Thailand is considered a middle industrial power, Thai GDP per capita is about 70 in the world, though higher than Chinese and Brazilian. However, working in Thailand as a foreigner is not easy.
More than two-thirds of the Thai population is employed in agriculture and fishing. Thailand is one of the world’s largest producers and exporters of tapioca, rice, pineapple, sugar, corn, fish, shrimp and shellfish.
The industrial sector is well developed. Thailand has a strong production of motor vehicles. In fact, many American, Japanese and even European car companies have opened manufacturing plants here. The garment, footwear and electronics industries are also on the rise.
As for the tertiary sector, tourism is an important voice in the Thai economy, accounting for about 10% of GDP. Thailand is one of the most popular international tourist destinations and before Covid19, over 35 million tourists came to Phuket, Krabi, Koh Samui, Bangkok, Pattaya, etc. every year. The unemployment rate in the country is about 1%.
It should be noted that there is a big difference between the wages of skilled and unskilled workers. The average salary of a university graduate is almost €2,000, while unskilled workers receive about €300 per month.
Working in Thailand, jobs for foreigners
If you do not know the Thai language, but only English, these are the sectors that offer the greatest job opportunities for foreigners:
- Call center and customer service, there are many call center companies, especially in Bangkok and Chiang Mai and other cities that need native speakers. This work usually requires a college degree to obtain a visa. Salaries range from €600 to €1,000 per month. The minimum wage of 50,000 baht ($1,400), which foreigners are legally entitled to, is usually circumvented because the companies in question take advantage of the BOI project
- Hospitality industry, given the large number of restaurants in Thailand, some of which are of excellent quality, there are some opportunities to find work
- Teachers, for a foreigner it is easiest to find a job teaching English in public and private schools that are always looking for teachers. Native speakers are most in demand, but non-native speakers with TEFL also have a good chance of being hired. (You can get TEFL certification online for €300/400 in a little over a month.) Salaries are around 1,000 €, in any case you can negotiate with the school: Salary, accommodation, work permit, holiday and health insurance. I refer to this website of Oxford Seminars, which contains a list of all English schools in Thailand
Work in Thailand, looking for job
How to look for work in Thailand:
1 Not only can you view job listings on LinkedIn, but you should also join job search groups.
2 Connections, if you know someone already working in Thailand, are one of the best ways to find a job in Thailand
3 Job search websites
- Jobsdb, the best job search website in Thailand
- Jobcute, job vacancies all over the country
- Bangkokpost, newspaper online
- Jobbkk, job vacancies all over the country
- Ajarn, the first website for teacher jobs
- Dave’s Cafe, the second website for teache jobs
- Thaihoteljob, hospitality job
- Jobtopgun, job search website
4. Recruitment agencies
There are many recruitment agencies to which you can send your resume. Keep in mind that in some cases you will have to pay fees if they find you a job, in other cases it is free because the employer will pay the fees.
- Prtr, recruitment agency with 2 offices in Thailand
- RSM, recruitment agency in Bangkok
- SSR, recruitment agency in Bangkok
- JAC, recruitment agency in Thailand
- Monroe, recruitment agency in Asia
Working in Thailand
Working as an employee for a foreigner in Thailand is extremely difficult due to a number of factors: both government restrictions and the difficulty of the language. In fact, most expats working in Thailand, especially in Bangkok, are employees of foreign multinational companies.
The only jobs where you might have a chance, except for STEM graduates or English teachers, are jobs in tourism and hospitality. In any case, it will be very difficult to find work in these fields from abroad. One possibility could be the international hotel chains, which often have job openings in Thailand that you can apply for on the company’s website.
If you want to work in Thailand, you will have to travel there directly and deliver your resume in person to restaurants, hotels, etc. However, I do not recommend arriving in Thailand with little money and looking for work as you would in a European country. Here you need to arrive with sufficient funds, live as a tourist for a few months, meet people and look for opportunities in your area, but be aware that you can return to your country without having found anything.
Settling down and working in Thailand is absolutely not easy, but with commitment and good will it is not even impossible, because I have met many foreigners working there. So bring your academic degree with you, it might be useful if you need to apply for a work visa. In any case, working in Thailand is not easy: the Thais, like all oriental peoples, are racist towards foreigners and you will have to cope with the weather, because working in temperatures above 30°C is not easy.
Those who want to move to Thailand and have financial means often open a business. Foreigners keep coming to Thailand to start their own business in tourism or hospitality or just to take a part-time job.
Remember, however, that opening a business in Thailand means bureaucracy: papers, documents, permits, work permits, consultants to be paid, etc. And forget about English, all documents are in Thai only.
Once you open your business, you will think that everything is fine. Instead, you are just starting out and will have to deal with the Immigration Department, the Labor Department, the Social Security Department, the Tax Department, all sorts of police agencies, and dozens of other authorities who will come periodically to check on your business and who, as a foreigner, will look forward to fining you.
And as if that were not enough, you will be constantly busy with bureaucratic procedures: renewing your work permit, then that of your employees (if you have foreign employees), then the financial report of your company, then the budget and so on. Every week you’ll have to photocopy your passport and sign new documents, all in Thai, of which you do not understand a comma, and you can only hope that your translator will not get you into trouble for a signature you have made on one of the hundreds of papers you have signed without really knowing what exactly you are signing.
And for those who decide to open a business, after some time amidst problems, discussions, paperwork, documents, lawyers and bribes, Thailand no longer seems like the paradise they had dreamed of.
Everything I have written applies to anyone who opens a business in Thailand and tries to run it themselves. Many, on the other hand, open a business together with their ‘girlfriend’ and put themselves entirely in their hands. In this case, the choice speaks for itself and it is not even worth adding anything.
Working illegally in Thailand
The beauty of the landscapes and the nice weather combined with low cost of living have attracted many digital nomads from all over the world to Thailand. Especially in Chiang Mai. However, keep in mind that working as a digital nomad in Thailand is illegal by law unless you have a registered business in the country. So you need to officially register as a tourist.
There are thousands of foreigners working illegally in Thailand. Most do so knowingly, but some do not even know they are violating Thai law.
Be aware that foreigners working without a work permit can be punished with imprisonment of up to five years and/or a fine of 2,000 to 100,000 baht. Employers who allow a foreigner to work without a work permit may be fined from 10,000 to 100,000 baht. In addition, anyone who commits crimes in Thailand may be deported and not allowed to return to the country. In some cases, the police turn a blind eye to bribery, but do not hope for too much. My advice is not to risk it. There are a lot of reports, people who make a living out of denouncing foreigners (farang) who commit crimes.
Finally, I would like to point out this Guide for the foreign worker in Thailand