The Far East has always offered outstanding, unspoilt and exotic locations for travellers, and the beauty of Thailand is second to none. Renowned as a haven for backpackers, you could easily believe you had found paradise on Earth. Yet it has more pull as a tourist destination than a potential workplace, which is why we at Working Abroad Magazine want to let you in on a little secret. There are more work opportunities in that corner of the globe than you might imagine. Many people travelling to Thailand have been able to pick up casual work very easily but we consider it our duty to tell you about some of the more unusual jobs on offer. Want to know more?
Thailand is currently a Mecca for travellers, and this looks unlikely to change in the near future. Its geographical position makes it a common stop-over en route to Australia but it is a popular tourist destination in it own right, with thousands of visitors soaking up the diverse culture, food and surroundings each year. However, we have found that very few of the people visiting this remarkable country actually stay to work – despite there being many opportunities to do so. Voluntary placements are numerous, but actual jobs with wages are there too, if you know where to look. The most common type of work available is teaching English, and those that do visit Thailand or elsewhere in the Far East with the intention of earning money tend to go for teaching jobs. It’s a popular choice for temporary summer workers or even those wishing to begin a career.
Teaching English in Thailand
There are literally dozens of companies that offer packages for people that wish to teach abroad, especially in Thailand and other Asian countries. International schools often require teachers with relevant teaching degrees, which means that graduates are able to find placements relatively quickly, but don’t be disheartened if you didn’t go to university. Regardless of how well you did in school, it’s surprisingly stress-free to become qualified through an international programme. You will have to complete a ‘Certificate Course’ and the ‘Advanced Skills Teaching English as a Foreign Language Diploma’ (TEFL) Program will really maximise your potential. Most foreign institutions recognise a TEFL qualification and ‘The Text and Talk Academy’ at www.teflteachthai.com is a great company to study with. They are a recognised and accredited teaching body that can offer you training while you are in Thailand.
Even better, you can choose where you would like to study from four fantastic locations – the most popular for British travellers is the Bangkok Institute. The Text and Talk Academy also allow you to choose what you want to learn from their wide range of courses, enabling you mix and match subjects to meet your needs. For instance, if you want to teach young children you could pick a 4 week Certificate Course, followed by a 2 week TEYL (Teaching English to Young Learners) Course. This is currently offered consecutively in Chiang Mai, an astounding multicultural metropolis set near the breathtaking mountains of north Thailand. The cost of the courses ranges from £650 to £760, but we strongly recommend checking out their website for more detailed information.
So, maybe you like the sound of being a teacher, but what can you expect to earn while you are out there? The average salary is actually quite reasonable, normally starting around 30,000 Thai Baht (£433) per month and leading up to about TB80,000 (£1154) for fully qualified teachers from the UK. The average monthly wage for a starter is TB35/40,000. TEFL packages often include work permits as well as some rent allowances, although this remains at the discretion of the institution you are placed with – remember to ask this question when looking at prospective placements. The Text and Talk Academy offers visa assistance for everyone enrolled on their courses. This is extremely important, as visa assistance is always useful (almost necessary in fact) when trying to obtain jobs abroad. If you fancy going elsewhere in the Far East, the ‘International TEFL Corporation’ offers residential packages on courses in other locations, including: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, Cebu in the Philippines and Beijing, China. The ITC offer a wide variety of TEFL courses, ranging from a 100% online TEFL to a 100% classroom-based TEFL course and everything in-between. They have a fantastic reputation and are known throughout the world for offering high standard TEFL training at unbeatable prices. Check out their website: www.teflcorp.com.
Diving Instructor Jobs in Thailand
An exciting type of work to tantalize your travelling bug is working as a dive master/instructor. If you have a passion for diving and want to explore some of the most outstanding waters in the world, being a dive master in Thailand could be the job for you. You would basically be responsible for organising dive trips for people who already have a diving qualification. In essence it’s a bit like being an underwater tour guide! You’d help to prepare trips, ready equipment and brief divers on what to expect on their experience.
If you have already reached the level of rescue diver, or plan to before going to Thailand, then you can do a dive master course there to learn the additional skills necessary to become employable. Depending on how you prefer to train, the course can be taken on an intensive or part-time basis, and can take between three and six weeks to complete. You will develop your diving and dive leadership skills as well as diving knowledge through practice, study and exams, which is both challenging and lots of fun! It is worth taking your time over the training and building up as much diving experience as possible as this really helps you to find work afterwards. Many temporary positions come up in Thailand as employers understand that people want to combine work and travel, so it is an ideal part-time job.
If we’ve persuaded you to be a dive master you need to know the hard facts too. Yes, it is true that Thailand has some of the best diving spots in the world, as well as fantastic beaches and costal scenery (if you can, visit Maya Beach, off Phi Phi – that’s where the film The Beach was filmed). However, you would generally be expected to work six days a week during the dive season as the schools normally run daily trips, so it can be quite hard work. On the upside you would not be responsible for running the boat or dealing with any particular resort issues as Thai crewmembers are employed to do such tasks. It’s an early start every day, it’s physically hard work and the job can become slightly repetitive. The pay isn’t fantastic, working out at around £250 a month, but living is very cheap and if you train to become an Instructor the pay gets considerably better. However, you must remember that most people do it for the experience, not the money. Ultimately you must decide if it is the right job for you, but Alex from ‘Divepod’ is full of encouragement:
“It’s an amazing job, getting paid to go diving every day…I would recommend it to anyone as a great way to progress in diving and earn some cash as well. For someone looking for a long-term career in diving, I would recommend working as a dive master first, building up some experience, then going on to become an Instructor. I have many friends in Thailand making an excellent living, still out here after many years and vowing never to return!”
Tour Guide Jobs in Thailand
If you prefer to stay on dry land, another great opportunity is to work as a tour guide or group leader for one of the major companies that offer excursions around Thailand. Plenty of organisations offer these packages and they require keen and resilient helpers and guides to assist small groups of tourists on their travels around the country. ‘Free and Easy Traveller’, which organises 40-day long treks around Thailand, is one such company. The main responsibility of one of their tour guides is to assist the travellers during the trek and ensure their safety and comfort. For more information on the exact itinerary that the company follows on these trips, check out their website www.freeandeasytraveller.com. If you fancy applying to work as one of the ten leaders they pick per season simply send an email to [email protected] and explain why you feel you would be a good trip leader. A top-notch CV, resume or covering letter detailing your qualifications is a good way to separate yourself from other applicants, as the stakes are high (only ten a season!) but there is really no set formula for what they are looking for, so everyone has a fair chance regardless of academic background. It is not an easy position to obtain, but they have previously chosen leaders from Sweden, South Africa, the USA and Canada. If they do hire you they sort all your visa issues as well as covering your flights, accommodation and transportation for your first trip. They also organise your insurance and give you a daily spending budget that would come close to covering all other expenses. The more experience you gain, the more your daily budget increases. If we haven’t sold you already, another great bonus with this job is that the salary is rather competitive. As all travel, room and flights are covered you could expect to have a monthly salary of more than £500.
But as you know, we at Working Abroad Magazine pride ourselves on our honesty, so here are the positives and negatives of this type of work. The best thing about being a group leader with Free and Easy Traveller is that on any particular 40-day trip, you would be spending 35 of them on tropical beaches or in lush rainforests. The excursion destinations are specifically picked from perfect backpacker locations that you really can’t help but fall in love with, so you are not only working, you’re also travelling. Of course you would be travelling with twenty other young people, so you’re guaranteed a good time!
The founder and President of Free and Easy Traveller, Curtis Smith, insists that working as a group leader is a life-changing experience and an incredibly rewarding job:
“You are introducing people to a lifestyle and mindset that they would most likely have missed experiencing if they were travelling on their own. The formula for our trips somehow always has positive effects, and as a group leader, you are a big part in facilitating each person’s own growth throughout the trip”
If you are genuinely interested in working as a tour leader with ‘Free and Easy Traveller’ then you should contact Curtis directly at [email protected]eeandeasy.ca.
A great website for all info related to working in South East Asia, supplies great reviews for working abroad and offers some decent links to help you plan your trip.
An amazing site that organises skilled migration visas, working holiday visas and tourist visas.
A good general resource for all info on Thailand. It also has some great images and testimonials from previous visitors.
The main website for the tour group that hires young and eager guides for their forty day excursions. Packed with fantastic photos, further information and contact details.