Thailand is a special travel destination. The people are friendly, the local culture is rich and long, the physical geography ranges from pristine beaches in the south to tropical hills in the north. Images of massive statues of Buddha, elephants, temples, ancient ruins, floating markets, and smiling faces are all associated with life in Thailand. Finding jobs in Thailand may not be as easy as finding Pad Thai, but one you secure one you will surely find it hard to leave.
Bangkok also known as "Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Ayuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit," which is the longest place name on earth. While the name is complex, the city is in many ways straightforward and easy to manage. Bangkok has a great elevated train system, nice amenities, a wide variety of accommodation options, most very affordable, and the people are very friendly and accommodating of foreigners. Most of the jobs in Bangkok for foreign workers are isolated to teaching jobs in English language schools, international schools, universities, or private schools.
Chiang Mai is the premier city of the north. Surrounded by beautiful hills, with colorful hill tribe villages, rivers, waterfalls, elephant camps, and Buddhist monasteries, working in Chiang Mai is nothing like Bangkok. Chiang Mai is a center of commerce, government, and religion in northern Thailand, but for foreign workers it is also a tourist destination. This means local workers in the tourism industry need to learn English and the many local organizations need help establishing themselves in the foreign market. Teaching jobs in Chiang Mai, though not as plentiful as in the south, are quite easy to obtain.
Phuket has a little bit of everything. It is a beach resort complete with resort hotels, dive clubs, and incredible world class beaches. Phuket also has its share of Thai style nightclubs, European inspired dance clubs, and every type of restaurant on earth. While teaching jobs in Phuket exist, there are also several TEFL schools producing a regular graduating class of eager teachers. Jobs abroad in Phuket’s tourism industry also exist, particularly within the areas of diving and the larger resort management.
Jobs in Thailand
Teaching. The reality is that most jobs in Thailand are in teaching, and specifically the TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) arena. Other teaching opportunities exist too, such as those in private and international schools or in universities. TEFL Courses in Thailand are a great way to insure a teaching job in Thailand. There are tuition fees to complete these courses, but certification is well worth the investment as it will provide you with some basic teaching skills and connect you with legal teaching jobs abroad. The school semester starts in May and November, so teachers are typically hired in the Spring prior to the May session. Private language institutes hire throughout the year.
Tourism. There are occasional other opportunities for work in Thailand, typically in the tourism industry, such as in hospitality or as a scuba instructor. International Hotels and major restaurants will occasionally hire foreign staff too, but often these positions are not technically legal and involve cash salary and tips. Tourism jobs in Thailand open up throughout the year but depending on the location there are high seasons when more jobs will become available.
Multinational companies hire international workers too, but this is typically done through hiring abroad not directly in Thailand. A knowledge of the Thai language and a work visa help. Opportunities for volunteer work in Thailand abound, and often include room and sometimes board. Chances are, if you are coming to work in Thailand, you are going to be a teacher.
Salary & Affordability
Teachers can expect to earn from 20,000 Baht as a starting base salary and as much as 50,000 Baht at a top school. This might sound small when converted to Pounds or Dollars but a teacher can live nicely on this wage in Thailand. Opportunities to tutor can provide additional income, though school contracts may not allow teachers to do so.
Jobs abroad in Thailand in hospitality, even at premier international resorts, are also paid at a local standard rate.
While more modern than many of its neighbors, the cost of living and working in Thailand is still relatively low. Despite the modest salaries, those who work abroad in Thailand will find themselves living comfortably since the cost of living is in line with pay scales.
Accommodation & Visas
Teachers need to obtain a non-immigrant B visa before arriving in Thailand, and once they arrive they can apply for a work visa. Typically, if working in Thailand at a school, teachers will have assistance in completing visa requirements.
Teachers, and most foreigners who obtain jobs in Thailand, typically live in apartments. Most apartments in the main cities are modern, and even include air conditioning. Rent is very affordable in Thailand, to match the lower pay scale and affordable living costs.
Benefits & Challenges
Savings. The primary benefit of working abroad in Thailand is the country itself. You won’t get rich working in Thailand, but the pleasant life you’ll lead will be more valuable than a big chunk of money in your savings.
Pride. The King is greatly respected by almost every Thai citizen, and is strictly off limits for foreigners to critique. Though the Thai people are tolerant of much, they are not very forgiving of foreigners who treat the country and culture without respect.
Sex Tourism. Thailand is a top destination for sex tourism, unfortunately, which also means human trafficking and other horrible side products of the sex industry exist. Drugs are also widely available but not an acceptable part of the Thai way of life, so expats are strongly discouraged to get involved.