Working in Thailand



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.

After displaying remarkable recovery after the economic crises in 2009, Thailand gained the reputation as one of the most dynamic and rapidly growing countries in Southeast Asia. It has an estimated labour force of 39.2 million and an impressive low unemployment rate of 1.10% which proves that this country is capable of providing jobs not just to locals but also to expats alike. In fact, Thailand hosts the second-largest international community in Asia next to Japan whereas migrant workers account for 5% of the Thai labour force.

Job Opportunities

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. Expatriates who have decided to work in this country should also bear in mind that there is a huge difference in the economic development between major cities and rural areas. Workers in the countryside are mostly involved in the agriculture sector or production of crops such as soybeans that are used for trade in the international market.

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. Jobs for expats in Thailand also 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. The industrial sector also provides employment particularly in the fields of electrical/electronics and automotive manufacturing.

"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

Average Salary and Work Hours

The minimum wage in Thailand is THB 305 or USD 8.83 per day but generally speaking, salaries vary depends on whether the company will pay a local or an expatriate salary. The qualifications and the location of the company where the expat works for also play a significant role in determining his salary. For example, the average income of an educated employee working in major cities such as Bangkok ranges from TWD 300,000 (USD 8,865) to TWD 600,000 (USD 17,370) per year.

Typical working hours in Thailand are seven hours per day or a maximum of 42 hours per week. Employees are eligible for a minimum of 13 paid public holidays annually while those who have worked in a company for a continuous period of 12 months should be granted with six days of paid leave per year. Pregnant women, on the other hand, are entitled to a minimum of 90 days maternity leave whereas 45 days of that said period should be paid by the employer.

"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

The Thai Work Culture and Etiquette

Thai’s deeply value hierarchy and social as well as professional relationships are defined as one person being superior to the other. First comers in this country should know that the Thais will immediately assess you and try to place you in a hierarchy to determine how you should be treated. Status can also be significantly influenced by your educational attainment, years of professional experience, age and social connections. Conservative is the best way to describe the dress code in Thailand’s corporate world. Dark suits are a must for men while women can wear modest dresses or skirts.

Business cards are best to printed both in Thai and English. Hand your card after the initial greeting which is a firm handshake with direct eye contact. Always take the time to examine the card before putting it away and as much as possible, try to make a comment as a gesture of politeness. Avoid being late because for the Thais, being punctual shows that you have respect for their time. Remain standing unless you were told to sit. And above else, be patient because the people of Thailand only do business with those they trust and respect.


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Working in Bangkok

Work Guide

Expat Services in Thailand