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Living in Hanoi, Vietnam, I had the best social life I have ever had and made friends for life. You will meet so many like-minded people.
-Georgie from Teacher’s Friend Vietnam
Teaching English in Vietnam is becoming quite popular for a range of reasons. Even those who have never even visited the country before are finding the idea of teaching in Vietnam to be quite appealing. A plethora of jobs are available for this type of work, and this is partly due to the National Foreign Languages Project.
The NFLP has a goal of having most students in Vietnam to know the language well enough that they can use English in their work and daily communication by 2020 according to AmChamVietnam.com. Therefore, there is more of an emphasis on learning English than there was in the past, which is fantastic news for those who want to find jobs in Vietnam teaching English. It can be a great fit for those who are interested in international teaching while experiencing a very interesting culture.
Vietnam offers fantastic food, history and architecture, visual arts, historic sites to visit, and so much more that you can enjoy in your downtime. Many who choose to start teaching English in Vietnam fall in love with the country and all that it has to offer. However, before you pack your bags, buy your ticket and head across the sea, you need to have a firm understanding of just what it takes to start teaching in Vietnam and what you can expect in terms of salary, preparing your visa, and making the trip. We will be covering what you need to know.
Requirements for Teaching English in Vietnam
While it is not required to have previous teaching experience to provide English lessons in Vietnam, you will need to be able to speak English at a native level. To gain employment and to get a work visa to teach English legally in Vietnam, it is beneficial to have citizenship in a “major native-English speaking country”. These countries include:
- The United States
- South Africa
- New Zealand
In addition, you will need to have a degree – a BA certificate. The focus of the degree does not matter. It only matters that you have the degree, and that you can supply the academic transcripts from the college. They require that you can provide the original documents for both in some cases.
In addition, you will need to have a health check from an approved hospital. The easiest way to do this is once you arrive in Vietnam using the approved list of hospitals that will be supplied by your employer who is processing the work permit for you. It tends to be quite cheap to have the exams completed in Vietnam compared to in your home country.
Another one of the requirements for teaching English in Vietnam is to have clearance from the police. They want to check into your criminal history before they hire people to teach, naturally. You will need to provide the original document for this check, and it needs to have been completed within the last six months in your home country.
To teach English in Vietnam, you will also need to have, at a minimum, a 120 hour TEFL certificate. According to Alex at Ninja Teacher:
“One of the most important requirements is a TEFL certification, ideally completed in-person to gain practical teaching skills.”
There is no actual requirement for the TEFL set by the Labour Department in Vietnam. However, there is a catch. The easiest way to get a work permit in Vietnam is to get a job with a reputable language center who will process the work permit for you. This means they will send off all of your documents to the Department of Labour in Vietnam and also pay all the processing fees on your behalf. In order for you to get a job with these reputable language centers, you will need to have at least a 120 hour TEFL certificate which was completed in class (not online), with at least six hours of observed teaching practice. Without this, you will find it very hard to find work legally in Vietnam. Sometimes, a 120 hour online TEFL course is accepted if you have more than one year of post TEFL ESL teaching experience but it depends on the needs of the employers at the time.
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Teaching Salaries in Vietnam
One of the prime reasons many people are interested in teaching English in Vietnam is because of the salaries compared to the cost of living. Salary can vary depending on the type of job you obtain but many who are teaching can earn up to $1200-$1500 US a month. The salary in International schools is much higher, around $2000-2500 US, however, to get this kind of job you will need to be a licensed teacher. With the added bonus of being able to take on extra high paid private classes, you can easily add an extra $500-1000 US per month to this figure.
The cost of living is far less than that – generally between $650 and $900. This means most can end up saving close to half of their earnings each month and have plenty of money to take care of rent, food, entertainment, and more according to Georgie at Teacher’s Friend Vietnam:
“I was saving around £1000 per month ($1400 US) when teaching in Vietnam, and teaching about 25 hours per week.”
The rates can vary based on a range of factors. It will depend on where you are based and the type of school you are working, as well as how many hours you are working. The average teaching hours per week tend to be between 20 and 30, and this typically includes additional prep time.
The following are some of the typical salaries:
|School Type||Salary in VND||Salary in USD|
|Language Schools||27,248,400 VND||$1,200/mo|
|Private Schools||31,789,800 VND||$1,400/mo|
|International Schools||57,033,750 VND||$2,500/mo|
When you are searching for the school where you want to work, you can inquire about their method of payment for your salary – hourly or monthly.
Finding a Job in Vietnam
Of course, to be successful teaching English in Vietnam, you are going to need to find a job, and before that, you need to know more about the types of jobs that are typically going to be available. Let’s look at the various types of schools available, and the pros and cons that come with working for each.
First, there are language schools. One of the nice things about these language schools is the fact that they are available in many cities and towns throughout the country, so it does help to make it a bit easier to find work.
The language schools have quite a few pros to them. They tend to be highly reliable and supportive with many of these schools having workshops for new teachers, as well as training and professional development, so they can get started off on the right foot. Some of these schools have other benefits associated with them, as well, such as overtime pay, relocation packages, medical insurance, and paid holiday for full-time teachers. The reputable ones should help to arrange visas and work permits and should cover the costs for you. If they are not prepared to get you a work permit, you probably don’t want to work for them. Beware of small language centers without a national reputation, as these can often be the ones that don’t pay on time, the correct amount or leave teachers with very few resources etc.
Also, first time teachers are much more likely to find work in this type of center, and no prior teaching experience is required. However, there are some downsides, as well. This type of works usually includes an evening weekday schedule and a weekend schedule. Because of the way the hours are split up, it can mean less time to travel and enjoy the sights.
The hiring period for the language schools tends to be year-round, so you can typically apply whenever you wish. The same is not true of the private schools, as you will see.
Another option that is highly sought after is to teach in a private school. These schools usually cater to those who are wealthy, as well as expats. These will generally be based in the larger cities, and they tend to be a much more lucrative option when compared with the language schools. Of course, with the salaries being higher in these schools, there tends to be more competition, as well. Therefore, more experienced teachers usually get these jobs.
In addition, many of the private schools would prefer that you have some teaching experience before you begin. They may also offer continued career development for those teachers who are brought aboard and may even provide a housing allowance for teachers, although this is not always the case.
Getting these jobs can be more difficult, and you will find that this work tends to be more seasonal. The jobs will usually be available in September only. However, it will vary from school to school, so always be aware of the hiring policies of any school you are considering.
You may also find that you would rather become a private tutor teaching English in Vietnam rather than working directly for any type of school. This has some pros and cons, but it is certainly a viable option. However, to do this legally, you will still need to have a work permit for working in Vietnam, and so will also need to be based at a language center or school.
When it comes to the pros, you will find that one of the biggest advantages is having more flexibility with your time. You can set up sessions that work for you and for the students, whether they are children or adults that allow you to still get out and enjoy being in the country. In addition, those who are providing private lessons will typically make more money than someone who is working at one of the language schools. The money is more similar to a private school. Of course, this will depend on experience- but typical rates of pay are $20-25 US per hour and can go up as high as $30 US per hour.
Those who are considering this route will need to market themselves regularly to continually find a supply of students. This is one of the only real disadvantages. If you do not have students, you will not be earning. Until you are established, and you have a good marketing platform in place, you need to make sure you have some savings for your bills, simply because there is more risk to this method.
Also, this type of work can mean much more travel is required between classes and you will be based all over the place, instead of in just one location in the language centers.
How to Find a Job
When it comes to finding a job in Vietnam, you have two basic choices. First, you can start your search online to see what schools might be hiring and then try to get into contact with those who are recruiting new teachers.
However, many feel the best way to get a job is simply to head to Vietnam and start searching in person. Those who are not accustomed to traveling and who have never been to the country will certainly feel intimidated by this prospect. Given the sheer number of jobs in this country for those teaching English, it is possible, though. Choose a city and start looking. Larger cities tend to have more opportunities.
Once you have found a job that interests you, get in touch with those in charge of hiring, provide your resume/application, and let them know you have all the items required to work in Vietnam ready to go. They will likely want to interview you to learn more about you, and they will check to make sure your credentials are all in order. In some cases, they may be able to help with a work visa. Most will have to take care of this on their own, though.
Visa Process for Teachers in Vietnam
There are many types of visas when it comes to working in Vietnam. The B2 visa is for execution of investment projects licensed by Vietnamese state agencies, the B3 is for working with Vietnamese enterprises. However, the B4 is the type of visa you would want to get for teaching English in Vietnam. This visa is for working at “representative offices or branches of economic, cultural, or other professional organizations of foreign countries, or work with a Vietnam based nongovernmental organization” according to Vietnam-Briefing.com.
Make sure that any job you take provides you with a work permit required for working legally in Vietnam. Coming to Vietnam on a business visa without a work permit is not legal- although many visa agencies will tell you different!
Keep in mind that the legislation and requirements for work permits and visas in Vietnam can and do change, so always check the most recent regulations. If you are working for a reputable school or language center, then they will be working closely with the Department of Labour to make sure that you are working legally at all times.
If you plan to come to Vietnam to look for a job you should come in on a business visa and then get it turned into a work permit once you have employment. The easiest and best way to get a visa is to contact a Visa Agent in Vietnam such as Vietnam Visa (be careful- there are a lot of scams out there!) and they will provide you with a visa on arrival letter. You take this to the airport, along with the fee in US dollars (cash) which depends on the county you are from, and two passports sized photos.
FAQs about Teaching in Vietnam
Can You Teach in Vietnam with a Criminal Record?
Under Vietnamese labor laws, a foreigner who wants to work in Vietnam needs to apply for a work permit to work legally. Having a criminal record, however, will pose a major obstacle to your teaching dreams. This is because one of the conditions for obtaining a work permit in Vietnam to teach is a clean criminal record from your home country.
If you have resided in Vietnam or any other country for longer than six months, you will also need to obtain criminal records from their authorities.
Can You Teach in Vietnam without a Degree?
Having a bachelor’s degree is essential for the work permit. One of the reasons for this requirement is to ensure that only the most qualified people apply to teach in Vietnam as well which helps to reduce the number of applicants that are looking to start a teaching career in Vietnam.
If you are about completing your degree or graduating soon but have not received your certificate yet, Vietnamese law requires you to have a physical copy of your certificate at least six weeks before starting a job as a teacher.
Can You Teach in Vietnam without a TEFL Certificate?
While there is no official requirement that teachers must have a teaching certificate, it will make getting a visa much easier. Furthermore, not having one will significantly reduce the companies and training centers for which you can work.
Resources for Living & Working in Vietnam
- THN – the leading classifieds site for Vietnam – think Craigslist and then some.