Vietnam is a country steeped in history, culture and endless opportunities for travel, discovery, and relaxation. Whether you enjoy beautiful beaches, bustling cities, mountain forests or historical heritage Vietnam has plenty to offer you. Vietnamese culture is truly unique, as well as evolving rapidly, with entrance into the World Trade Organization last year Vietnam has truly become a globalize country. Vietnamese food is also subtly unique from its Asian neighbours, and there are countless delicacies to be sampled or enjoyed again and again. Restaurants are both plentiful and cheap making it feasible to eat out, at a different restaurant, every night if you so desired.
The Vietnamese people are very hospitable and friendly, and teachers are held in the highest respect in Vietnam and even have their own holiday! Vietnamese students are incredibly hard working and keen to learn, making your job as a teacher very rewarding. Teachers are also paid quite well in Vietnam and the cost of living is low, making it one of the best countries for saving in all of Asia. Whether you are looking for a CELTA Certification, new to teaching, or an experienced teacher there will be lots of options for you in Vietnam.
The cost of living in Vietnam is quite low, making it a great place to save money or to splurge and spoil yourself. Massages, spas, gyms, and beauty parlours are all quite commonplace in Vietnam, and the price for these luxuries is only a fraction of what it would cost in the West. Travel both inside Vietnam and around Asia is also cheap and easy, which is another major reason that teachers stay in Vietnam for years at a time.
The majority of EFL jobs in Vietnam are in the main cities and business centres; Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Danang, Vung Tau, and Can Tho are where most jobs are to be found. There are jobs to be had in some of the smaller cities and the countryside, but they will most likely require visiting these areas in person to find employment. Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are the main “hot spots” for EFL teaching in Vietnam and probably the best places to start for new teachers as the culture shock will be lessened. If you have the correct qualifications you should have no problem finding work in either of these two major cities.
Salary and hours
On average, teachers can expect to be contracted for 20-30 hours teaching a week, and during summer school months (May, June, July) more hours can be worked if desired. Summer time is also the best time to look for a job, as that is when demand is the highest. ‘Split shifts’ are not very common in Vietnam, but they do happen, and schedules vary greatly from school to school and depending whether adults or children are taught. Weekend classes are very common when teaching children, while adults’ classes tend to be during the week.
Salaries tend to range from $1000 to $1750 USD (net) per month depending on experience and place of employment.
Type of teaching
Teachers can expect to teach many different age-groups and class types ranging from kindergarten to business clients. Business clients and Young Learners are very common; there are also quite a few exam preparation courses, as well as University and overseas preparation courses. If business clients are taught, they almost always come to learn at your place of employment, but if traveling to teach the client is responsible for covering traveling costs.
Accommodation for teachers in Vietnam is usually organized by the individual, and varies depending upon lifestyle. Renting is the standard since land ownership is quite difficult for non-Vietnamese, and is also quite easily done. Both houses and apartments are widely available and there are plenty of housing agents who will help to look for something that suits you. When renting a house or apartment a deposit is required, this will be refunded (minus repairs and incidentals) at the end of the rental contract. Repairs and maintenance costs are usually quite low so most people get the majority of the deposit returned when they move out. Bills are also quite low compared to Western countries usually totalling $100 USD per person per month or less.
Best time to look for work
Contracts with private language schools can be signed year-round and usually vary from 6 months to 2 years. Most language schools also run summer school programmes which require extra teachers, so summer months (May-August) are a very good time to seek employment. The majority of schools will require teachers to have a CELTA/TESOL or equivalent qualification, and a University degree. Experience is required at some schools, while not at others.
Any foreign passport holder who wishes to work in Vietnam will need to get a Work Permit. These are obtained through your employer but usually require original documents of University degrees, CELTA Certifications, and a police background check. Work Permits are obtained only in Vietnam, so most people arriving in Vietnam for the first time get a tourist visa from their home country. Some schools will help to obtain a Visa; some also pay for it, before you leave for Vietnam, while others will expect you to handle this on your own.
Before accepting a job, teachers should do some research on the city that they will be teaching in. Hanoi is the capital and cultural centre of Vietnam, there is a strong French influence in the architecture and the people are a little more conservative. Ho Chi Minh City, on the other hand, is the Business centre of Vietnam and is more modern and progressive than traditional Hanoi. The weather is also quite different in the North and South of Vietnam. Hanoi and the Northern sections have four distinct seasons, while the Southern parts have only rainy and dry seasons.