Want to Teach in Chiang Mai? Part 5 (Julia Light)

Want to Teach in Chiang Mai? Part 5 (Julia Light)

Category : Teach

Our 5th and FINAL (Seriously, last one!) post on Teaching and living in Chiang Mai.   This one is by current resident, Julia Light.


 Hi everyone! My name is Julia Light, I am from the U.S. and I currently teach Third Grade English at a large private school here in Chiang Mai. I have been here for 8 months and I just signed on to stay another year at my school- teaching in Chiang Mai is truly that great.

You’re wondering, how easy is it to come here and land a teaching job?

     If you are willing to put in the effort and stick with it, it will happen for you. It’s hard to just jump in head first and come to Thailand without any base or prospect of a job, but I know people who have done it just as I did and we all secured solid teaching jobs within about a month of arriving. Different circumstances and ways of getting there, but it works out.

So how did I do it?

     Well, I decided that teaching English in Thailand was what I wanted to do after graduation from university so I did a lot of research, considered going through a placement program (I spent some time thinking I would go through a program, and trust me, I am so glad I didn’t.   You’ll pay a couple thousand dollars for someone to do what you can do for free with a little more stress with moving to a foreign country without anything lined up, but if you can overcome that then you will save yourself so much).

      So I booked my one-way ticket to Chiang Mai and luckily I met some great people who gave me connections that got me where I am now. I met Jen, one of the other teachers featured in these posts, and she told me to start out living at Sethee Court; and I am so fortunate to have found myself here.

     Right when I arrived, Stephen and King were so helpful and informative on life in Chiang Mai and giving me suggestions on how to go about finding a job. So I hit the hot ground running, literally sweating profusely, with a fresh stack of resumes and handed them out to every school I could find in the city.

     I got a job teaching weekends at a Language School, which is fairly easy to do if you look professional and are confident, and I tutored for a few weeks before I got my job to start making money initially. After a few weeks of doing that and exploring this vibrant city, I happened to meet  another, now great friend, who told me of an opening at a great school in the city. The next day I interviewed and that very day I was offered the job. The school needed to fill the position right away and I was in the right place at the right time, did well in the interview and got the job. It was definitely a whirlwind and I cannot tell you how many stories I have heard similar to this. So stop stressing, book your ticket and get out here, it will all work out.

     I do not have a TEFL, I do have a university degree which is the only legal requirement of a teacher in Thailand. It definitely helps a great deal to have your TEFL when in competition against other candidates and I’ve heard nothing but good things about the course but I was able to get a job without one- not to say this would work in a more-developed country, but I just went straight into it and I survived so you can too.


Do your research- decide what kind of a school you want to teach at. Whether that be

  • a) a government school: I would not recommend this route as I have heard many stories of disorganization, little pay and unhappy foreign teachers
  • b) language schools: tutoring-level schools where you are paid hourly but if you work hard enough (see post by Lewis), you can make a lot of money (by Thai standards)
  • c) a private school: this is where I am now and I have had an amazing experience. I have plenty of support form our foreign teacher community and I am well-taken care of as a teacher.

     Once you do that, you are ready to take a deep breath and go! Applying in person and to as many places as possible is the way to get it done. You will meet other ex-pats and teachers along the way and everyone is always aware of what schools are hiring and willing to help each other out because we all know how it is. Schools hire for the new school year around March (year goes from May-Sept with a break in October and then Nov-March) and also in Sept/Oct for replacements needed in between semesters.


     Teaching English here is absolutely achievable and has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. The students make everyday worth it and the sense of community in Chiang Mai is incomparable. Come and see for yourself.

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