How to get a Teaching Job in Vietnam

How to get a job?

Vietnam is far different from most countries you may teach in! Getting a job here is all about the amount of effort you put into it. My boyfriend and I showed up with a stack of resumes and that was it! We went online and found a list of 25 schools in in Saigon, hired a motorbike taxi for the day ($5), and went from school to school handing out our resumes. We also emailed our resume to 15 schools and hoped for the best. Within a week we had interviews and mock lessons scheduled at numerous schools and then we choose which school we liked the best. It is great having the chance to choose where you want to work, unlike Korea and other places where you are placed in a school and have no choice. We got to ask questions and work at a place we felt most comfortable with. Best way to get a job: dress to impress, and go into the schools and ask to speak to the Hiring Manager. Do not give the receptionist your resume and hope it finds the right person, she will probably lose it and it will never see the HR department!

Teachers are constantly coming and going here, there is a very high turnover rate. Schools want to see you here in the flesh to offer you a job. Some people do get jobs before coming here online, but it’s not the most common practice. Of all my friends in Saigon I only know two people who got their job with VUS before coming here. You definitely don’t need to be worried if you just turn up, short on cash, looking for a job. It’s what most of the teachers do.

** Unless you are a QUALIFIED teacher, then you have lots of options with international schools who will do a thorough interview and hire you before. **

Third Grade Class Party

Where to teach (language centers or international schools)?

Teaching jobs in Vietnam are all extremely different. Every person that moves here to teach will probably have a far different teaching experience than others who are teaching here. I work at an international school, so I work regular hours, 8-4 Monday through Friday. However, a large majority of ESL teachers in Vietnam will work at language centers that run after normal school hours. Language centers are open on nights and weekends and employ a majority of foreigners living and teaching in Vietnam.

Popular language center chains are VUS, Cleverlearn, Apollo, Atlanta, IDC, Super Youth, etc… Langauge centers teach all ages. Each language center will be slightly different with a different target audience and different classes offered. I worked at the school Atlanta for a brief time and taught classes to elementary school children on weekend mornings and to adults in the evenings.

International schools are (obviously) the regular schooling of the child and operate in the day. After school is over many (richer) Vietnamese children will then go to their language center for English classes. Most International schools will require you to be a qualified teacher from your home country. I am not qualified, and do not even have a TEFL. I got lucky finding my school, and it all worked out even though I wasn’t qualified. Again, it’s all about the amount of effort you put in and the search to find the exact fit for you. I started working part time at my international school. They needed a long term substitute teacher immediately and then I got hired on full time when the semester finished.

It is much harder for people who aren’t qualified to find a job at an international school. If you’re not credentialed your best bet is to take a job at a language center and if you still really want to work at an international school for the day hours and weekends off, than keep your search going while you’re at least working at a language center. It could take you a while to find a school to hire you, but is definitely a feasible option!

What are the teaching hours?

How many hours someone wants to teach is also up to them. Nothing in this country is certain! It’s really all what you make of it. I work a standard 40 hour work week, but all of my friends who work at language centers work 15-30 hours a week. It’s all up to you! I have been offered positions at language centers, so I could work all day at my school and then go to a language center at night and work even more.

People who work at language centers basically tell the school what they want to work. If you want to enjoy your time here you might choose to only take on a few classes a week and work 15 hours. Or, if you want a lot of hours you can keep taking on classes and work at additional centers to get the number of hours you want.

Making Crafts with my Kindergarten Class

Are the students well-behaved?

For the most part the students in Ho Chi Minh City are great to teach. They have a decent level of English and are reasonably behaved considering they are kids and it is school! The students here are FAR MORE BETTER to teach than Korean students. Korean students are terrible! Not like that here AT all.

Is there vacation time?

Again, I teach at an international school so I have a regular school schedule. I get three weeks off for Christmas, a week off for fall break, two weeks off for Tet Holiday, and a few odd Vietnamese public holidays. Summer is up to the teacher, they can go home for a month (unpaid) or can work summer school. Every international school will have a different schedule and a different amount of time off, but you will have paid leave.

Teachers at language centers do not get any paid holidays, but they can take off whenever they want. Most of my friends will work for 6-9 months, save, and then go on a backpacking trip for 1-2 months and come back to work at the same center. Work. Travel. Repeat.

Do schools pay for housing and flights?

If you are a qualified teacher working at a decent international school than yes, chances are you will have housing and flights paid for. Every school is different, you have to work it out with your school.

Language centers will not help you with housing or with flights.

Are TEFL/CELTA’s important to find a job?

I do not have any teaching certificates, and had no problem finding work. But, I did have a year of teaching experience before I moved here. It’s not necessary to have a TEFL, but obviously if you have both experience and certificates you will have more options as to where you can teach.

Degrees are definitely required at most schools, but they may or may not actually ask to see your degree. Things tend to be very unorganized here, and people just flow with it!

Do you need a work visa?

Vietnam is a different case than most countries where foreigners are employed. Many people do not have work visas and work on tourist visas for their entire time here. I’ve never had a work visa and every 3 months drop my passport off at a travel agent for another 3 month tourist visa extension.

However, some schools do want you to have a work visa. It isn’t common though. In that case the school will help you out with the process. It is quite expensive, because you’ll need to have documents from your home country Fed-Exed back and forth. You will need a background check apostilled, bachelor’s degree apostilled, and a TEFL (online or in class) apostilled. Most international schools will ask that you work on getting your work visa while you are here. You do not need a work visa to work in Vietnam before coming here, you can show up and work, and if your school wants you to get a visa than you can figure it out here.

What is life for an expat like? Cost of living?

Vietnam provides a GREAT life style for expats. There are TONS of restaurants (EVERY cuisine imaginable), clubs, bars, and foreigners to mingle with! There are lots of sport teams to join, clubs, and gyms. Life is SO CHEAP here. My boyfriend and I pay $400 for rent, for a one bedroom loft in a really nice area. A 2 bedroom apartment is around $450-500. Bills are really cheap, water is roughly $3/month, electric is about $30-50/month, and internet is $15/month.  Beer is .50 and food at a really fancy western restaurant will be about $10, while food at a great local Vietnamese place will be $1-2.

Is Vietnam a good option for saving money?

YES! On average a teacher will make around $2000/month, but your expenses here are close to nothing and you can save most of your wage. It’s all up to the teacher, if you want to make more money than pick up more hours at language centers. I have friends earning $4000/month at international schools and friend working 15 hours a week making $1800/month. It’s all up to you and your work ethic!

Hourly wages at language centers are about $18-20 an hour. International schools will pay $2200-$4000 a month.

There are lots of people looking for private teachers too. Most people I know here (myself included) have had private students. The pay is about $20/hour, and you can post ads on websites like where people seeking private tutors can find you and get in contact with you.

I highly recommend life here for people looking to teach abroad. We are going to save roughly the same amount of money as we saved in South Korea, and the life here is great! Students are wonderful, and I am so happy. Saigon is very chaotic and CRAZY at times, but it grows on you and adds to the charm of this fast-paced South East Asian city. The best advice I can give is just go with the flow! You can’t over plan like so many people prefer to do when moving abroad. It will fall into place once you are here. We moved here and within 3 weeks had an apartment, multiple jobs, and our own motorbikes. You can’t stress about it, and it will all happen. The Vietnamese are terrible at planning ahead, and it’s not exactly a part of their culture, so don’t expect to have everything set up at home before coming here. It’s all a part of the adventure of teaching abroad!
Good Luck!

My 3rd Grade Class in Vietnam, they’re so much fun!

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