Teaching English in Vietnam is by far the fastest way to put some Dollars into your bank account.
I spent nearly 4 years teaching in Vietnam.
I will never forget the first day I arrived at De Tham street in the Pham Ngu Lao area and slept that first night in an $8USD hotel room.
I'll take you through each step of what I had to do to get a job as a teacher in Vietnam.
I started with just a single 1.5 hour class per week and rose to a full time spot at the best school in Ho Chi Minh City.
The best school soon becomes the one with the highest wages, which quickly becomes a priority if you want to keep most of what you earn teaching English in Vietnam.
I met many couples in Saigon who were both working as full-time English Teachers. They each saved about $1,500USD/mth. Combined that becomes $3,000USD a month and over 1 year that amounts to $36,000USD.
Make sure to Read What Others Have Said at the bottom of the page. Every question you can think of might have already been answered.
You must have a good story to share and help others with if if you've ever taught in Vietnam.
***UPDATE September 2, 2011***
The Vietnamese authorities have been clamping down more aggressively and more on people teaching in Vietnam without work permits.
2 teachers were thrown out just last week (But they are back already).
This means punishment is to leave the country and come back but probably not to go looking again for Vietnam jobs.
If you teach in Vietnam then be aware of this and know that there will always be schools offering ESL jobs in Vietnam to teachers without qualifications.
That is unfortunately becoming the domain of the crappy schools.
Salaries have also come down an average of 20% this year alone and rent has gone through the roof.
So much for the Free-Trade agreement leading to prosperity in Vietnam!
Vietnam remains a fine destination for people looking to teach in Vietnam.
Unlike China, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos or Myanmar, you can easily find work at up to $20USD an hour.
That combined with a very low cost of living puts it over even Japan, Singapore Taiwan and even Korea (Korea is a close second) for disposable income.
The bottom line is that teaching English in Vietnam is the best way in Asia to save money.
There are other reasons for wanting to live in Vietnam. Perhaps you just want to see Vietnam and get paid for doing it.
Whatever your reason, it's nice to know that Teaching English in Vietnam is a great way to fund furthers travels.
Teaching English in Vietnam has been a good experience for me. Except maybe the close call I had with the former S.I.T.C (Singapore International Teaching Consultancy).
It locked its doors and did a midnight dash out of the country back in 2006.
They skipped town with the payroll, the student's fees and everything else that wasn't nailed down. Teachers lost up to 6 weeks pay and some students up to a year's tuition.
Some students had paid for classes the day before the school ran off!
I resigned 10 days before this for a holiday back home. And I was paid in full before I left!
Finding work as anything else but an English Teacher is very difficult. Especially for those who've been in the country less than 6 months.
Employers looking to hire workers will usually take those who've been in the country more than 6 months. I guess it's a sign you're going to stick around and are able to handle the culture shock most everyone suffers. I did...I do.
A great website for finding all kinds of work in Vietnam is VietnamWorks.com. You have to sign up to get a password but it's free otherwise and the best source for finding work in Vietnam.
The only jobs I have ever seen that specifically target foreigners are for English Teachers; Doctors and Nurses in the International Hospital (Franco-Vietnamese Hospital) and....that's just about it.
I'll focus on work in Vietnam from the perspective of an English Teacher because there is very little else and it is the quickest way to refill the pockets.
So, if you want to come to Vietnam to represent the Monkey Testicle Freedom Act to insure the even distribution of monkey testicles to soup stations throughout Asia, this page won't help you much.
But if you've got experience as an English teacher then finding a job in Vietnam is very easy.
The most effective way is to hire a motorbike taxi driver, arm yourself with a dozen resumes and tell the driver to take you to all the English Language centers around your area.
Schools rarely list the salary offered for any kind of work. The Vietnamese management always prefer to bargain, never committing themselves to any exact number.
This is good if you are a well qualified English Teacher with a Bachelor's Degree in any field, work experience and a T.E.F.L or C.E.L.T.A (Some schools will hire you without any of this if you do a Demo Class and come off looking like a real teacher)!
If you apply online there will be a few schools that respond. The ones that do respond will ask that you sign a one year contract immediately.
They will offer to pick you up at the airport and have a place all ready for you. The truth is that once you get here and see what everyone else is getting salary wise, you'll regret it.
One guy I knew from Canada got hired over the internet. He figured it would be a good way to ease the strain of a move overseas. Have everything sorted so less anxiety involved.
He ended up working 40 hours a week including both Saturday and Sunday. All for $750USD a month. I worked at the same school at 28 hours a week, Saturday and Sunday off and $2000USD a month.
Just because I was already there and knew the going rate and he didn't. So, try to arm yourself with the right information about teaching English in Vietnam before you go.
I understood him completely, though. He was in no way stupid. He just wanted to alleviate the immense stress of moving overseas. I don't blame anyone for doing this but in this case you'll get better working conditions if you show up and negotiate.
Best Time To Go
June, July and August are the best months for finding jobs teaching English in Vietnam. Everyone teaching English in Vietnam heads back home for the summer or for whatever reason, they just leave Vietnam en mass.
The situation for job seekers is made even better by the fact that these are the same months when the high schools are closed for the summer.
Enrollment in the Private English schools soar as a result. So, these are the months with both the highest demand for foreign teachers and the lowest supply of them.
It's a can't-miss formula.
January and February are the worst times to show up. Tet Holiday in Vietnam runs at the exact same time as the Chinese New Year celebrations.
Most of the schools are closed for up to 2 weeks for the New Year celebrations and people are slow to return to work and school. January, February and March are just the worst times for teaching English in Vietnam.
Saving a Pot of Money
I easily save $1,000USD a month when there are no extended holiday breaks in a month; and that's just me working alone.
I know some couples working in Vietnam that are saving nearly $2,500USD a month combined. They come to Vietnam for 5 months and then travel the rest of the year!
But I also know some people who save nothing at all. They buy the best mobile phones, eat at expensive restaurants and buy their own motorbikes to park in their rented, 5 story homes. They live like rich people because they really are at that kind of salary.
Most Vietnamese make under $150USD a month.
Most foreigners work English Teaching jobs in Vietnam to start off. Salaries vary from $10USD an hour all the way up to $19USD an hour.
It all depends on your experience, documentation and appearance. If you are well dressed and mannered; have a university degree in any field along with a T.E.F.L. or C.E.L.T.A certificate, you should push hard for the $19USD an hour.
But if you smell; have no shirt and tie; look hung-over and carry no certificates or experience, you'll be lucky to get $10USD an hour.
But you're not there yet. The hard part comes in getting enough hours. Every school starts you off with very few (Perhaps 10 hours / week). You'll need 30 hours a week if you want to save any real money.
But if you prove yourself quickly, (Students like you and you aren't drunk for class) you'll be at 30 hours a week in no time.
You'll be paid cash by every school. You can open a bank account in Vietnam with a Vietnamese bank but you cannot exchange local currency for U.S. dollars.
You'll have to sell your Vietnamese money (Dong) to the jewelry shops around Benh Tahn Market to get US Dollars. But not to worry as the exchange rates are very reasonable. You'll pay about $8USD for every $1000USD you buy.
Foreign banks like HSBC require you to deposit $2000USD before they'll even open an account for you. I opened a bank account with Sacombank (A Vietnamese Bank) and have not had any problems. It was free to open a Vietnamese Dong account and a U.S. Dollar account.
The Government has just upped the maximum amount of money you can send out of the country. It was previously capped at $3,000USD but has since been upped to $7,000USD. So, as long as you have US Dollars almost any bank will wire that cash back home for you if you pay the fee.
Anyway, the point is that teaching English in Vietnam is pretty good because the wages are so high and the cost of living so low that you can put away a lot of money. That doesn't mean I particularly enjoy living in Saigon but the pay has kept me coming back.
Some of the Most Famous Private Schools in Saigon
Ward 6, District 3
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Tel. (84-8) 930-2861
Fax. (84-8) 930-2862.
You can check out their website at http://www.cleaverlearn.com.vn
The school would not issue me tax receipts on the 10% deductions they were taking from my salary. I resigned after 6 months because it was clear that they were not going to give them to me.
My Embassy had warned me that I was teaching English in Vietnam illegally without those receipts. Then the school refused to pay me for the work I had done over the previous month because I resigned.
I sound like such a jerk and my actions seem so idiotic and arrogant. But I was alone in a foreign country that spoke a language I couldn't understand.
I had no friends or family or labor law to turn to for help. I felt like, through the course of my 2 years of teaching English in Vietnam, that I had to fight.
In the end, I was paid in full and was issued back tax receipts.
Other than that, this school was great to me in every other way. The staff are friendly and reliable and I've heard that this school has now changed their policies for the better.
District 3, Ho Chi Minh City.
Tel. (84 8) 932 5830 or (84 8) 932 5836.
Fax: (84 8) 932 0008
Wonderful school. One of the best for me and anyone teaching English in Vietnam. I was sad to leave here.
They were always honest and fair with me and made sure I had the supplies I needed to conduct a class effectively.
Great outfit and I recommend them highly.
If you are looking to find general information about this school and the courses it offers then try their website at http://www.cefalt.edu.vn.
If you can't find what you are looking for then the best source would be to Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org Of course, if you are looking to teach English in Vietnam then send your resumes to email@example.com
District 1, Ho Chi Minh City.
I covered a few shifts here for a friend whose been teaching English in Vietnam for 2 years. He's still there and refuses to leave and raves about teaching English in Vietnam. Especially at this branch of EF (English First).
I am not recommending EF (English First) overall as a school. They have the largest number of franchised outlets in the world but are not on my list of favorite schools to work for.
But this branch in Vietnam is a great one due mainly to the ownership. Their Director of studies was a guy named Gregory Zeigler but since his departure, the school has never re-filled the position.
Their office phone in Ho Chi Minh City is 823-0290 and their website is at www.englishfirst.com.vn
Applying through their website is not recommended though. Go to the office once you are in Vietnam if you want to get the top hourly rate and begin teaching English in Vietnam.
Office Phone: 820-5967 ext: 113
V.U.S (Vietnam U.S.A Society) has 6 branches in Ho Chi Minh City alone.
This is a school to start at for teachers with no experience teaching English in Vietnam. You will be asked to do a demonstration class in front of 4 or 5 staff members.
They are not looking for perfection so don't sweat it too much. As long as your appearance in decent, you don't smell like booze and your voice is clear then you'll land a job here.
You must sign a contract to work here. $12USD an hour is the standard salary for all hours but is a low salary. Most teachers teaching English in Vietnam are earning between $14USD-$22USD an hour.
You will be asked to work 7 days a week at this school and sign a contract without any attractive benefits including full weekend hours.
This school can be a great one or one of the worst. It all depends on how well you negotiate. Some teachers here were working their butts off for low wages while others had weekends off and competitive salaries.
I always hear mixed reviews about this school but my experience was fine. My guess is that the complaining teachers were railroaded into crappy contracts and the happy ones demanded and got what they wanted.
While teaching English in Vietnam, schools will try to get everything they can out of you. Up to you if you let them.
Check out their website at vus-etsc.edu.vn/ but they will ignore emailed resumes. Go to the main office in District 1 and hand them a resume in person. It worked for me and everyone else I talked to there.
Tell Your Story or Ask a Question
Did you do any teaching in Vietnam and would like to tell others about your experiences? Then do it here so others can learn from your wisdom.
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