You’ve decided to move to Thailand – check!

You’ve decided to get your TEFL certification – check!

You’re aware of the dope cost of living and freedom – check!

All we have to figure out is which kind of school works best for you! In Thailand, there are four types of schools you could teach at: public, private, international, and kindergarten. Your school level will determine your teaching requirements, pay grade, and available resources. Let’s get into what that entails…

Public Schools

Government funded, which means their resources are only as good as the performance of the students. Most likely you’ll be given creative liberty on lesson planning. This position will inevitably be more difficult as most students don’t speak English, classrooms most likely don’t have A/C, and you’ll be responsible for several grades and possibly multiple subjects. If teaching online, expect there to be challenges as not every student has access to a computer. However, this is where you’ll get the most teaching flexibility and personal reward.

In terms of requirements, all you’ll need is a Bachelor’s Degree and TEFL certification to teach. You can expect your average income to be 30,000B – 35,000B ($900 – $1060).

Private Schools

These schools generally have their own private funding, making them better resourced. While private schools boast strong arts and music programs, students support the school by paying steep tuition and miscellaneous fees. With most private schools taught in Thai, it’s hard to say if you’ll have proficient ESL students, as that really depends on the emphasis the school puts on learning English. Most likely, you’ll have access to A/C, an overhead projector, and air purifiers in your classroom. Your class sizes could range 25 – 40 students, more if you’re online.

In terms of requirements, at minimum you’ll need a Bachelor’s Degree and TEFL certification to teach. If you want to negotiate a higher salary, be sure to emphasize any additional degrees or teaching experience you have.

Expect your average income to be 35,000B – 40,000B ($1060 – $1200).

International Schools

These are the highest-ranking and most expensive schools in Thailand. Students are either expat children, high-earning locals, or scholarship awardees. Lessons follow a Western Inter-Baccalaureate curriculum and standard, meaning all classes are in English where excellent performance, and teaching, is expected. The schools are adorned with state-of-the-art classrooms, auditoriums, and athletic fields. These students aim to study abroad or in high-ranking universities and it is your responsibility to ensure they’re prepared. Even with the incredible resources, having perfect attendance or class involvement while online teaching shouldn’t be expected.

In terms of requirements, you could get away with just a Bachelors and TEFL cert, but most schools will look for advanced education or specialization and prior teaching experience before hiring.

Higher expectations = higher salary, which you can anticipate to be around 40,000B – 60,000B ($1060 – $1800).

Kindergarten Schools

Almost always private, these schools are for children 3 – 5 years old. Class sizes are moderate and most of the day is spent playing various enrichment games between lessons. Even though you’re in for a 3/4 day, this position requires loads of energy and creativity to excel. While hard work, the bonus is that this age group is stupid cute and you’re bound to be smothered by love every day you walk in the door! Most likely the school will have plenty of resources to help you with lesson planning, a teaching assistant to bridge the language gap, and a close-knit staff always willing to help.

In terms of requirements, a Bachelors Degree, a TEFL certification, and prior teaching experience is all you need to work with the tots. Specialization in young learning is a bonus and great negotiation point!

Salaries for young educators will fall around the average of 35,000B – 40,000B ($1060 – $1200).

**Note: Salaries reflect Chiang Mai cost of living (COL), expect Bangkok salaries to have a 20% increase to accommodate the capital city COL. Salaries should not be discriminatory based on NNES or NES.

Class Management

Across the board, expect your kids to be raucous… they’re kids!! Classroom management is always the biggest learning curve when beginning as a teacher. Having a class of 35 students, things can definitely get out of hand. Surprisingly, Thai students are great at peer regulating so don’t waste your voice on quieting the class. Besides, in Thai culture, it is poor form to “lose your temper” – poised silence and consequences will go a long way in gaining respect. If all else fails, getting the homeroom teacher to chastise them into shape works like a charm.


Whether your school offers you accommodation and health insurance is at their own discretion. Government and Buddhist holidays should always be paid time off (PTO). I worked at a private school in Chiang Mai that did not provide accommodation and insurance support, while my friend who also worked private in Lampang did, and we both received holiday PTO. Your benefits will be in direct correlation to your expected workload. Higher pay generally indicates more responsibilities and expectations from the admin. Remember, your Thai teachers are earning just half of what you make and are required to put in double the time. Please be respectful and considerate!

Written by Marina Foster for Teacher’s Friend

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