Published 27th November 2019

There is no question that Thailand is one of the dream TEFL destinations. It’s a picture-perfect holiday destination with gorgeous white-sand beaches, incredibly beautiful cultural attractions, to-die-for food, and arguably the friendliest people you’ll ever meet, so living and working there is a dream come true for most of us. Fortunately, there are loads of TEFL jobs available as the demand for English is high and the current general level of English is low. But is it really as easy as jumping on a plane and walking into a job? Do I need a TEFL to work in Thailand. Let’s look at what you need to work in Thailand.

Do I need a degree?

Yes, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. A 4-year degree or equivalent Bachelor’s degree is needed to get a non-immigrant B visa and a work visa. This is a requirement from the Thai government; without a degree you cannot get a work permit. You might still be able to get a job but this will mean working illegally on a tourist visa and having to do the infamous border runs every 30 days, which we don’t recommend. 

Do I need a TEFL?

A TEFL, on the other hand, is not a legal requirement, so officially you don’t need a TEFL to teach English in Thailand. But it all boils down to your employer and whether they are willing to hire someone without any formal teacher training. If you have a degree in education or teaching, there is every chance you will get a job without a TEFL, but if your degree is in something totally unrelated to teaching then your chances are actually quite low.

The thing is, contrary to popular belief, not everyone who can speak English can teach English as a Foreign Language. It takes knowledge, skill and practice to be able to teach effectively. A TEFL certificate gives you everything you need to be able to teach. This is why a school will be hesitant to employ a teacher who does not have a TEFL or a teaching track record. 

Do I need to be a native speaker?

No, you don’t need to be a native speaker. Generally speaking, employers in Thailand “prefer” teachers from Canada, the U.S., U.K., Australia, New Zealand and South Africa but it shouldn’t be a problem if you’re not from one of these countries or if English is not your first language. However, if you are not a native speaker or you come from a country where English is not an official language you will need to prove your English proficiency with an IELTS score of 5.5 or above. 

Anything else?

In order to get a work visa, you will need your original degree and university transcripts, as well as copies, and the usual passport photos and a valid passport. You will also need a certified criminal background check and a medical certificate from a Thai doctor (which your school will organise for you on arrival). You shouldn’t need anything else besides these things and anyway, you employer will help you with your visa application. 

Just FYI: it’s normal to enter Thailand on a tourist visa and apply for a work visa when you been given a job. Unless you have a job before you leave your home country, you won’t be able to apply for a work visa. In other words, you need a job before you can get a work visa. If you arrive on a tourist visa, you will need to exit and enter the country once you have applied for your work visa but this is easily done and totally acceptable.

To sum up, while you do need a degree to teach English in Thailand, you don’t officially need a TEFL certificate. Having said that, a TEFL certificate is largely for your own benefit. You wouldn’t walk into a law court and be comfortable acting as a lawyer without a legal degree, would you? And so you probably won’t feel comfortable teaching English as a Foreign Language without a TEFL. 

But don’t worry – we’ve got your back! Contact us to find out about our internationally recognised TEFL course, and soon you could be sipping on coconut water on a beautiful Thai beach.

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