Bangkok is Thailand’s capital, the most populous city in the country, as well as one of the most popular tourist destinations in Southeast Asia. What if you wanted to turn your favourite holiday destination into your home and workplace? Well, it’s possible so long as you have a valid visa and a Thai work permit. Despite the recent political unrest, the city’s economy continues to outshine that of its neighbours and the region at large. And, with a strong economy, comes many job and business opportunities for foreigners and locals alike. Read through this text for more insights about this city’s job market. Note that at the time of writing, 1 United States Dollar (USD) equals 32.57 Thai Baht (THB).
A person working in this city should expect an average gross salary of $3,469/month, which translates to $41,500 a year. Although most jobs pay monthly, those working hourly jobs should expect their average pay per hour to be $19.99. Since these are just guides, an individual’s salary is affected by a number of factors, which we’ll look at later.
Working in Bangkok will allow you to participate in the commercial activity of Thai’s economic centre and one of the major business hubs in Southeast Asia. The city is also a draw for expatriates who prefer a modern yet affordable cost of living, high quality of life, vibrant culture, and a chance to enjoy a more laidback lifestyle among other perks. If you’re planning to live and work in Bangkok, your expat guide is here! I’ll provide you with information on visa rules, employment opportunities, how to find a job, salaries offered, and much more. This will help you make an informed decision about relocating to Bangkok for work. Let’s get started:
Average Salary in Bangkok
Bangkok has the highest average wages in Thailand and some of the highest among ASEAN members’ capitals. We’ve already seen what the average Bangkok employee makes in a month, but salaries do differ by occupation, industry, education, years of experience, seniority, and much more. Understanding how each of these factors affects your salary will help you make better decisions about your career choices.
Potential jobs for foreigners in Bangkok and their salaries
Teaching English as a foreign language is a popular job opportunity for expatriates living in Bangkok. Demand is high as the language becomes more and more important for the city’s growing urban middle class. Full-time opportunities to teach English are available in one of Bangkok’s many primary schools, high schools, and international schools. Applicants will be required to have a Bachelor’s degree, TEFL certification, and be English native speakers. You can also teach privately or get weekend gigs at language schools. Jobs at state level start at around $925-1,385/month while private sectors pay from $1,385-3,070+ a month. Bilingual teachers make an average gross salary of $2,510/month.
Work in a hotel, bar, or restaurant
The hotel and tourism industry is always looking to fill positions with foreign nationals to cater to foreign tourists that flock the city. The ability to speak multiple languages is highly valued. Salaries vary depending on the occupation. Here are a few average gross salaries for popular jobs in this sector:
- Waiter/waitress – $2,031/month
- Chef – $2,830/month
- Travel agent – $2,857/month
- Hotel manager – $4,773/month
Get into movie/extra work
Bangkok has become a hub for movie production. Production companies from the US, Europe, and even India see it as the ideal location for shooting movies thanks to its modern facilities and low costs. The only downside is work can be inconsistent and you’ll have to go to several castings before you can land a role. Salaries for extra work start at about $46-62 per day. Cameo appearances range from $153-615 and the main character role can fetch up to $3,076+.
Become a freelance writer
If you are good with words, you can make money as a freelance writer. Work will initially give you a potential net salary of about $1,600/month with the possibility of earning your reputation and more money. You can find work on sites such as Upwork.com or start your own blog and write about things that interest you.
While these are the top go-to-jobs for foreigners in Bangkok, there are plenty of employment opportunities in other areas. Here’s a list of other popular jobs, together with their average monthly gross salaries:
- Accountant – $2,335
- Internal auditor – $3,597
- Receptionist – $2,381
- Photographer – $2,323
- Pilot – $4,025
- Architect – $2,974
- Project manager – $3,656
- Nanny – $2,042
- Engineer – $3,137
- Chief executive officer – $7,657
- Nurse – $2,602
- Police officer – $2,646
- Attorney – $4,640
- Cashier – $1,948
Start your own business
It is nearly everyone’s dream to be their own boss. Bangkok lets you do just that thanks to its favourable economic environment. From big businesses like exporting goods to smaller ones like setting up a bar and restaurant, or even offering consultancy services in your area of expertise, there’s plenty of room for entrepreneurship. Some professionals like doctors and lawyers are not allowed to practice in Bangkok unless with Thai qualifications. The good news is you can offer consultancy services.
Bangkok Average Income per Person
Seeing as it measures the total income received by persons in Bangkok divided the city’s population, average income per person is another great way to gauge the quality of life and standard of living in Bangkok. The average income per person is defined at the national level yearly. It was last recorded at $8,170.236 in Dec 2019, which was an increase from the previous value of $7,627.941 in Dec 2018.
The Minimum Wage in Bangkok
Like most countries, Thailand has a national minimum wage to protect employees from being exploited. But since some cities have a higher living cost than others, the minimum wage has also been set by the province. The current minimum wage in Bangkok is 331 Baht/day, or approximately $10.15 a day. Despite being Thai’s economic centre and the capital city, the minimum wage in Bangkok is not the highest in the country with provinces like Chon Buri, Rayong, and Phuket having a slightly higher minimum wage at 336 and 335 THB per day.
In Thailand, education rules! As such, people with higher education are highly rewarded with higher wages. The minimum wage for Bachelor degree holders is 15,000 Baht ($458.81) per month while master’s degree holders must be paid a minimum of 25,000 Baht ($764.62) per month.
No occupation is exempted from the minimum wages stated above; however, the city and the country at large struggle with enforcement due to corruption.
These minimum wages may seem like peanuts compared to what you would probably get back home. But given the very cheap cost of living in Bangkok, these amounts can afford you a basic comfortable life.
When accepting a job in Bangkok, it’s important to understand the labour laws of Thailand. While the reality of good pay cannot be ignored, other factors such as working hours and holidays determine how good a job offer is. The normal working hours in Bangkok is 8 hours a day with a 1-hour break. Anything beyond that is considered overtime and workers must be compensated accordingly. Employees who have worked for more than a year are entitled to a minimum of six days of paid annual leave. Additionally, all employees must be granted at least 13-days of paid public holidays. Following the birth of a child, female employees get 90 days of maternity leave but they only get pay for 45 days.
Bangkok Income Distribution
Bangkok is often considered one of the greatest development success stories. Poverty in the city has declined over the years. Congratulations are certainly in order for Bangkok as they strive to get people out of poverty; however, there are still areas that need adequate attention. One is income distribution in the city, which describes how income is spread among the city’s population with some being rich, some in the middle, and some poor.
Thailand as a whole has been dubbed as the world’s most unequal country, but is the situation in Bangkok really as dire as portrayed? Well, let’s find out.
Gross salaries in this city range from an average minimum of $468/month to an average maximum of $15,255/month. As you can see, this is already a huge disparity. The top 20% of the working population take home about 60% of the city’s total income while the poorest 20% only manage to garner 4% of the total income. The middle-income earners are always being pushed to the lower-income group as they struggle to catch up with the rich. While they may benefit from globalisation and technology, corruption is always increasing their problems.
The median salary, which divides the income distribution into two groups, is $3,363/month. This means that half of the population is making more than this amount while the other half make more. Closely related to the median salary are the 25th and the 75th percentiles. Statistics show that only 25% of the working population earn a gross salary that’s more than $9,141/month. This means that the remaining 75% make less than that amount.
There’s also income disparity between genders. Men employees are paid 16% more than their female counterparts, despite being in the same role.
Bangkok Job Market
As I had mentioned earlier, Bangkok has and continues to experience a stable economy, which mainly depends on foreign investors. The economy is largely built on the city’s finance, business, retail, banking, automotive, real estate, and industrial sectors. Needless to say, these areas offer several job opportunities for foreigners and locals alike. Many foreigners are, however, employed in the IT sector and a good number teach English as a foreign language. There are also lots of opportunities for highly skilled expats in the logistics industry.
Bangkok houses the Thailand Stock Exchange, as well as headquarters of most major banks and a number of multinational companies. These companies mainly specialise in the sectors mentioned above and offer many job opportunities for foreigners.
Bangkok is famous for having a wide variety of job opportunities for foreigners with the right qualifications and preferred skills. However, finding a job in this city as a foreigner is still not an easy task. That’s because Thai nationals are always given priority and most jobs require people who are fully fluent in Thai. Also, under the Alien Employment Act, certain occupations are closed to foreigners and only preserved for locals. This includes, but not limited to, beautification, construction work, stonework, making shoes, dressmaking, pottery, legal work, clerical or secretarial work, and so on.
That being said, the easiest way to find a job here is to negotiate an internal transfer with your company if it has offices in Bangkok. If that isn’t an option, you can search for jobs online on job websites, or look at the websites of international companies in Bangkok, or contact a recruiting agency.
About the author: Marta Kovachek is the author of this article. She graduated from the University of Chicago with a master’s degree in Economics. Marta enjoys writing about the current economic situation and loves helping our readers to find their next "destination". From places to live to complex social and economic topics, we always enjoy Marta's work. Please contact us in case of any questions.