Teaching in Vietnam: FAQs

Recently I’ve been getting quite a lot of messages on Instagram asking me questions about teaching in Vietnam. Whilst I’m more than happy to answer, I thought it would be useful and perhaps more efficient to make a post compiling these FAQs as a helpful reference point for would-be teachers in Vietnam!

How do you find teaching English in Vietnam?

It’s great, the best thing I’ve ever done! Living in Vietnam is great: the low cost of living affords you a very leisurely lifestyle. You can enjoy a wonderful work-life balance, take lots of holidays and still save money. Hashtag blessed.

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Japanese covered bridge, Hoi An 💕

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How did you start teaching in Vietnam?

I started by gaining my TEFL in Vietnam. That took a month to complete, then began the job hunt. You don’t have to do your TEFL in Vietnam though, you can do it anywhere in the world, or even online. It’s not necessary to line up a job before you come here as there is plenty of work and schools are always hiring. Finding a job by yourself is super easy so don’t waste your money on a recruitment agency, please!

Can I teach English in Vietnam without a degree?

A degree is preferred but not necessary. Loads of people teach without one. You might get paid a little less, but you’d still be making enough to live well on. Not having a degree does mean that most of the bigger language centres, such as ILA and VUS, won’t hire you because they need you to get a work permit, which you can’t do without a degree. (Don’t worry, TONS of people teach here on a tourist visa.) For a more detailed look at the requirements for teaching English in Vietnam, click here.

Do you need a teaching certificate?

You need a teaching certificate to teach English in Vietnam, be it a TEFL, TESOL or CELTA. (For a breakdown of all that jargon, check out this post!) Most employers don’t care where your qualification came from so long as you have one.

Which teaching course did you do?

I completed a 150-hour in-class TESOL at AVSE in Ho Chi Minh City (I believe they’ve since opened branches in Hanoi and Phnom Penh, Cambodia). It was undoubtedly the weirdest four weeks of my life! I wrote a review of it that you can read here.

What visa do I need?

You should arrive in Vietnam on a three-month tourist visa. Depending on the job you get you’ll either be sponsored for a work permit by your employer or you’ll have to continue renewing your tourist visa every three months. It’s a pretty straightforward process, if a bit of a pain in the butt.

Will I find a job?

Native teachers are in high demand in Vietnam. There are more jobs than teachers, so finding a job is pretty much guaranteed if you’re a native with a teaching certificate.

How can I find a job?

I would recommend applying to all of the big language centres as you’re likely to get an offer from at least one. It’s also very easy to find work through Facebook groups, such as “Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) ESL Teaching Jobs.”

Who should I work for?

The bigger language centres, such as VUS, ILA, Apollo, Apax, I Can Read and AMA, are good choices. They don’t require previous experience, offer plenty of training and will help you get your work permit. If you want to work in public schools, GELA and ICLC are reputable public school agencies to go through. Other than that, there are plenty of smaller, independent schools advertising on Facebook and Vietnam Teaching Jobs (good to know about, although I would say Facebook is more useful). The main thing is to research your school and find out as much as possible about them before you accept a job.

How much do you get paid?

If you’ve got a degree, a teacher’s salary in Vietnam starts somewhere around $18-20/hour. If you’re teaching in Vietnam without a degree, you can expect between $16-18/hour. Teaching hours vary between 18-30 hours per week, so you can realistically expect to earn between $1200-$2200 per month. In Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi where the average wage is roughly $250-350 per month, this makes you a very high earner.

If you’ve got a degree, a teacher’s salary in Vietnam starts somewhere around $18-20/hour. If you’re teaching in Vietnam without a degree, you can expect between $16-18/hour. Teaching hours vary between 18-30 hours per week, so you can realistically expect to earn between $1200-$2200 per month. In Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi where the average wage is roughly $250-350 per month, this makes you a very high earner.

Will my school provide flights and accommodation?

Short answer: no. It’s better to find a job after you arrive here and only schools out in the sticks tend to provide you with a place to live. Don’t be put off by that, though: rent is so cheap that it really doesn’t matter. Finding a place to live really couldn’t be easier – for more on that, check out this post.

What is the cost of living in Vietnam?

The cost of living in Vietnam is low AF. You can rent a decent room from around $250/month, a studio for $300-400 or a nice one bed apartment for $450-500. Luxury two-bed apartments start at $700. I definitely couldn’t afford to live like this at home! Lots of places will have a cleaning service included, or you can hire one for a couple of dollars a week; my roommate and I have a maid come once a week for $7. Yah, $3.50 each for a sparkling clean apartment. WIN.

Going out also won’t dent your wallet; local street food is incredibly cheap and you can find beer for around 60 cents. If you want to go to a nicer Vietnamese restaurant, you’ll still only pay a few dollars for a meal and some drinks. Going western is expensive in comparison, but still very affordable- a good western meal might set you back around $10 or so. I lived off of western takeaways for almost the whole month of October and still managed to save money.

Transport is also very cheap; an uber ride will cost you a few dollars, or you can hire your own motorbike for $50-70/month. Filling your tank with petrol costs $3. Isn’t that insane?

Where should I live?

Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi are the two most popular options as they are brimming with job opportunities, have plenty of western amenities, great accommodation options and strong expat communities. You don’t have to live in either city though. You might want to immerse yourself in provincial life, or try a smaller city like Da Nang. Just make sure you do your research and choose what is right for you!

What have you struggled with?

Loneliness and anxiety are all part and parcel of moving to a new country, but overcoming those things makes you stronger and more self-aware. Sometimes, I almost felt pressured to constantly be having an amazing time and had to remind myself that this is my life now, and not every single day of your life can be incredible. Whoever you are and wherever you live, you will have down days and struggles. Just remember that it’s totally okay to have wobbles and just try to take things day by day. The best piece of advice I received was “don’t get ahead of yourself, just put one foot in front of the other.”

Do you have another burning question about teaching English in Vietnam? Ask me in the comments below or shoot me a private message!

4 Comments

  1. January 26, 2018 / 8:07 am

    Great advice, especially the part about not feeling pressured to have an amazing time on a daily basis. I will be moving to Saigon in July to start my own teaching adventure. I’ll be saving your blog as a reference!

    • January 26, 2018 / 2:41 pm

      Thank you so much! I’m really glad you found it helpful. Good luck with the move and if there’s anything else you want to know about don’t hesitate to contact me. Would be great to meet you once you’re here!

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