I talked to a teacher today who told me that he saw the paperwork of his agency stating that the agency receives 65,000 THB per month for him and his Thai assistant. Interestingly he gets paid 32,000 and the assistant 9,000 THB.
This agency has more than ten teachers working at this one particular school.
^ Yes, agencies are making a killing. I saw the contract between my school and my agency, including what the school pays the agency for me. The school is paying a lot more than I receive.
I wish that it wasn't so complicated for schools to hire teachers, with the VISAs, work permits, etc. Some schools do, of course. I talked to one of the head teachers at my school about the difference in my salary and what the school pays. I suggested that when my contract with the agency is up, I could work directly for the school, they could pay me less than what they are paying my agency, and could even give me a substantial raise. That person thought it was a good idea. That person got back to me and said the contract between them and the agency wouldn't allow that to happen. Also, VISAs, work permits, etc. are too complicated for the school to handle. So they're hands are tied and they are basically dependent on the agency. Agencies have both teachers' and schools' balls in a vice.
^ And how much of that is kicked back to school officials? It's not just about the work permits and visa's, they can tell you to handle that yourself.
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^ Do you mean from the school, to the agency, and then to the school officials? I really hadn't considered that, but it certainly makes sense, here in Thailand.
Agency to school officials: "If your school chooses to hire us, we'll stuff your pockets more than the other agencies will."
Something like that?
^the agency would kick some money to the school official who chooses which agency the school should use.
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They're not all bad. BKK is a very big city, what else would you expect? I worked for an agent once in the South. Nice person. Not even close to being greedy. She made 10 grand per teacher and drove us to the gig.
so, to summarize... people dislike agencies because they make shitload of money.
How much capital do you need to start an agency?
People dislike agencies for many reasons:
1) Professional teachers are unable to be entrepreneurial and walk in off the street to negotiate directly with schools.
2) Experienced teachers are paid at the same miserably low salary as newbies.
3) Thai schools demonstrate they are unwilling to learn how to process wp/visas for Western teachers; it's more important that office staff watch hours of daily soap operas on office TVs than learn how to handle paperwork.
4) School directors would rather line their own pockets with agency kickbacks than hire good Western teachers.
5) School directors don't care a whit about their students.
6) Agencies are contributing to the continued decline in both salaries and benefits for Western teachers.
I don't give a shit how much money an agency makes or doesn't make. If it was that easy, agencies wouldn't go in and out of business as often as they do.
From the sounds of things the agency you contacted is a bit of a fly by night!