Not a week goes past without an email landing in my inbox asking me about jobs in Thailand for expats.
Now, there are lots of articles online talking about visas, work permits and how employment works in Thailand, but very few provide solid advice actual jobs and career pathways.
So in this post I'll reveal the best job opportunities in Thailand for foreign nationals, including self-starter jobs that can be done from your laptop, giving you the freedom to travel and work.
The Modern Expat Workforce
In the last decade, the number of 20-50 year-olds relocating to Thailand has increased considerably.
The stereotype of Thailand being a place solely for retirees is fading amidst a new generation of younger folk who don't want the conventional lifestyle of the past, one that ties you to a desk or trade in your home country and restricts your freedom to see the world.
No one wants to wait on their 401K anymore.
Life has become increasingly unstable. What with wars, climate change, the threat of pandemics and questionable leadership in the western world, people no longer want to leave their destiny in the lap of the Gods.
They want to take live in the moment more, live on the edge a little, buck the status quo and really live life.
I've met many people doing a bunch of different jobs in Thailand over the last decade: From teachers and lecturers to professional gamblers and Internet marketers to restaurant owners, condo flippers, NGO workers, and eBay sellers, there's many a way to make a living.
The fact is: if you really want to work in Thailand, you can.
In fact, I would argue that post-COVID, there are more opportunities than ever because many people left during the pandemic and set-up elsewhere during that time.
Take the teaching sector for example; there are more jobs than ever. And as retirees start to return and digital nomads relocate, opportunities in real estate and financial services such as insurance are opening up.
A Little Advice
As well as job idea I've provided actionable recommendations; things you can do or websites to visit to get started.
But please note that this advice is not a silver bullet. Everything worth having in life requires some commitment and effort.
For example: if you want to teach in Thailand, then you will need to get your TEFL certificate. If you want to work for a multinational company, then you will need to create a really compelling resume and contact those companies directly.
If you want to become a freelance writer, then you will need to start at the bottom and work your way up, but the good news is you can start doing that today.
If you want to establish a business selling a product online (sourced in Thailand), you will need to do considerable research to assess market eligibility, and do the legwork to find the best products at the cheapest prices.
But know this: There are thousands of foreign nationals in Thailand who, like you, once had a dream of living and working in Thailand, or somewhere else in Asia, but didn't have a clue what they would do.
These people are now working and living their dream. Whether their dream turned out the way they thought it would, well, that's another story…
Let's get started.
12 Great Jobs for Foreigners in Thailand
Let's start with the obvious, if not just to get it out the way, as everyone always cites this as the main career pathway in Thailand.
There are always teaching opportunities available in Thailand.
You won't make a fortune, but you’ll start off by making enough to establish yourself in Thailand and pay all your bills and monthly expenses.
Jobs at state level provide a salary of around 30-35k per month, while in the private sector jobs pay between 45-100k+ per month, depending on experience.
Bear in mind that you can always earn extra money on the side teaching privately, and by getting weekend spots at language schools.
Language schools are also worth contacting regarding full-time work. Staff turnover is above average at language schools, so popping in and leaving your resume for future reference is a good idea.
Language schools tend to provide an environment more conducive to teaching, too. Most teachers teaching in state-run schools will tell you that given the limited resources and ability to influence the curriculum, making progress with the kids is often hindered.
To teach in Thailand you will need a TEFL certificate. Check out this TEFL post on the most cost-effective and easiest way to get qualified.
Many teaching jobs advertise that you need a degree, but in actual fact you don't need a degree to teach in Thailand and there are many doing just that, as I explain in this post.
2. Mobile / Web Developer or Marketing Expert
There are a number of agencies that service the web and mobile industries and employ foreign nationals in a variety of positions.
While the local marketplace has an abundance of talent in this area, many companies have western clients and deal with multinationals in Thailand, so it makes good business sense to have some western employees to work on certain projects that require high-level communication skills and at times higher-level skillsets that be difficult to recruit locally.
Big companies like Agoda, DeeMoney and Grab all employ foreign nationals and the positions are relatively well-paid 50-120k per month, depending on experience.
So whether you're a full stack developer, a SEO expert or PPC campaign manager, there are opportunities available.
Recruitment in this industry largely revolves around headhunting. Companies are looking for the best talent, which usually equates to experience. So don't be shy of taking a job with a smaller agency first, as the likelihood is that further opportunities will arise as you tread deeper in the industry.
3. Work Remotely for an Online Business
The world has been moving towards remote working for many years, and the COVID saga has accelerated this change. Many insurance companies, online stores and customer service teams have switched to this way of working.
This is good news for those wanting to live abroad and have more autonomy over their working lives.
You can work in Thailand, or any other country and, as long as you have a stable Internet connection, you can travel freely. Whether a hotel room, an airport, or by the pool, as long as you fulfil your work duties you can live life on your terms.
Many progressive companies see the value in hiring remote workers – because they tend to make for happier, more productive workers – and have set up their employment eco-system around this concept. Safetywing is one such company. Check out their latest job positions here.
You can also check out remote jobs on Workew.
4. Real Estate Agent / Manager
The condo market suffered a set back in 2020-21 due to the pandemic, but overseas investment is creeping back and job openings in real estate are returning.
Jobs can range from riding about on a motorbike on Koh Samui or Phuket trying to recruit would-be purchasers right up to business development and operational management positions.
I've lost count of the number of estate agents who have contacted me over the years wanting a feature on the blog, so I know there are many foreign nationals working in this space. And believe it or not, many years ago I had a meeting about a potential job at CBRE.
5. Diving Instructor
If you don't fancy the bright lights and busy roads of Bangkok and prefer the crystal waters of the Southern Islands, you could consider becoming a diving instructor.
If you have diving experience, you are half way there.
Once you're PADI qualified (The Professional Association of Diving Instructors), you could join a diving school and teach on one of the popular diving spots like Koh Tao, Phi-Phi Island or Krabi.
This is a genuine career pathway that can lead you to live in many countries around the world.
Instructors earn around 30- 40k per month, which is about the same as a teacher. However, pay will increase the more senior you become. And who knows, you may end up starting your own school one day.
If you aren't currently qualified, you can take lessons and train to become an instructor. Check out Simple Life Divers for more info on how to start a career.
6. Freelance Writer
And if you're prepared to earn your reputation, it could bag you a lot more money than being a teacher in Thailand.
Work will initially average out at $10 per hour, netting you a potential salary of approximately $1,600 per month. That's certainly enough to live in Thailand and your salary will increase as you take on more clients.
Whether copywriting for sales pages and websites or writing articles for online magazines, there's a wide range of writing jobs out there.
If you're traveling around and need some extra money for your trip, then why not share your experiences and get paid as a travel writer?
Of course, you need to be adept at penning magazine-worthy articles, and you'll need to submit work on spec to get your name out there.
But if you're good enough, you could well land a few writing jobs with travel websites, in-flight magazines and Thai newspaper supplements and end up carving out a career for yourself.
You don't need to be a travel writer, though. There are plenty of writing jobs available all over the web.
7. Sell a Service on Fiverr
If you didn't know, Fiverr is an online marketplace for freelance services. The website provides a platform for freelancers to offer services to customers worldwide.
This website initially started out with all services being priced at $5 but quickly evolved into tiered pricing based on requirements, and more recently premium services from more experienced professionals.
You'll be very surprised at just how much some Fiverr sellers earn. Popular gigs bag over $100 a day, easily. And with up-sells that could rise to over $200.
Fiverr charges 20% commission on every sale made, whether it’s a $5 or $100 gig, but if your gig takes just 30 minutes or less to complete, and has up-sell packages that can earn up to $50-100 or more on one job, you can make a great income in a short time.
This is also work you can do at any time, from anywhere. You can pause your gig and work when you want to, giving you the freedom to travel and wake up when you want!
If you have a talent that people are prepared to hire you for, this is a great way to earn money remotely.
Some popular gig ideas are:
- Graphic design
- Video animation
- Social media support
- SEO research/ support
- Content writing, scriptwriting, editing. …
- Coding and website building
- Website bug-fixing
- Business planning
- Language lessons
This list is just a top-level overview. Honestly, there are so many people selling all sorts of cool services on there.
8. Work for a Multinational Company
People often forget that there are heaps of multinational companies operating out of Thailand.
You can research this before relocating and make enquiries with companies that match your skillset.
Jump on LinkedIn to find companies with offices in Thailand and contact the HR department about possible openings.
If you've got solid managerial experience, put a resume together and put yourself out there by sending it off to relevant companies.
If you're currently working a job in your home country, perhaps the company you work for has a branch in Thailand and you can negotiate a transfer?
Here's a list of international companies to get you started.
9. Work at the Embassy or with the UN
Occasionally, job openings come up with foreign embassies and the United Nations.
Of course, you will apply for jobs at your respective embassy (your home country).
These openings have very specific requirements and the application process can be laborious, but it's worth it. The benefits in terms of pension, healthcare and privilege can be a real sweetener for what is usually a tough job.
You will need to check the relevant websites regularly to keep abreast of openings.
However, the downside of these job openings is that they are usually awarded to internal applicants as part of career progression, though by law they have to be advertised externally.
Don't let that put you off, though. It may take you a while to get your foot in the door, but if you start now you could be in a great job within 18 months.
10. International Development Worker
If you've got social/aid development qualifications then there may be openings with NGOs, GOs and other aid projects.
These positions are usually term-funded, meaning they run for a term of say 1-2 years until the position is renewed, or not, as the case may be.
My cousin and her husband used to be based in Bangkok for their jobs on behalf of the US government, in health and biology, respectively. They had great salaries and a beautiful downtown apartment as part of their package.
This goes to show that their are a diversity of opportunities out there; some closely related to your home country and its relationship with Thailand.
If you're interested in this sector, sign up for job notifications with Devex.
11. Movie Extra Work & Modeling
At the lower end of the scale, a movie extra can make about the same as an expat teacher (state school), and at the higher end of cameo appearances and modeling, earnings can soar past 100k a month.
Extra work starts at approximately 1,500 Baht per day. Cameo appearances range from 5-20k, and modeling work can fetch anything from 5-150k per job.
The downside is that is inconsistent. You'll need to go to lots of castings that will often lead to nothing, and there can be lots of waiting around on set.
That being said, a guy I know – Alex Winters – started out at the bottom and is now pretty famous and features in many Thai adverts (print and TV), films and more. I met him through a friend in around 2012 when he was new on the scene. He was very ambitious and has really made his mark.
Sure, a very small percentage of people will make the big time, but there is money to be made. I myself made some money featuring in The Protector 2.
Register with some agencies and start off part-time around your main source of income. For good advice and opportunities, check out the Actors Association of Thailand page.
12. Managing a Bar, Restaurant or Hotel
Quite often you'll see a foreigner running a bar or restaurant in Thailand, particularly on islands like Samui and Phuket and in downtown Bangkok.
These jobs are usually handed to relocating friends/ family of the owner, but if you've got good experience then it's worth going in and having a chat with the owner to let them know.
A bar or restaurant will often employ a foreign national as a manager and justify this to the labour department due to needing someone with a specific level of language skill, experience or culinary expertise.
Similarly, if you've got career experience in hotel management, you'd do well to contact the higher-end hotels in Bangkok. The larger hotel chains sometimes offer high-level management positions to foreign nationals.
You need to be proactive in this sector. Research the businesses and the relevant people to contact and network as much as you can.
13. Thailand-Based Entrepreneur (Start a business)
There's plenty of room for entrepreneurship in Thailand and it's a great place to inspire ideas and begin developing a business.
From exporting goods to starting a company, if you've got the credentials and the drive in a particular niche, there's no reason why you can't start your own business instead of working for someone else.
The great thing about starting a business in Thailand is that you're able to keep living costs low while you set up business. This relieves financial strain and gives you time to find your feet.
Because I run this blog, I have previously attended Meet-Up Groups for blog owners and internet marketers to meet like-minded people.
These meets are a great way to connect with people whom you can mutually open doors. You'll also make friends with the same interests.
If you're currently developing a business idea, then rather than stay working alone in your condo why not head down to a co-working space. These work spaces are full of like-minded people doing similar things. These are great places to network and you never know what it might lead to.
I used to work out of Hubba in Bangkok. Down there I met all sorts of people, from web developers and coders to software company owners, people exporting goods from China to Europe and people running small web shops.
You may also make some Thai connections too, which is always very useful.
14. Check Out the TTL Jobs Board
If you didn't know, I have my own job board, right here on TTL. Jobs come up on a weekly basis in a variety of positions.
To date I've had positions posted from the likes of Twinings, The British Embassy, Appsynth, UNESCAP, Lionbridge, and many other great companies.
I recommend bookmarking the page so that you can check back regularly and get your resume in.
A Final Word on Finding a Job in Thailand
As you can see from the list above there's an abundance of opportunity in Thailand. The common perception that “the only work is teaching” simply isn't true, at least not anymore.
In fact, unless you're really passionate about teaching and contributing to better the Thai education system, I would look elsewhere for something you're really interested in. Otherwise life will just become the same as the life you wanted to escape back home – a boring, uninspiring 9-to-5.
That said, teaching is always a great starting point and a way to settle in Thailand fairly quickly if you're desperate for a move.
If you're serious about making a life in Thailand, it's entirely possible to do so and earn decent money.
There are thousands of expats living and working in Thailand. However, information on what they do is scarce because most are too busy to be writing about it online. But I bet my bottom dollar the majority fall into one of the categories listed above.
That being said, you get out of life what you put in. The old-skool rules still apply:
- Network: outreach to companies and contacts by email and phone where possible. Aim to get your resume in front of an influential member of the company.
- Be courteous: Manners cost nothing and will get you far in life.
- Dress well: Even if you're only popping into a few hotels and bars to ask about job openings, make sure you don't look like you've crawled in at 4am and don't own an iron.
- Don't give up: Rome wasn't built in a day and nor is a career. Know what you want and do something every day to get where you want to be, even if it's just a little. Baby steps turn into big strides.
I hope this information helps you in your search for work in Thailand. If you're already working here, it would be great if you leave a comment detailing your job and how you got into it so that we can make this page a “jobs in Thailand” resource for new expats.
Remember though: it's illegal to work in Thailand without a permit, so be sure to learn the law.