A Comprehensive Guide to Teaching English in Vietnam


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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.

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

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.

In This Guide

  1. What are the requirements to teach in [types field=’company-name’]?
  2. How much can you make teaching in [types field=’company-name’]?
  3. What is the visa process for [types field=’company-name’]?
  4. How can you get a job in [types field=’company-name’]?
  5. FAQs and resources

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
  • Canada
  • UK
  • Ireland
  • South Africa
  • Australia
  • 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: How Much Can You Earn?

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
Universities 34,060,500 VND $1,500/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.

​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.

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.

Language Schools

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.

Private Schools

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.

Private Tutoring

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.

Want more?  We did a great interview with a recruiter in Vietnam about finding a good job – you can read it here!

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.


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49 Responses

  1. Greetings. I have 2 Master degrees from Australian universities, both in English
    language and literature. I have also had 5 years teaching experience in Cambodian universities and language colleges. However, I do not have any T.E.F.L. Certificate, and with my specific and high-level qualifications, consider that rather superfluous. What are my chances of gaining employment in Vietnam, especially at a university? Secondly, is there any prejudice against a
    67 year old teacher? Finally, I have also taught music, and was formerly a professional musician in Australia. Thank you.

    1. Hi Robert – to the best of our knowledge, the retirement age for men in Vietnam is 60 and you will not be able to get a legal work visa if you older than that – sorry! Have you considered other countries?

      1. I am a Ghanaian and a certified teacher. I have a BA and IELTS GENERAL TEST TYPE with a score of 7.0. I am currently teaching in Ghana. I have no TEFL. Can I get a teaching job in Vietnam?

        1. Hi Stephen – to be honest we’re unsure – have you asked any recruiters or schools? They might be a better source for this information.

    2. Hi Robert

      I also am well qualified and looking to teach English in Vietnam. But, like you, I’m more than 60 years old.

      Can you tell me, please, if you progressed with your plans, and how you fared

      Thanks, Jeremy

  2. Could I still teach English if I am not from the “major native-English speaking country”? I am from Hong Kong.

    1. Hi Jerry – our research shows that non-native speakers can find jobs quite easily as long as their English ability is high and they meet the other requirements. Also, having a TEFL or other certificate would be a huge plus in this case.

      1. I have been teaching in the UAE for more than 2 years now. I don’t have a TEFL and haven’t been teaching English but I have been teaching Computer Science in English for the entire time. I’m from Ireland also. Where do I stand in relation to teaching in Vietnam?

        1. Hi Jamie – nothing is impossible in Vietnam but you will have a lot more luck if you have TEFL as well as a 4-year degree. Your best bet is to start contacting jobs/schools to get a feel for your chances.

      2. Hi I’m 52 and been teaching Grade 4 for a number of years in English and Mathematics. I’m a qualified teacher and will finish my Advanced Certificate in Teaching (4th year) in English from University of Free State in South Africa. Could I get a teaching job in Vietnam?

        1. Hi Zeenat – Id think you’d have a good shot at getting a job with those qualifications. You can always apply to 1-2 jobs and see what they say!

  3. I have a 160hour TEFL Certificate, police clearance, medical fit certificate, homeschool tutoring experience and a few other professional certificates, would I be able to get a work permit?

    1. Hi Maggie – if you don’t meet the requirements listed above (namely the passport from a native speaking country & bachelor’s degree) then it will be difficult to find a legal teaching job.

  4. I’m an ESL teacher with five years of international classroom experience, a TEFL, and a bachelors degree. My degree is not from an accredited US university (I have a moral issue with accreditation organizations in the US –long story.) Can I still work in Vietnam as a teacher?

  5. Hi..I’m 44 and want to leave South Africa to go to Vietnam to teach English..will I be able to get a job

  6. Hi am a Nigerian, B.sc in political science from a Nigerian University.Age 27 without TEFL certificate ! with excellent accent. Can I teach English in Vietnam. Am willing to develop professionally.

    1. The minimum requirement is a bachelors degree but you can improve your chances if you invest in a TEFL.

      1. I intend coming as a volunteer, to enable me gain the much needed experience.My question is I don’t know where to start.
        Thank you.

        1. Id start with a simple Google search about volunteer teaching in Vietnam and contact every company that comes up – I dont have any experience with this so that’s the best advice I can give, sorry!

  7. Good afternoon to you,

    Thanks so much for creating this beautiful helpful webpage!

    I taught English in Japan back in the day in 2005, since then I’ve acquired my Bachelor or Arts and Master of Arts.
    Speak fluent English, 38 years old.

    Would like to pursue this as my next goal.

    Could you give a starting point for one of the schools you’re familiar with do that I can start looking pls….


  8. Hello,

    Thank you for the information provided. It’s really useful!

    I do have a question regarding the notarization of my documents. There seems to be conflicting information out there as to where it can possibly be done. Of course the rules and requirements change all the time but is it possible to fly to Vietnam with all your original documents and have them certified there?

    Pleased to know.

    1. Hi Rhonda – according to this it seems like it depends on your nationality. US citizens can still get it done in Vietnam but other nationalities are probably safer doing it before your arrival in Vietnam.

  9. Hi,

    I don’t have a bachelors degree but have a Diploma in Higher Education and a Post Graduate Certificate. Any idea whether this would be accepted? (I’d be doing TEFL before applying)



    1. Hi Andrew – we aren’t sure as the requirements that we’re familiar with insist on a bachelors degree. We recommend you ask the school for the final verdict.

  10. Hi.
    first i wanna appreciate your useful page with lots of information about teaching in Vietnam.
    I am 29 years old and I have IELTS score 7.5 and also TESOL certificate and 5 years teaching English experience. If i wanna teach English in Vietnam legally, is it possible? while I am not native speaker.

  11. Salaries are getting lower due to the large numbers of backpackers working as teachers. You will need to use a motorbike to get around. Roads are very dangerous. You can earn 25 dollars an hour ,however, you do not get paid for anything outside of class teaching times. Some classes are 30-45 mins. Most schools are asking for teachers to get a work permit now and renting a place with no curfew or rats is between 350-600 dollar a month in Hanoi or HCMC

  12. I have diploma in basic education and a Bachelor Degree in English language ( B.Ed English Language).I have been teaching English Language for the past seven years. I am currently teaching English Language at the Senior High School but have no TEFL. Please, advise me on how to apply.

  13. I have the following qualifications: Bcomm (University West Australia); CPA (Australia); Dip Ed (Edith Cowan University); TEFOL; Cert iv Training and Assessment. I want to work in Vietnam teaching English/Maths or Accounting.
    I am 63 years of age. I am told that even though retirement age in Vietnam is 60 there are still opportunities to work for people with my qualifications and experience.

    1. Hi Kevin – I believe the retirement age in Vietnam is 62 for men and it will be quite difficult for people over that age to find good opportunities. You can always contact a few jobs/recruiters and see but you may have to work harder to find anything (if there is anything) – sorry!

  14. Hi. I’ve got a Bachelor’s degree, in-class TEFL certificate (60 hrs), background check done, online 30 day visa. I’d like to ask:

    1) Am I eligible for an eventual work permit once I find a job there since my TEFL is 60 hrs and not 120. I’ve heard that I cannot get a work permit otherwise and that’s worrisome! Will I still be able to find work?
    2) What exactly do I need to get notarized? And should I notarize the originals or copies?
    3) How does the visa process work upon arrival if I have an online visa? Do I have to print it and physically show it to them?


  15. Hello, I am wondering if the requirements are the same to teach as a volunteer in Vietnam. I have been unable to find a clear and solid answer, even from the Vietnamese embassy in Canada. Thank you.

  16. I am from Australia and have a Business Degree, Teaching Degree and a Masters in Special Education. I would much prefer to do a TEFL course online to fit around my busy work schedule and I like working at my own pace. Would the fact that I am already an experienced teacher work in favour?, or would it still be hard for me to find work in Vietnam if I choose to do the TEFL certifcate online (as opposed to face to face)? Thanks

    1. Hi Robbie – with your experience it shouldn’t matter if you do the TEFL online or in person – your actual degree will carry the most weight.

  17. Hello.. I’m from South Korea. I have Bachelor’s Degree majored in English Literature. I have a good English accent and can speak like native speaker. However, I don’t have a teaching experience and a TEFL or TESOL certificate. Is it possible for me to get a teaching job in Vietnam ?
    If I want to get a job, which certificate should i get ? TESOL or TEFL ?
    Thank you in advance.

    1. Hi Jee – it will be very hard for you to get a legal job with a Korean passport. With that being said, I can’t say if it’s impossible or not, but I’d opt for a good TEFL certificate with in-class experience and observation.

  18. I know this will sound super repetitive but I have a college diploma and a tefl can I get a job teaching in vietnam?

    1. Hi Brian – if you’re a native speaker with a degree + TEFL you can definitely get a job in Vietnam.

  19. I am a graduate (human anatomy) from a recognized university in Nigeria…I don’t have TEFL, how do I get started?

    1. Hi Cynthia – your best option is to browse our job board (or any job board) and start applying to jobs that interest you. Good luck!

  20. You wrote in your article that TEFL certificates must be 120 hours completed in class (not online). However, your site also advertises a variety of 120-hour TEFL certificates done online. So are they all useless? Or is there some online practicum that is considered the same as an in-class, brick-and-mortar training? If you could clarify this requirement, I’d appreciate it!

    1. Hi Jason – online TEFLs aren’t useless but many schools prefer you to have in-person teaching observation. It doesn’t make one type of TEFL better than another as it’s just a preference, though occasionally some of our online TEFL advertisements overlap on pages where we recommend in-person certificates.

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