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For expats who have secured a job beforehand, working in Bangkok can be the doorway to a life of luxury. On the other hand, expats who arrive in the Thai capital looking for work often have a challenging job search ahead of them that can lead to being underpaid and unhappy with their expat experience in the country.
Job market in Bangkok
Despite being the epicentre of sporadic political unrest, Bangkok has a relatively stable economy. This economy relies heavily on foreign investment. While investors remain cautious, it seems that the city’s economic situation is likely to go from strength to strength.
The economy in Bangkok is largely built on its retail, real estate, business, finance and automotive industries. It also hosts the Thailand Stock Exchange and houses the headquarters of most major banks in Thailand as well as a number of multinational companies.
Owing to high levels of inequality, expats can expect to live differently to the majority of locals. Expats arriving in Bangkok after securing a job usually make more money than those who look for a job while already in the country. These expats, in turn, often earn more than the locals themselves.
Despite this, Thailand is renowned for having unemployment rates in the low single digits, and if an expat has the right skills and qualifications, they should be able to find a job. It is important to remember, however, that a Thai work permit is usually required for expats to stay and work in the country.
Popular job opportunities in Bangkok often come in the form of teaching English, while highly skilled expats can usually be found working in the financial sector and logistics industry.
Finding a job in Bangkok
The best way for expats to find a job in Bangkok is through online resources, preferably before they arrive in the country. English-language Thai newspapers are another valuable source of information for finding work.
Relocation packages usually include help with accommodation and, especially for highly skilled expats, may sometimes offer luxuries such as a car and driver.
Work culture in Bangkok
Business etiquette in Thailand will be familiar to most expats. The traditional wai greeting, where a person bows slightly with their palms pressed together, is quickly being replaced by the standard Western handshake. This is at least partially because many Thai businesses realise the importance of being able to communicate globally.
As with the rest of the country, businesses and companies in Bangkok are usually open from Monday to Friday, with a half day on Saturdays. Opening times differ between businesses, however; a bank branch may be open from 8.30am to 4pm while some shopping malls are open until 10pm.
► For info on the necessary paperwork needed to take up a job in Thailand, see Work Permits for Thailand.
► Learn more about money matters with Banking, Money and Taxes in Thailand.
"If you do want to work in Thailand, make sure you have the right visa. I cannot stress this enough. If you find a job before you arrive, you’re in a better position to have your employer help you get all the paperwork in order." Read more of Mike's expat interview about life in Thailand.
Are you an expat living in Bangkok?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Bangkok. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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