Teaching English in Thailand; An Interview with Me

So I ended up getting interviewed about my time teaching English in Thailand, I thought I would transcribe the questions and answers for anyone else who is interested in Teaching English in Thailand. Also, there is many more FAQ about teaching English on my blog.

Teaching English in Thailand
Teaching English in Thailand; My first class!

How long did you teach English in Thailand?

I first arrived in Thailand in February 2007. And left around May 2008 but my first month or so was taken up by studying my CELTA diploma. I was employed almost immediately after completing that so I taught for around 15 months in Thailand in total.

Please tell us about your job teaching English in Thailand?

The job was great. The company I worked for, AUA, are a renowned language school throughout Thailand with branches in every city. The students ranged in age from around 15 to 30. Class size was probably, on average, about 15 students. The working hours were the real highlight. I taught Tuesday to Friday at 5pm-8.20pm and Saturday 9am-4pm . This gave me almost every day free to explore the country, study the language etc


Have you taught English in other countries?

Yeah, I have taught in Korea and that was a brilliant experience too. The cash was excellent and Korean students really appreciate being taught. The working hours in Korea are much longer than my awesome hours in Thailand so that took a bit of time to acclimatize too. But after that, I only have positive memories.


How did you find your job teaching English in Thailand?

I booked a one-way flight to Thailand and then pretty much ‘freestyled’ it from there! I had just finished my CELTA when I was applying so it was really just a case of me identifying the best places to teach and contacting them directly.


How easy is it to find English teaching positions and is it necessary to have teaching certificates or training to find employment when teaching English in Thailand?

This can be a tough question to answer. Let me break it down:

  • if you have no degree, no TEFL and no experience. It will be very tough to get a job in Thailand (and illegal!)
  • Maybe you have a degree and no TEFL. It can still be quite tough (and still illegal as you need a degree AND a TEFL for a work permit in Thailand) but you can find work in less reputable schools and if you’re willing to teach a class of around 40 students and get underpaid then you can find work – but who wants that stress?!
  • If you have a degree and a TEFL – easy street! You can find a few places you want to work and undoubtedly you will get a couple of interviews and before you know it you’re a fully-fledged English teacher

if you have a degree, a teaching qualification from your home country or education-related masters – they’ll be fighting each other to get to you. I wrote a blog post about ‘What is TEFL‘ here which may help too.


How did you get your first work visa to teach English in Thailand?

If you work for a decent school they should sort this out for you. I made a quick trip to Laos and the school filled all the paperwork out (which was a mountain of forms). So it wasn’t too painful for me. You need all copies of your degree, TEFL certificate and all the rest but it’s not too bad.


Is it possible for teachers to arrive without a work visa and look for a job teaching in Thailand?

For sure! This is pretty much what I did. Remember those qualifications though or you could run into hot water.


What is the cost of living in Chiang Mai, Thailand?

Very cheap and very awesome. I earned around 23000 Baht a month, doesn’t sound much but it was more than enough for a cracking lifestyle. Rent in a decent serviced apartment is about 4k, you can get 3 deliciously delicious Thai meals for about 100 baht a day total, motorbike and petrol costs a couple of grand a month. The real cost is the traveling and partying, that can (and does) eat your money!


How much money can the average teacher in Thailand expect to save each month or year?

Again it’s tough to say because the salaries can vary so much. The average salary in Chiang Mai is 25-30k per month and BKK is around 40k per month. I managed to save around 70k in just over a year which was more than enough for the airfare to my next adventure (Bangladesh – crazy place but that’s another story). Also, generally, when you complete your 12 months at your school you get a bonus of around 30k which helps a lot. Also, because my teaching hours were so small you can work 2 jobs and earn 40-50k per month and then save 200k+ in a year but you’d be sleeping teaching and sleeping again and who wants to do that when they’re living the dream in a foreign country!?


Are there many opportunities to earn income on the side?

When I arrived in Thailand I was a backpacking novice and I would have said no, aside from private tuition of course. But now, 3 ½ years on and still traveling I would certainly say yes – one of my friends is a freelance writer, writing posts for the Times (UK), Bangkok post etc. Another one of my friends works for an NGO, traveling around Thailand which is great. Also, you can earn (a little) money from maintaining a travel blog which is what I’m starting to get into now and hopefully that will help me travel a little bit further for a little bit longer (check out my stories on https://onestep4ward.com/)


Do you recommend Thailand for other English teachers?

Absolutely! I couldn’t recommend it any higher, I had such an amazing time, met brilliant people, saw awesome things. Thai students must be the best in the world – easygoing, respectful, upbeat and fun. The quality of life is second to none with delicious food, breathtaking scenery, opportunities to travel on your doorstep, Thai people are so nice too. I only have positive things to say about it.


What advice would you offer for others thinking of teaching English Abroad?

I would say get that degree and get your TEFL (preferably CELTA in Chiang Mai). After that, ensure you have good insurance. I use these guys (great digital nomad travel insurance). From then, the world is your oyster and you can go to any country, I mean literally almost ANY country, in the whole world and you can have a good job within a month, there’s not many qualifications or jobs that can guarantee that sort of freedom! I would also like to say, don’t be scared – just take the plunge, you most certainly will regret it if you don’t!

Remember, never travel without travel insurance! And never overpay for travel insurance!

I use HeyMondo. You get INSTANT quotes. Super cheap, they actually pay out, AND they cover almost everywhere, where most insurance companies don't (even places like Central African Republic etc!). You can sign-up here. PS You even get 5% off if you use MY LINK! You can even sign up if you're already overseas and traveling, pretty cool.

Also, if you want to start a blog...I CAN HELP YOU!

Also, if you want to start a blog, and start to change your life, I'd love to help you! Email me on johnny@onestep4ward.com. In the meantime, check out my super easy blog post on how to start a travel blog in under 30 minutes, here! And if you just want to get cracking, use BlueHost at a discount, through me.

Also, (if you're like me, and awful with tech-stuff) email me and my team can get a blog up and running for you, designed and everything, for $699 - email johnny@onestep4ward.com to get started.

Do you work remotely? Are you a digital nomad/blogger etc? You need to be insured too.

I use SafetyWing for my digital nomad insurance. It covers me while I live overseas. It's just $10 a week, and it's amazing! No upfront fees, you just pay week by week, and you can sign up just for a week if you want, then switch it off and on whenever. You can read my review here, and you can sign-up here!


So if you’re ready to…..

1) Change your life
2) Travel the world
3) Get paid to travel
4) Create a positive influence on others
5) Be free of offices and ‘real world’ rubbish

Then Sign Up Below and Let’s Get Started!


Got a question? Wanna comment? I'd love to hear from you

31 thoughts on “Teaching English in Thailand; Interviews & My Experiences

  1. Pingback: Traveling to Bangladesh; A real travel experience in Asia
  2. Pingback: JetSetCitizen Interview: Long-term traveling questions | One Step 4Ward
  3. Well, i’m a University student from Malaysia and will be graduated in a year with the course of Bachelor of Commerce Accounting. So, i’m eligible to teach English in Thailand? or after i obtain qualification of CELTA? and based on the sharing, your preferably will be CELTA. is it mean that after we obtain our CELTA then we need not to obtain TELF? What’s the difference actually?

  4. Hi! I’m a Filipina, I have a bachelors degree (Broadcast Communication) and I am planning on taking up the TEFL course in BKK, however I browsed some job searching sites and most (if not all) of them are looking for native English speakers. :S plus your story about your German friend. I’m kind of worried and I think I shouldn’t go to BKK for TEFL. What do you think? Have you ever encountered a non-native English speaker teaching abroad?

    btw I love your blog! Followed you on FB too! 🙂

  5. Hello,
    Thanks for the Info. I have read conflicting things about whether the TEFL is necessary or not.. Some say it is some say it isn’t. I have a degree from an American University and I have one year of experience teaching ESL in Taiwan. Would I be able to find a job in Thailand without the TEFL?
    Thanks !

  6. hi i need your suggestions regrding work at Thailand.
    i had Maser of Arts in English and Bachelor of Education.
    presently working as a Government School English Teacher in India.
    i have 10 years of experience as a English Teacher at the same time i completed CELT from RIE Banglore,India.

    can i have a chance to apply for English Teacher jobs in Thailand.

    mallesh m

  7. Hey Johnny! Thanks so much for your really interesting blog! I finished my degree last year, and I always wanted to teach abroad, but I always pushed it aside as not possible until quite recently. Reading up on the different countries and people’s experience, I am really interested in going to Thailand. But, I have no idea which TEFL programs are reputable, and they all look good. Do you have any recommendations? Thanks so much :D!

    1. Sanam, this is kind of a late reply and I am not sure if youre still looking/ where youre located but I am canadian and starting the TESL course through Oxford next month at the University of Toronto. Most of the reputable universities around here work with Oxford and I know a few people who have taken it through them before teaching overseas. If youre canadian as well this may help !

  8. Hey Johnny, I love the website and I am very interested in going to Thailand and getting my CELTA. I am from America and speak english as my first (currently my only) language. I have no degree outside of high school diploma. If I only got the CELTA would it be difficult for me to find a job teaching english? I would hate to travel to Thailand get my CELTA and then end up homeless and die on the streets of Bangkok. Haha

    1. homeless and dead isn’t the ideal outcome, granted. A job with no degree is tough buddy, but possible – if you come, make sure you have $3k or so at least to keep u afloat while u look for work though

  9. Just a quick question ….i have no degree /thinking of doing TEFL diploma course in ESL teaching here in Australia ….i am a fit 60 yrs ..what are my chances ?

  10. Hey there, love your blog! Teaching English in Korea right now but after finishing my contract I’m headed to Thailand to teach. Really can’t wait for the laid back lifestyle and jungle vibe in Thailand! Also trying to build up my travel blog and you have been a real inspiration. Keep up the great work 🙂

    1. Hey elizabeth – having taught in thailand and korea, i gotta say Thailand wins everytime (although anyone chasing the mighty dollar may disagree :P). Gimme a shout on here when you get in Thailand! good luck!

      1. Hello Johnny,

        This is Hasan. I studied at Stony Brook University in NY, and I will be done with my CELTA soon. I guess that’s pretty much it when it comes to teaching; however, I have a Turkish passport. If I stay in Turkey, I have to serve the Turkish army for free for six months 😀 That’s why I don’t want to stay in Turkey. What are my chances in Bangkok? Would it be a gamble for me in terms of finding a job? Every time I see a job advertisement, it says “native.”

        1. Hi Hasan, hope not too late…
          I’m Turkish as well and teaching English!!!! in Thailand.
          You have degree and CELTA! (I don’t have CELTA only degree)
          well done my friend just come over here,
          sure you’ll be find teaching position…

      2. Hello Johnny,

        My name is Pieter and i’am 42 years old and living in the netherlands.

        Could you tell me if it’s possible to find a teachingjob in Chaing Mai or anywhere in Thailand with only a TEFL certificate?And what are my chances on
        getting a working permit?

        I recently discoverd your blog, thanks for all the information.It’s a bless.

        All the best!

  11. Hi Johnny, just wanted to thank you for this post. It’s awesome, full of great information, and very inspiring. After 4 trips to SE Asia I’ve often thought of doing exactly what you’ve done and your experiences are nudging me in that direction. I have a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from a university here in the states; sounds like what I need to do is get the TEFL and I should be good to go. I’m also a photographer (feel free to check out my website); do you happen to know of any opportunities to make a little extra cash as a photographer? That is my #1 passion.

    Thanks again, you rock!

    1. I have met quite a few photographers around the world, the market is flooded but if ur good there’s always scope for more. If you’re moving over this way (Asia at the time of writing!), gimme a shout and I’ll try to help you out mate 🙂

      1. Thanks very much, I’ll keep you posted. I think the wisest course of action would be to start out teaching and see what I can do with my photography from that point forward. Take care dude!

  12. Hi i am from South Africa…Was doing some research about going over to Thailand to teach and found a great place to do TEFL course (since i dont have a degree) its a 6 week course and then i will have to find myself a job after that. i came across you blog and it was very interesting and gave me that extra positive attitude to do it (as i was very sceptical after i had been scamed for goin to another country)..

    I will be going to bangkok around april/may..How long can a work permit last..is there a certain amount of years a person can do this for?

    1. hey nicky,

      i’ll answer these questions for you no probs but send me an email to johnny@onestep4ward.com with any specifics and i’ll do my best to help you out further.

      Basically, a work permit lasts 12 months and is renewable each year. You can renew it as many times as you want HOWEVER you need a reputable school and an official contract to begin the work permit process. It’s not really possible to organize yourself.

      On a brighter note, it will be the best decision you ever made. I choose to do it in 2006 and 4 years and 50 countries later, i look back and realise the decision changed my life forever. Good luck and as i say if you need anything just drop me a line =)


  13. Hai,

    I am Azimah from Brunei Darussalam. I am currently in my final year in BA Accounting & Finance.Last June (for a month), I volunteered in a school in Kg Kerusue, Pattani, Southern Thailand to teach English and Malay Language. It was such amazing experience because that place is considered unsafe. Living at the school hostel with other 20 female students and 2 female wardens is worthy experience because I never had experience to stay at my university dormitory. The students there cannot speak English but they do speak Malay-Kelantan dialect. They cannot fully understand Malay Language. So I had to speak simple Malay and guess what the food there is terribly cheap and vast amount of halal food can be consumed there.

    1. hey azimah,

      thanks for the story – so u speak malay, english and thai?! thats pretty impressive! I’m still avidly learning Thai and my reading and writing is something akin to a 4 year old!!

  14. Hi Johnny,
    I’ve just read your post about teaching in Thailand. Just brilliant 😉
    I’m French and I aim to follow your steps.
    I have one question : as a non-native english speaker what are my chances to get a position ?
    I have language degrees, I’m perfectly fluent in english and I intend to get the TEFL once I’m in the counrty, but… I’m French. Is it impossible mission then ?

    Many thanks for your answers !

    1. hey matthieu,

      it’s a difficult situation to be honest. Obviously your english is pretty much perfect so in an equally perfect world it would be no problem, however that’s not really the case :S

      basically, the best thing for you to do is to get a good TEFL qualification (like you mention), preferably the CELTA. From there, your best bet is to go to the country you want to work, buy the one way ticket and take the plunge. You will almost definitely be able to get a job teaching English at the lower end schools initially for a few months and once you have that experience, and your CELTA, the more reputable schools are much more likely to listen to your application. I have a German friend who did just this and he’s cruising now =)

      good luck mate and keep me updated

      1. Hi Johnny,

        Thanks for your reply. Well, it seems I won’t get any chance without rushing into the mud ! I think I’m gonna follow your track step by step. All you describe in your blog is EXACTLY what I dream about 😉 Guys at SEE TEFL (a TEFL training school in Chiang Mai you may know) are pretty optimistic about my chances as non-native speaker… Anyway I’ve seen here and there the best thing to do is to follow the classic way, the one you describe.
        I also keep your addresses (flats, etc.). You really found great spots to live there. Chiang Mai is a wonderful place to live for a quite long period (see forever 😉

        Now I have to prepare my exile from France which is the hardest part of the job. I think I’ll get ready to fly in february or march.

        Maaaaaaaaaany thanks again for your advices. I’m looking forward to write another page of my life !

        Bye mate

        PS: if you have other advices or ideas don’t hesitate !

        1. Hey Johnny,
          So first off- I love your blog! Your descriptions are incredible and I can tell how knowledgeable you are about teaching in Thailand. I’m 23 years old and recently graduated with a Journalism degree. I’m in the process of getting my TEFL and job searching!! Is it possible to interview over skype or have you seen primarily
          in person? I’m really hoping to have a job lined up when I go so I hope some of the schools are flexible! What has been your experience? Also, outside of Bangkok where would you advise teaching? Thanks for your knowledge 🙂



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Follow me on Instagram @onestep4ward