Drawing skills are very important as a TEFL teacher!
Last week I outlined the general gist about teaching English in Thailand. Today we’re looking at how to land teaching jobs in Thailand and make the big
bucks – um, baht. Actually, you often don’t make that much…but you do get to live in country where they eat mango with sticky rice!
What Schools are Looking For
Getting your first teaching position after completing your TEFL certification is definitely the most difficult, but not impossible. As soon as you have at least one job under your belt, it’s much easier to beef up your resume (CV) and be considered for more positions. Above all, schools are looking for people with experience. Especially in an area where there’s so much turnover among foreign staff and new TEFL grads are applying every day, even if you have a little experience your application can get boosted to the top of the pile.
So what to do if you’re just starting out? Network and find a volunteer position practicing your English teacher skills while you look for paid work. Anything that lets you put what you just learned to use and increases your teaching contacts will be a step in the right direction.
Appearance also plays a big factor in getting your foot in the door. Don’t even think of walking into a school to ask for an application without being professionally dressed – slacks, button-up shirt and (even better) a ties for guys, knee-length skirt, dress shirt or blouse and closed-toed shoes for girls. (Girls can wear slacks, but skirts are more appreciated.) The better you look, the more well received you’ll be.
Preparing for the Job Search
While there are several online job listings, they’re not comprehensive or always up to date. It’s more efficient and effective to research schools in the area you want to teach and then apply individually regardless of a job listing or not.
Before you can start applying however you need to prepare an updated resume (CV) and other documents.
CV - Make sure your CV showcases your teaching credentials and experience. If this is your first time looking for work, highlight the practicum lessons you taught for your TEFL certification listing the location and level. If you have any relevant volunteer experience or past work where you used similar skills (like working with people from other countries or who spoke different languages) list those as well along with your education and certifications.
Photo – Dress professionally and take a passport-sized photo to attach to all your applications.
Originals and copies of
- your university diploma
- your university transcripts
- your TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certificate
- a criminal background check from your home district
- passport information page
Feel funny about carrying your diploma around with you? Yeah, I did too. Unfortunately a lot of schools want to see the real deal and may not consider your application if you don’t have it. If you’re planning your grand teaching adventure while still at home, order some official copies of your diploma and transcripts from your university to bring over with you, along with the originals (safely secured in a strong folder and plastic!). Also get a background check on yourself. If you’re already away from home you’ll need these sent to you.
Include copies of everything with your applications and bring the originals to your interview.
When and How to Apply
After making the list of your target schools, go to each of them in person, fill out their application and hand in your documents. Going in person is key. Trying to find information and talk to people over the phone – who may or may not being able to speak English – is a hassle. Go to the school, in your best professional dress, figure out who you need to talk to and make a good first impression. Then you can try following up later by phone.
The Thai school year runs with the first semester starting at the end of April/beginning of May and running until mid-October. Second semester is from the end of October until the end of February-ish (all schools are a little different). You can turn in applications anytime – you never know when a school may need someone – but if you want to work in a traditional school aim for getting your CV in during September and March.
Language schools don’t have as stringent schedules (and are actually busier during the regular school breaks).
Tips to Keep in Mind
Personally, I wouldn’t feel comfortable about agreeing to a job placement through an agency or without seeing the location and environment in person. You still don’t completely know what you’re getting yourself into when you apply in person, but you can get a better gut feeling for the atmosphere and requirements.
Nailing a job ultimately comes down to persistence and timing. Sometimes school don’t seem the most organized or focused on planning ahead. You could turn in your application one day, never hear back, follow up a week later, and suddenly be hired. Apply everywhere, follow up and eventually something will fall into place.
There’s a good chance that once you’re hired, you’ll start working ASAP. Good luck!
Once you’ve gotten your first job, you’ll find it easier to get more work. Between having a bigger network of teacher friends, knowing the area better, understanding how the system works, and having more experience, you’ll hear of opportunities more often and have a better shot at getting them.
Additional Online Resources
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- Ajarn.com – Ajarn.com has a good job search tool as well as a number of resources and articles to help give you an idea of what it’s like to live and teach in Thailand. Don’t get caught going down the rabbit hole of forum threads however as they tend to get increasingly negative, bitter and discouraging…particularly if you’re just moving to the country and getting started.
- Ajarnjobspace - This is another job search tool, however the listings are limited.
- Thai Visa Classifieds - You’ll see a handful of opportunities come through.
- Asia Teaching Jobs - Hundreds of listings throughout Asia.