ULTIMATE Guide to Teaching English in Vietnam

Teaching English in Vietnam is an awesome way to experience the greatest expat lifestyle South East Asia has to offer. Cast your eyes over the landscape of this tropical land and tell us you don’t want to jump on a plane to head there right now! Vietnam is as much a joy to explore as it looks – and don’t even get us started on Vietnamese food.

While you do need to satisfy a list of requirements to teach English in Vietnam, you can usually find a job without prior teaching experience. This opens the door for those curious about the TEFL abroad lifestyle. Teaching contracts in Vietnam usually last around 12 months, and the country is a great fit for nomadic types who want to settle in one place for a while.

Financially, Vietnam might be more lucrative than you think as a teaching destination. Your salary will afford you a comfortable lodging and cover all your expenses. You should be able to pocket some savings each month, which you can put towards your travels around the region.

Appetite whetted? Right, let’s tell you all you need to know about getting a job in Vietnam!

 

where should I stay in Vietnam

Source: Hien Phung Thu (Shutterstock)

 

Why Teach English in Vietnam?

Vietnam is a wonderful place for backpackers and nomadic wanderers seeking a period of stability. If you want to experience what it’s like to live and work overseas and lay down some roots for a while, it’s a top choice.

 

Pros | Why you NEED to Teach in Vietnam

  • Attractive salary: While not quite as high as neighboring China or Japan, the salary in Vietnam isn’t bad at all – especially in comparison to the low living costs in Vietnam. Your salary will afford you a comfortable lifestyle and the option to bank a percentage of your earnings. Or you can put it towards funding your next adventures!
  • Variety of clients: English teachers in Vietnam have the option to teach kids or adults. There is a high demand for both as the Vietnamese economy continues to develop. Some jobs entail teaching IELTS students. Most jobs in Vietnam are found in private English language centers or public schools (primary and secondary level).
  • Flexible hiring: Some schools in Vietnam do schedule Skype interviews and make offers before candidates arrive. However, it is significantly easier to arrive and get hired within the country. This means you can shop around and decide which city you’d prefer to be based in.
  • Thriving ex-pat community: Vietnam is popular with ex-pats and digital nomads, so you won’t struggle to make new connections.
  • Year-round job opportunities: Teaching jobs in Vietnam are available year-round. The only time you should be cautious of is Tet: Lunar New Year. This falls in late January/ early February, and much of the country closes for at least a week while the Vietnamese celebrate with family.
  • Decent hours: On average, a teacher in Vietnam will work 20-30 hours per week. This should be enough to bring in a decent wage to cover your costs while allowing you the liberty of free time to travel.
  • Vietnam itself: The country is very liveable, with excellent healthcare and top-notch travel infrastructure. There’s loads to see and do in Vietnam during your many school holidays.

 

Cons | What to Consider before Teaching in Vietnam

  • Visa: Really, the visa isn’t that bad for Vietnam – it just might feel like a faff. If you plan to secure a job in Vietnam, you will need to enter on a tourist visa. Once you receive your job offer, you have to exit the country and return (bordering Laos and Cambodia are the obvious choices). Your new employer will write you a letter allowing you to purchase a three-month business visa upon re-entry. This business visa will be converted into a work permit, the process of which will be handled by your employer. If you are employed on a full-time basis, then your employer will reimburse you for the cost of your three-month business visa. It is possible to do a visa extension without leaving Vietnam, but this requires using an agency, and the costs can soar. The fees vary and change frequently. It usually works out cheaper to take that minibreak in Bangkok!
  • Candidate requirements: As with many destinations, those planning to teach English in Vietnam will require a TEFL certificate and a bachelor’s degree. Your bachelor’s degree need not be in education. Some teachers report getting hired without one or the other, but you will need to work harder to prove yourself and be attractive to employers.
  • Native speakers preferred: Many schools will show preference to teachers who are native English speakers. Those with citizenship from the UK, Ireland, Canada, the US, New Zealand, Australia or South Africa are typically preferred. Again, that’s not to say you won’t get a job in Vietnam if you’re from elsewhere, but you will need to be aware of the competition.
  • Tax: You will be taxed 20% off your earnings regardless of your salary. Sorry ’bout that.
Is Vietnam safe for solo female travellers?

source: Dudarev Mikhail (Shutterstock)

 

How much can Teachers Expect to Make?

Teachers in Vietnam can expect to make at least $1,100 USD (25,049,500 VND) per month. But the average salary is $1,500 (35,000,000 VND) per month. Teachers with experience and patience can find a job that pays over $2,000 (46,617,980 VND).

The higher your credentials are, the more you can expect to make in Vietnam. So if you have a bachelor’s degree, TEFL certificate, and happen to be a native speaker, you’re onto something.

The majority of teaching jobs available in Vietnam are usually across private English language centers and public schools. The average salary in a language school is $17 – $22 (400, 000 – 500,000 VND) per hour, or $1,500 (33,000,000 VND) per month. Most schools run classes during the evenings and weekends, and you will score two days off each week.

At a public school, you should expect to earn $17 -$20 (400,000-450,000 VND) per hour. Per month, that will amount to $1,900 – $2,200. Depending on the school, you may find that your hours are split between teaching, lesson planning, and other admin tasks.

If you have a wealth of academic credentials and a background in teaching, you could consider private tutoring. You’ll need to be more of a self-starter but you can make a lot of cash this way. Private tutors can charge as much as $100 (2,331,050 VND) per hour (don’t count on this huge sum though). If you’re offered a part-time job in Vietnam, you might want to investigate this option to supplement your income.

Note that many teachers in Vietnam work under the table and get paid cash in hand. You’re unlikely to get deported if discovered, but will be working without legal protection and may have to fund your own visa costs.

 

Requirements for Teaching in Vietnam

The requirements for teaching in Vietnam are fairly straightforward.

  • Native English proficiency: Native speakers will have a much easier time getting hired in Vietnam. If you’re not a native speaker, don’t rule yourself out; as long as you speak fluently, you should still find work.
  • TEFL Certificate: The majority of schools will require evidence of a TEFL certificate. This may have been completed online or in the classroom. If you don’t have a certificate but have a bachelor’s degree, you may still find work – for a lower salary. Teaching experience is not mandatory in Vietnam, but if you don’t have experience, then the TEFL certificate is all the more attractive.
  • Bachelor’s degree: Most schools have a bachelor’s degree as the bare minimum qualification. It’s rare to get hired without one. Your degree can be in any subject and need not be linked to education. You may be expected to show the original certificate, so it’s worth taking yours with you.
  • Visa & work permit: You will require a business visa and a work permit to teach in Vietnam. Most aspiring teachers enter under a tourist visa and then re-enter on a business visa. This is then used to get your work permit. Your employer will handle most of the arrangements.
  • Local health check: It is common in Vietnam for teachers to ask for a medical check. This may be done at a local clinic in the country.
  • Background check: You will be expected to consent to a full background check and to give fingerprints to the police.
  • Return flight: Many travelers are asked at check-in to show proof of outbound travel from Vietnam. Your employer will not require this, but it’s worth having something prepared for the airport.

 

the top places to stay in Vietnam

Source: Efired (Shutterstock)

 

Where to Get TEFL Certified

Possessing a TEFL certificate is going to give you a helping hand towards getting your teaching job in Vietnam. It demonstrates commitment and will be particularly useful to those who don’t have any previous teaching experience. It also means you can apply for higher-paying positions.

 

Online TEFL Certificates

myTEFL ProfessionalmyTEFL IntermediateLet's TEFLTEFL Pros
120 Hours60 Hours120 Hours120 Hours
? Live Tutor Included? Live Tutor Included? No Live Tutor? No Live Tutor
? Job Assistance? No Job Assistance? Job Assistance? No Job Assistance
The most comprehensive TEFL course.Best for getting a TEFL cert quick.Great for brushing up on English knowledge.Allows a free trial before buying.

 

There are tons of places to get TEFL certificates online. Some of them are phoney. These are usually video-only courses where you don’t talk to someone or lesson prep on your own and they won’t help you teach English on the ground. Here are 3 good ones:

The myTEFL 120-hour course is the gold standard of TEFL certificates. This certification will be accepted by any country and the course prepares you for a career of English teaching and curricula. They have other certifications with fewer hours that will also work for your job in Peru but may not help you get a job somewhere more rigorous later on. MyTEFL does an awesome job of teaching the skills you need to manage a classroom and transfer your knowledge to your students.

Let’s TEFL is the second-best online TEFL certificate and might be the best for those needing to review English rules themselves before they hit the classroom. Actually, if it’s been a long time since you’ve taken a grammar class, you’re going to want to brush up.

TEFL Pros isn’t the most hands-on, but one of the best teachers at our institute vouches for the quality of their curriculum. Their course is usually the cheapest. Plus, they’ve got a free trial so you don’t need to drop money to see what this is all about!

 

Getting your TEFL in Vietnam

If you prefer, you might want to get your TEFL in Vietnam. There are a number of pluses to getting your TEFL qualification while in the country. Besides the practical teaching experience in the classroom, you’ll make some new friends and have the chance to network with the community. That can really help when it comes to job hunting later!

Most schools are based in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City. The following are worth checking out as a starting point:

Ninja Teacher: This 150-hour classroom-based course takes place in Ho Chi Minh City. You will observe teaching in a variety of schools spanning multiple age groups. Before six hours of teaching actual students, you’ll spend two days teaching your own peers. You’ll also receive support in finding a teaching job in Vietnam upon graduation, including a CV workshop.

TEFL Heaven: This one is a little pricier, but the rate does include private accommodation and jobs are guaranteed – providing you meet their eligibility criteria. The school has bases in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. They offer lifetime job seeking assistance around the world, so you can decide your next venture after Vietnam!

 

Where to Teach English in Vietnam

Now you’re qualified and ready to go, the question is – where will you teach in Vietnam? The hot travel spots you already know about will be the same ones you’ll teach in. Here are some of those.

 

Teaching in Hanoi

Where to Stay in Vietnam

If you see yourself slurping on steaming bowls of roadside pho while motorcyclists toot around you, then you want to head to Vietnam’s lively capital. In Hanoi, you can find work in English Language Centers such as Apollo and ILA, where you could teach pre-school children up to adults. You can also find jobs in public schools. An experienced teacher might be able to rustle up work teaching private classes.

 

Teaching in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Hanoi

Down in southern Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh is the contemporary counterpart to Hanoi. This vastly developing city has much more of a modern touch than Hanoi, with rooftop bars and fancy apartments. You’ll find that the types of teaching jobs are similar to what we’ve listed above. As a general observation, hourly salaries may appear lower in Ho Chi Minh, but they will give you more hours. In contrast, Hanoi may offer higher hourly pay but fewer hours.

 

Teaching in Da Nang

Best Hostels in Danang

Not one for big cities? Then check out the seaside town of Da Nang on Vietnam’s Central Coast. The job market is smaller, which means you’ll be up against more competition, so you will want to meet as many of the requirements for teaching in Vietnam as possible. Teachers in Da Nang tend to work more weekends and evenings than in the major cities, and most of the jobs are in language schools. You’re most likely to teach children or young students. In some instances, you may tutor adults.

 

Teaching in smaller cities

Where To Stay For Incredible Photography

Smaller cities in more remote areas of Vietnam sometimes offer higher rates of pay or sign-up bonuses to attract English teachers. This might be an option if you want to base yourself in a rural province such as Sa Pa, Ninh Binh, or along the Mekong. You can sign up with a recruiter or make inquiries in places that take your fancy while traveling through the country on your tourist visa.

 

Living in Vietnam and Teaching Online

Of course, an alternative option is to teach English in Vietnam online. The income from typical online teaching jobs will cover your living costs in Vietnam and leave enough for exploring. This way you can set your own schedule and relocate to a new city as and when you like. As many of the online companies are based in China, teaching in Vietnam is all the more convenient. You’re right there in the same time zone!

The internet in Vietnam is cheap, fast and reliable. Once you have your Vietnamese SIM card, you can buy unlimited data for less than $5 (around 100,000 VND) per month. In most cases, the service is reliable even when you’re in more remote areas. But please don’t try to teach from your phone while you’re clambering up Mount Fansipan.

Most guesthouses in Vietnam have strong Wi-Fi, and private apartments will be wired up too.

when to visit Hoi An

source: saravutpics (Shutterstock)

 

How to Find a Job in Vietnam

You can apply online for a job in Vietnam or wait until you’re in the country. Most teachers report that they found it easy to source a job once they’d got their feet on the ground in the country. On the whole, Vietnamese employers like to see their candidates in person and put you to a demo lesson.

 

Apply for a job in Vietnam in person

Whether you want to teach at a private language school or public school, you can job hunt independently following these steps:

  1. Enter Vietnam on a tourist visa. Depending on where your home country is, you can usually apply for a one or three-month visa from your nearest Vietnamese embassy.
  2. Decide which city you want to base yourself in. You might want to travel around and suss out your options.
  3. Print off copies of your CV. Besides the obvious, this should specify:
    • nationality
    • English proficiency
    • teaching certifications
    • teaching experience (if applicable)
    • educational background
  1. Do some research in your city of choice and find out where the schools are. You can search online and ask in your hostel for any leads. Consult community Facebook groups as often jobs are advertised on these in Vietnamese cities. Once you have your list, visit the schools in person with a copy of your CV and enquire about any vacancies.
  2. You should aim to interview at several schools before making a decision. This way, you can assess your options.
  3. You might be asked to perform a demo lesson prior to an offer of employment. You should be compensated for your time if so.

 

Apply via your TEFL school

If you opt to study for your TEFL certificate in Vietnam, they may offer to help you find work. Check this with the school prior to enrollment. Some schools offer a guarantee that they will find you a job, while others merely offer to assist their graduates.

 

Register with an agency

There are a number of recruitment agents in the major cities that can help you find work in public schools. This may be a contracted teaching job or on a supply basis. In the case of the latter, your agent will assign you to schools who require a cover teacher or who are experiencing a peak. This means you might end up teaching at various different schools throughout the week.

Only register with reputed agencies. As a supply teacher, you should report to the agent’s office at the specified hours, and they will transfer you to the school in need. If they expect you to make your own way, that’s a red flag. Make sure any agency you register with will sponsor your business visa and work permit. If they don’t, then you might end up working illegally.

Check out TIC Recruitment, Reach to Teach, and Seek as a starting point. Or network in community Facebook groups in your chosen city to find a trusted agency.

 

Accepting a job in Vietnam

Upon the offer of a job at a school, you should ask the following questions:

  • Will the school provide the necessary documentation for your business visa and sponsor your work permit?
  • Will they cover the costs of the visa and work permit?
  • What is the salary and will you be paid by the hour?
  • How many hours are you expected to work per week? Factor in lesson planning and actual teaching hours. Lesson planning is likely to take up a generous chunk of your time in public schools, whereas private language schools will provide you with resources.
  • Can the school help you find suitable accommodation? Note that Vietnamese schools do not typically provide lodging.
  • Do you receive paid leave or any other benefits?

 

Living in Vietnam

Living in Vietnam provides you with an opportunity to really sink your teeth into the culture and scenery of this wondrous country.

 

Safety

Vietnam is known for being a safe country that is welcoming to ex-pats and travelers. The main crime to be aware of is petty theft. Avoid flashing your valuables while out and about, and keep your money, phone, etc. secure on your person at all times. Ho Chi Minh City has a reputation for drive-by muggings. If you opt to live in the southern metropolis, exercise additional caution when exploring on foot. As with all cities around the world, extra care should be taken at night – regardless of what city you decide to live in.

There are some stories of taxi scams in Vietnam – drivers demanding more than the agreed price, that kind of thing. These situations are infrequent, but we urge you to stick to using rideshare apps like Grab while getting around your city of choice.

Generally know what the safety concerns in Vietnam are and you’re unlikely to run into trouble.

 

Monthly Budget

Assuming a monthly salary of the lowest wage in Vietnam and a frugal budget, you can expect to live within the costs (USD) below. But even this modest estimate allows you to save some money each month.

Flying to Vietnam (from US)$350 – $600
Accommodation$250
Food$150
Transport$80
Entertainment$150
Total Monthly Expenses$630

 

backpacking vietnam

 

Money-Saving Tips

Accommodation in Vietnam is very reasonable. $250 (5,827,625 VND) per month will get you a room in a shared house. If you want to rent a private studio or an apartment with your partner, budget between $350 and $500 (8,158,675 – 11,655,250 VND). Costs may be more expensive in Ho Chi Minh City, where housing is swankier.

Food in Vietnam is delectable, and you can spend as little or as much as you like. Grab banh mi and other local dishes for as little as 30,000 VND ($1.30). A meal in an upmarket Vietnamese restaurant shouldn’t exceed 100,000 VND – that’s less than $5! A cup of Vietnamese coffee in a cafe will cost less than $1, while a frothy coffee will cost around $2. Shop at local markets rather than supermarkets to preserve your money.

Transport in Vietnam is a breeze! The cheapest way to get around is to buy or hire your own motorcycle. Rentals should cost no more than $50 (1,165,525 VND) per month, and you can buy your own bike for $500-$1,500. You can fill your tank for around $2. Make sure you have an International Driving Permit (IDP) before you head out, otherwise your insurance will not cover you in the case of an accident. If you don’t want to drive a motorbike, you can get around via Grab.

Entertainment won’t cost you the earth; it’s noticeably cheaper than neighboring countries. You can pick up beers for under a dollar and massages for less than five. Museums are kind on the budget. Entertainment costs may be more pricey in cosmopolitan Ho Chi Minh City with those rooftop cocktail bars. Tour prices dip during the low season. There are fewer crowds as well!

 

Speaking the Language

Vietnamese isn’t the easiest language to get your head around, so you’ll be relieved to hear that English is widely spoken in the country. Learning a few basic phrases and greetings will go a long way and enable you to bond with your employers, coworkers, and the local community.

Another perk of speaking a bit of Vietnamese is that it will make haggling easier. Getting acquainted with the numbers will come in handy when you’re trying to snag a bargain on your dragonfruit!

There are plenty of helpful videos online that will guide you through the basics of the pronunciation of this tonal language.

One of the Most Unique Places to Stay in Vietnam

Source: Hamdan Yoshida (Shutterstock)

 

Final Thoughts on English Teaching in Vietnam

Vietnam is a great place for wandering souls who are looking to settle for a year (or more!) and give something back to a community. Vietnam has a consistently high demand for English teachers, and there is a high turnover. So, as we’ve discussed above, assuming you do have some credentials to your name, you should feel confident about finding a job in Vietnam.

Vietnam is also a terrific country to base yourself in. With its hospitable people and a burgeoning ex-pat community, it’s a great place to start your experience living in Asia. Culturally and visually, Vietnam is utterly fascinating and very welcoming to foreigners. You’ll make some incredible friends here!

Now that you know all there is to know about teaching English in Vietnam, all you have to do is pack. Good luck!

 

Yay for transparency! Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you book your accommodation, buy a book or sort your insurance, I’ll earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only link to stuff I’ve actually used and never endorse crap. Your support helps me keep the site going.”


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