Working in Thailand



Jobs for expats in Thailand vary, but the more successful are those who were relocated by their companies or are in the oil and gas industry. Many also find teaching opportunities and start businesses in the capital and resort areas.

In the Expat Explorer 2009 survey by HSBC International, 55% of the respondents in Thailand stated that they earn over $100,000 year with 32% having $3,500 of monthly disposable income - a clear indication that life in Thailand can be a life-long vacation. How? The answer is simple: if you didn't come into the country with truckloads of money, then you'd better get a job.

Securing employment in these economic times can be difficult at home, never mind in a foreign land with laws, needs, and a culture that is so different from your own. Don't be discouraged though, because the reality is there are a variety of job opportunities that an expat can take advantage of in the Land of Smiles.

"It is very time-consuming to take care of the visas and work permit. If you work for a bigger company, they should usually take care of everything for you. Otherwise, it can be a nightmare, and I suggest to get a lawyer who will help you with it."- Kristýna Vacková - Expat in Thailand

Before you don your best shoes and best shirt to go job-hunting, it is important to be familiar with the immigration and labor laws in Thailand.

First thing on the must-have list to get employed in Thailand is a Category B visa, which you can obtain from Thai embassies and consulates. This visa is only valid for 90 days, after which it must be extended. Extension periods can be granted for another 30 days or up to a year if necessary for work permit applications.

There are also required minimum salary levels for an expatriate employee to qualify for a visa extension (see table below).

Nationality Minimum Salary Amount

Europe, Australia, Canada, Japan and United States THB 50,000

South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan and Hong Kong THB 45,000

Asia, South America, East Europe, Middle America, Mexico, Turkey, Russia and South Africa THB 35,000

Africa, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam THB 25,000.

"Visa and permit are difficult for the neighbouring country, I could say. Surprisingly, Expats from Western countries or the USA are more welcome and easier to obtain a permit."- Loc Phan Thanh, Expat in Bangkok, Thailand

Once you secure a non-immigrant visa, you should start the paperwork to get a work permit. The application process is lengthy and burdensome. 

Still, if an expat intends to work in harmony (and with peace of mind) in their country of choice, it is important to follow the labor law. Violations range from fines amounting to a maximum of 20,000 baht to imprisonment. 

Job Opportunities for Expats

Finding a job in Thailand, like in any other country, should be embarked upon with a positive outlook, readiness, and not too many expectations.

According to the country's Ministry of Labor, unemployment rates in the country remain low with an average of 1.7%. Most employment opportunities present themselves in the agriculture industry, with approximately 13,701 people in the said field as of 2006. 

A quick review of job forums shows employment openings in all kinds of fields such as insurance sales, web development, real estate, tourism, and also the booming medical tourism industry.

Most expats find it easiest to land a job teaching the English language. Although more stringent regulations have been put in place for non - Thai teachers, having a teaching certificate (TEFL and TOSL) should give you an edge in finding employment in schools or privately-run companies in need.

Whilst not as profitable as working as an executive in say, an oil company, with an income of THB 30,000-45,000 monthly (depending on if you're teaching in the capital or in rural areas) it should be sufficient to live a decent expat life.

So, keep beach time for your weekends and zero in on looking for a job.



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Working in Bangkok

Work Guide

Expat Services in Thailand