Vietnam is becoming a haven for tourists and expats alike. Between the fresh food, welcoming locals and diverse landscapes, it's enough to make anyone fall in love.
Vietnam was my home for 3 years and personally, I think the country has a little bit to offer everyone. While you can get jobs in different industries or live here as a remote worker, teaching English is the most common and widely available job for expats. By deciding to teach English, moving to Vietnam will be a lot easier.
Two of my years in Vietnam were spent living in Da Nang while working online but my 1st year in Vietnam, I was an English teacher at a pre-school in the heart of Saigon. The school was primarily in Vietnamese but the students did have an hour a day of English lessons by group of foreign English speakers. This really was the best way to settle into life in Vietnam and while I didn't stay a teacher, that was because the job wasn't for me, not because of the lack of opportunities, because trust me, opportunities are a-plenty for native English speakers that have the correct requirements to get hired.
Here's 4 Steps to take if you want to teach English in Vietnam:
1. Understand the Requirements to get hired
If you choose to teach English in Vietnam, you have two options. You'll either be able to apply for jobs that come with a sponsored visa or apply for jobs "under the table" and will have to pay for your own visa.
The only reason you'd ever want to go for a job under the table is if you don't meet the requirements for a sponsored visa. Not many countries are so lenient but Vietnam tends to turn a blind eye to those that are working under a tourist visa. While so many people do it, I'd definitely recommend working legally in a country but the decision is up to you.
Requirements for a Sponsored Visa:
- Native English speaker
- Bachelor's Degree (in any subject)
- TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certification
- Official background check (no felonies; must be done within 6 months of visa process)
- No serious health complications (must be able to pass a basic physical examination)
Requirements if You'll Get Your Own Visa:
- High level of English
- TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certification (ideally but not mandatory)
- Experience teaching (ideally but not mandatory)
For this route, you'll live and work on a tourist visa. Check out this guide to know the requirements to getting a tourist visa for Vietnam.
Another country that employs non-native English speakers as English teachers is Myanmar. Check out how to get a job teaching English in Myanmar now!
2. Choose which city you prefer
I visited all of these cities before choosing to stay in Ho Chi Minh (HCMC). All three cities are big, with a lot of jobs for English teachers. There are also opportunities outside of here but they aren’t as plentiful.
- HCMC is the largest and by far the most hectic but also with the most going on socially.
- Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam and still retains a lot of its French charm. From my experience, it felt more laidback than Saigon once you left the French colonial center.
- Da Nang is the smaller of the three but is currently booming. When we visited there was a lot of growth and construction. It’s on the beach and around 30 minutes away from the backpackers’ paradise of Hoi An.
With all 3 major cities so distinct, explore the country a bit before choosing your spot! If you're looking for a job in a smaller city or town, check out working with APAX.
I personally chose to settle in Ho Chi Minh since it offered the most diverse lifestyle. There really is something for everyone in this mega city. After a year though, I followed my dreams and currently live beachside in Da Nang. While I loved my year in Ho Chi Minh, Da Nang was a better fit for me.
3. Start applying but plan to interview in person
Where to Job Hunt
It’s possible to get a job in Vietnam online, usually through Facebook groups (try Group 1, Group 2 or Group 3) but most places want to meet you in person before they are willing to hire you. I’d suggest getting a single entry 1-month eVisa and touring the country finding your fit, like I did, instead of blindly picking a location and a school.
I'd also suggest browsing Dave's ESL Cafe for job posts. There are 1000s of job posts for schools around the world. Just like while job hunting on Facebook, I'd research the school before applying.
While traveling, I researched some potential schools. Keep in mind at this time I had 4 years of experience teaching children and met all basic visa requirements. I printed off my CV and cover letter and went door to door dropping these off at reception with a big smile.
I got a few interviews by doing things old school and ended up with the job I have now.
The Interview Process
The interview was typical, like any other school I had interviewed with before. Look and act professional as they ask you questions about your previous experience and methodology in the classroom. I’d suggest researching the school before your interview. That way you’ll already know their methodology and what they’re looking for in a teacher. Use this knowledge to your advantage and sell yourself!
You're chances of getting a job in Vietnam are heightened greatly if you're able to interview in person.
If you don’t have as much experience or time on your hands, scan the Facebook groups for schools hiring.
The Reality of Getting a Job
Do some research on your own before giving out any personal information and make sure the school is legitimate. There is unfortunately a lot of spam and other nonsense on these groups. Most schools here will have a website and a Facebook page. If the school looks good, send them an email. Let them know you are in town or are planning to move there and are looking for a job.
Feel free to mention you found them on Facebook but by sending them an email, you'll look much more professional. A lot of schools don’t have set salaries and teachers tend to get a wide variety of salaries all at the same school with the same job. With teaching experience or not, start to sell yourself from the very beginning. Facebook is king in Asia and will help you get a job, a house and will be a resource for fun events in your area.
Getting a job teaching English in Vietnam isn't as difficult as it is in many other countries. Of course, this all depends on how flexible you are with your hours, where you work and if you'd like your visa sponsored.
Before I made A Way Abroad my job, I taught full-time at a private preschool. Schools like this typically only hire people who meet the requirements for the visa (some will make exceptions but you’ll be paying for your own visa).
If you meet all of the requirements, don't settle for a job that's only part-time, wants to pay you in cash or won't sponsor your visa. You can find a school that will do all of this for you and more (basic health insurance, bank account, signed contract).
4. Use it as a great place to get experience
Even if you have years of experience teaching at an English center or preschool, you can use Vietnam as a way to try out teaching in a different environment to see which you prefer in the long run. Since they're more open-minded in regards to experience as other countries, take the opportunity to try something new.
Or, maybe teaching is something you’re thinking you'd like to pursue or you're just looking for a reason to stay in Vietnam a little longer. There are a seemingly endless amount of schools, English centers and after-school programs constantly looking for reliable teachers. Depending on your skill set, you might have to settle for working a few hours at one place, a few more somewhere else and maybe even pick up a weekend gig tutoring.
But once you sort this out, don’t worry, visas are pretty easy to come by as long as you're willing to pay.
You're Ready to Teach English in Vietnam
Vietnam is great for people with previous teaching experience and who meet the basic requirements. Focus on a job that will provide your visa, health insurance, a bank account for monthly payments and a contract for job security.
On the other hand, Vietnam also has opportunities for people who do not meet the requirements for a sponsored visa or for someone looking for their first teaching gig. Visas are readily available with or without a job but can be costly. Facebook groups are the easiest way to find job posts.