The English teaching industry (ESL) in Vietnam is booming. English isn’t widely spoken in Vietnam, it has only recently made English part of the curriculum, but the government and parents across the country are now very keen for their children to be learning the language. And it’s not just for kids, adults are learning as well to help advance their careers.
Vietnam is a wonderful country to live and work in. It offers decent wages, a low cost of living and plenty of job opportunities for people with no previous teaching or ESL experience. So if you are looking for a change of scene, a way to pay for your travels or a desire to really connect with a new country and culture, then I cannot recommend Vietnam enough. But how do you go about finding an ESL job?
1) Know the requirements
The three main requirements are:
- University degree in any subject
- TEFL/CELTA/TESOL certificate (Teaching English as a Foreign Language cert.)
- Native English speaker
If you can tick these three off, then you are ready to go. However, there are exceptions (see below for details) and it is possible to find work without all three, but they may be for less reputable companies.
University degree: If you don’t have a degree but you have years of experience working with children or teaching English elsewhere then you will be absolutely fine. They will see your experience as an asset.
Native speaker: I knew loads of non-native English speakers teaching in Vietnam. Non-natives often have a better grasp of English grammar anyway and if your accent is clear you should have no problem. Look for work in the big cities, Hanoi, HCM, Danang etc.
TEFL/CELTA/TESOL – It probably is possible to find work without a teaching certificate, but it will be for the lower paid jobs. However, I would advise against teaching without one. People will be paying a lot of money for lessons and I believe they deserve to be taught by someone who is committed to the job and has been trained. An online course will suffice, and you can often find deals to make it cheaper. I would recommend a course with some contact hours with a tutor as this will really build your confidence. For people who want a more intensive course that is recognised all over the world, then I would research enrolling on a CELTA or TESOL course.
2) Research the different types of jobs available
There are different options for teaching jobs in Vietnam:
Jobs with language centres make up the vast majority of openings in Vietnam. All cities and towns have an abundance of them. Many are large companies which mean you generally get a lot of support and maybe training, and they will provide a solid contract and help with visas and work permits. Downsides are that you will probably work weekends and you are tide down for the length of your contract which can limit travel opportunities while you work. They hire year-round.
There aren’t as many opportunities to work in government schools but it is possible. Some language centers are contracted to teach English lessons in state schools, so you might end up travelling and working in different locations, and the variety can keep the job fresh. Working in state schools mean the job will likely be Monday-Friday and no evenings, but you will be tied down for the school year (sept – May) which only has one week off for Tet (New Year). Hire year-round.
These are definitely the most lucrative! You will need a few years experience to apply for these roles and they will only hire for the start of the school year (June – August). Many perks such as career development and housing allowance.
In the large cities and towns it is easy to pick up private tutoring jobs. They usually pay more per hour than language schools. Upsides are you can have full say over your working hours leaving a lot of opportunity for travel. Downsides are of course that the work and therefore money is less stable.
3) Start your job search
OK, you know the basic requirements, and you know the types of jobs out there. You are ready to start your job search!
The best way to find a job is to actually go to Vietnam and start searching there, but you can apply and interview online. The benefit of being in the country is you can go and see for yourself where you would be teaching. It is wise to be cautious as there are companies in Vietnam that are of a poor standard and don’t treat their staff well.
Where to look
There are plenty of websites you can use to find job openings, here are a few to start you off:
Another great way to find jobs is on Facebook. If you join the right groups you will find many jobs posted every day, and you can even post to advertise about yourself. Good groups to try are:
- Vietnam Teaching Jobs
- Hanoi English Teaching Jobs
- Hanoi Massive Jobs
- Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) ESL Teaching Jobs
There are many groups like these for all cities in Vietnam. These groups are really good for finding private tutoring gigs.
The Next Step
After you have decided on factors such as where you want to work, what type of job you want, the maximum hours you want and the minimum wage you will work for, get applying! There are so many jobs, I cannot stress enough how easy it is to find work if you meet the basic requirements. The next step will be smashing your interview. Click here for help preparing for your Vietnam ESL interview.