Before leaving the UK for Thailand, I wanted to find a checklist that told me everything I needed to know or bring with me. I found this eventually but by using multiple different sites. So I thought it’d be a good idea to put it all in one checklist! The first thing you need to have is a bit of money to tide you over for the first few months. You will need to leave the country to get your visa and then your work permit which can be unforeseen costs so be prepared! You will also need to make sure you have your paperwork ready before you leave your home country:
- 120 Hour TEFL course
I chose a groupon deal for £29 with LearnTefl the equivalent of 1,500 bt, for a 150 hour online course. It took around 3 months to complete whilst working full time and was simple to understand. I had 3 assignments and 1 exam. When you pass, your sent an online certificate which certifies you for life. Schools require a minimum of 120 hours of learning from your course. Some schools prefer you to have a hands on TEFL qualification or actual classroom experience, but I found many schools just need that 120 certification.
- A university degree in any field
Every school I applied to wanted to see my degree certificate, I think it would have been difficult to get a job without one. Make sure to bring photocopies too and scan them into your computer for safe keeping.
- University transcript
Along with your degree certificate, most schools want to see your transcript too. Make sure to bring them with you as you’ll need it not only for school but to secure your work permit and visa too. Some schools want two sealed transcripts but I wasn’t asked for this when applying so think it’s quite rare in Thailand.
- A criminal record check from your home country
This is very important to get before leaving your home country. Schools want to make sure there’s no reason why you can’t work with children and again for your work permit. In the UK I applied and received my basic check in 3 weeks, I know from other teacher’s experiences it’s much harder to get when you’re in another country.
- A tourist visa
If you’re from the UK, you can get a 30 day tourist visa for no charge. If you want to stay longer in Thailand you’ll need to apply for a longer tourist visa. I didn’t know how long it would take to find a job and thought 30 days wasn’t long enough. So I travelled to my nearest Thai consulate in Birmingham, UK and brought a 60 day tourist visa for £25. This gave me enough time to find a job and then leave the country to apply for a Non-immigrant B visa.
- Work attire
Don’t get me wrong, you can get work attire in Thailand and some good bargains too. Just make sure you are aware of the Thai culture before you buy your clothes. As a female, your shoulders have to be covered and its tradition to wear skirts no shorter than around knee length. I didn’t find any information when searching that you need your shoulders covered so I learnt the hard way and brought loads of sleeveless blouses. Anyway for males a shirt and tie is appropriate. I’ve heard stories where people have turned up for interviews in full on traveller attire, shorts and vest tops with elephants on the front. Not the greatest first impression.
- Motorbike licence
If you can, get a motorbike licence before your leave your country. I wish I had been told about this before coming out to Thailand. Driving a motorbike is the most convenient way to get around, especially in Asia. You can rent a bike without a licence but for police reasons, its best to get one. You have to get an international licence from your home country, you can get a Thai licence but then that doesn’t cover you to rent anywhere else in the future.
- Medical Insurance
I came out to Thailand with long term travel insurance, but it’s probably a good idea to get a separate medical insurance. If you make a claim on travel insurance, your insurance is then void. Most schools offer some kind of insurance but you may have to add that to your list of monthly expenses too. I know people that have ended up in hospital and have no insurance at all, therefore ending up with a huge medical bill at the end of their stay. Better to be insured just in case.
- Choose the right time to come out to Thailand
The school term in Thailand starts in May so recruitment starts in April. They have a break between semesters in October so again recruitment starts in September. There is a high demand for Teachers in Thailand and most jobs are based in Bangkok. Chiang Mai is an amazing place to live but jobs here are sought after, so can be a challenge to find a job.
This is just a basic check list for becoming a TEFL teacher in Thailand. Some countries and schools may have different requirements so it’s always wise to check beforehand.