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Teaching is one of the most accessible positions for foreigners who want to earn money while residing in Thailand legally, but is teaching in Thailand worth it? Here’s a breakdown of what you may get in exchange for working in Thailand’s school system.
Is Teaching in Thailand Worth it?
This is one of those questions that will always be answered many different ways. After living and teaching in Thailand for the better part of a year and experiencing the cost of living in Chiang Mai, here’s what I have to say.
A Teacher’s Salary in Chiang Mai
I’m a teacher at a private school in Chiang Mai and earn a monthly salary of 28,000 baht. Now, you may ask, “Is teaching in Thailand worth it for $900 a month?” If you’e flying solo, you can live a decent life in Chiang Mai on that kind of money.
There are modest single bedroom apartments for 6,000-8,000 baht ($200 to $260 USD) per month, which leaves you with up to $700 in spending money. With those funds, you can eat out most nights alternating between Thai and western cuisine, enjoy drinks on weekends, shop a bit, rent a motorbike, fill up on gas, and pay your monthly electric bill. With a little planning, you can even make small weekend trips. There won’t be much left over, but you shouldn’t be pinching pennies during the months there are classes.
My salary includes paid time off during Thai holidays, which average to about four days each semester. If I happen to be sick or need to take off, my pay is deducted by the cost of the substitute teacher. In my experience, substitute teachers are paid a higher hourly rate than I am, so it actually costs me money to take a day off.
My school provides free lunch for teachers. I eat lunch at school almost every day, which at about 50 baht a meal (the cost of food and drink) saves me 1100 baht or $35 a month.
Getting a Thai Non-Immigrant Business Visa
In addition to getting paid for teaching, I get a business visa, which I think is extremely valuable. Having a business visa allows you to stay in Thailand for the length of your school contract up to 12 months (three months for a single entry business visa plus the nine-ish month extension) without making border runs.
I paid for my own single entry business visa (2000 baht), the one year extension (1900 baht), and the transportation and accommodation costs during my visa run. I didn’t pay for the work permit, which was 3000 baht.
Is teaching in Thailand worth it for up to 15 months of no border runs? Definitely! This was especially worth it to me because it meant that Chris could get a dependent visa so neither of us have to do border runs during the length of my school contract.
A Teacher’s Work Schedule in Thailand
In exchange for my salary, paid holidays, free lunch, and a business visa, I am obligated be clocked in at school from 8:00am to 3:30pm five days a week. I am typically there from 7:45am to 3:45pm, making it an eight-hour work day. I teach an elective health class and have roughly 1100 students between the ages of 6 and 11 that I see once every other week. I teach five 50 minute classes per day. The free time I have between classes is when I grade papers, which is about a twelve-inch stack per week.
In addition to my 40 hour work week, I spend about 10 hours every two weeks writing lesson plans and creating worksheets from scratch, which I typically do on the weekends. As a health teacher, I have few teaching resources (English teachers have more available), so I spend much of my time combing the internet for images with which to create my worksheets and for material-free activities to make my class fun. Needless to say, I look forward to my days off during Thai holidays to catch up on everything. That being said, after a year of teaching, I should have enough material to use again during next year’s classes.
Is teaching in Thailand worth it considering I don’t get paid those extra hours and it imposes itself on my personal time? Eh, this one I don’t like so much. I think this is felt by teachers ’round the world. But in exchange for a decent salary and a long visa stay, it’s worth it for now. Plus, my kids are pretty great!
So, would are you willing to spend 45+ hours per week working a challenging and highly interactive job in exchange for a business visa, a middle class wage, and the opportunity to live in Thailand for a year, two, or longer?
For those aspiring to move to Thailand and teach, does this lifestyle sound appealing to you? To the teachers living here, based on what you get for what you give, is teaching in Thailand worth it to you?
A helpful region guide for teachers by Ajarn.com.