The TCT Teaching License

Many have heard about EFL teachers in Thailand panicking about TCT exams. The reason for the panic is because teachers are unaware of what exams they need to pass and by when, to legally teach in Thailand.

Thankfully, since the end of last year (2012) the situation has become clearer.

Logan teaching

What is the TCT

The TCT stands for The Teachers Council of Thailand. It was formed in 1999 by Chuan Leekpai’s government as part of the the National Education Act of 1999 which provided for the Reform of Teachers, Faculty Staff, and Educational Personnel and included the formation of the Teachers Council of Thailand (TCT).

TCT Responsibilities

The TCT is responsible for setting professional standards; issuing and withdrawal of licenses; overseeing maintenance of professional standards and ethics; and development of the profession of teachers and educational administrators. As part of the licensing process the TCT outlined the requirements to be licensed in Thailand. The most significant of these was the educational requirement which we shall go into in more detail later.

TCT Role within the Government

The TCT is made up of highly qualified individuals who work in the field of Education and they are able to make recommendations to the Government but cannot create legislation. It is overseen by high ranking government officials.

This of course means that when a newly elected government comes to power with a new Minister of Education there is the possibility of the Ministry and the TCT being at loggerheads and that may be a fair reflection of the current situation.

This in turn means that the situation remains fluid and there may be changes afoot. As with anything like this avoid taking a panicked teacher’s rants as the unadulterated truth, and try to source information for independently.

TCT License Requirement to Teach in Thailand

Does a teacher need a license from the TCT to teach English in Thailand? The short answer is, yes or no depending on the category of the school. If yes, there is still not immediate cause for concern. A teacher need not have a license from the TCT the first time they begin teaching at the school.

Thailand can see the need to have well qualified EFL teachers but one can also understand the need to ensure that these teachers have met a standard set by the TCT.

Political Importance of the TCT License Requirement

The political need for this is paramount as one could understand the resentment of a 22 year old Thai graduate who has just completed their degree in education, only to see another graduate earning a great deal more than them based on their proficiency in a language and because they took a 4 week TEFL training course.

Therefore, whilst the requirements for obtaining a teacher license have to be obtained whilst working full time, bear in mind that they are far less arduous than those faced by Thais studying to be teachers here.

A new Teacher does not need a TCT License Immediately

Thailand does recognize the need to improve the English language skills of its population and so the TCT do not want to drive foreign teachers away or put them off teaching here.

It is with this in mind that they created the Provisional teaching permit also described as a waiver from the TCT permanent license requirements. If a teacher is working at a formal school in Chiang Mai, they will need one of these. Details of how to get one are provided below as well as what constitutes a formal school and a non-formal school.

Formal and Non-formal Schools in Thailand

Formal schools can roughly be defined as schools where students are placed in classes along with other students of the same age and follow the Thai curriculum as prescribed by the MOE (Ministry of Education). Formal schools can be government schools or privately run institutions.

Non-formal schools can be defined as schools that teach a curriculum that has some oversight from the MOE. They could be anything from a language to a cooking or a massage school made largely for tourists. These schools are exempt from the TCT’s requirements. For example, foreign language school teachers do not need to worry about the TCT’s requirements.

Interestingly, an agency is defined as being a type of non-formal school (there are many different categories and classifications). They may name the place where one works for them as a second location. As they (the agency) are exempt from the TCT requirements, the teachers they employ do not have to meet the TCT’s requirements either.

Provisional TCT Teaching Permits

A provisional teaching permit is something that the school will apply for on a teacher’s behalf as soon as they begin work there. It is granted for two years and allows the school time to get the teacher to meet the requirements of the TCT to obtain a teaching license from them.

At the end of two years the school must be able to show the TCT that there has been progression in meeting the TCT requirements.

As to what defines progression, that is a more difficult question to answer.

As things stand now it seems as though some schools are showing the TCT that their teachers have attended a ‘Thai language and Culture’ course and are enrolled for exams in the “Professional knowledge and ethics” ( We shall deal with what these are exactly below)course. This has constituted ‘progression’ for the TCT.

As I said before, the situation is fluid and only very recently the new Minister of Education made a statement that seemed to say that changes to the requirements were being planned again so watch this space.

Teachers can obtain at least two provisional teaching permits (total of four years) before they need to obtain a permanent teaching license.

Exams and Courses required for a TCT Teaching License

Recently the TCT published some very helpful information on its website to inform teachers as to what is expected of them. I have copied and pasted the information verbatim to here so please forgive any minor grammatical errors:

Routes to the TCT Teaching License

Teachers Council of Thailand (TCT) has developed Self-Assessments to help applicants discover which requirements and standards they must meet prior applying for a license.

Route 1 to the TCT Teaching License

Persons who have had teaching experience with not less than 1 year and:

  • Hold a degree in Education, or
  • Hold other degrees and a teaching license from abroad, or
  • Hold other degrees and a graduate diploma in Education with 1 year course of study.

In addition, they also must successfully complete a professional training course and pass assessment of knowledge as follows:

  1. Thai language and culture
  2. Professional ethics

When they have passed the assessment according to (1) and (2), they can file an application.

In case of applicants’ teaching experience with less than 1 year, they shall provide a certification letter, issued by an educational institution, and submit it to the TCT for issuing a teaching practice certificate and permitting them to attend the training course.

Route 2 to the TCT Teaching License

Persons who have had teaching experience with not less 1 year and hold other degrees without a teaching license from abroad; or those who do not hold a graduate diploma in Education with a study course of not less than 1 year, must pass the test, training and assessment as follows:

  1. Thai language and culture
  2. Professional ethics
  3. Professional knowledge

When they have passed the assessment according to (1), (2) and (3), they can file an application.

In case of applicants’ teaching experience with less than 1 year, they shall provide a certification letter, issued by an educational institution, and submit it to the TCT for issuing a teaching practice certificate and permitting them to attend the training course, and professional knowledge test.

Route 3 to the TCT Teaching License

Persons who have had teaching experience with not less than 1 year, and also hold a teaching license from abroad, but do not hold a degree must show a certification letter with a document pertaining to recognition and reliability of teaching experience issued by an educational institution. To certify professional knowledge and experience must be done in accordance with the resolution of the TCT Board whereby applicants must successfully complete a training course and pass the assessment of knowledge as follows:

  1. Thai language and culture
  2. Professional ethics

When they have passed the assessment according to (1) and (2), they can file an application.

Teachers can sit the Professional Knowledge Tests when they hold a bachelor degree or equivalent. The employer of a teacher who doesn’t meet the TCT requirements yet, can apply for a provisional teaching permit. Such a permit is granted for two years.

Notes on the TCT License and Provisional Permit

  • The provisional teaching permit is actually permission to the employer to employ the teacher. When leaving the employer, the teacher has to apply for a new provisional teaching permit.
  • The TCT knows which schools and teachers they’ve granted a provisional teaching permit in the past.
  • The first provisional teaching permits were granted at the beginning of 2008. It is reported that when applying for a second provisional teaching permit the employer/ employee must show progression in meeting the TCT requirements.

Summary of the TCT Requirements

It is important to keep abreast of current developments with regards to what the TCT’s requirements are. There are discussions of this topic on the Ajarn.com website as well as the Khurusapha website of the Teacher’s Council of Thailand.

When looking for work teaching English in Thailand, find out if the school is a formal or a non-formal school and ask them what the requirements will be.

Most foreign teachers in Thailand will follow Route 2 listed above so enquire at the school as to whether they have obtained a provisional teaching permit, and when it will be expected to start meeting the requirements of the TCT to show progression. Do this in a manner that Thais will not find intimidating or aggressive.

The Professional knowledge tests are considered to be difficult but teachers have passed them and help, in terms of materials, is never hard to find. On the SEE TEFL Grads facebook group, there are some useful tips put up by an ex-trainee around August 12th 2013.