The hiring season
School’s out in Thailand and the kids are all busy in ‘summer school’, which is where many teachers earn extra cash during their unpaid school break, basically baby sitting kids who come to school for a more casual learning and playing experience.
Meanwhile, in the background there is a frenzy of hiring going on, as schools look around for ideal TEFL teachers. Given that the Teachers’ Council of Thailand is strict about issuing licenses, schools seek out those with a degree, and this means a shortage of perfect candidates. Many settle for unqualified teachers and may hire on an informal basis.
All sorts of adverts and requests for vacancies are doing their rounds on social networks, groups and shares, as well as plenty of positions advertised at this time of year on Ajarn.com. Mostly these are jobs in schools on a term structure, as opposed to language schools, though there is a general ‘all change’ musical chairs period during March, April and early May. In short, now is the time to be job hunting.
Not surprisingly the TEFL courses are generally fully booked at this time of year, the May courses are usually too late to start your new job on time, but there will still be schools desperately looking to fill positions late May, such is the shortage presently. It is then that those without a degree or a weak CV are finally considered. There is a job for everyone in Thailand if you are not fussy, certainly at this time of year.
If you are thinking of finding work elsewhere, such as Korea or Japan then it’s sensible to take your course mid-year when the courses aren’t so full, and discounts can be had, in anticipation of their new school year in the fall. Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries all generally start their school year in May.
A few tips when considering jobs;
1. If you are new, don’t be fussy, take the job with the least inconvenience and most comfortable environment, even if the pay or location isn’t what you were hoping for. This will make your settling in easier. A provincial school that ‘looks after you’ without too much commuting or expenses is helpful for starters.
2. Agencies have a bad name for ripping off both the school and the teacher, not all are bad, trust those whom you can get anecdotal advice from previous teachers.
3. Make sure they can deliver on their promises to sort out your work permit, again by quizzing some of their present teachers if possible, since this can be a real headache involving visa runs and paper-chases.
4. Temper your expectations for location, every new teacher arrives in Thailand hoping to land a ‘little job’ in Chiang Mai or Phuket. Be realistic, everyone wants to be in the prime places, therefore experienced teachers generally get first consideration when applications are competitive.
5. Salaries start from 30,000 baht generally, but can be less if it’s an easy gig, or more if in Bangkok, though it’s a considerably more expensive place to get by. Remember, you will likely be supplementing your income with after-hours tuition, which is where the money is made.
6. Language schools are the easiest to get hired by, certainly if you don’t have the right qualifications to get a proper temp teachers’ licence, but the hours are sporadic. It means a long day, sitting around unpaid in the staff-room, waiting for the evening classes. They do, however, pay relatively well per hour.
7. Be presentable, and prepared for a teaching interview. Recruiters value your appearance and manners as much as your ability to teach. A softly spoken, well dressed, culturally conditioned newbie is far more likely to win their approval.
And finally, some TEFL courses promise to find you a job, which saves you the hassle of learning the hard way. They help you navigate the unprofessional and unethical within the teaching trade here and have direct contact with schools for jobs that don’t even make it on to the advert boards. This is why UniTEFL goes to the trouble, to give their enrollees an advantage and peace of mind.