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Up until recently, working in Thailand has been an easy next step for many seduced by the country’s sunny shores and warm cultural climate. The Thai economy has, however, changed in the face of political instability, though there are signs of recovery. While the majority of job opportunities can be found in Bangkok, there are also many expats who choose to work in the surrounding countryside or the picturesque southern islands. This lets them live in natural splendour and enjoy the relaxed lifestyle available to foreign residents.
Job market in Thailand
Apart from income generated by tourism, the economy of Thailand also heavily relies on exports. It's one of the world’s largest agricultural exporters of products such as rice, sugar, rubber and shrimp; and the country is a major producer of export cars, textiles and electronics. Thailand also has strong manufacturing, logistics and communications industries. Most expats who work in Thailand work in the service sector, specifically in the tourism and teaching industries.
Finding a job in Thailand
Expats with the right qualifications should be able to find opportunities online, while many others move to the country first, take a course and look for work.
The highest-paying teaching jobs are at international schools in Thailand while English-language schools are also a popular option. Tourism is another popular source of work for foreigners, particularly for expats living outside Bangkok.
It's important to remember that expats hired or transferred from overseas tend to make higher salaries than those who find a job in Thailand after they arrive.
While Thai companies usually prefer to hire locally when it comes to professional fields like accounting, engineering and law, there are multinational corporations that may be able to offer expats with specialised skills opportunities. A work permit is needed to work legally in Thailand and this is usually organised by the hiring company.
Work culture in Thailand
An expat employee’s normal work day and their working week will largely depend on the industry they are working in. Jobs in the tourism industry often have irregular hours and shifts.
The working week in Thailand is officially from Monday to Saturday, although many businesses work until Friday or are only open for half a day on Saturdays. Legally, employees can work up to a maximum of 48 hours a week. Hierarchy, relationships and collective identity are integral to the Thai workplace.
►See Doing Business in Thailand for advice on etiquette in the Thai workplace.
"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 Thailand?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Thailand. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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