In Thailand there are 61,416 full-time monks and about 32,000 monasteries. The Sangha (brotherhood of monks) in Thailand consists of about 200,000 monks (full-time and part-time monks) and 85,000 novices at most times of the year.
However, these numbers increase during the Buddhist ‘Lent’ to around 300,000 and 100,000 novices. Young boys may become novices at any age, but a man cannot become a monk until he reaches the age of twenty. He can then remain a monk for as long as he wishes, even for just one day. Three months is more usual, although some choose to remain in monkhood for the rest of their lives.
In Thervada Buddhism, monkdom is something that all young men go through for a period of time as a kind of maturing and coming of age ritual for the young man and a way for his family to earn merit. Ordination usually takes place when a young man reaches the age of 20. Traditionally Thai women have considered a suitor to be "unripe" if he hasn't spent a portion of his life as a monk. Phra is the honorific title for monks in Thailand.
Many monks who become ordained for their entire lives serve as scholars or teachers, with some specializing in healing, folk magic, fortunetelling and astrology. Thailand's chief Buddhist monk is known as the Supreme Patriarch. Abbots are high ranking monks. They are usually well educated or have some other skill that commands respect. Many are heads of temples. Some run charitable foundations. Many high ranking monks are from the poor Northeast. Monkdom has traditionally been a way for poorer people to advance.