Want to move to Vietnam and teach English?
Of course you do.
This article will tell you everything you need to know so you can get a job…
Who can get an English teaching job in Vietnam?
So, for those unfamiliar with how Vietnam works I’ll fill you in on the details.
There are two sets of laws in this country.
The first are the laws on the books. You know, laws that Americans and Europeans back home like to follow. Yeah, not many people actually follows those laws in Vietnam.
The second set of laws, and most commonly followed, are that laws do not exist. People just do whatever is easier and/or cheaper.
With that in mind, here are the requirements to teach English in Vietnam.
Qualification for a Legal Job
Just a few basic qualifications. A legal job gets you a work permit and a temporary residence card, which means you won’t risk deportation from the country. Not like that really happens for working illegally anyway.
- Native English speaker with a passport from Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, UK, or USA.
- Have a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited university.
- 6 month background check that comes back clean.
- A TEFL certificate of some sort.
- All these documents must be notarized.
Qualification for an Illegal Job
Most foreigners work illegal teaching jobs. You don’t get a work permit, so you have to figure out your visa stuff on your own. This also means you can’t (legally) send money back home.
- Be white.
- Speak enough English to pass an interview with a Vietnamese person.
Notice how speaking English isn’t that important.
That’s because schools aren’t in the business of teaching English.
They’re in the business of making money. In this case, Asian parents just want to see a white face teaching their kid English.
This is what a Vietnamese person thinks:
White = Speaks fluent English, American, smart, and rich.
Asian = Speaks some Asian language as a first language and English as a 2nd language.
Everything else = Speaks bad English and is poor.
Keep in mind, what Vietnamese think does not line up with reality…
That’s just how things are here. Life isn’t fair.
Get over it.
Can I get a job if I’m not white?
Sure. There are lots of Chinese, Koreans, and Vietnamese that were born and raised in America that speak perfect English.
They have jobs and a work permit.
It is just much more difficult for them to actually get a job than it is for your average white American (or mostly white Hispanic) though. Especially an illegal job.
Just imagine a Vietnamese parent sticking their head in the class and seeing an Asian person teaching. The parent will assume the center is paying a Vietnamese English teacher like $2/hour to teach the class. Trying to explain that non-white people speak English at a native level (and are American citizens) is a foreign concept to most Vietnamese.
If you’re Indian or African, then it’s going to be nearly impossible to get an English teaching job. Asians don’t like dark skinned people.
Yeah, I know it sucks and isn’t fair, but that’s life.
Trust me, working online is much better than teaching English anyway. So figure out how to make money online and you won’t have to worry about Asian people being discriminatory.
The Types of English Teaching Jobs in Vietnam
Ok. Now that we crushed about 30% of my audience’s hopes and dreams of getting the super prestigious job of teaching English in a 3rd world country, we can cover how to actually find a job.
Check out an article I wrote on using Tinder to meet women in Vietnam. Hint: Tinder is easy for foreign guys.
First, there are two basic types of English teaching jobs you can get in Vietnam. You can teach in an after-school English center or you can teach in public school.
These operate after school hours. Basically, kids will spend 7AM-5:00PM Monday-Friday (sometimes Saturday) at public school. That’s not good enough for Asian parents though.
From 5:30 until about 10PM many parents will send their kids to an English center. They also send the kids to the center on the weekends too. Here is the rundown of working at an English center.
- You will work weekends as this is the busiest time for the center. They are usually open 8AM-8PM on the weekends.
- You will work anywhere from 5:30PM-9PM on the weekdays.
- You should have two consecutive days off, but they may not be consecutive and certainly not on the weekend.
- The pay should be a minimum of 420k/hour if you’re a white native speaker. This is about $17.50/hr.
- Full time is usually considered 18 teaching hours per week.
- It is usually kids, but sometimes you will teach adults.
Public Schools in Vietnam
Vietnamese public schools hire foreigners to teach English. However, the school does hire you directly. Instead, you must apply for a company that fulfills public school teaching contracts.
Note: The companies rarely do things the legal way. I’ve met Russians that don’t speak English teaching in public school. I’ve also met a convicted felon teaching at public school.
Here is an overview of public school teaching jobs.
- The classroom will not have air conditioning.
- Each class will be about 40-50 students.
- You will have a chalkboard and chalk. You might have a microphone, but not always.
- The pay should be a minimum of 420k/hour.
- You can work Monday-Friday 7AM-4:30PM.
- You may teach 5 year olds or 16 year olds.
- Classes are 45 minutes long, but sometimes are back-to-back.
- Students usually speak terrible English.
- Some classes can be very difficult to manage.
- You probably won’t teach the kids much English. Just play games and read the book for 1.5 hours.
- You get a 2 hour lunch break.
- The most hours you will work at one school is about 18 hours.
- You may or may not have a Vietnamese teaching assistant.
- Your TA usually just plays on her phone while kids act up.
Where to find an English Teaching Job?
You have a few different options for finding an English teaching job. Here are all of them:
Join Facebook Groups
There are like a million Facebook groups for English teaching jobs in Vietnam. You can literally post a picture of yourself and your qualifications to the group and watch the job offers pour in. Now, the best jobs generally will not message you first, but this is still an option.
Recruiters from legitimate companies do post job ads though. You can contact them through email.
Facebook is the best way to find an English teaching job in Vietnam.
Anyway, here are some of the more popular groups for Ho Chi Minh City and Vietnam in general. Hanoi has some groups, but I am not aware of them.
Dave’s ESL Café (link here) is just a job board for ESL jobs. You can find plenty of jobs in Vietnam on the “International Board.”
Hit the Pavement
This option is one commonly suggested, but isn’t really done in practice. Anyway, just drive around your motorbike and hand your CV to schools.
Just make sure to dress nice.
Craigslist in Vietnam has some English job postings, but not many. Not really recommended, but hey you might find some jobs on Craigslist.
It’s worth a shot.
Can I apply out of country?
Sure. APAX will interview you out of country and give you a job offer. Others will too, but I don’t know the names.
I’d email them and ask, but most will want you to be in Vietnam before moving the process along.
Do my documents need to be notarized?
Yes, you need your documents notarized to work legally.
Your degree needs to be notarized and translated. If you’re American, then you can get an affidavit from the embassy. Not sure on other nationalities.
Do I need a federal background check?
No. A state background check is fine.
Just make sure it is within 6 months and notarized (or has an affidavit from the embassy).
Is an online TEFL ok?
The major centers usually want an in-person TEFL, which costs around $1,500.
Many schools are fine with an online TEFL though. Sometimes the major schools don’t care (APAX and YOLA).
Avoiding English Teaching Job Scams in Vietnam
A major problem in Asia is getting ripped off by English teaching companies. Here are some quick tips to avoid getting scammed.
Search for the company
The first thing you want to do is search the name of the company on Google and the Facebook groups. If someone has been ripped off, then you probably see something come up.
Be warned, just because you see positive stuff does not mean the company is legit. Lots of them will pay for fake reviews.
Don’t Give Them Your Documents
Avoid giving the company your documents. You should show them the original, but give them a copy of your documents.
This way they don’t hang it over your head to make you leave.
Work for Reliable Companies
Vietnam is full of scam companies, but here are some legit companies that won’t blatantly scam you.
- APAX English.
- Wall Street English
Those are the ones I can think of off the top of my head. The first 6 are English centers and all follow the law (usually, not always).
EMG and Major do staffing for public schools and will literally hire any foreigner. Not the best place to work, but they do pay you money.