As a former teacher in Bangkok, Thailand, I’ve come across my fair share of teaching scams. Being naturally suspicious, however, and knowing from friends already teaching here that there are a slew of scams targeting western teachers in Thailand, I haven’t actually fallen for any. Other teachers, particularly those new to the country, however, haven’t always been so lucky.
If you’re planning on teaching English or any other subject in Thailand, you do need to know about some of the teaching scams in Thailand before you get here. That is so you don’t end up losing money or with a job that won’t even pay you enough money to afford your basic bills..
Don’t ever pay a fee for an interview or a job – You will occasionally come across job listings for teachers in Thailand where, once the advertiser has received your resume, they’ll suddenly ask you to send an ‘interview fee’ or an ‘agency fee’, so your application can be processed and an interview set up.
Under no circumstances should you ever pay to get a teaching job in Thailand, interview or agency fee or otherwise.That’s why the minute a potential employer contacts you asking for money, you should simply cut off all communication. It’s a scam, and you don’t want any part of it.
If it’s too good to be true, it usually is – If you apply for a job offering more than 60,000 baht a month (around $2,000) and the qualifications they are asking for are minimal or non-existent, it’s a scam.
The average salary for a teacher in Thailand just starting out is between 30,000 to 40,000 baht with a tiny percentage of legitimate schools offering more but, for that, they want you to have a verifiable undergraduate degree, some teaching experience and TEFL or CELTA certification at a minimum.
If the ad you are responding to isn’t requiring at least a verifiable degree and yet is offering one of the highest salaries an average English teacher in Thailand can make, it’s almost certain to be a scam.
Avoid teaching agencies – In my 10 years in Thailand, I’ve yet to come across a teaching agency that was a good one, but I’ve dealt with several that weren’t. All teaching agencies do is set you up for an interview with a prospective school and that, my friend, is it.
For that miniscule amount of work, they will then deduct a fee from your pay check each month for the entire length of the time you teach at that particular school. At one agency I dealt with, as I knew what the ‘real salary’ was at the school they were trying to place me in, it was obvious they were taking at least 10,000 baht ($330) a month as their ‘fee’, causing the teaching salary being offered to me to be so ridiculously low the job was not worth accepting.
Avoid the teaching agencies. There are thousands of teaching jobs in Thailand and, unless you are one of those people who is simply unemployable, during your first week of looking for a job you should easily end up with several job offers with no help required from any agency to get them.
Do not take TEFL courses in Thailand that include job placement – One of the scams in Thailand is for a TEFL school to have you pay for their four or six week TEFL certification course, which also includes job placement at the end of it.
Almost all of these courses are complete scams as the salary you will be paid will be insultingly low (25,000 baht or $805 a month or less), so low in fact you’ll barely be able to live on it. Many of these so-called ‘good teaching jobs’ these TEFL schools offer are also in the middle of nowhere in some of the worst areas of Thailand. The TEFL school, of course, is getting paid a ‘finders fee’ and also taking a monthly fee from the money the school is paying them for their teacher, thus scamming you even more.
In my years in Thailand, I have warned many people to avoid these types of TEFL certification schools like the proverbial Black Death. I’m happy to say almost everyone has followed my advice except for two western women who believed the hype the school gave them. Both ended up not only quitting the jobs they were given less than a month into them, but they also had to pay a large fee for ‘breaking their contract’ with the TEFL school.
There is no need for any TEFL school to include a job as part of the course you take. There are so many teaching jobs in Thailand, I don’t know anyone who has spent more than two days looking for one and there’s no reason you should have to either.
Make sure you get your tax paperwork – To teach legally in Thailand, you must have a work permit and the school must deduct the correct amount of tax from your salary each month. Make sure you get a receipt every month for the amount of tax deducted so you have ‘proof’ that your taxes have been supposedly paid.
I say this as many schools deduct taxes from your pay check then simply don’t bother sending those taxes onto the Thai tax authorities. That means, not only are you not paying taxes on your income in Thailand, which is patently illegal, but you also cannot apply for the standard tax refund at the end of the year.
Get a receipt every month, even if it means standing in the school accountant’s office until you’re handed one.
Teaching in Thailand is wonderful. So much so, during the years I was a teacher here the jobs I took were some of the best jobs I ever had. However, there are some standard scams in many teaching jobs in Thailand. Scams that, if you know what to look for and how to avoid them, your teaching experience in the Land of Smiles will be so much more enjoyable.