Teaching English in Vietnam is rapidly gaining popularity due to several factors such as the fascinating culture, colorful markets, tropical climate, and friendly people.
Stretching up the coast of the South China Sea and bordering three other countries, Vietnam serves as a hub for backpackers, travelers, and English teachers. Locals are very interested in learning English, so there are many opportunities to teach to both adults and children.
In order to teach English in Vietnam, most teachers will require a bachelor’s degree and a criminal background check, and many employers may also require a TEFL certificate. The average salary for teaching in Vietnam is $1,000 - $1,800 per month.
Vietnam’s cities and towns are full of language schools. The ability to find work within large cities like Hanoi or Ho Chi Min City, thanks to the sheer number, is remarkably easy. For the best (and highest paying) jobs you’ll need a CELTA/TRINITY certification or higher, yet it’s still easy to find English teaching jobs solely as a native speaker.
The main reasons teachers choose language schools are due to reliability, support, and professional development. For new teachers, these schools usually offer lots of workshops, training, and managerial meetings. Another great advantage is that they typically provide perks like contract completion allowances, relocation packages, overtime pay, plus they cover the cost and arrangement of visas and work permits.
The downside of working in a language school is you’ll usually have to sign a fixed contract that ties you into working a set number of hours per month. This normally works out to be a weekend and a fixed weekday schedule, which may limit your opportunity to travel.
There’s also the matter of image (or as it’s called in Vietnam: “saving face”), which means some of these schools will often allow students to progress to the next level to maintain a better reputation. This can, of course, be frustrating to English teachers and the students' peers.
Finding work in state schools--unless it's through a volunteer program--is generally harder for land for the average TEFL teacher. International schools, on the other hand, offer the most lucrative TEFL gigs in the country with salaries that eclipse those of any public school. These international schools are typically located in big cities, providing a fun environment and lots to explore.
A position in an international school often requires a few years of teaching experience. However, it also offers on-going career development opportunities and huge perks like airfare reimbursement and housing allowance. You'll mainly be teaching Engish to ex-pat or wealthy Vietnamese children. These schools tend to be located in residential suburbs, which (depending on the city) can be either positive or negative!
It can be helpful to get a list of schools from ex-pat directories like the New Hanoian. Also be aware, that unlike the year-round hiring period of language schools, these posts come available during the summer months of June through to August.
Teaching private English lessons in Vietnam, especially in the big cities, is pretty straightforward. The main advantage being that teachers remain a lot more flexible and make more money per hour than working in language schools.
Finding students is a matter of marketing yourself regularly in local papers like Vietnam News, Tuoi Tre or even ex-pat targeted magazines like The Word. Teachers also get good results by posting notices in local hangouts and rely on word-of-mouth.
Teaching private English classes can be unpredictable and hard to make a full-time income. Most teachers arrange private English tutoring to supplement their school salary. Many tutors lose private students during Tet (Vietnamese New Year) when work slows down. Private tutoring also involves navigating appropriate work permits and arranging visas on your own. The ability to travel to nearby countries like Laos, Thailand, and Cambodia can be a huge benefit, depending on your lifestyle.
Private lessons range from 250,000 to 300,000 Dong (US$10-16 an hour), depending on experience. If you're an experienced teacher with highly regarded teaching certifications, you may be able to charge between $60-$100 per hour.
When and Where to Look for Jobs:
The best way to find a job in Vietnam is to arrive and search in person, which can be a bit intimidating for those who have less travel experience. However, English teaching jobs at language schools are easy to come by, so if you're a native speaker, you shouldn't have much difficulty finding a job (or two). Otherwise, you can find teaching jobs that help with pre-departure like TravelBud, or through the Go Overseas job board.
Due to a large demand for English teachers, a year-round hiring schedule, and the opportunity to save a healthy amount, it’s no wonder that Vietnam is fast becoming a TEFL-teacher favorite.
There are so many choices of great cities in Vietnam to teach English. Interested in big city living? Head to the teeming southern metropolis of Ho Chi Minh City or the northern capital of Hanoi and enjoy life in the fast lane. Want to kick back and laze your days near the beach? Try the surrounding paradise of places like Da Nang, Vung Tau, or Nha Trang.
Qualifications Needed to Teach English in Vietnam:
Officially, to gain a work visa in Vietnam, an applicant will need to be a native English speaker with a bachelor's degree. A criminal background check is also required. A TEFL certificate or work experience is not mandatory, however, it may be helpful to get a teaching job.
Decide what kind of teaching experience you would like. Most full-time jobs will request you work 15-25 classroom hours per week, plus prep time. Other language schools will hire teachers part-time, expecting you to tutor or work at multiple language schools. Your classes will usually be 45-50 minutes, and you'll often teach five classes a day, five days a week. For full-time jobs, it's not uncommon for teachers to work 30-40 hours a week when you factor in lesson planning, office hours, and other activities.
Keep in Mind:
In the past few years, Vietnam has become a more and more popular teaching destination, and is no longer Asia's "best kept secret." Many ESL teachers from countries with strict work environments like South Korea, Japan, and China are moving to Vietnam to take the best ESL positions. If you're interested in teaching abroad in Vietnam, the best time to go is now before the market becomes oversaturated as more teachers discover this gem.
Average Salary in Vietnam:
An average teacher's salary in Vietnam is around $1,000 USD a month. However, with some experience, you can make $1,200-$2,000 depending on the school and your qualifications. You can usually make $1,200 - $1,800 at a private language center, or a little over $2,000 at a public school. Usually, those making higher amounts are native speakers with a bachelor's degree, a TEFL certificate, and previous teaching experience.
Cost of Living in Vietnam:
Due to the low cost of living, you should be able to save 35% of your income, depending on your spending habits. Monthly rent should cost you around $300-$600 USD a month, which will be your biggest expense. If you want to save more money, live in a cheaper accommodation or find a job that provides housing. Food in Vietnam is extremely inexpensive, costing $1-2 USD a meal. To live comfortably, you will generally need between $700 - $1,000 per month, everything else can be saved.
Visa & Sponsorships:
Even if you don't have a teaching job lined up yet, you will need a visa to enter Vietnam. Unlike other countries, it's acceptable to arrive in Vietnam on a three-month tourist visa and job search. Once you've been hired and signed a contract, the employer usually helps with the necessary paperwork. They may or may not sponsor your visa, so it's a good idea to save up a little extra money for this cost ($50 - $100). Visa costs can depend on the type and the length of your stay. Make sure to have original documents to provide such as your university degree, teaching certificate, etc.
Contributed by Will Peach & Richelle Gamlam
Teaching Programs in Vietnam
Volunteer Teaching Programs in Vietnam
What qualifications do I need to teach English in Vietnam?
To teach English in Vietnam you need to have a bachelor's degree, be a native English speaker, and pass a criminal background check. Although a teaching certificate (like TEFL or CELTA) is helpful, it is not a mandatory requirement for many jobs.
How much money can you make teaching English in Vietnam?
First-time teachers can usually make about $1,000 per month. For those with more teaching experience or qualifications, they can earn between $1,200 - $2,000. It also depends on the teaching institution, whether it's a private, public, or international school.
Can I teach English in Vietnam without a bachelor's degree?To legally teach English in Vietnam, you need to have a university degree that you can provide the government when you are applying for your work visa. If you don't have a bachelor's degree, it's possible to find volunteer teaching opportunities that don't require one.
Do I need a visa for Vietnam?Yes, you must have a visa and passport (valid for six months from arrival) to enter Vietnam. However, it's possible to arrive in Vietnam on a tourist visa to search for work before you apply for a work visa.