Teaching English in Vietnam can be an exciting opportunity. The country has a current push towards English language acquisition in the form of the National Foreign Languages Project; the goal of which is to generate English proficiency in all students by 2020. Therefore, the ease of finding a position is at an all time high.
Not only are teaching jobs prevalent in public schools, they’re available at a staggering number of pre-schools, language centers, international schools, and private schools. On top of the sheer volume of positions, Vietnam employs a year-round hiring system; making it easy to find an English teaching job in the country.
If you’re not just looking for a quick hiring process, however, and are more in it for the country itself: Vietnam is a veritable paradise. Walk-through fresh fruit and flower markets in Ho Chi Minh city, have some clothes custom made for you in Hoi An, and enjoy the freshest seafood and freshly brewed beer in a myriad of picturesque coastal towns. With year-round sunshine, friendly people, ample nature, and bustling nightlife, Vietnam is hard to beat.
So if you’re sold on the idea, where do you start? This guide will walk you through some of the most important information about teaching English in Vietnam - including what you can expect to earn.
Overall, it doesn’t take much to secure a position in Vietnam. While most schools prefer for teachers to hold a college degree (in any subject), it’s not required, and it’s possible to find a job without one.
If you want to stand out amongst the competition, you can also look into obtaining your TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate, which you can obtain through courses ranging from 5 days to 5 weeks at various institutions.
As is the case in most countries, the higher level your position, the more stringent they’re likely to be about qualifications. At a public elementary school, for instance, you could find a job simply due to being a native English speaker. If you’re hoping to teach in a secondary school, private school, or international school, you’ll likely need some qualifications to offer, or at least a bachelor’s degree. For positions teaching English at a university in Vietnam, candidates with master’s degrees are significantly more likely to be considered.
If none of those options work for you, you can also try your hand at private tutoring. Many children and adults work with tutors, and the hiring guidelines for those types of positions are much less strict.
At the moment, there are no major governmentally-sponsored programs for bringing English teachers to Vietnam. However, if you’re more comfortable working through a reputable organization than finding a job on your own, there are some agencies that can help place you in position.
CIEE is a U.S.-based NGO, CIEE (Council on International Educational Exchange) and works to place candidates in English-teaching positions within their widespread network. With the ideals of fostering idea exchange, promoting cultural understanding, and encouraging global citizenship, CIEE’s only goal is helping you find a way to teach overseas; ultimately, this makes them great to work with. Not only does CIEE list positions, they also have a bevy of great resources to help you on your relocation journey.
TeachAway works more like an agency, listing open English teaching jobs in Vietnam and around the world. TeachAway will work to place you in a position, and they also offer an array of valuable resources for helping you with visas, travel, housing, and cultural assimilation, among other things.
Vietnam is well known to be one of the most lucrative countries for international teaching opportunities, not as much for paying high salaries as for the extremely low cost of living.
On average, teachers in Vietnam can expect to make about $800USD/ £640 per month, however, with your bachelor’s degree, TEFL certificate, and a couple years of teaching experience under your belt, that salary could shoot up as high as $1800/ £1400 for private schools and learning centres.
Living in Vietnam is extremely inexpensive. There are some areas where it can be difficult to see the price difference: rent, for example, will still cost you about $500USD/ £400 per month. When you look at other estimated costs, like a meal at a restaurant for only $1.75/ £1.40 it’s easy to see why living is so cheap.
Some other examples of Vietnam’s low cost of living (based on Ho Chi Minh) include:
- Joining a gym: $27/ £22 per month
- Riding a kilometer in a taxi: < $/£1
- Buying a one way ticket on public transport: $0.25/ £0.19
- Buying a domestic beer at the store: $0.70/ £.60
- Buying a domestic beer at a restaurant: $0.80/ £0.70
- Three course meal for two people at a mid-range restaurant: $18/ £14
To understand how much the cost of living equates to in your home currency, you can check an online currency converter.
If you’ll be funding your bank account in Vietnam from your account back home, consider using an international transfer service like TransferWise to save money. This won't only help cut out expensive international transfer fees (money is sent by local bank transfers in both your home country and Vietnam), but will also give you the actual mid-market exchange rate. That means more for you, and less for the banks.
If you’re planning to work in Vietnam, you’re going to need a work visa. The good news is that the process of obtaining a visa will largely be handled by your Vietnamese employer.
While it hasn’t historically been the case, today you can enter Vietnam on a tourist visa to find a job, and convert that visa to a work visa once you’ve secured a position. This can all be done without ever leaving the country.
Overall, the visa process is fairly easy; just make sure you’ve found a job before you start your application.
For more information about getting a Vietnamese work visa, check out this helpful Internations post.
If you’ve made the choice to seek out a teaching job in Vietnam, congratulations! You’re sure to fall in love with the beautiful country and laidback, friendly atmosphere.
To get a jump start on your job search, check out Go Overseas for a fairly comprehensive list of things to know and places to look for jobs in Vietnam. Vietnam Teaching Jobs also lists a bunch of open positions, as does Reach to Teach’s Job board
Good luck in your search!