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What's the Average Salary for Western EFL (English) Teachers in Bangkok, Thailand?
The average salary for western EFL (English as a Foreign Language) teachers in Bangkok, Thailand depends on the job, but it is possible to make a good salary in Thailand - many farang English teachers do.
Average Salaries at a Thai Government School in Bangkok - Overall, for salaries, Thai government schools usually pay the lowest salaries. Anything from 28,000 to 35,000 baht is pretty standard and, in Bangkok, where the cost of living can be high, it's very difficult, if not impossible to live on 35,000 baht a month. Of course, many farang teachers (usually men, who are unqualified teachers) will tell you it's possible to live on this. Sure, if you want to live in a one-room Thai-style apartment, eat street food every day, and only take a taxi a couple of times a month, it's doable. But if you want any kind of social life, want to be able to eat western food once in a while, and don't want to live in a box, then, in my opinion, 45,000 baht a month is the absolute minimum salary you should aim for, and 50-60,000 baht would be better.
Average Salaries at a Bilingual School in Bangkok - Most of the bi-lingual schools in Bangkok are much more particular about the teachers they hire and will only hire qualified teachers (with a university degree, TEFL or CELTA and at least 2-3 years teaching experience). My first job in Thailand was at a bilingual school, an excellent school with small class size, 8 weeks paid vacation, health insurance and a myriad of other benefits. My starting salary was 48,000 baht a month plus 2,500 baht housing allowance. With a total salary of 50,500 baht every month, my lifestyle was already much better than a farang teacher at most Thai government schools, plus I got a 2,000-3,000 baht pay increase every year. Most bilingual schools in Bangkok seem to pay between 45,000-65,000 baht per month, depending on qualifications and experience.
Average Salaries at a University in Bangkok - You would think that average salaries at a Bangkok university would be high but, in many cases, they are some of the lowest paying jobs in Bangkok. The positive side of it is, unlike many other English teaching jobs in Thailand, you only have to be at the university for the hours you teach and with teaching hours usually at 20 hours or less (a friend of mine only teaches 12 hours a week!) then a 30,000 baht average salary isn't too bad. Especially as this gives you a lot of extra time to find a second job.
Depending on the university, average teaching salaries can be as low as 30,000 baht a month and as high as 65,000-75,000 baht, with the average seeming to fall in the middle at around 45,000 to 50,000 baht. Universities, however, do look good on a resume, although Thai universities all leave a lot to be desired.
Average Salaries for Full-Time Corporate Teaching - I currently teach at an international company in Bangkok and started out on a salary of 60,000 baht a month. That's actually quite low for a full-time corporate job in Bangkok, where the average salary is 70-85,000 baht a month, but full-time corporate jobs are few and far between and, as the company I work for decided to hire their English teachers through an agency, that meant my salary was less. Benefits include teaching less than 20 hours a week and often having a lot of freedom to teach what you want, plus very little paperwork. Don't forget too, you can take on a part-time job like I did, to make some extra money, which gave me a salary well over 80,000 baht a month.
Average Salaries at International Schools in Bangkok - An average salary at an international school in Bangkok is between 85,000 and 140,000 baht a month, plus, housing allowance of anything from 10,000 baht to 30,000 baht a month. A friend works at one of the top international schools in Bangkok and his salary is 125,000 baht plus a 25,000 baht a month housing allowance, so he's riding high. Jobs in true international schools are very difficult to get though, requiring an Education degree, plus 5-10 years teaching experience outside Thailand. International schools usually only hire from outside the country, although my friend was lucky to get hired in Bangkok.
In my opinion, in order to have any kind of decent standard of living in Bangkok, a Western teacher needs to be making at least 45,000 baht salary a month and preferably 50,000 to 60,000 baht. Other teachers will disagree, but when I've seen their living conditions, the clothes they wear, and not been able to eat out with them because they can't afford the restaurants I eat at (more than $2 a meal) then I know which opinion I'm likely to keep.
For more information on average teaching salaries in Bangkok, there's a very good set of interviews done by a friend of mine who owns Ajarn.com (a teaching website for farang English teachers in Thailand). Read Cost of Living in Thailand for some excellent interviews with real teachers teaching in Thailand.