How to Work in Thailand
With a valid visa and work permit, expats are allowed to work abroad in Thailand. If you’re doing volunteer or charity work in Thailand (without pay), you’ll still need that work permit. The good news is that with most of the visa types offered in Thailand, you also have the ability to apply for a work permit. There are some jobs that are reserved strictly for nationals, so you’ll want to make sure to stay away from those prospects if indeed you do want to work in Thailand.
If your sole purpose in moving abroad to Thailand is to work, or is for business, you can apply for the business visa and obtain your work permit once you’ve gained that level of residency. Otherwise, you can apply for the work permit with many of the visa options, which sets Thailand apart from many other countries, in which you usually have to have a business-specific type of residency to be allowed to work.
There are many jobs in Thailand for expats who want to teach English. If this is you, then all you’ll need is your accredited degree from your home country and a TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) certificate. This certificate can be gained from taking a certification course online. It will take you 11 weeks, and you should allow 2-6 months to find yourself a job. Some programs may even help with work placement in Thailand!
Although it’s called a business visa, you don’t have to own a business to apply for it. This visa is applicable whether you’re an entrepreneur or you simply want to work while in Thailand (and not necessarily own the business). You’ll apply for the work permit after gaining the visa, which is good for one calendar year and can be renewed as necessary.
Job Opportunities for Expats
Most of the opportunities you’ll find in Thailand will be teaching opportunities. There’s always a need for foreign language teachers. Make sure you have your TEFL certificate ready if you’re heading to Thailand to teach English. You’ll also need a teacher’s license. Starting salaries for teaching range from 25-50k Baht monthly ($750-$1500 USD), so it’s not necessarily a high earning position, but it could be good for supplementing your income. Other opportunities tend to present themselves in real estate, tech, tourism, and entrepreneurship (running a restaurant, for example).
The condo market is currently thriving in Thailand, which means there’s an increased need for real estate professionals. CBRE and Absolute employ many foreigners, so if real estate is where you’re headed, these could be good places to start. This would also be a great area to invest, since the market is growing along with attention from expats.
Tourism is a large part of Thailand’s economy, and jobs in this market present themselves in the form of high-end hotels, hotel management, diving instructors, chefs, etc. You’ll need to have several years of hotel management experience to land a management position at a high-end resort in some of the more popular beach locations, such as Phuket and Samui. To be a diving instructor, you’ll need a PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) certification. There are different course levels, so check which certification you’d need for your particular job of interest. The salary for these positions vary with the season and location of your workplace. You could earn anywhere from 30-80k Baht per month.
Then, of course, there’s the entrepreneurship route where you could start your own business to work in Thailand. For this, you simply have to acquire a work permit and long-term visa. You also have to have at least four Thai nationals as employees at your establishment. You’ll likely need to work out an arrangement with Thai shareholders, since in most cases, a foreigner can only own up to 49 percent of a business.
Finally, you can also choose to continue working in your country of origin remotely, while living abroad in Thailand. You could also apply to freelancing jobs within Thailand. A work permit is not required if you are working for a foreign company, but you must send your employer an invoice to be paid for your work.
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