Vietnam is one of several popular destinations in Southeast Asia for teaching English as a foreign language. Foreign English teachers have been in high demand in Vietnam in recent years and salaries have risen due to increased competition among schools looking to hire the best teachers. Teachers who have spent time in Vietnam unanimously agree that it is a wonderful place to live and work, so how do you go about finding out for yourself?
What qualifications are required to teach English in Vietnam?
To obtain a work permit to legally teach English in Vietnam you must be a native English speaker with a bachelor's degree. Many employers will also require a TEFL certificate of at least 120 hours. Some jobs at the top of the pay scale will also require classroom experience, though these are few and far between. Even if a job is advertised as requiring experience, it is not always required if you make a good impression on your CV/resume and/or in an interview.
Who are the main employers of English teachers in Vietnam?
Private language schools employ the vast majority of teachers in Vietnam. There are hundreds of these throughout the country, with the greatest concentration in the two largest cities, Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. Some offer general English classes for adults or young learners, while others specialize in English for Specific Purposes (ESP) courses such as test preparation, business English, and English for tourism. There are also a limited number of job opportunities in English speaking universities and public schools, but prior experience is usually required for these positions.
Private tutoring is another popular option. Some teachers make it a full-time job tutoring many students, but in most cases teachers take on a small number of students to supplement their main job salary.
What visas are required to teach English in Vietnam?
Some schools in Vietnam will try to convince you that working for them with only a tourist visa in your passport is fine; however, this is completely illegal and should be avoided at all costs, as you risk being fined and deported from the country.
To work legally in any school you must obtain a business visa and a work permit, both of which are typically obtained with the assistance of your employer. If you can find work before leaving home, most of the paperwork can be completed before you arrive.
However, as the majority of jobs in Vietnam are not advertised in advance, most teachers arrive on a tourist visa and then apply for the proper visa and work permit after finding a suitable job from within the country.
How should I apply for English teaching jobs in Vietnam?
Traveling to Vietnam on a tourist visa and then looking for work in person is usually the best approach because it allows you to get an idea of the country before committing to a job. Before signing on the dotted line it is advisable to travel around to find the city or town that best suits you and to meet potential employers. Remember that if you take this route you must bring all necessary documents with you, including your TEFL certificate, university diploma, and criminal background check.
It is also a good idea to contact an embassy or consulate before departing to ensure you have the most up-to-date information on visa requirements.
When should you apply for English teaching jobs in Vietnam?
Because private language schools do not have semesters they tend to hire at any time of the year. You can conduct some research before arriving in Vietnam to arrange a Skype interview, though most employers prefer a face-to-face interview. The school year begins in August or September if you plan to work in a public school or university. For these positions you should begin applying three months in advance, though vacant positions can arise at any time, so keep an eye on job boards, forums, and individual university websites, among other places.