Unless you secure an overseas posting with a large multinational company in Thailand, getting a job can be challenging. The competition for graduate jobs is high, as there are large numbers of experienced professionals also contending for jobs, as well as an increasing number of Thai graduates with good English language skills.
Teaching English as a foreign language is a major career area for UK nationals in Thailand, as well as a gap year option. The tourism industry may offer temporary job opportunities for graduates. Employers in other sectors are more likely to consider UK graduates offering Thai language skills.
Typical problems encountered: obtaining work permits for foreign nationals can be a lengthy process for employers. It is therefore quite common for jobs to be restricted to Thai nationals. A Thai employer must prove there is no available Thai citizen for the vacancy.
How to improve your chances: you may need to be flexible in the type of position you aim for or be prepared to take a lower salary with the aim of negotiating more once you have proved yourself. Gaining employment with a multinational company may offer opportunities for a future posting in Thailand.
Language requirements: the principal language is Thai, with significant minorities speaking Chinese, Lao, Khmer and Malay. English is a mandatory subject in public schools and is widely spoken in commercial areas within major cities. For anyone intending to live and work in Thailand, learning (at least) some basic Thai is strongly recommended. Thai language courses are widely available, particularly in Bangkok and Chiang Mai. For more information and directories of language schools see Learning Thai. There are a small number of Thai language courses available in the UK including a beginners’ course at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). Adult community education programmes may also offer opportunities.
Where can I work?
Major industries: agriculture, tourism, manufacturing, textiles and handicrafts.
Recent growth areas: the Thailand Board of Investment identifies six industry sectors that are key to the growth of Thailand’s economy: agriculture and agro-industry; alternative energy; automotive; electronics and ICT; fashion; and value-added services including entertainment, healthcare and tourism.
Major companies: PTT Public Company (oil and gas), Siam Cement, Bangkok Bank, Kasikornbank, Siam Commerical Bank, Krung-Thai Bank, Thai Oil, Advanced Info Service (telecommunications), Thai Petrochemical, Thai Airways.
Major cities: Bangkok (capital), Chiang Mai, Songkla, Ayutthaya and Chonburi, Nakhon Ratchasima and Khon Kaen.
What’s it like working in Thailand?
Average working hours: most Thai offices are open from 8.30am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, with an hour’s break at 12 noon. In Bangkok offices the working day can be longer.
Holidays: there are 15 national holidays, and providing an employee has worked for an uninterrupted period of one year, annual holidays of at least six working days in one year can be expected.
Tax rates: if you plan to stay in Thailand for longer than 180 days, you will be classed as a resident for tax purposes. This means you have to pay tax on income earned from sources within Thailand and also from foreign sources which is brought into Thailand. If you stay for less than 180 days, you will be classed as non-resident and only have to pay tax on income from sources in Thailand. Currently, personal income tax is calculated on a progressive rate ranging from 10% to 37%. For further information, see The Revenue Department - Thailand.
Working practices and customs: whilst many Thais will be familiar with western business customs, care should be observed in some areas. The pace of business is often much slower than in western countries and trying to push things along at a faster pace may not be appropriate. Respect should be paid to hierarchies, elders and senior staff. Social invitations are an important part of business relationships. It is quite common to see dates displayed in Thai calendar format where years are numbered according to the Buddhist era (BE). Therefore, 2012 is BE 2555 and 2013 is BE 2556.
This website is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with CSS enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets if you are able to do so.