You probably won’t believe me if I tell you that hundreds if not, thousands of expats are coming to Vietnam every year to teach English. Even though the demand is skyrocketing, there are loads of mistakes that they do and still doing. So, someone who has taught English in Vietnam will tell you what you need to know before signing a contract with someone who offered you a teaching job here or before you book your one-way ticket.
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DEMAND FOR ENGLISH TEACHERS IN VIETNAM
Vietnam is one of the countries with the highest demand for English teachers, which is good. It means that if locals speak English, the country can attract more tourists, businesses from different countries, more jobs for the locals, and competitive economic growth.
If you visit any expat Facebook groups or simply Googling teaching English in Vietnam, it will surely overwhelm you with unending posts about job offers. Whether you decide to live in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), or even in smaller cities like Hoi An, Da Nang, or Nha Trang, you can get yourself a job easily.
Ugly Truths about Teaching English in Vietnam
There are loads of private English centres and public schools that are desperate to get their hands on a foreign teacher. However, there are a few ugly truths you need to know and prepare yourself:
- Most of these schools are in favour of native English speakers, especially the schools that are focusing on specific accents to teach to their students. Unfortunately, even you have the accent they are looking for; often, these schools would overlook this and still prefer to hire a Caucasian person regardless of your work experience and education.
- This means that even if you are a native English speaker, your skin colour affects your chances. Many expats and even locals have voiced their concern about how wrong this is. Sadly, the change regarding this discrimination is still a long way to go.
- Non-native English speakers and not white will have a little challenge in finding the job they are hoping for but still possible. If you are more than qualified, you should look into bigger companies and international schools, they are more professional and are more interested in your experiences and qualifications.
- Racism in Vietnam in the field of ESL teaching is widely spread. People of colour are having a harder time to get an ESL job simply because of their skin colour or accent despite of their years of experience in this field.
- If you were offered way less rate simple because you are not Caucasian but you know that you are a qualified one, don’t accept or sign the contract. There are jobs and students who and that are willing to pay you rightly, know your value. If all aspiring ESL teacher coming to Vietnam will fight this massive race issue through rejecting low paid jobs, at some point, hopefully, Vietnam will see everyone’s value equally.
WORK EXPERIENCE REQUIREMENTS
It is true if I tell you that work experience is not very much a requirement if you decide to teach English in Vietnam. This is sad on all levels, despite the cry out of the expat community for the Vietnamese schools to raise their standard in hiring a teacher, the demand is just too high to take this subject on top of the discussion.
However, there are schools with high standards that are strict in hiring ESL teachers in Vietnam. They require certain experiences and they always take the legal path.
VALID VISA AND WORKING PERMIT AS AN ENGLISH TEACHER IN VIETNAM
You won’t believe how many English teachers come here and work on a tourist visa. This is, in fact, illegal, if you plan to work here, you need to secure a business visa and/or a work permit. Working on a tourist permit or on illegal documents will result in serious trouble such as deportation and entry ban in the country.
If the school let you work on a tourist visa, this is a red flag and a sign of unprofessionalism. They are more likely to screw you over at some point. For example, not paying you in time for your last paycheck when you quit the job or simply fire you without any acceptable reason. They can also use this against you as you cannot ask for legal help regarding this matter.
Once you have a work permit, you can apply for a Temporary Residence Card valid for 1-3 years. Using this, you can exit and enter Vietnam without needing a visa. The process of obtaining a Temporary Residence Card is easy and quick but you will need a work permit which can take time depending on what documents you have ready,
Can I Work In Vietnam On A Business Visa
You are legally allowed to apply for a job, stay in Vietnam, and work on a business visa. However, you are ONLY allowed to work on a business while waiting for your work permit to be processed.
You will have to hold proof that you are or your employer is currently processing your work permit to avoid getting into trouble.
To explain it easier, you are NOT allowed to work on a business visa long-term, you are required to hold a work permit which your employer will help you get.
As I mentioned, being a native English speaker with white skin can land you a job easily but there are still a couple of job requirements you have to prepare. Thankfully, a lot of schools are getting wiser and more professional as the year comes by. Here are the common requirements when applying for an English teaching job in Vietnam:
- a Bachelor’s degree – depending on the school, it must be or not related to English or teaching
- TEFL/TOFEL/CELTA – Get your TEFL Certificate now online and enjoy 35% off if you use vietnam35 as a coupon code – You can also get certified once you are in Vietnam
- a valid passport and visa
- other documents to prove your education and work experiences
TIP: Look for schools that will check not only your accent, physical appearance, but also who will require you to have experience in teaching, a teaching certificate, a bachelor’s/master’s degree. These schools are more serious in the business, who is also concern with the quality of teaching they provide to their students.
Some schools will ask you to do a demo lesson at least for a minimum of 30-minutes, some demos are paid whilst the others are not. Remember to ask this before agreeing to perform one. Be aware that some schools invite a lot of aspiring English teachers and require a demo for free. While the truth is they basically get different teachers to teach their students without paying anything while they make money from it (because those students pay for a class).
HOW MUCH IS THE SALARY OF AN ENGLISH TEACHER IN VIETNAM
Salary is quite attractive in Vietnam if you compare it to the cost of living. This section will give you a ballpark idea on how is the salary of an English teacher in Vietnam.
The pay ranges between $15-$25 per hour whereas a full-time teacher works at least 20 hours a week, some work for 40 hours a week. If you prefer to work as a private tutor, this is less hassle but the pay varies. The rate also varies depending on your location, outside the city or rural areas pay a little less but provide accommodation. Smaller cities and towns also pay less.
There are some schools that will hire you and start the pay at $18 with a chance of a raise depending on your performance. Always double check your contract before signing.
If you want a sneak peek at the budget for moving to Vietnam, you can read it here.
Non-native English Speaker/Non-Caucasian
Sadly, despite your experience, if you are a non-native English speaker, often you will be offered a lower salary ($10-$15/hour). Another painful reality is even if you are a native English speaker if you are not Caucasian, there is a big chance that you will get paid lower as well.
In this situation, especially if you have the experience, you should work with well-known language centres or international schools who look past your physical appearance but rather value your skills and experiences.
PERKS AND ADDITIONAL
There are a few schools or agencies that will offer you free accommodation or transportation allowance. Based on the stories I heard, it’s mostly a hit and misses, you can be offered a decent accommodation or a crappy one. Housing is relatively cheap in Vietnam, therefore, I suggest you find your own instead. While transportation in Vietnam is cheap too, you won’t have a problem getting around. If you need a suggestion for a hostel in Vietnam while looking for an apartment, check our recommendation list.
FIND A JOB BEFORE COMING TO VIETNAM OR APPLY FOR A JOB WHEN YOU GET TO VIETNAM
This is a very common question from aspiring English teachers in Vietnam. In my personal experience, I only start finding a teaching job when I arrived in Vietnam, this made all my interviews, demo lessons, and even getting tips from English teachers a lot more convenient. My friend started applying for a possible job before moving here, he scheduled interviews and demos beforehand and did it right away after he arrived.
Personally, I won’t accept an ESL job unless I’m in Vietnam, this is to avoid scams too but it’s a personal choice. I know many teachers who accepted job offers before arriving and it went well.
HOW TO FIND AN ESL JOB IN VIETNAM
This is surely one of the questions that bothers you a lot. Apart from searching online and using different sites that have job listings, there are other options as well like the following:
Via Facebook Groups
One of the most effective ways of finding an English teaching job in Vietnam is to join Facebook groups depending on your location. You will see that there are job offers popping up almost every day.
You can also upload your job posting, CV, contact details, and what you are looking for and ESL schools and centres will reach out to you. If you receive an offer but are in doubt about if it is legitimate or not, you can ask the expat groups, even though they can be rude, a lot of them are still helpful.
You can also directly find reputable schools in Vietnam online then apply directly to their sites. We recommend you to be cautious as some job listings on other sites can be dodgy. Remember to never pay anything or anyone who promises to get you a job – this scheme is always if not, often a scam.
If you decided to teach in China instead which pays a better salary than in any Southeast Asian country, we recommend you check this site to apply for a job.
Another way to earn money being an ESL teacher is to teach online. There are great benefits in doing this like you can teach while travelling, you don’t need to hustle through the traffic and spend money on transportation, you can teach comfortably at home to name a few.
DRESS CODE WHILE TEACHING ENGLISH IN VIETNAM
Once you have found a teaching job and signed a contract, there are a lot of things that you still need to prepare. One of them is to pack the right work clothes. The dress code for teaching in Vietnam is not a lot different in other parts of the world. You are expected to dress at least semi-formal.
Depending on where you will be living and teaching, some schools have AC while others don’t. If you will be in the north, pack a good semi-formal jacket as it can be cold during winter, while in the south, make sure you pack comfortable clothes, the humidity can be very irritating.
Dress code for women teachers
Here are some ideas on what you can wear when teaching:
- a dress that is knee-length or longer with a small sleeve or longer and has a standard neckline
- dress pants and a button shirt with a sleeve on
- a knee-length skirt or longer and button shirt sleeve
- you can wear a sleeveless blouse but use a jacket cardigan
- black shoes, high heel shoes or flat shoes are all acceptable as long as they are closed
Some schools allow a casual get up once a week, it’s best to ask your school coordinator about the proper dress code when teaching.
Dress code for men teachers
Here are some ideas on the dress code for men teachers:
- dress pants and a button sleeve shirt
- dress pants and a polo shirt
- black shoes
- it is not expected to wear a tie unless specified by your school
Some days, casual jeans and a shirt is allowed but it’s best to ask your school coordinator to explain to you the dress code.
The most important things to remember are; demand for an ESL job, visa options, working experience, educational background, TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certificate, English centre vs Public School, salary, and job requirements. These are the things you need to know before you decide on teaching English in Vietnam or hopping on a plane heading to Vietnam or worse committing and signing a job contract.
If you have any questions, leave them in the comment section and we will do our best to answer them.