Published 26th July 2019
With cosmopolitan cities, lush tropical beaches, ancient cultural attractions, and a fascinating history – not to mention mouth-watering food – it’s no surprise Vietnam is one of the fastest growing markets for teaching English as a Foreign Language. Add to that the National Foreign Languages Project – a government scheme to ensure English proficiency in all graduating students by 2020 – and there is an abundance of opportunities for TEFL teachers in Vietnam right now.
If you’re just starting out on your TEFL career or if you’re an experienced TEFL teacher looking for a change, Vietnam should definitely be a consideration. But we know what you’re thinking: no matter how good the pho is, you still want to earn some good dollars and Vietnam is never on those lists of top-earning TEFL destinations. But sometimes what you earn is not as straightforward as the number on your paycheck.
The average salary for teaching in Vietnam
While teaching salaries will always differ according to the teacher’s qualifications, experience and the teaching situations, the average teaching salary for a new teacher in Vietnam is USD$1 500 a month. A more experienced teacher can earn up to $2 000. A private teacher usually charges between $15 and $30 an hour.
Teaching in Vietnam usually means teaching at a private language centre. This entails working 20 to 25 hours a week. Language centres cater for children, teens and adults so you could find yourself teaching in the morning, afternoon or evening, or a combination of those. It is not uncommon for teachers to work split shifts – mornings and evenings, which means you will have a few free hours in the middle of the day. It is also not uncommon for teachers to work for more than one language centre, moving between the two between shifts.
There are of course government schools, private schools, international schools and universities where you can find work but these jobs are few and far between and are generally reserved for well-qualified and very experienced teachers.
The cost of living in Vietnam
You might be thinking that a teacher’s salary in Vietnam is nothing to write home about. If you were living in the US or the UK, we’d say you were right. However, the cost of living in Vietnam is low enough that your teaching salary will allow you to live a very comfortable life.
In terms of accommodation you are likely to share a room in a house, which will set you back around $250 – $400 a month. Groceries are also usually a big expense but eating out is the name of the game in Vietnam and that will be about $2 a meal, so you won’t need to do much grocery shopping. When we consider entertainment and transport, a beer and a kilometer in a taxi will cost less than $1 each. If you add everything up you are looking at spending about $850 a month, leaving you a nice wad of cash to stash under your mattress for a rainy day.
Remember also that the cost of living, no matter where you are, totally depends on the kind of life you are living. In Vietnam it is very possible to live like a celebrity (ok, a B-list celebrity), eating out at fancy restaurants, living in a swanky apartment in an expat area, going out at night to fancy clubs, but if you live like this you are unlikely to save much. On the other hand, if you share a house in a cheaper area, eat at local restaurants or street food, and don’t go crazy on nights out, you can easily save a lot more than you could living and working at home.
Contract benefits in Vietnam
If you are happy signing up to teach for a year or two, there are a number of benefits you can expect, including health insurance, housing allowance and an end-of-contract bonus. If you are happy to teach in a more remote area rather than the bigger cities, you will also be given a bonus after a few months, and your salary might even be a bit higher than in other places. All of this should be considered when calculating your monthly salary as these could add up to big savings.On the whole, Vietnam is not one of the best-paid teaching destinations but if you are smart with your money you will be able to live the life you want, whether that’s living the life or saving your pennies.