Can I Teach English in Thailand Without a Degree?: The Ultimate Guide to Teaching Jobs in Thailand

Have you ever dreamed of living in Thailand as a nomad, immersed in a fascinating culture while earning a living? Teaching English in Thailand can make that dream a reality, even without a college degree. 

Thailand has become one of the most popular destinations for teaching English abroad. With its tropical climate, low cost of living, and friendly locals, it’s easy to see the appeal. Many aspire to teach in the “Land of Smiles” but don’t have a degree holding them back.

The good news? You can teach English in Thailand without a degree. It’s not easy, but completely doable. This ultimate guide to teaching English in Thailand will provide everything you need to start your teaching adventure as a non-degree holder.

2 female teachers introducing themselves

Why Teach English in Thailand?

Thailand is known for its beautiful nature and rich culture and is the perfect place to experience living abroad for the first time. For backpackers and budget travelers, it’s an affordable way to settle in one spot while earning an income. The relatively low cost of living compared to Western countries means your money will stretch further.

English teachers are in high demand across Thailand, from bustling Bangkok to laid-back beach towns. With Thailand’s central location in Southeast Asia, it’s easy to explore the region during school breaks. 

Some of the top benefits of teaching English abroad in Thailand include:

  • Low cost of living – your salary goes a long way
  • Lively culture and friendly locals
  • Tropical climate and incredible cuisine 
  • High demand for native English teachers
  • Easy access to explore Southeast Asia
  • No experience is required for many teaching jobs

The growing demand for English teachers in Thailand makes it an excellent option even if you don’t have a degree. There are more opportunities available compared to neighboring countries.

While a university degree is preferred, Thailand is one of the easier places to teach English without one. Numerous teachers have managed to secure positions despite not having a degree.

With a bit of persistence and preparation, you can overcome the challenges of finding work without a degree.

Is It Possible to Teach English in Thailand Without a Degree?

Many sources claim it’s impossible or very difficult to teach in Thailand without a bachelor’s degree. In reality, it’s certainly possible, but does require more effort on your end.

Legally, a degree is required to obtain a work permit and teaching license in Thailand. However, there are workarounds like finding employment at language schools or coming over on an education visa.

While a degree makes the process much simpler, not having one doesn’t mean you have to give up. Plenty of teachers have managed to land jobs in Thailand without a degree through determination and preparation.

Debunking Myths: Degree vs. No Degree

There’s a common misconception that all schools and employers in Thailand require teaching candidates to have a university degree. While many do, it’s not a blanket rule.

Thailand’s high demand for native English teachers, especially in rural areas, means some schools are willing to hire non-degreed applicants. This is particularly true for informal language centers and public schools.

Many businesses and organizations also offer English lessons as a service to employees or members. They may be less concerned with formal teaching credentials.

So while a degree makes you more competitive, it doesn’t automatically disqualify you everywhere. Do your research to find openings that work with non-degree holders.

Male English teacher talking to a Thai boy
Source: Teflheaven

Requirements to Teach English in Thailand

While requirements vary between employers, most schools and organizations look for certain qualifications when hiring English teachers. 

The main requirements are:

  • Native or fluent English skills
  • TEFL/TESOL certification  
  • Bachelor’s degree (for a work permit)
  • Clean criminal background check

Here are the essentials to teaching English in Thailand in more detail:

Fluency in English

Schools in Thailand want teachers who can speak English confidently and clearly. Unless you’re a native English speaker from the U.S., Canada, UK, Australia, or New Zealand, you’ll likely need to prove your fluency.

For non-native English speakers, providing TOEIC or IELTS exam results is standard. While minimum scores vary, 850+ on TOEIC or 6.5+ on IELTS are considered excellent.

Practicing your spoken English skills, especially pronunciation will make you a stronger candidate. Being articulate and easy to understand is key.

TEFL/TESOL Certification   

A TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) or TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) certificate proves you have training in ESL methods.

Most employers require new teachers to have 120-hour TEFL certification at a minimum. Schools prefer in-class over online courses. 

A TEFL certificate shows your commitment to teaching English and gives you valuable skills. Investing in one is highly recommended.

Bachelor’s Degree

Under Thailand’s labor laws, teachers must have at least a bachelor’s degree to qualify for a work permit. This degree can be in any field.

While there are some exceptions (detailed later), not having a university degree severely limits your options. 

Many teachers get TEFL certified while completing their degree. This allows them to start teaching abroad immediately after graduating. 

Criminal Background Check 

A clear criminal history is also a standard criterion. Schools conduct background checks to ensure teachers don’t pose any risk.

Discuss any questions or concerns you have about meeting these requirements with potential employers. Some may be open to finding solutions for non-traditional candidates.

Male teacher talking to small Thai kids
Source: Teachingthailand

Finding Teaching Jobs in Thailand Without a Degree

While having a degree opens more doors, those without one aren’t entirely out of luck. Certain jobs are more attainable for non-degree holders in Thailand.

Some opportunities to consider are:

Public Schools

Thailand’s public school system relies heavily on native English teachers to provide instruction. Schools in rural areas especially need support.

Given staff shortages, some public schools hire teachers without degrees. The pay is low, typically 30,000 THB per month ($900 USD). But you get invaluable classroom experience.

Language Schools

Thailand has countless private language schools, many operated as small businesses. Their main priority is having teachers who create an engaging learning environment.

Because these schools aren’t part of the main education system, they have more flexibility with requirements. Many don’t mandate employees to have degrees.

Online Teaching 

Thanks to the location flexibility of online teaching, this is an option for non-degree holders in Thailand. Pay tends to be based on class or hour.

Popular platforms like iTutorGroup, Palfish, and Cambly let you set your own schedule. Just be mindful of staying legally employed.

Teaching online will allow you to live nomadically and arrange your own schedule to fit with your lifestyle as a digital nomad in Thailand.

Private Tutoring

Tutoring students one-on-one is another potential avenue, although marketing yourself and finding clients takes effort. 

Networking through existing contacts, online ads, and language learning centers can help attract students. Rates are around 500-1,000 THB per hour.

Male teacher in the classroom with 3 students
Source: Teachingthailand

Getting a Foot In the Door: Find a Teaching Job

When looking for positions without a degree, persistence, and patience are key. Be prepared for a competitive job search. 

Ways to get started:

  • Gain classroom experience assisting teachers or volunteering.
  • Attend job fairs and meet school representatives in person. 
  • Submit your CV everywhere, even if no position is advertised.
  • Highlight your tutoring background or other teaching experience.  
  • Consider taking on part-time work or split shifts at first.

Putting yourself out there and following up diligently will increase your odds of securing interviews.

Be prepared to explain how you’ll add value as an instructor without formal qualifications. Share why you’re passionate about teaching English in Thailand specifically. 

Above all, exude enthusiasm and dedication. With the right attitude, you can overcome objections to not having a degree.

Getting a TEFL Certificate to Teach in Thailand

While not universally required, getting TEFL certified will significantly strengthen your candidacy when job hunting in Thailand without holding a degree.

TEFL shows employers you have invested in acquiring pedagogical skills and are serious about teaching English.  

Here are excellent TEFL course options for Thailand:

Online TEFL Courses

Online TEFL courses provide a flexible way to get certified from anywhere. Look for programs that include:

myTEFL – Their TEFL certification includes 120 hours and 140 hours of training, plus 10 hours focused on teaching English online. 

International TEFL Academy – ITA is one of the most reputable certification providers, with an accredited 170-hour online course. 

The TEFL Org – They offer a 120-hour course with lifetime job guidance and a global professional network.

Premier TEFL – They offer 120-hour and 270-hour courses. They also have the TEFL Fully Inclusive Programme which includes a 120-hour online TEFL course and 4.5-month teaching placement.

Female English teacher with small Thai students wearing red uniforms
Source: Teachingthailand

In-Class TEFL Courses in Thailand

Taking an in-person TEFL course in Thailand can enhance your training experience. You’ll practice teaching real Thai students.

These intensive 4-week programs are offered in locations like Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Phuket. Look for TEFL providers like:

SEE TEFL – Their highly rated course in Chiang Mai includes teaching practicums at local schools.  

TEFL Campus – They have decades of experience running in-class TEFL certification programs in Phuket and Chiang Mai.

Destination TEFL – They offer a 140-hour course in Bangkok plus guaranteed job placement

Although pricier than online courses, in-class TEFL will give you connections and hands-on practice to boost your skills.

Best Places to Teach in Thailand

One of the great perks of moving to Thailand is getting to live in such a diverse country. Urban capitals, idyllic beaches, and mountain villages each offer a different experience.

Where you decide to live and teach depends on your priorities. Here are some top locations to consider:

Bangkok

As the capital and largest city, Bangkok is where you’ll find the most teaching positions. Public and private schools actively recruit English teachers.  

Competition is high, so those without degrees should utilize their networks and contacts. Think creatively about potential employers like businesses, travel agencies, and startups.

Bangkok is fast-paced and crowded yet full of energy. The cost of living is higher than in other areas. 

Rural Thailand

Beyond Bangkok, Thailand’s small towns and villages have lower living costs and fewer expats. Locals appreciate English teachers as resources are scarce.

Rural schools often need instructors, presenting opportunities for those without credentials. You earn less but your money goes further.

Immerse yourself in true Thai culture and lifestyle. Just be prepared for less infrastructure and amenities.

Chiang Mai 

Nestled in northern Thailand’s mountains, Chiang Mai blends urban conveniences with outdoor adventure. 

Numerous language schools operate in the city. Pay isn’t high but your expenses are lower than in Bangkok or Phuket.

Spend your time off trekking through lush jungles and sipping smoothies at street-side cafes.

Phuket

Phuket’s gorgeous beaches and tropical weather attract travelers craving island life. English teaching jobs serve the tourism sector.

International and bilingual schools seek teachers here. While lucrative positions go to credentialed candidates, part-time work may be available.

The downsides are the crowded high season and higher cost of living, but Phuket offers a unique backdrop.

Carefully consider which part of Thailand best fits your goals, preferences and budget when choosing where to teach.

2 foreign teachers with Thai students doing activities
Source: Teflheaven

Living in Thailand as an English Teacher

Preparing mentally for what day-to-day life will be like teaching in Thailand is just as crucial as securing a job. Learning about the Thai lifestyle will help you adjust.

Here’s what you can expect about living in Thailand as a teacher:

Cost of Living 

Thailand is one of the most affordable countries in Southeast Asia. Expenses like food, housing, and transport are budget-friendly, especially outside major tourist centers. 

Western imports are pricier. Go local whenever possible, like shopping markets for produce and street food stalls for eating out.

Shared housing starts at around 5,000 THB per month outside Bangkok. Basic apartments in cities run 10,000 – 15,000 THB. 

For entertainment, scenic parks, beaches and hiking offer free and low-cost recreation. Take advantage!

Culture and Lifestyle

Expect a period of transition in adjusting to Thailand’s customs, climate, and pace of life. Eventually, the culture shock wears off.

Locals are warm, gracious, and family-oriented. Learn some key Thai phrases and social etiquette to show your interest in embracing customs.

Develop leisure activities like yoga, Muay Thai boxing, or backpacking to maintain a healthy work-life balance. 

Saving Money

Even modest teaching salaries stretch further in Thailand due to the low living expenses. With careful planning, saving is realistic.

Some tips include:

  • Cook meals rather than dining out 
  • Use free transportation like trains or city buses
  • Look for free local festivals and entertainment
  • Get a local SIM card and phone plan
  • Buy second-hand goods from markets when possible

Saving 20-30% of your monthly income is doable with discipline.

Safety 

While Thailand is relatively safe, exercising good judgment is always prudent in a new country. 

Avoid political rallies and solo hikes in unfamiliar regions. Don’t engage with tuk-tuk drivers pressuring you. Refrain from negative comments about the monarchy.  

Theft unfortunately exists, so keep your passport locked up and don’t carry excess cash. But violent crime is rare.

Research and respect key cultural customs to stay out of trouble. Use the same street smarts you would back home.

Teacher training for foreigners
Source: Teflheaven

Teaching English in Thailand Salary and Expenses

With the cost of living in Thailand being so affordable, teachers can get by comfortably without earning a massive paycheck.

Salaries for teaching English range widely:

  • Public schools – 20,000 – 35,000 THB per month 
  • Language schools – 25,000 – 45,000 THB per month
  • International schools – 40,000 – 100,000+ THB per month

Starting salaries are at the lower end. With a year or two of experience under your belt, you can negotiate higher pay.

Many schools also provide benefits like visa sponsorship, housing allowances, and flight reimbursement. 

When budgeting, plan for expenses like:

  • Rent: 10,000 – 25,000 THB/month
  • Utilities: 2,000 – 3,000 THB/month 
  • Groceries: 2,000 – 5,000 THB/month
  • Eating out: 500 – 1,500 THB/day
  • Transportation: 1,500 – 3,000 THB/month
  • Entertainment: 1,500 – 5,000+ THB/month 

Carefully researching the costs of living in your target city helps create a realistic budget. And learning to live frugally goes a long way!

Tips for Success: Making the Most of Your Teaching Experience

Once you secure an English teaching position in Thailand without a degree, focus on setting yourself up for success. 

Here are some tips:

  • Observe other teachers to learn effective methods
  • Prepare engaging lesson plans suited for Thai students
  • Learn key Thai words and pronunciations to aid explanations 
  • Be patient and understanding with students’ progress
  • Participate in team meetings and training when possible 
  • Build positive relationships with students, staff, and parents
  • Continuously improve by getting feedback and reflecting  

Immerse yourself in the local culture and community. The more you understand Thailand and your students’ perspectives, the better teacher you will be.

2 foreign teacher in front of the room

Key Takeaways: Teaching English in Thailand Without a Degree

While challenging, teaching English in Thailand is certainly possible without a degree:

  • Research language schools and rural areas for openings. Have realistic expectations about opportunities.
  • Get TEFL certification, ideally with in-class components. This prepares you to teach and makes you stand out.
  • Be professional and enthusiastic during your job search. Highlight your tutoring or volunteer experience.
  • Once hired, focus on building your skills through observation, training, and immersion in Thai culture.
  • Living expenses are low in Thailand. With discipline, teachers can easily save money and travel.
  • Teaching abroad, despite challenges, is tremendously rewarding. You gain global perspectives and lifelong memories.

Dream of waking up every morning in Thailand’s gorgeous landscapes? Don’t let the lack of a degree stop you from applying for English teaching jobs. 

Major cities like Bangkok and Chiang Mai are more competitive. Those with teaching experience and credentials have an advantage. 

Rural areas and informal language schools generally have less competition. Persistence and networking help land positions.

FAQs

Is a degree absolutely required to teach in Thailand?

While legally required for a work permit, some language schools and informal programs hire non-degree teachers. But your options will be very limited without one.

How competitive is the job market? 

Major cities like Bangkok and Chiang Mai are more competitive. Those with teaching experience and credentials have an advantage. 
Rural areas and informal language schools generally have less competition. Persistence and networking help land positions.

How can I increase my chances of getting a teaching job in Thailand without a degree?

Enhance your profile with certifications like TEFL, gain teaching experience, learn basic Thai language skills, and network with current teachers in Thailand.

Is it necessary to speak Thai to teach English in Thailand?

No, it’s not mandatory to speak Thai. However, basic Thai language skills can be beneficial for daily life and building rapport with students and staff.


What’s the average salary for an English teacher in Thailand?

Salaries can vary based on location, qualifications, and experience. On average, teachers can earn between 25,000 to 40,000 THB per month for a job at Thai schools. Private tutoring and jobs at language schools would earn you a higher income.

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