Work and Study in Thailand
Can I finance my studies by working?
Well, that question covers two different settings: You work in Thailand and want to study while you work. Or, you study in Thailand and want to finance your studies by some income from doing a job.
Let’s start with the first option. If you work in Thailand legally, you’ll have a work permit and a ‘non-immigration B’ visa. With that, you can study whatever you want. Your studies have no effect on your visa or work permit status.
Now let’s talk about theory and practice of the second option: You want to earn some money while studying in Thailand. Let us assume you study on an ‘ED’ (education) visa. Sure, you can earn some money, for example by teaching your mother language or tutor some kids in sciences, but you are not allowed to work legally. Still, that is exactly what many foreign students do to finance at least a part of their cost of living and study.
The law clearly stipulates that you are not allowed to do any salaried work without a work permit issued by the Royal Ministry of Labor. ‘Salaried work’ means having a work contract and getting an agreed upon salary, usually at the end of a month.
Helping out for a few hours, for example as an English teacher or tutor, is very much in a grey zone. Sure, it’s not obviously legal, but that is what a myriad of people does to earn a living.
If such income (and, don’t forget to mention, the practice experience that comes along with such activities) is of major importance to your budget planning, don’t worry. Just come to Thailand and ask your fellow students for opportunities. There will be plenty in many different fields. What is it that you are good in? Computer graphics, music composing, cooking Russian specialties, painting portraits, teaching kids to speak Saheli, or anything else? At least in a metropolis like Bangkok, demand is always there, and where there is demand, there will be supply – legal or not. Welcome to Thailand!
Finally, a word of caution: There are plenty of organizations that try to lure you with a ‘work and study’ package to Thailand. Some will let you pay for a TESOL or TEFL course (teaching English as a second language, or teaching English as a foreign language), and then promise you a permanent position as a teacher at a good school.
Such scams are as old as the scams around ‘I know where you can buy cheap gems’ are.
Certainly, such as certificate is nice to have, but it is not sufficient to work as a teacher at a school. Teaching at schools needs a license from the Thai Teachers Council, and these guys are professionals. If you didn’t study Education, you have little to no chance to ever get such a license.
A TEFL or TESOL certificate costs your money. Maybe, the time you spend on the certificate in Thailand is a great time, and you experience a lot, but the promises of legal jobs afterwards won’t materialize.
Even worse, from our experience, are some NGOs (non-governmental organizations) that appeal to your heart to help the underprivileged in Thailand. There certainly are some heavily underprivileged people in Thailand, as you find them in any country of the world.
By appealing to the good side within you, such organizations gather cheap and usually unpaid workforce to get jobs done for which the organizations are paid well. It may be a great new experience for you to stay for months in a bamboo hut surrounded by mosquitoes, taking your shower from a small bucked of half-way clean water, and have come rice with chili and nothing else for breakfast. But don’t be so naïve – somebody makes the money. If it’s not you, who else does?