It used to be the case that teaching English in Vietnam was something of a backpacker’s choice. In the old, Wild West days of teaching English abroad, Vietnam was a mysterious, exotic locale where anyone with fluency in English could turn up, easily find a teaching job, and leave not long after.
Those days are long past. Vietnam, nowadays, has a considerable infrastructure for English teaching, and things have improved to a major extent. The salaries on offer depend on a range of factors, including experience, qualifications and the type of institution you can work in, with teaching jobs readily available.
A fascinating country with, of course, a sad history, Vietnam has so much to offer to the intrepid English teacher. If you want sprawling, multicultural and buzzing cities, Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi have you covered. Want to explore the countryside, take picturesque bike rides and see water buffalo grazing on a lakeside? You can explore much more in Vietnam than the cities!
What kind of living can the modern TEFL teacher make in Vietnam? That’s the question. We’ll explore the country’s living costs, the kind of job opportunities that exist for TEFL teachers in Vietnam, and how likely you are to save money while working there as an English teacher.
How much can you earn teaching English in Vietnam?
Your potential salary as an English teacher in Vietnam depends on a variety of factors. Like most countries, there are discrepancies in salary between the busiest cities and more rural outposts, where the cost of living varies in kind.
Speaking in generalities, the basic monthly salary for a full-time position teaching English in Vietnam is in the region of 27,700,000-46,171,000 VND per month, which is equivalent to £920-£1,500/$1,200-$2,000. Pay for foreign English teachers is often quoted in US Dollars, so for an hourly rate, expect to see figures around $17-32, or £13-25.
The kind of qualifications you have matters. You’ll need a bachelor’s degree and a clean criminal background check to get into Vietnam to teach in any circumstance, such are the visa regulations. A TEFL certificate of at least 120 hours’ training will also make a big impact – while it’s not a legal necessity for visas, it will massively help in gaining attention from employers. A teacher with a TEFL qualification can, broadly speaking, expect to earn between £920-£1,500/$1,200-$2,000 per month, while a master’s in education can lead to jobs in better-funded institutions, and can see salaries start at $1,500/£1,200 per month.
The best salaries while teaching English in Vietnam can be found in big cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. In smaller locales, like Da Nang or Nha Trang, you’re more likely to find full-time starting salaries starting at around £640/$800.
There are also different types of institutions where English teaching salaries will differ. Here, we’ll go into some more specifics.
Public school salary
Working in the public school system in Vietnam is a great way to get your TEFL career started, with reasonable salaries and some benefits for employees. However, class sizes can be enormous – we’re talking up to 50 students.
In terms of salaries, public schools tend to offer between 35 and 48 million VND per month – equivalent to £1,200-£1,650/$1,495-$2,050, depending on teaching experience and the completion of a TEFL course. These are great wages for a public education system, especially in comparison to similar TEFL destinations, where English teaching jobs aren’t salaried as well.
How much money can you save teaching English in Vietnam?
The amount of money you can save while teaching English in Vietnam is typically dependent on a number of factors. Like anywhere, the kind of institution you work at, where you live, and the kind of lifestyle you have while teaching English abroad are determining factors in how much you can save.
That said, there are particular advantages to life in Vietnam if saving money is the goal. The cost of living in Vietnam is – according to Numbeo – 43% lower than in the UK, with rent around 63% lower on average.
Vietnam’s low cost of living ranks extremely favourably with other popular TEFL destinations, with average monthly costs for a single person typically reaching 11m VND per month – equivalent to about $470, or £377. Wages, as covered, far exceed that total, meaning you could typically save away a few hundred every month.
In terms of lifestyle, there’s plenty to enjoy in Vietnam, including excellent nightlife in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, as well as incredible street food, arts and culture. On a teacher’s salary, you can easily afford your everyday costs and still be able to go out at weekends and in the evenings, while still being able to save.
Living costs in Vietnam
What are living costs like in Vietnam for the TEFL professional? The simple answer is: your wages will more than cover your costs, allowing you to enjoy the fruits of Vietnam’s culture and lifestyle.
Of course, the cost of living varies between the biggest cities and the smaller metropolises, as is the case most anywhere. It’s cheaper to live in Albany than New York City, Colchester than in London, and so on.
Getting into specifics, via cost of living aggregator website Numbeo, we’ll compare everyday costs in Ho Chi Minh City to Da Nang, a smaller city in Vietnam. First, and most importantly, rent: how do the two cities compare?
If you want a one-bedroom dwelling in Ho Chi Minh City centre, it’ll set you back £409/$509, whereas an apartment further out will cost around £260/$325 per month. In Da Nang, meanwhile, you’re looking at city centre rents of £258/$321 per month, and £175/$217 just outside the city centre. If you’re travelling as a family, a 3-bedroom rent in central Ho Chi Minh City will cost £1,000/$1,245, and for a more suburban area, you’re looking at £540/$675 per month. In Da Nang, meanwhile, the rent is £510/$630 and £405/$505 on average, respectively.
Food, utilities and miscellaneous expenses
Looking to sample Vietnam’s incredible food? You can do that extremely cheaply! In Ho Chi Minh City, an inexpensive meal for one person costs – wait for it – £1.70/$2.10. A three-course meal for two in a mid-priced restaurant will set you back a mere £20/$26, while a pint of domestic beer is just £0.86/$1.07. Cheers to that!
In Da Nang, that inexpensive meal is even cheaper – £1.20/$1.50. A meal for two in a similarly mid-priced restaurant will cost just £15/$19, and a pint of beer? £0.69/0.85.
Looking to get around cheaply? Both Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang are extremely affordable. A monthly travel ticket in Ho Chi Minh City is just £6.80/$8.50. In Da Nang, meanwhile, it’s nearer to £5/$6.40. Utilities, meanwhile, cost around £56/$70 a month in Ho Chi Minh City, and £47/$58 in Da Nang.
Clearly, then, the cost of living does change whether you’re in a big city or not. However, it’s still remarkably cheap to live well even in Vietnam’s most bustling locales, especially in comparison to the wages you can earn by teaching English.
What benefits do employers offer in Vietnam?
So we’ve heard about salaries and the cost of living while teaching English abroad in Vietnam, but do employers sweeten the pot with any benefits?
The answer is ‘yes’! However, the level of benefit depends very much on the employer, and the kind of institution you’re working in. Suffice it to say, international schools and universities (provided you’re a senior lecturer) are more likely to give out, for example, performance-related bonuses to TEFL teachers.
Perhaps the primary benefit you’re most likely to see as an ESL teacher in Vietnam is help with visa costs. For employers, this isn’t a huge overhead, especially as they’re adding a fluent English speaker to their faculty. Some employers will offer ambitious ESL teacher opportunities for career development, including workshops and training sessions, as well as free lessons in the Vietnamese language, which is spoken by over 70 million people.
Free accommodation for teachers isn’t as widespread as, say, China. However, international schools and other fee-paying institutions may offer help with accommodation in your contract, if not an apartment outright. Be sure to check your contract before heading over to see if you’ve been offered this perk.
What disposable income do TEFL teachers in Vietnam have?
So, let’s get into the numbers. If an average Vietnamese monthly salary is between £920-£1,500/$1,200-$2,000, and rent is (using Ho Chi Minh City averages) £400/$500 per month, with under £100/$150 going towards utilities, groceries and transport, a TEFL teacher working in Vietnam ought to expect to have plenty of Vietnamese Dong left in their bank account each month.
That’s ideal whether you want to save up a fund (as previously discussed), or spend all of your free time exploring Vietnam. There’s plenty to enjoy, whether you’re exploring the museums and bustling markets of Ho Chi Minh City, or travelling to see the incredible UNESCO Heritage Sites, including Ha Long Bay and the Citadel of the Ho Dynasty.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. How much do you get paid for teaching in Vietnam?
Teaching wages for TEFL teachers in Vietnam vary by employer and location, however the average Vietnamese monthly salary is between £920-£1,500/$1,200-$2,000.
Q. Is it worth teaching English in Vietnam?
Yes, it’s very much worth teaching English in Vietnam. TEFL teachers can expect wages that comfortably meet the cost of living, students are eager and respectful, and the demand for teachers is considerable.
Q. Is it hard to get an English teaching job in Vietnam?
No, getting a job teaching English in Vietnam shouldn’t be difficult if you have a bachelor’s degree and a TEFL certificate.
Q. Do you need a degree to teach English in Vietnam?
Yes, to acquire a working visa to teach English in Vietnam, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree.