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Teach English in Vietnam: Requirements, Salary, Jobs

Teach English in Vietnam

Vietnam is a country filled with numerous opportunities to live and work as an English teacher. While teaching English in Vietnam you will be able to experience so many things you would never have before and the job is extremely rewarding. Before you get started on your journey, you probably have several questions. How do I get started? What is required? So we’ve put together this guide to answer all of those questions for you. We will explain what requirements are needed to teach English as well as what salary you would earn. This guide also included useful information about TEFL courses in Vietnam and English teaching jobs.

Vietnam lies just to the south of China and to the east of Laos and Cambodia. Known for its golden sand beaches, beautiful mountains and rapidly growing cities. The cities have seen rapid growth in recent years, but have done well to maintain the cultural landmarks. Modern skyscrapers stand tall next to ancient Buddhist structures. As an English teacher in Vietnam you might want to try some of these in your free time: Sample Hoi An delicacies, cruise around Ha Long Bay, trek around Sa Pa, relax on Phu Quoc Island, hike and bike around Da Lat, stay in a Stilt House on The Pu Luong Nature Reserve or soak up the sights and smells of Hanoi.

In Vietnam the north has four seasons, Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. The south features a more milder tropical climate. Food in Vietnam is all about using fresh ingredients. Fresh food is bought from markets daily. There is a preference for balancing sweet and sour and this creates a unique but delicious flavour that English teachers love. The demand for English language teachers has grown in recent years. With that there are various opportunities to teach English in Vietnam. From teaching in a bustling city like Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, to teaching at a coastal city like Da Nang, the opportunities are endless.

Requirements to teach English in Vietnam

If you have never taught English before, you might have no idea about what is required to secure an English teaching job in Vietnam. Prospective teachers might think that you need to have an Education degree of a Bachelor’s with an English language focus. This is actually not the case at all. Those will definitely stand in your favour but it is not a requirement. You should have a clear English accent and the willingness to learn. You will be working as a team and seniors will be there to guide you. English teachers in Vietnam usually come from many different backgrounds. Some might have been photographers, bloggers, travellers while others are teachers, lawyers or IT professionals. The key factor is that they have a strong English foundation and are passionate about education. Here are a few general requirements needed to teach English in Vietnam:

  • A bachelor's degree is required to legally teach English in Vietnam (Exceptions are made if you have 5 years experience)
  • Being a native English speaker from The United Kingdom, The United States, Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand or South Africa is required. If you are not a native English speaker you will need a teaching certificate (TEFL, TESOL, CELTA) and English certificate.
  • A TEFL certificate is recommended, but not required and some schools still require it
  • Experience is preferred, but not required
  • You will need to get a criminal background check
  • You should be mentally and physically fit and pass a basic health check
  • You should love Vietnam and Vietnamese culture

Salary and benefits for teaching English in Vietnam

Vietnam is a top location for teaching English right now. Because the cost of living is so low the salary you would earn is relatively high. Because of that teachers have a high quality of life here. There is plenty of time to travel and explore this beautiful country as well as its Asian neighbours. Teachers also manage to save money while teaching here. The salary for an English teacher in Vietnam could range anywhere between 27 to 51 Million VND per month depending on a few factors. You are probably wondering how you can earn the highest salary possible. There are a few factors that determine your salary. Schools located in larger cities like Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi will pay more than smaller town schools. The more experience and qualifications you have will also contribute to your salary. Lastly, the different types of schools offer different salaries and benefits as well. Here are a few examples of schools in Vietnam:

School Salary
Public Schools 35 million - 48 million VND per month
Private Language Schools 27 million - 42 million VND per month
International Schools 46 million VND - 55 million VND per month
Universities 21 million - 51 million VND per month
Private English Lessons 345,000 - 1,4 million VND per hour

Public schools jobs

In Vietnam teaching at a public school will be a rewarding experience. The students are great and the workload isn't too high, which makes it much more enjoyable. Students are smart, hard-working and respect their teachers and some classes can have 50 or more students so this can be a bit of a challenge especially if you struggle with keeping large groups engaged. Here teachers have decent benefits and earn a salary of 35 to 48 million VND per month while working weekdays during the daytime. Public school teachers also have paid vacations. A lot of these jobs do require teachers to have a graduate degree or teaching licence if you do not have experience.

Private language school jobs

This is where the majority of English teachers work. These jobs are easy to find, especially in the big cities like Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, simply because of the amount of these schools. The best schools might require a teaching certificate like TEFL or TESOL but the majority will hire the candidates they like best. You can easily secure a job at a language school without any experience, and hiring happens all year round too. Language centres are mostly attended by kids after school or parents in the evenings. Here your classes could either be during the daytime, or evening, or on the weekends. Language schools are nice to teach at because they offer great training and support to teachers and will also have your lessons and worksheets prepared for you. Because of that you will save a ton of time! Depending on how many hours you work you can earn a salary of 27 million to 42 million VND per month.

International school jobs

International schools are where the wealthy Vietnamese locals and expats send their kids. The fees are much higher than other options. These schools have smaller class sizes and great working environments. These schools follow international curriculums and are pretty much like schools in the United States or the United Kingdom, just located in Vietnam. Getting a job at an international school is not easy. These jobs are for professional teachers who have have an Education degree and teaching licence. They usually prefer for candidates to have experience in their home countries as well. If you can secure one of these jobs you will earn a salary of 46 to 55 million VND per month, and also enjoy fantastic benefits.

University jobs

Although the top cities in big cities will usually look for teachers with advanced degrees and experience, there are many universities that will look to hire foreign English teachers. Here the students are more mature and focused on learning so can be enjoyable to teach. Workhours are during the daytime on weekdays and salaries are 21 to 51 million VND per month depending on your responsibilities.

Private tutoring jobs

If you are more of the entrepreneurial teacher you will know that teaching privately is more lucrative than working at a language school as you are cutting out the middle man. You can meet students at their homes or at a café for lessons and charge per hour. Some teachers might do this part-time along with their job and other might try do it full time. The hourly rate teachers charge varies from 345,000 to 1.4 million VND per hour. If you are good at marketing yourself and are fine with the instability, this could be a great option to consider.

Cost of living in Vietnam

Vietnam is one of the fastest growing destinations to teach English because of the sheer number of well paying jobs and the low cost of living. Here teachers enjoy a quality of life that they cannot enjoy in other destinations with a rewarding job, and comfortable lifestyle. The cost of living in Vietnam depends on where you stay and most expensive cities are Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Da Nang, Hoi An, Nha Trang, and Vung Tau are some options of smaller, more affordable cities. One thing to note is that English teachers earn more money in the bigger cities so that accounts for the higher cost of living. Which ever city you decide to make your home, your salary will be more than enough to get you a modern apartment, cover your food and transport costs, and put away some savings each month. A single persons estimated monthly costs are 10 million VND per month without rent. The currency used in Vietnam is VND or ₫ (Vietnamese dong or dong for short) and according to Numbeo here are some basic costs to consider in Vietnam:

Item Cost
Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Centre 9,399,527.85 VND
Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Centre 6,538,467.66 VND
Monthly basic utilities (Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage) 1,421,986.40 VND
Internet (60 Mbps or More, Unlimited Data, Cable/ADSL) 250,941.75 VND
Water (1.5 liter bottle) 11,242.44 VND
Chicken Fillets (1kg) 78,308.13 VND
Potato (1kg) 26,949.98 VND
Rice (white), (1kg) 19,812.12 VND
Banana (1kg) 22,524.64 VND
Local Transport (One-way Ticket) 7,000.00 VND
Fitness Club, Monthly Fee for 1 Adult 503,534.14 VND

Things to know about Vietnam and Vietnamese culture

Vietnam is an exotic country in South East Asia that is heavily influence by Chinese culture after being a Chinese colony for thousands of years. Combine that with French influence after being colonised by France later on and now having consumed western media, you get some really interesting culture. Vietnamese people believe in their country and it's future and you will notice this in their daily living habits. People are friendly, well mannered and very open to welcoming foreigners into their country as travellers or English teachers. If this is your first time going to Vietnam, there might be a few local customs you are not used to and learning a few of them will help you avoid any uncomfortable situations or misunderstandings. Don't worry though because Vietnamese people understand foreigners might not understand some things, so they will take any offence. Since Vietnamese people are very proud of their country and culture, learning a few things will go a long way.

  • Hello Vietnam. In Vietnam the spoken language is not English, as you've probably guessed, it's Vietnamese. When teaching English in Vietnam, most teachers don't learn any Vietnamese at all and get on perfectly fine. However, learning a few words or phrases is a great way to show your appreciation for Vietnam. Typically the first thing teachers want to learn is how to say "hello" and we can say "xin chào" (pronounced "zeen chow") in Vietnamese. So xin chao Vietnam!
  • Vietnamese people smile a lot, and in every situation, good or bad. Vietnamese people are known for smiling regardless of how they actually feel. Understanding this will help a lot when building relationships in your community and school and building good relationships with your co-workers will be great for your teaching career. It's common for Vietnamese people to smile when embarrassed or uncomfortable so make sure you aren't making them feel that way.
  • Public displays of affection are not accepted by society. Unlike many western countries, Vietnamese people don't like touching others, especially in public. Although younger generations might be more open to it, you won't see any kissing or hugging outside. When greeting people typically use a slight bow or handshake. If you enter someone's home, make sure to take of your shoes.
  • Don't worry if your students don't look you in the Eyes, it's normal. Because of how important eye contact is in western culture some new teachers might think they are being disrespected when their students don't look them in they eye when talking. In Vietnam they are taught not to do it, especially to elders or people with higher social status. In Vietnam, it's also very offensive to touch someone's shoulder or head so don't do it to your students, even if you think you are doing it in a positive way. You should also never use your fingers to point, it's also seen as rude in Vietnam and instead you should use your hand if you need to address a student.
  • Someone might ask you something personal, it's not rude, it's just part of life in Vietnam. It's common for people to ask about age, salary or even if you are married. Don't be shy, sharing is a great way to engage with your co-workers and community.
  • Don't make someone 'lose face'. In Vietnam 'face' is referred to as someone's reputation or pride. If you want to correct someone or even are angry. Do not do it in public, and do not make a scene. simply meet in private and discuss the issue.
  • Hold your bowl when eating. In Vietnam the polite way to eat is by using one hand to hold the bowl and the other to hold your utensils or chopsticks. Don't worry at all if you can't enjoy eating this way, and simply eat as you would at home. The important thing is to not talk with food in your mouth, as it's very rude for people to see the food in your mouth. You should try to finish your food because leaving some behind is seen as a waste and can also be disrespectful to the cook. If you use chopsticks you should never leave them vertically in the bowl, this is seen as an incense offering for the dead, place them next to the bowl or horizontally on the bowl. Also, when using a toothpick, you should cover your mouth.
  • Be respectful of sacred places like temples or places of religion. Make sure to ask before taking photos to see if it is allowed and also make sure to dress appropriately and not show too much skin (shirts should cover your shoulders and pants should cover your knees).
  • Don't wear too much jewellery as you might be seen as a show-off and even worse, expose yourself to being robbed. Vietnam is a very safe country, but small crimes such as pickpocketing do happen, especially in popular tourist areas.

Do you need to speak Vietnamese to teach English in Vietnam?

No, speaking Vietnamese is not required to be an English teacher. Your classes will be conducted in English and your school will want the students to be in an English environment, even if you can speak basic Vietnamese you will be asked to only speak in English in class.

Do I need to be a native English speaker?

A native English speaker is someone who is from a country where the national language is English and Vietnam recognises, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa as English native countries. It used to be easy for non-native speakers to legally work in Vietnam, but there has recently been a few changes to the rules to get a work permit for teaching English. You will need a degree (in any subject, but if it is in English, Linguistics or education it will be great), teaching certificate and an English certificate at C1 level. If you have a degree in English Language or Linguistics you will be exempt from having an English certificate. For teaching certificates, CELTA, TESOL and TEFL are accepted, but online TEFL certificates are not always accepted so make sure about this requirement before applying.

If you cannot fulfil these requirements, like many other teachers, you can consider working without a work permit, but please do this at your own risk as it is illegal. If you apply to jobs as a non-native speaker, some schools might try to offer you less compared to native speakers so try applying to more schools so you can find one that hires based on qualifications and experience.

Can I teach English in Vietnam without a degree?

To legally teach English in Vietnam you will need to have at least a Bachelor's degree (in any subject). This is a government requirement to process the work permit for English teachers. To get a work permit there is a clause that states if the person has 5 years experience in the field, they can be exempt from needed a degree. For this you will need to prove your ability to the school such that you've developed all the necessary skills to work as an English teacher.

However, for many schools, a degree isn't actually a requirement and they will allow teachers to work on alternative visa's. This is not actually legal, but does happen and is quite common. Some teachers might work on a Tourist Visa which will require them to do a border run every 3 months. One con of doing this is that the costs of doing the runs to neighbouring countries can add up. Working on a student visa is also an option. There are also other cons to working without the correct visa. Working legally offers you benefits such as protection against your employer not following the contract. If your school decides to change terms in the contract, pay you less, make you work overtime, or even stop paying you, there is nothing you can do.

Do I need a TEFL certificate to teach English in Vietnam?

A TEFL certificate is not actually a requirement for a work permit in Vietnam if you are a native English speaker so you can easily find a job and work legally without one. However, some language schools do only hire English teachers with a teaching certificate (TEFL, TESOL, CELTA and at least 120 hours), but if you have experience these schools will consider you without it. These schools also don't accept all online TEFL courses so make sure when taking a course online, that it is with a reputable company. The reason the prefer in-person courses, is because of the practical teaching aspect. You will get you chance to actually practice how to teach, and be assessed on that, so you will be well prepared for the job. So if you feel a TEFL course will help better prepare you as a teacher, then it is a good idea, but if you are confident in your teaching ability and experience, you do not need it to teach English in Vietnam.

How to get a visa to teach English in Vietnam

In order to get a work permit in Vietnam you will first need to have a Business visa. There are 2 ways in which teachers approach this. The first option is to apply for a Business visa in your home country after securing a job. Then once you arrive in Vietnam your employer will process the work permit for you. The requirements vary per country so please contact your local Vietnamese embassy or consulate, but generally you will need the following documents:

  • Passport with at least 6 months validity
  • Visa application form
  • Passport photos
  • Invitation or sponsorship letter from a company in Vietnam if you apply through the local embassy in your home country

Another option is to come on a Tourist Visa and then apply for the Business Visa in Vietnam (this is what most teachers do). You can easily do it online with the Visa on Arrival. The safest bet, is to apply for the 3 month one, so you have extra time in case you don't get a job right away. Once you have a job your company will apply for the Business Visa and also usually cover the costs. After then you will need a work permit, which your employer will help you with. These are the documents required:

  • Original or authenticated copy of your degree
  • For some teachers, Teaching and English certificate
  • Police background check
  • Health check
  • Passport and passport photos
  • Supporting documents provided by your employer

When to apply for a teaching job

In Vietnam, schools follow a similar schedule to western countries. The first semester starts in August and ends in December. After a short holiday, schools reopen in January for the second semester and runs until June. Schools then close for a long Summer break.

The biggest hiring periods for schools are just before the beginning of semesters and schools will start looking to recruit teachers 3 or 4 months before the first semester and 1 or 2 months before the second semester. If you are applying to teach at an international school or university, these times are probably the only times the school will hire, besides a few exceptions. As for other schools like Language centres, hiring is all year round, so you can apply for a job whenever you want to start teaching English in Vietnam.

How to apply for a teaching job

Because of the growth of Vietnam's economy there is a huge demand for English teachers as English is taught at schools, as well as outside of school with many language schools in every city. Because of the amount of English teaching jobs open, it is quite easy to find a job here, especially if you have the qualifications and experience. However, not all schools have equal working environments and the best schools have a lot of competition and will receive many applicants. You can find jobs by looking at our Vietnam job board as well as Facebook groups, Craigslist, and Vietnam Teaching Jobs. In order to secure these jobs, you should know the following:

  • Schools want professional looking teachers. To schools, the appearance of teachers is important. You should make sure you dress neatly and also keep your hair neat and natural looking and men should trim or shave your beards. If you have tattoos or piercings, you should do your best to hide these as some schools will not want teachers to have these. Whether you send a photo, or have an interview online or in person, you should present yourself like this.
  • Schools want friendly teachers, especially if you are working with kids. Make sure to smile and be positive and friendly and if you have a sense of humour, you should embrace it. If the school thinks you are someone that will get on well with their students they are very likely to hire you.
  • When conducting your interview or presenting a demo class to the school or recruiter, make sure to speak clearly. Don't speak to softly and make sure to speak in a way students will understand, especially if you have a strong accent.
  • Make sure your CV is updated and focused on teaching. Add your qualifications and experience and highlight things that are relevant to teaching, English language and education. more than that, tell them a bit about yourself and why you want to teach in Vietnam. If you record a short introduction video doing that, it will help you stand out. This is a good way to highlight all of the above.