Face.” This is a super important part of Thai culture. The idea of face is kind of like the Western concept of keeping up appearances and how you are viewed by society. It is a very big deal to keep or lose face in Thailand. Breaking a contract will cause the school to lose face not to mention all the time and energy they used to get you on board so avoid letting this happen while teaching abroad in Thailand. Make sure your expectations are transparent and well understood once you select your school. “Face” is an important factor in the hiring process as well, so people who look professional and “Western” will be given preference for teaching jobs in Thailand.
Double Your Salary. Thailand is popular for beginning teachers, but it is also a great place to build a career for yourself if you decide you love it. Salaries may start low, but can rise quickly. TEFL certification programs, for example, are offered in Thailand and can take one to two years to complete, but will open up a whole new world of teaching opportunities and benefits; TEFL courses can even be done while working on the side too. Teachers with experience or a TEFL certificate can expect to make closer to 70,000 baht or over $2,000 a month teaching abroad in Bangkok.
Same Same. You will hear this from Thai locals and see it written on t-shirts everywhere. It is a popular saying in Thailand and it means, it’s pretty much the same, but different. So you might say, “Which is best place to view the temple at night, site A or site B,” and they’ll shrug and say, “Same, same,” which means it doesn’t really matter or they don’t see a difference worth pointing out.