Huge growth in business and tourism have joined to make Vietnam one of the largest job markets for teaching English in the world.
After fifteen years of living and teaching in Vietnam I can provide you with a wealth of knowledge if you wish to teach in Vietnam.
I do this for two reasons. The first is I hope you can find a job that you will love and secondly I have a small school and I am always on the lookout for new teachers.
How to get paid to teach English.
Ho Chi Minh City is arguably the largest job market for teaching English in Vietnam. Low costs of living ( furnished apartments from $300 to $600 per month US$) can mean teachers in Vietnam can save the equivalent of $500 to $700 US$ per month all while enjoying a vibrant, exciting culture and amazing nightlife.
I am going to walk you through the things you will need, from teaching, finding a job, my experiences, day to day living and the pros’ and cons’ of life in Vietnam. I will also drill down into classroom activities, styles of teaching, classroom activities and sizes and job opportunities.
I will provide contacts for arranging visas and teacher training and how to get your motorbike license. I will try to cover as much as I can to make your trip to Ho Chi Minh City as easy as possible.
Things you need before you teach.
Some things you must provide to you future employer can be started to be gathered in your home country. You must provide a police check. This can be done at your local police station. This will show you have a clean criminal record and have not been arrested.
I got this quite easily from the country I was living in which was Australia. I waited for 7 working days and it was provided to me on an official Police letterhead stating my full name, address and passport number.
You will also have to provide a health check to show you are able to teach. You can do this in Vietnam but you may have communication problems with any non-English speaking staff. I organized mine with my local Doctor in my home country and this was satisfactory for my employer.
Although once I was employed, my employer, arranged to have me re-checked in Vietnam. (At their expense).
Degree or Non Degree. While a number of people will tell you can not teach without a degree, it is possible. If you need specialized help in this area please leave contact details in the comments section.
However, a degree in any subject is becoming essential. The degree does not have to be education related ( although it helps find a better paying job) and I have seen some very strange degrees shown.
So dust off your degree in surfing and prepare to become a teacher. In these days of COVID some schools and agencies are more willing to bend the rules than others.
I am offering no judgment call on degree or non-degree N.E.S ( Native English Speaker) but only providing current information on employment opportunities. With all your paperwork please arrange for notarized copies and also bring your originals.
I will talk about Visa costs, Work permits and training TESOL, TEFL, CELTA etc) as well as motorbike license costs within this post.
The Professional Engish Teacher.
What else do you need to maximize your income potential. Please bring suitable work attire. As I mentioned before, Vietnam can be quite traditional and teachers are expected to follow a dress code applicable to their role.
I am still surprised at the “new” teacher who is dressed in jeans and T-Shirt asking for a pay rise in an interview situation. I have been on the receiving end of this. Remember, we are in Vietnam and a lot of the labor laws are not at work here.
Trousers, short sleeve shirts and shoes with socks are deemed acceptable. There is no need to wear a tie or jacket.
If you have tattoos please try to cover them up in both the interview and classroom. As silly as this all sounds, if you are in an interview situation, this will give you an edge in getting the job you want.
It is Wet and Warm
Ho Chi Minh City has two seasons. Hot and wet and hot. So bring clothes that work around the seasons. You can buy cheap clothes in Vietnam but if you are a “big” size you may have difficulties in finding something that fits.
I now get my own clothes and shoes made at prices that are less than normal off the rack prices. It is hot in H.C.M.C., so bring clothes that will help you feel comfortable until you acclimatize.
Even though it is now much better, when I first came to Vietnam it was difficult to find underwear that was not too tight. So, throw in a couple of extra pair until you find a shop or department store that caters to your size.
Work Permits, Visa costs and Other Paperwork.
Work permits, Visa costs, Teacher training costs and License costs.
In this section I will give you a breakdown in costs and some contacts that I have personally used and found to be reliable.
The currency of Vietnam is the dong and everything I quote will be in either the Dong or in US$. Currently 100,000 dong is equivalent to $4.30 US.
As a rule of thumb take off 4 zeros and halve what is left. That will give you a quick ( although not 100% accurate) conversion rate between the dong and US$. A good idea is to download a currency conversion app for your phone called ‘Xe”
To get into Vietnam you will need a visa. These are broken down into Tourist or Business visa’s. I strongly recommend doing the business visa as that is what you will need to be able to work in Vietnam.
Also, go for the six-month visa as you do not wish to disrupt your teaching time by doing a “visa run” to another country. A reputable company called Vietnam-visa has offices in both Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi and can help with all your visa needs from Visa on arrival to visa extensions and provide a wealth of information.
Below are the costs for a Visa, 1 to 6 months for single or multiple entries. You will see both tourist or business visas for one or over three people. Tourist Visa
1 pax. 2 pax. 3+ pax stamp fees 1 month single entry $21.00 $18.25 $17.25 $25.00
3 month single entry $34.00 $30.25 $28.25 $25.00
1 month multiple entries $26.00 $23.25 $22.25 $50.00
3 month multiple entries $54.00 $52.25 $46.75 $50.00
1 pax. 2 pax. 3+ pax stamp fees 1 month single entry $119.00 $114.00 $108.00 $25.00
3 month single entry $140.00 $133.00 $126.00 $25.00
1 month multiple entries $119.00 $114.00 $108.00 $50.00
3 month multiple entries $146.00 $139.00 $135.00 $50.00
6 month multiple entries $361.00 $344.00 $333.00 $95.00
Vietnam-visa has offices in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
Vietnam-visa Vietnam- visa 6th floor, Win Home building, 23rd floor, vinacomex Tower. No. 9 Hoa Cau. Pham Hung road Ward 7, Phu Nhuan District, Me Tri Ho Chi Minh City Tu Liem Hanoi
Phone number; +84 946 583 583 Ms Chloe Nguyen ( Nguyen pronounced Wing)
One of the other pieces of paper you will need is a work permit, if you want to be legal. Your school will help you obtain a work permit and they may pay half or the full amount.
Technically if you are married to a Vietnamese person you do not need a work permit, however this is not well-known and you will probably be forced into getting a work permit.
There are a number of private enterprises that can help with this but It is best to let the school handle this. I have heard some horror stories of fake work permits and early exits from Vietnam.
If you wish to teach English in Vietnam for longer than three months it is a legal requirement to have a work permit.
Тhе rеquіrеmеntѕ fоr bеіng grаntеd а Vіеtnаm wоrk реrmіt vаrу dереndіng оn thе ѕресіfіс rоlе but thе gеnеrаl rеquіrеmеntѕ аrе аѕ fоllоwѕ:
Тhе fоrеіgn сіtіzеn іѕ аt lеаѕt 18 уеаrѕ оf аgе;
Тhе fоrеіgn сіtіzеn hаѕ quаlіfісаtіоnѕ аnd оссuраtіоnаl ѕkіllѕ whісh аrе ѕuіtаblе tо thе wоrk rеquіrеmеntѕ;
Тhе fоrеіgn сіtіzеn іѕ іn gооd еnоugh hеаlth tо ѕаtіѕfу thе јоb rеquіrеmеntѕ;
Тhе fоrеіgn сіtіzеn іѕ nоt а сrіmіnаl оr hаѕ bееn рrоѕесutеd fоr сrіmіnаl lіаbіlіtу іn ассоrdаnсе wіth thе lаw оf Vіеtnаm аnd fоrеіgn lаwѕ
Rеquіrеmеntѕ fоr Еnglіѕh Теасhеrѕ
Еnglіѕh Теасhеrѕ dо nоt nееd tо hаvе рrіоr tеасhіng ехреrіеnсе tо bе еlіgіblе fоr а wоrk реrmіt аѕ lоng аѕ thеу hаvе аt lеаѕt а Васhеlоr’ѕ dеgrее іn аnу dіѕсірlіnе аѕ wеll аѕ а tеасhіng сеrtіfісаtе (ТЕFL, СЕLТА, TESOL еtс.). Теасhеrѕ whо dо nоt роѕѕеѕѕ а dеgrее саn ѕtіll bе еlіgіblе fоr а wоrk реrmіt рrоvіdеd thеу hаvе 3 уеаrѕ оf dосumеntеd tеасhіng ехреrіеnсе аѕ wеll аѕ а tеасhіng сеrtіfісаtе.
Wе аrе аwаrе thаt mаnу ехраtѕ wаѕ аblе tо gеt а wоrk реrmіt wіthоut а Васhеlоr’ѕ dеgrее. Тhе fее іѕ аbоut 3х hіghеr thаn uѕuаl, ѕіnсе уоu аrе bаѕісаllу brіbіng уоur wау аrоund іt. Wе dоn’t rесоmmеnd thіѕ but іf уоu tаkе thіѕ раth, rеmеmbеr thаt уоu аnd уоur еmрlоуеr аrе tаkіng thе rіѕk.
1 х Сrіmіnаl Rесоrd Сhесk (lеgаlіzеd/nоtаrіzеd + trаnѕlаtеd + сеrtіfіеd)
Іѕѕuеd wіthіn thе lаѕt 6 mоnthѕ
Frоm hоmе соuntrу ОR а Vіеtnаmеѕе оnе іf уоu hаvе bееn іn Vіеtnаm fоr 6+ mоnthѕ
1 х Dеgrее (lеgаlіzеd/nоtаrіzеd + trаnѕlаtеd + сеrtіfіеd)
1 х Неаlth Сhесk Сеrtіfісаtе
Іѕѕuеd wіthіn thе lаѕt 6 mоnthѕ
2 х Соlоurеd рhоtосоріеѕ оf уоur раѕѕроrt (іnсludіng уоur Вuѕіnеѕѕ Vіѕа)
2 х Рhоtоgrарhѕ (4х6сm) tаkеn оn а whіtе bасkgrоund wіthоut glаѕѕеѕ
1 х ТЕFL/TESOL/CELTA Теасhіng Сеrtіfісаtе (lеgаlіzеd/nоtаrіzеd + trаnѕlаtеd + сеrtіfіеd) – уоu саn gеt сеrtіfіеd оnlіnе оr gеt сеrtіfіеd оnсе уоu аrе іn Vіеtnаm
Оnlу fоr tеасhіng јоbѕ
1 х Lеttеr(ѕ) соnfіrmіng 3 уеаrѕ оf rеlеvаnt wоrk ехреrіеnсе іѕѕuеd bу fоrmеr еmрlоуеr(ѕ) (lеgаlіzеd/nоtаrіzеd + trаnѕlаtеd + сеrtіfіеd)
Fees can range from $50.00US for a U.S. A citizen up to $500.00US for a South African.
After you have been in Vietnam for a while and have become used to the chaotic traffic you may wish to obtain your own drivers license. You can either transfer your existing license or resit the test entirely. I chose the second option which turned out to be very easy and remarkably cheap, less than 500,000 dong. Approximately $24.00US.
However, if you wish to transfer your original license, these are the steps you need to take.
First, get the following together:
- Official translation of your Driving License (2 copies) from your home country (you must find an official translator for your language with notary powers to do this – your Embassy/Consulate should be able to inform you, for some language you might be able to do it at the People’s Committee on 47, Le Duan in District 1, HCMC)
- Notarized copy of your Driving License translation (2 copies) which has to be done at the Department of Justice of Ho Chi Minh City) – some official translators may do the two above steps for you, but the important thing is to get the stamp from the Department of Justice on your Driving License’s translation
- 2 copies of your Passport (first page, visa/resident card, and entry stamp) – simple black & white copies
- Filled in form from the Transit Authority (Download here) or get it at the Department of Transport when applying
- Original Resident card (if applicable)
- Original Driving License from your home country, and your old Vietnam Driving License in case of renewal
- Original Passport
Then, go to the Department of Transport (the driving license holder needs to be present) – for Ho Chi Minh City the address is Sở Giao thông vận tải, 252 Lý Chính Thắng, Phường 9, District 3, HCMC located in the end of the alley – it can be difficult to find,
Once there, go straight into the building (1st floor).
- The security guard can point you in the right direction (they usually know what foreigners are there for)
- At the counter, present all the documents listed above – the officer will certify that all is in order
- If you forgot to copy some documents, you can find copy shops nearby
- When handing all the documents, you will have to pay 135,000 VND for the application fee
- You will then be asked to sit by a wall and they will take your photo on the spot
- Note that at this point your Vietnamese driving license will only reflect the types of vehicles stated in your original driving license from your home country
This means that if you have a B1 (car) driving license in your home country, but not an A class (motorbike up to 175cc ), you will still need to add it later to your Vietnamese license. For the motorbike license, you just have to pass a practical exam (you will be excused from the theoretical part, which is considered by the Vietnamese as proven by the driving license you are converting now).
After everything is done, you will get a confirmation form stating your name, your license type, and the completion date for the conversion (usually after 10 working days).
- You will be directed to a little table in the corner of the room where a Post officer will ask you to fill in your preferred address to receive your Vietnam driving license
- Fill in your postal details and pay 30,000 VND to receive it directly, or you can come back in person to collect it
- They will inform you of the exact date the courier will come to your stated address – you can put your office address, and give the receipt to someone else to collect it)
- The officer will give you a receipt which you will have to hand to the courier that will come to deliver your Vietnam driving license
Total Issuing Cost for your Vietnam Driving License: 200,000 VND (for the translation/notarization) + 135,000 VND(application fee) + 30,000 VND (postal fee) = 365,000 VND.
Ready for the next steps? You’re almost there!
Now use your converted license to get your Vietnamese license.
(not needed if your original driving license already had it – and you don’t have to take the theoretical exam in any case)
Warning, the following steps will be harder to do without speaking Vietnamese or without the help of a Vietnamese friend.
Get the documents below:
- 04 photos [3x4cm] with blue background for the driving center
- 01 photo (any size, any background) for the health check
- Copy of your Passport (1 copy, first page, visa/resident card, and entry stamp)
- Filled in form (available on the spot at the driving center)
- Health check results
- Original Vietnam Driving License
- Original Passport
- Original Resident Card (if applicable)
Your first step will be to have a health check to show you are able to drive.
There are only 3 certified hospitals in HCMC (if you live in another city you can get the list of certified hospitals at your local driving center) to get it done:
- An Sinh Hospital, 10 Trần Huy Liệu, Phường 12, Phú Nhuận, Hồ Chí Minh (google map link) – cost around 1,5M VND.
- Binh Thanh Hospital, 112AB Đinh Tiên Hoàng, Phường 1, Bình Thạnh, Hồ Chí Minh (google map link) – cost around 600,000 VND
- Giao Thong Van Tai Hospital, 136 Cách Mạng Tháng Tám, Phường 12, Quận 10, Hồ Chí Minh (google map link) – cost around 185,000 VND.
The health check fee is from 185,000 VND to over 1M VND, depending on the hospital.
You don’t need to schedule a visit and can just show up directly but you might need to wait on busy days.
You should wear formal clothes (long pants, no shorts) and avoid drinking (too much) alcohol the day before, as they will test your urine and your breath for alcohol.
Bring along your original passport and a photo to apply for the health check, just follow the steps and get the results.
This part will definitely be easier with a Vietnamese friend.
Then, go to the driving center – for HCMC it is located at Vocational Colleges 7, Trường cao đẳng nghề số 7, 51/2 Thành Thái, Phường 14, District 10, HCMC
Once there, you will be given a form to fill in your personal information.
- With your health check approved in hand, go back to the front office where they will inform you of the available exam schedules and ask you to choose one
- You will be asked to pay the license issuing fee
- They will give you a receipt which serves as your exam registration
- They will return all original documents to you straight away
- On the exam date (can be any day – mine was booked for 7 AM), go back to the same place with your exam registration receipt in hand
- Bring also your original Passport, Vietnam Driving License, and Resident Card
- The exam takes around 15 minutes and is a just a basic route that you need to complete (roundabout, narrow path, driving over bumps, that’s it) – the motorbike is provided
- Note that you cannot use your own bike, and have to use their bike – a semi-automatic old motorbike. You should definitely practice a few times beforehand. You can just show up at the driving center any day from 7:30 am to 5 pm, and rent a test bike for 50,000 VND for 30min practice (the office is located at the entrance gate)
- Results are announced as soon as you completed the test
- You will then sign the issuance form
- 10 working days later, they will issue a new Vietnam driving license for you for both car and motorbike
– License issuing fee: 135.000 VND
– Exam fee: 90.000 VND
– Health Check fee: 70.000 VND
And if you prefer to avoid the hassle and time spent on getting a driving license, we recommend the agency IzyViet that can take care of everything for you. International licenses are not valid in Vietnam and if you drive without a license you probably won’t be covered by health insurance.
Well this takes care of the back end stuff.