Thailand is known throughout the world as one of the top travel destinations and continues to grow its tourist numbers from year to year. Due to the countrys high influence on tourism, travelers from all over the globe arrive in Thailand on extended stay. During their time in the country, most foreigners look for job opportunities and places of employment. Two popular options for tourists looking for employment are teaching English or working as a scuba diving instructor. While both fields are competitive and in high demand, some argue that these positions provide less than rewarding pay.
College students and graduates who have obtained a four year degree from an accredited college or university may apply as English instructors in Thailand. Those with only a two year degree or partial college credit may find it slightly more challenging (due to stricter oversight of credential verification) to obtain employment but work in the teaching field can usually be found in outlying areas. The typical starting salary for an English instructor is on average 30,000 baht per month and can vary depending on the location. Teaching positions are highly competitive and in order for an applicant to gain an edge over their competition obtaining a TESOL or TEFL certificate is recommended. You can obtain such a certificate in the village of Ban Phe, Rayong (just a few hours south of Bangkok). Ban Phe is home to one of the largest TESOL schools in Thailand, TEFL International.
Work as a scuba dive instructor is also highly competitive and somewhat esteemed. Throughout the coastal regions of Thailand there are a number of dive shops that provide training, coursework, and internships for those pursuing certifications in diving. One of the most sought after destinations for certification is known as Turtle Island or Koh Tao. This diving school is located in the Gulf of Thailand, several hours off of the coast of Chomporn.
Divemasters make a competitive wage but only enough to cover their living expenses, whereas a dive instructor makes a somewhat more lucrative wage. Since most foreigners are not allowed to own 100 percent of their own business, managing a dive shop is as high as some care to go.
Foreigners may have a difficult time finding employment in other fields due in part because of the language barrier and low wages. Volunteering is a good way for foreigners to get their feet wet in the immersion of Thai culture and tradition as well as getting to know the local people. Many widely known organizations and institutions that offer volunteer programs include fields such as science and research, educational programs, wildlife, community development, and conservation. Work permits are required for foreigners to work in Thailand and because of the added expense of these permits to area businesses, some companies opt to forgo the hiring of westerners.
Some westerners have achieved volunteer positions as nuns and monks in Thailand so that they are able to stay in the country without being sent home. The positions are not paid and exclusively voluntary. The volunteer positions are highly rewarding in regards to the projects expected to work on, which include AIDS projects and the assistance of refugees.
For those visitors with a business background or acumen, management positions requiring English speakers are open to foreigners at local bars, restaurants, and guesthouses. Although not allowed to completely own their own business in Thailand, foreigners are able to partner up with a Thai business partner or Thai spouse. If marrying a Thai spouse, the business credentials are put in the name of that spouse and the requirements fall on the lap of the Thai individual.
Another accepted means of legal employment in Thailand for foreigners is to work for a Multinational National Corporation (MNC) or Global company that has offices in Thailand. While working at the office, picking up on the Thai language can be quite useful and provide a bit of an advantage when pursuing other employment options. Engineering and some IT positions, while not completely off limits to foreigners, are normally staffed by local Thais who are quite proficient with these skills and work for much lower salaries.
Alex Smith maintains and manages the Cheap Thailand Travel website at http://www.cheapthaitravel.com