Vietnam Work Permit Without a Degree

by Michael

Hi I've been teaching in HCMC for a year and a half and my school is finally getting persistent about me getting a work permit. (The ostrich approach probably isn't an option anymore). The problem is I don't have a degree. I have a teaching certificate and could provide all the other paper work.

I've heard it is possible to get a work permit without a degree and since I want to live and teach in Vietnam this is something I'm willing to pay for. Any advice would be greatly appreciated about where and how much?

And before you comment that it's disgraceful that someone should be allowed to teach without a degree I am actually in the process of taking a distance learning degree because teaching is something I love and hope to make a career out of.


Reply from

Some of the best, most enthusiastic teachers I have ever met did not have a degree. You won't get people judging you on this website, Michael. I delete comments that don't provide people with real answers.

Officially, you need a degree to obtain a work permit in Vietnam. You even need your Embassy to verify its legitimacy. However, there is a clause in the official rules for obtaining working status in Vietnam that accepts documented experience in lieu of a degree or diploma.

Here is the official word from the Labor Department of Vietnam;

For foreigners who are artisans of traditional trades or experienced in their professions, production execution and management but have no certificate or diploma of recognition, a written certification of at least five years experience in their profession, production execution and management issued by a competent foreign agency is required.

You can find the official rules and regulations for acquiring a work permit on our Vietnam Work Permit Information page.

Most people I know without a degree got their work permit based on experience. Their schools even provided them with the documented proof of experience. Others pay a man to get them their work permit and others submit fake degrees.

The best thing for you is just to tell them the truth. If you are currently enrolled in a distance learning program then just tell them that. It will be enough right there as long as you can provide documentation proving that you are currently enrolled in school. You should not lie because you do not need to.

If the school currently employing you asks you to obtain a work permit then it means that they value you and are willing to sponsor your work permit application. They rarely ask unless they are certain that you would qualify. My advice is to be honest and watch it happen without any worries.

No one is going to put you in Jail for teaching English without a degree. You can always use the 5 years experience clause to get out of any hot water. Be creative. I know a guy who was a fitness instructor back home. He claimed that he had 5 years experience teaching English because he had to communicate certain new words to people on a daily basis.

They accepted a letter of recommendation from that employer in lieu of a degree.

You have no worries at all, Michael. You should be celebrating. Teachers with Vietnamese work permits make a lot more money than those without.

IPS is my favorite example. $15USD an hour to those with no work permit and $22USD an hour for those that have one.

Be happy,


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Jun 03, 2019
5 year rule
by: James

Hi. I have recently been offered a role as Head of Marketing at a business in Hanoi. I do not have an undergraduate degree but I have letters from past employers from the past 5 years. The letters verify that I did in fact work there, my job title while there and my start and finish dates. I have had each of these letters notarised, legalised by the UK government and then finally stamped by the Vietnam Embassy in London. Will this be enough for my work permit application along with all the other normal documents (police check, health check etc)?



You should be asking these types of questions to the company you will be working. A degree is required for a teaching position but not necessarily for a position in a Marketing firm.

This is Vietnam. Rules are never set in stone and can always be circumvented by a motivated employer.

This page is a basic guide, and nothing more. Best of luck.

May 20, 2019
work permit without a degree
by: Anonymous

Hi, I am wondering if it's really possible to obtain a working permit without a degree in Vietnam. Right now, I am working in an English center and I couldn't provide a diploma for my working permit. I have TESOL certificate as well as other training certificates. Are these enough to obtain a working permit?

Thank you so much.

Nov 11, 2018
Thank you
by: Nikki

Thank you, this was so helpful. I was researching many things and asking individuals because I have friends teaching, without a degree and with a work permit. Some people can be very rude on other sites, but I appreciate the kindness here

Oct 19, 2018
Bachelor's degree undergraduate
by: Anonymous

Is it possible for me to obtain a work permit if Im a bachelor's degree undergraduate, I had my teaching experience but less than 5 years. However I have my TESOL certificate with me. Thanks in advance for the response.

Sep 28, 2018
Need help to work.
by: Elijah

I have an offer but I can't produce a diploma, transcript or certification that would allow me to teach in Vietnam. I know it is a standard requirement there and I am frightened that they do thorough checking as part of the process. I want to do it legally and I am sincere about working there but is recommendation letter enough to cover for my lack of credentials?

Jun 22, 2018
Date of posting?
by: Anonymous


This post is very helpful but I just wanted to ask when it was posted? Your first commenter replied in 2015, so I am guessing those are a few years old? Didn't the visa and work permit rules become more strict in 2016?




Laws have not changed as of June 4th 2019. According to Governments any school can hire according to rules as written here.

Have school standards changed? YUP> Big time.

Many schools require more than the bare minimum of Government restrictions. Some schools hire only those whose Bachelor Degree is in the field of Education such as Early Childhood Education. Some schools have laid off staff because they only had business degrees.

It is up to the school who they decide to sponsor, and the competition is getting tougher every year.

Jan 23, 2018
Can you get more than one WP?
by: Anonymous


I’m working for two schools at the moment, I already have a WP for one, but now the other school wants me to get one with them. Is it possible to get two separate WP’s?

Many thanks in advance



Yes, it is legal. But I suggest you stall for all the time you can. It is not in your best interest.

As long as you are paying your taxes and fees, it is legal to posses 2 separate work permits. There are limitations on hours you can exceed, but not a concern.

BUT you risk losing a job here. These schools are very controlling and easily offended. They like to feel that they have full ownership of your time.

It is a good balance right now.

The fist school will immediately know of your second WP. You can't hide that from ANYONE. Word moves at light speed in Vietnam.

Your school that wants a WP will very quickly become "Less flexible with your schedule"

Stall for as long as you can.


Jan 18, 2018
5 Years Experience
by: Anonymous

Hi Philip, may I ask an additional question about the five year experience clause?

Does it have to be full time work? I've been teaching English for many years and can provide proof, but it's always been a mixture of part time jobs at different companies, never full time at a single company.

Thanks in advance!


All they want is proof. Contracts, recommendation letters, etc. And they had better all be dated.

Lay out a timeline of documentation and make it easy for them or they will just take your money and throw your documents into the always full trash bin.

Never submit originals or you will lose them. Get a stamp of authenticity from your embassy if you have to.

Money well spent.


Nov 24, 2015
Competent Foreign Agency
by: Anonymous

What's a competent foreign agency?


Dude, Competent and Foreign Agency is an oxymoron. Come on grammar police!

There are some good people but the fundamentals are just not based on fiscal responsibility. I grew weary.

I would not recommend any of them with a full heart. Sorry.


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