English teachers are in high demand in Vietnam and job opportunities are truly endless. Experienced teachers and new teachers alike are almost guaranteed a teaching position of some description.
Most positions in Vietnam do not require any prior teaching experience. If you’re planning a move on a whim because you’re sick of your 9-5, then you’re in luck!
Before securing an interview and being offered a position, there are several steps you need to follow to ensure that you are eligible for employment.
Step 1: Required Qualifications
All officially employed teachers in Vietnam are required to have a teaching qualification that allows them to teach English as a Second Language. And in order to obtain a working visa, all teachers must also have a Bachelors degree in any subject.
- TESOL / TEFL / CELTA
- Bachelors Degree
Don’t worry if you’re thinking ‘does my 2:2 in Illustration count?’ because that’s all I have and it’s done the job. In fact, if you actually have a teaching degree, you’re probably in the minority of teachers in Vietnam!
For those who don’t already have a teaching qualification, there are many different routes you can go down to obtain one. A TEFL/TESOL can be obtained online or in class for a reasonable price.
Eddie and I opted to study our TESOL in Vietnam with Xplore Asia in order to have additional support through our transition to living abroad. Read our review of Xplore Asia to learn about our experience.
Step 2: Legalising Your Documents
In order to use your degree and teaching qualification in Vietnam, they MUST first be legalised by your home country. Depending on your nationality, this can be a very lengthy and expensive procedure.
British Nationals are required to legalise their documents in their home country. The process for doing so is time consuming, so make sure you allow enough time to do this before you leave. It can take between 1-2 months to complete.
If you need to legalise your documents from another country, this is possible. However you will incur the added cost of having documents couriered back and forth and will need a direct family member to provide ID in front of a Notary Public to have them notarised.
Steps to legalising your degree and teaching certificate in the UK for use in Vietnam:
- Visit a Notary Public to Notarise your documents
- Post your documents to the UK Government to have them verified with an apostille stamp
- Post your documents to the Vietnamese Embassy in London to have them verified with a Vietnamese apostille stamp (if you are able to visit the embassy in person, you can arrange a meeting)
The process will cost around £250 ($300). It is worth looking into prior to budgeting your move.
For many countries it is possible to visit your embassy in Vietnam to have your documents legalised after you arrive. Generally this is a much more affordable option, which sadly us Brits no longer have.
Step 3: Applying for a Teaching Position
Teaching positions in Vietnam are often advertised via Facebook groups, job sites or on private language centres personal websites.
Some of the most popular English Language Centres to apply to are:
There are also numerous schools that post their job vacancies on Facebook groups. For example, Hanoi has various different Facebook pages that are updated daily with new positions, such as Hanoi English Teachers.
Job sites like vietnamteachingjobs.com update their job listings daily.
Before you apply it’s important to put together a strong teaching application, including a CV, cover letter and short video introducing yourself. Your CV should include any experience you have had teaching or working with children.
Your cover letter and introductory video should include your reasons for wanting to teach in Vietnam. Try to avoid using the term ‘travel’. Employers want to believe you are moving to gain experience teaching and experience being part of a different culture, not just to travel.
Most employers will be able to arrange online interviews and will be able to offer an interview before you’ve even left your home country!
If you are already in Vietnam, your interview is likely to be carried out online regardless. Eddie and I interviewed for our positions over Skype despite being in the next building to the interviewer.
Step 4: Getting the Correct Visa
To enter Vietnam for a period longer than 14 days you are required to get a visa. Generally the best visa to enter on if you wish to work is a business visa, which can be purchased without having a recommendation from an employer.
If you have a job offer before entering the country, it is likely your employer will apply for a 3 month business visa for you and you will be able to enter Vietnam on their recommendation. This way there will be no need for you to exit the country in order to obtain a work permit.
As Eddie and I had entered on a 3 month business visa before we had a job offer, we were required to leave the country and return on a business visa requested by our employer. By doing so, our employer was then able to apply for our work permit.
It’s a slightly annoying and expensive process, but it did give us the opportunity to spend a week on an island in the Philippines. Can’t grumble.
Step 5: Getting a Work Permit
Once your employment has started, your employer will be able to apply for your work permit. In order to do so, your employer will need your legalised degree and teaching certificate.
You will also need to provide a criminal background check, which surprisingly can actually be obtained in Vietnam from your local police!
I literally have no idea how or why this is possible, but it is. It’s also a fraction of the price you’d pay back home. Your employer will be able to help you with this.
If you wish to get your criminal background check in your home country (we decided to do this, we also weren’t aware we could get one in Vietnam), bear in mind you will need to get legalised along with your other documents. Which as previously mentioned is a bloody expensive process.
All nationals are also required to have a health check at their local hospital in Vietnam. I’m not sure how numerous doctors poking and testing you can assess your ability to work, but apparently here it can! This costs around 1.2-1.5 million VND ($60).
Once you have all of the correct documents, your employer will be able to apply for your work permit. This costs around 5 million VND ($220). Your permit means you can legally work in Vietnam for an extended period, however you are still required to carry out a visa run on a 3 monthly basis.
Step 6: Becoming a Resident
If you plan on working in Vietnam for over a period of 6 months, obtaining a residency card is a good idea. Once your work permit has been processed, your employer can apply for your residency. By doing so you will be able to stay in Vietnam for over 12 months without having to leave. And if you do leave, you can reenter without having to purchase another visa.
The cost of a residency card is 4-6 million VND ($200-250).
These fees do add up and it is a considerable amount of money and when you’ve just arrived in a new country, it’s a challenge. However, most employers do offer help with these fees and will often take repayments out of your first few pay slips.
And really, who wouldn’t want to be a resident in a country with views like this?!
Is Residency Worth It?
Eddie and I didn’t exactly factor in all the added costs of work permits and residency cards when we first landed in Vietnam. It did come as quite a shock and it’s safe to say our savings took a hit.
Looking back, we don’t regret paying for our permit and residency. In the long run it will actually save us money!
We can now both legally work in Vietnam for another 13 months. We can leave and reenter the country without having to purchase new visas. Visas for two trips outside of the country would have added up to more than our residency cards regardless.
More money to explore the rest of SE Asia!