Your Shining New Future Awaits!
What’s the matter my friend? You say you would love to make The Big Move here to Thailand, but the prospect of finding employment has got you down? You’re not nearly ready to retire, and you don’t have a small fortune tucked away,
so how are you going to live? What’s that you say? The mere thought of becoming an English teacher has got you feeling queasy? Cheer up buckaroos! Old Sawadee has got some news that’s going to make your day! Thanks to the benevolence
of the Thai Labor Ministry, your shining new future awaits here in the Land of Smiles!
It’s true. Singhadet Chu-amnat, director of the ministry’s Bureau of Coordination for International Cooperation has just announced that new laws will soon make it easier for foreigners to work here. Up until now, most jobs here have been restricted exclusively to Thais. As of 2015 however Thailand’s participation in the Asean Economic Community will begin to open up the doors enough to allow many skilled professionals to work in the Kingdom. That’s great news if you’re a doctor, nurse, or engineer.
That however is not the big news I want to share with you today though. The really big news is that thirty-nine other exciting career possibilities will soon be open to foreigners…and let me tell you they are all a poor Farang’s “dream come true”!
Let me quickly run through the fabulous career options now open to each and every one of you.
1. Unskilled workers
Hmm, I suppose that may describe a certain number of Farangs. But not of course to you my friends! The fact that you’re literate enough to be reading this submission supposes that you have some skill at something!
Hey, this is just the thing if you are hooked up with a girl from rural Isaan. I don’t actually think you would want to be knee deep in mud plowing the fields with a team of buffalo. Perhaps a “supervisory” position within the agricultural domain might suit you better. As long as there’s plenty of cold beer and a hammock under the shade of a thatched sala, you shouldn’t have a single care in the world.
3. Carpenters and masons
Some of you probably do have some expertise in the building trade. The tricky part might to motivate your employee Somchai to “measure twice, cut once”. Lord knows there is enough cement and bricks to keep you busy. If you are a finish carpenter, you would have a ready market making furniture with functioning drawers.
I once knew a guy who could carve a damned fine grizzly bear with a chainsaw. I wonder if that qualifies. Seriously though, you had better have your chisels sharpened and ready to go if you are going to compete with Thais who carve all that detailed filigree.
5. Vehicle drivers
Which vehicles are we talking about? Taxis? Tuk-tuks? Big trailer trucks? My neighbor used to drive for UPS. Another friend used to drive big-rigs across the US. I wonder if they’d be interested. I have a sneaking suspicion that driving for a living would be a bit more stressful in Thailand than in the west.
6. Shop salesmen
Oh goody goody! I know you’re all just longing to wait on the general public. Still you could hardly do worse than many of the barely ambulatory salespeople I’ve encountered in Thailand.
I didn’t know they had auctions in Thailand. I wonder what the “the patter” is like? I’ve only been to a few auctions in my life, and in every case the bidding soon got to be much too dear for my meager wallet.
I have no doubt that you would need to learn a few “special” bookkeeping skills. I’m sure that Thais are no more eager to pay taxes that anyone back in Farangland is. I wonder if envelopes of “tea money” are deductible.
9. Gem cutters
If you were actually skilled as a gem cutter, you would probably have a high paying job already, so why would you want to come here and earn a fraction of the money?
Thailand could actually use some skilled barbers who know how to give something other than a Thai-style haircut…you know the ones that have several inches of shaved scalp around the ears and along the back of the neck.
11. Fabric weavers
You need some nimble fingers to be good at this. That immediately disqualifies me. My ex-wife was an amateur weaver, and we had no less than three enormous looms around the house. I’ve seen a number of Thai women weaving here in the north. They were all pretty talented.
12. Mulberry paper makers
Mulberry paper, just in case you never heard of it is made from bark fibers of the mulberry tree (Broussonetia papyrifera) and is popular worldwide in a variety of paper crafts because of its distinctive texture). In Thailand it’s called Sa paper. Most of it is produced by the hill tribes up here in the North of Thailand, and apparently is very labor intensive to make, so I’m sure the locals would welcome your help, right? Here is a link just in case you are interested in this as your new career. Surprisingly becoming an elephant dung paper maker is still restricted to Thais.
13. Lacquerware makers
Traditionally this craft used only teak and involved the application of many coats of lacquer. In order to meet the demand of the tourist trade here in the North of Thailand, the people who create this stuff use just about anything, including paper as a base material. Here is a link that explains more about this lacquerware.
14. Thai music instrument makers
I happen to enjoy traditional Thai music, although I know it’s not to everyone’s taste. I suppose you would have to apprentice yourself to a “master” to learn how to make these instruments, but if you do, I would imagine you would enjoy this kind of work. Here is a link which discusses traditional Thai musical instruments.
15. Nielloware makers
I confess I had to look this one up. According to Wikipedia, “Niello is a black mixture of copper, silver, and lead sulphides, used as an inlay on engraved or etched metal.” Apparently it is quite popular in Thailand. I’ve seen some nice examples of nielloware since I’ve lived here. If you are interested, here is a link that will tell you all you ever wanted to know about nielloware.
I have a funny feeling that no matter what the law says you can do; Thais might not appreciate you getting into this lucrative trade, so beware!
17. Bronzeware makers
If you have the desire to do some smelting, this might be the thing for you. However you might want to start now because “Given the arduous task, it's no surprise that the craftsmen and women are mostly middle-aged. As it takes years to perfect their skills, few young people wish to take on this craft.”
18. Traditional Thai toy maker
This may be your chance to revive a dying art. I saw this short article in The Nation. “More than 300 traditional Thai toys are disappearing from the society, according to a group that has sought to keep these local playthings alive. Rung Aroon Thai Toys Group coordinator Taweesap Namkajornroj Wednesday said as urban lifestyle was replacing the rural ways of life, many Thai toys had already become extinct."Thai children are now addicted to Internet and cell phones," he said. According to him, a Thai wooden top and a bamboo flying saucer used to be very popular but they cannot attract children these days. "You will see these toys only at demonstrations or special events," Taweesap said.” I regret that I was unable to find a single image to use as an example. The closest thing I found was a stupid “Thai” Barbie! All the Thai children I see play with some of the worst plastic crap I’ve ever seen.
19. Mattress makers
You may hopefully do the world a favor and design a comfortable Thai mattress. I’ve yet to find one here. I brought my Tempepedic mattress with me when I moved here, which is unquestionably the most comfortable thing I’ve ever slept on. When it came to buying a mattress for our guest room, my “thrifty” wife wouldn’t here of spending more than the minimum. On the few times I’ve attempted to sleep on the damned thing I tossed and turned all night and woke up in the morning with a backache. Of course until we were married she spent her entire life sleeping on the floor on a thin mat.
20. Monk alms-bowl makers
Here is another dying art. You would think that this occupation would be restricted to Thais, but foreign tourists already are allowed to buy them, so I guess making them isn’t that strange an idea. These all used to be handmade, but most it seems are turned out in factories. If you believe in Buddhism, I would imagine making them would create a lot of good karma. Here is an interesting link you might enjoy.
21. Silk handicraftsmen
In Thailand there is still a lot of hand woven silk fabric being produced. Maybe you can channel the ghost of Jim Thompson and become a silk tycoon. Who knows? I sure there are any number of mature Thai ladies who would be more than welcome to take a big strong “hansum man” like yourself under their wings.
22. Buddha sculpture makers
I admit that this surprises me more than any other occupation listed here. I can’t imagine that Thailand would allow anyone who is not a Buddhist to make any image of the Buddha.
23. Knife makers
One of the most interesting things I ever saw was in my wife’s village in Buriram. I saw a couple of strapping Thai fellows heat up a bar of metal until it was glowing red hot and then beat the hell out of it with sledge hammers. It took a number of trips into the charcoal furnace, but in the end I walked away with a wicked looking and extremely sharp machete for use in our garden. I’m sure a few of you out there would enjoy “pounding steel”!
24. Paper umbrella makers
Up in Chiang Mai artisans turn out thousands of these colorful parasols. Once again we are talking about Sa paper. Here is a link which talks about how they are made.
Since I don’t wear shoes any more than I am absolutely required to, I rarely give shoes of any variety even a cursory glance. No, I don’t go about barefoot. I simply prefer to wear sandals whenever possible. There is certainly no lack of shoe stores in Thailand, and not surprisingly, 99% of the shoes in them are for women. I have no idea what percentage of shoes sold here are actually made here, but the first thing that comes to mind when I think of a shoe factory is a hot, dreary, noisy place with hundreds of workers toiling long hours for not very much money. I very much doubt that any of you would fancy cobbling away in one. Although if you had a serious shoe fetish, maybe the idea of making some glittery women’s shoes with six inch spiked heels is appealing.
26. Hat makers
Are there really many honest to goodness hat makers left in the 21’st century? Somehow I doubt that this particular job description refers to hand making silk chapauxes with ostrich plumes. It more likely means another sweaty factory job making caps with a big swoosh embroidered on them. Out in the countryside though there is still a market for rattan hats for use out in the rice paddies, although increasingly I see a lot of farmers wearing cowboy hats. Here in Lampang, no self respecting horse carriage driver would be caught dead without a cowboy hat. Maybe you could specialize in those.
I’m not quite sure what kind of brokers the government is referring to. Do they mean stock brokers or real estate brokers? I suppose there are a number of you out there reading this with experience in both fields. In either case I’m sure you need to be licensed and speak fluent Thai.
I have a number of Farang friends who are engineers and doing quite well here. All of them work on short term contracts for a variety of different companies. Many Thai companies, when they are looking for engineers who are experienced turn to foreigners. They obviously want people who can do the job properly, and not Thais with a dubious degree.
I have no idea what’s involved in being an architect here. I know many buildings in Bangkok were designed by foreigners. My wife and I used a Thai architect when we were coming up plans for our home. Most Thais choose a house design by leafing through a book. I’d say most Farangs are a bit fussier about what they build.
30. Clothes makers
I am confused by the job description. Does clothes maker refer to being a tailor or seamstress, or does it mean working in a clothes factory? The former sound okay if you enjoy sewing. The later sounds like slaving away in a factory for peanuts. There are quite a few small businesses in Lampang where you can have just about any style of clothing you can imagine made for you at a very reasonable price…and the owners don’t harangue you when you walk by.
31. Pottery maker
Lampang is noted among other things for the large number of ceramics companies located here. They range from small “mom and pop” family operations to large factories. If you have a mind to live up near Old Sawadee, you might consider indulging your inner-child and play with clay.
32. Hand-made cigarette maker
If you are a smoker, this may be just the thing for you. I’ve never come across any hand rolled cigarettes, but have seen a few hand rolled cigars. I’ve never been tempted to light up.
33. Tour guide
If you were willing to do your homework and become knowledgeable about the many attractions in Thailand, you might be able to make a go at this.
Many years ago I took a training course for selling a high end vacuum cleaner door-to-door. I did learn the whole sales spiel and could demonstrate how to shampoo a carpet. When push came to shove though I finally balked at actually knocking on people’s doors and harassing them. Occasionally a few Thais come around trying to sell me insurance. I smile politely, shake my head and send them on their way. I actually do buy things from people pushing carts around town. If you like to do some serious walking and aren’t afraid of a little rejection here and there, perhaps you’d care to give this a try.
35. Printing typesetters
You would have to be a whiz at Thai to try this out. If your language skills were that good, you could probably find a less messy job somewhere.
36. Silk rope makers
Silk rope eh? Not surprisingly, the only references I could find were those of a decidedly kinky nature. “(Name deleted) is an Australian company based in Thailand. Design and manufacturing bondage products for personal use. Our products are made from a very soft and yet extremely strong material, all metal components are also made from a very high quality stainless steel, this also applies to all catches, buckles and spring clips. All fabrics can be supplied to the customer’s choice of colours.” So, why only silk rope? Why not hemp rope, jute rope or cotton rope? Who knows?
Now here’s another thrilling job prospect…if your idea of excitement is working at the local 7-11! If you’re really lucky, maybe the much talked about 300 baht a day minimum wage will finally see the light of day.
38. Legal advisers
I can’t imagine learning the myriad of laws, regulations and statutes that exist in Thailand, but if you’re a potential “legal eagle” then maybe this is for you. Lord knows there are enough foreigners in Thailand who could use some practical legal advice.
39. Mat weavers
Maybe while you’re relaxing under your sala down in Buriram you could have a go at this trade. The bamboo and rattan mats you see throughout Thailand are always a bargain…but not the one pictured here. In Thailand this would not cost for than 500 baht. The folks selling this one at some “New Age” website want $159.00! Maybe you should forget making mats and start exporting them.
Now if all this isn’t enough to make you want to immediately pack your bags and head for these jasmine scented shores, wait… there’s more! Apparently the 1975 Labour Relations Act will be amended so that foreign workers will now have the same welfare and labor rights as Thais…including the right to form their own unions…and the 2002 State Labour Skill Development Act will be provide job training for foreigners.
Of course all this sounds too good to be true. So what’s the catch? Where is the fly in the ointment? Does the term “foreigner” apply to all non Thais? Specifically does it include pale-skinned, big-nosed Farangs? Am I being cynical to think that Thailand will pay the barest lip-service to its ASEAN obligations and allow only a token amount of foreigners to work in the Kingdom? Of course even the big wigs in the Thai government can’t possibly expect that there is suddenly going to be a flood of Farangs seeking to take up rolling handmade cigarettes as a calling. In any case I doubt that there will be any relaxation the requirements for foreigners to own and operate a business here.
I can’t possibly imagine that many (if any) professionals such as doctors and nurses would seek to relocate to Thailand and earn only a fraction of what they were earning back in Farangland. Indeed who out there could work at any job earning only Thai wages? Still, it’s nice to know that it might be possible, if supremely impractical, to fulfill your lifelong ambition and become a hat maker or an auctioneer. I’d be curious to know which of these glorious new jobs you’d choose if given the chance. Drop me an e-mail and let me know. Also what dream jobs would you just love to see go on the list of available careers.
I laughed when I read the news article that many professions were being opened up to foreigners. Some, obviously, would appeal to almost no foreigners while in other professions there are foreigners doing that sort of work already!