So you’ve been to Thailand and fell in love with the culture, the people and the easy lifestyle. You absolutely have to get back and you think you even want to live there. Sounds good to me, I have the same aspirations. The problem is, unless you have a trust fund or some very generous relatives (I have neither) you’ll need a way to make money while you’re in Thailand. Are there ways for a foreigner to make money while living in Thailand? You bet there are! Don’t expect to get rich, but you will have the pleasure of living in the land of smiles and all of the cultural benefits of living in a foreign land. Here are some ways you can go about putting some cash in the bank while you live and enjoy Thailand.
- Teach English – This is probably the most popular method for native English speakers to make money while living in Thailand (or any other foreign country for that matter). You don’t really need anything to get started except a good command of English and to get your butt to Thailand. While it’s possible to find teaching jobs online it’s not very likely unless you are a licensed teacher already and you are applying to the top tier international schools in Bangkok. For the rest of us it’s best to just get to Thai and start knocking about looking for work. English teachers generally make around 35,000 baht a month and upward, depending on how hard you want to work. One very good resource for prospective English teachers in Bangkok and Thailand is Ajarn.com. They have been around since 1999 and have the best information about teaching in Thailand that I’ve seen. Plus they have links to many of the English schools and a fantastic job board. I could go more in depth about teaching English in Thailand as a job, but they have it all covered already. If you have a university degree you may want to try for a job at one of Thailand’s International Schools. The competition is fierce, but the pay scale is typically much better than the language schools.
- Translator – Not many people know it, but it is quite possible to find work as a translator for Thai businesses in Bangkok. English is the international language of business and if you don’t mind presenting products then this could be right up your alley. Pay can range anywhere from 2000-6000 baht a day which isn’t too bad if you can find steady work. To get this kind of job does require some networking, but it’s not hard.The best way to get started is by getting yourself out there and networking. Dress sharp, image is very important to Thai’s. White shirt, dark pants and blazer and a tie are necessary for this work. Check the Bangkok Post for business conventions which are typically held at the Queen Sirikrit Convention Center which is on Ratchadaphisek Rd. near the Thailand Stock Market off Rama IV Rd. Once there simply mingle and talk with some of the businesses there. You’ll find that many of them will be happy to hire you on to help promote their products in English.
- Actor/Model – Another little known job for falangs (foreigners) in Thailand is as actors or models. The pay isn’t great, but if you build a name for yourself you can get fairly consistent work. And I understand it’s a great way to meet the ladies. Again, you can find leads in the Bangkok Post or try putting together a small portfolio of photographs and mailing it to the modeling/acting agencies listed in the yellow pages. If you’re really serious you may want to get an agent as they can be invaluable in securing work and negotiating. Pay can range from 2000 baht a day and up. Not great, but the work is easy and wouldn’t it be glamorous to say you’re a model/actor?
- Dive Instructor – If you’ve got PADI dive certification and can get or already have dive instructor certification this could be perfect for you. It’s not really up my alley so I’m not sure how easy it would be to get this job, but the Andaman sea has some of the best diving in the world and there are a whole host of dive shops and live aboards that work from the islands of Thailand, such as Koh Tao, Koh Samui and Phuket. I would guess the pay isn’t great, but this isn’t really something you do for the pay, you do it for the passion and the experience.
- Accountant, engineer, salesman, lawyer or any professional position. You won’t get a job at a Thai company for most professional positions, but if you’ve got experience you may be able to land a position with a multi-national company that has offices in Bangkok. Since you’ll be getting paid in your home countries currency and will very likely have all the benefits of an ex-pat package (retirement, housing, travel, tuition for children, medical insurance, etc) these are the sweetest jobs around. I don’t qualify, but if you do and you want to get yourself to Thailand start looking. Price Waterhouse has a lot of ex-pats in Asia as do large multi-nationals like Siemens, IBM, HP, and any petrol related business. If you really want to be here then that should be enough motivation to conduct a comprehensive search.
Well, there you go. 5 jobs or professions you can start pretty much as soon as you land in Bangkok. Give yourself enough money to last a few weeks to two months to get oriented and just go. Once you get there and start networking you’ll find many open doors and the adventure of a lifetime. It’s really not that hard all you need is the desire to be there. You’ll gain cultural experience and job related experiences that can’t be had anywhere else by working in Thailand and if you eventually choose to go back to your native country you’ll be that much more valuable to employers there thanks to your experience.