Thailand has become a popular haven for ex-pats looking to settle in paradise. Whether you are simply looking for greener pastures career-wise or are hoping to spend your retirement in a more laidback environment, a move to the land of smiles could be just what you need.
However, while the job market is vibrant, not everything is open to foreigners. Thailand has reserved certain jobs for its people, meaning that if you are looking to relocate here and make a living, you need to ensure you are qualified for the work opportunities available to the ex-pat community.
You also need to ensure that you obtain the appropriate visa and work permit for the particular job you will take up. Tourists are not allowed to work in Thailand, so you will need to secure a Non-Immigrant B Visa. The Non-B Working Visa allows the holder to engage in business or be employed in the kingdom. This should be coupled with a work permit that stipulates other details such as the employer, nature of the job, and length of employment.
Let us now look at the top jobs or sectors where you are most likely to successfully find vacancies or build a career as an ex-pat.
Easily the most popular occupation for ex-pats in Thailand, teaching jobs have become increasingly competitive during the pandemic due to many schools making cutbacks. However, there is still strong demand for teachers in the many international schools and English language teaching programs.
To work in an international school, you will need to have a teaching degree in the subjects they offer and be able to teach in their chosen language of instruction. English is the most dominant language of instruction in international schools. Not to mention the pay in these schools is often quite good though the work may be challenging.
You can teach English as a private tutor, at tuition centres, or through cultural organisations. For this, you will likely need to be a native speaker and have a degree. You may also be required to have a certification such as TESOL or TEFL. Even novice teachers can end up earning more than more seasoned locals.
While this is not a field with much room for career growth, opportunities are plentiful and diverse, and it is a profession that is well respected by Thais.
2. Diving instructor
While the tourism sector is still faltering due to the effects of the pandemic on international travel, there are still efforts being made to attract travellers to the many popular diving sites around the kingdom. For those that love to work outdoors, a career as a scuba diving instructor can be a great option.
The earnings can be quite good, especially during peak tourist seasons and are based on a percentage of group course fees. There is great flexibility in choosing where to find employment as Thailand has an extensive shoreline thanks to its over 1400 islands that can be found in both the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand.
You can train up to Divemaster certification in a matter of months and at the cost of a few thousand dollars before you start earning money. It is an appealing career choice for ex-pats that love nature and helping people learn how to safely explore it. You are likely to have even greater success if you are multilingual and fluent in languages tourists speak. However, keep in mind that this is more of a seasonal job in many destinations.
3. Freelance writer/blogger
Freelance work is a great option for those that like to have great flexibility in choosing where to work and when. Many people work online writing jobs from Thailand through such platforms as Upwork and Fiverr. You can write articles, academic papers or marketing content.
You can even make living as a blogger, focusing on such interests as travel, food or fashion. You can write for your own blog or even for magazines, making money from advertising on your site or for paid content.
Working freelance means you get to decide your own work schedule and can work from just about anywhere you have an internet connection. To make good money you will need to build a good reputation or build a strong online following that gets you viewership numbers that advertisers will want to exploit. This kind of work can strongly appeal to those that are retired and want to work more independently. Thailand also has many beautiful co-working spaces for when you want a more formal work environment.
The hospitality industry is fairly diverse and well developed in Thailand. There are many opportunities for ex-pats that have the experience, be it in managerial positions, as guest relations staff, entertainers, or chefs. Some niches like tour guides are however reserved for locals.
With tourists coming in from all over the world, the industry has plenty of room for those that can speak their language and offer them a cultural experience they are familiar with. So, the more languages you speak and the more related work experience you have, the better positioned you are to secure a job.
There are a wide range of hotels, motels, resorts, and restaurants in the kingdom that engage ex-pats with suitable experience. Note that work can often be seasonal, demanding and with variable income. However, you can earn valuable experience and do so while living in a tropical paradise.
5. Acting and Modelling
Thailand has a burgeoning movie industry that is offering exciting opportunities for ex-pats. It is becoming an increasingly popular destination for production companies from other parts of Asia, Africa and the West due to its lower costs, beautiful settings, and modern facilities.
While local talent is abundant, many production companies require the inclusion of other ethnicities that can make for a good payday for the right ex-pat. The business is however highly competitive, so it can be tough to secure work as an actor or model.
The pay is typically based on work done so income will likely be sporadic. However, if you have the right look and partner with a good agency, you can make a good living. Earnings can widely vary, however, even the earnings of an extra can easily outstrip that of a language teacher.