Wages vary quite a lot, with the average ESL teacher receiving between 17 USD/hour and 30USD/hour. How much can you really expect to make teaching English in Vietnam? We’re going to break down some of the options for you, with an average salary for each.
The majority of ESL teachers in Vietnam work at either public schools or language centres. First up is public school teaching. Here, you’ll teach 45 minute lessons, with up to 50 students per class. This can definitely be a handful for first time teachers, and you need to have excellent class management skills. You often won’t get a much needed teaching assistant to help with classroom management. You’ll likely teach around 20 hours per week, or 80 a month, which is higher than in the language centres. Teachers working in public schools have a bit of a love/hate relationship. They teach through normal school hours, leaving evenings and weekends to enjoy the city they have chosen to call home, however, the majority of expats work in the language centres due to the better benefits and working hours, so it can be frustrating having time off when most of your friends are working. Salaries for teaching English in Vietnam are generally better in the language centres. Public school teachers are often the only foreign teacher at their school, which can be isolating. There is also a lack of further training and development, unlike in the language centres. The salary for teaching English in Vietnam in the language centres is about 1700 USD/month for first time teachers holding a degree and face to face TEFL or CELTA, around 22USD/hour. Experienced teachers can make a couple more dollars per hour, and up to 2000USD/month.
When teaching English in Vietnam at a language centre with a good reputation amongst teachers and students alike, (such as the centres provided by Teacher’s Friend), a full time teacher can expect perks like medical insurance, paid holiday, excellent facilities and resources, work permit and residency card, ongoing training and development and, in some cases, even a housing allowance. First time ESL teachers in Vietnam like the language centres in particular, due to their professional development opportunities, support and teaching resources. Class sizes are much smaller than in public schools, varying from 15-22 depending on the centre. The age groups usually varies more in a language centre: one day you’ll be teaching kindergarten, then primary and secondary aged students the next, followed by a teens class or even an adult class. This combination of ages keeps classes interesting and offers a varied teaching experience. Those working in language centres usually get a couple of days off during the week, and teach evenings and weekends. This might sound a little off-putting at first, but the majority of first time teachers arriving in Vietnam will have a similar schedule, so anti-social hours actually become social! Wages in language centres in Vietnam are usually offered on a fixed scale, depending on your experience. First time teachers holding a face to face TEFL or CELTA will likely have a starting wage of around 18 USD, whilst those with more experience will start on around 22 USD/hour. A monthly salary is around 1200-1500 USD/month. You’ll put in a few less hours a week here than in the public schools, at around 18/week, or 72/month, which means more time for exploring your new city and the country itself. On top of the salary when teaching English in Vietnam, in a reputable language centre, you are usually offered a contract completion bonus of anything up to 500USD at the end of your first year.
There are also less reputable language centres out there when comparing the salary for teaching English in Vietnam, although Teacher’s Friend Vietnam doesn’t work with any and wouldn’t recommend doing so. Wages here are higher, depending on the centre. However, these are usually very small centres that fly under the government’s radar. It is not uncommon for teachers to not receive their wages, or have their hours reduced overnight, with no warning. Of course, you also won’t be provided with a work permit, and so would be working illegally. This is an important factor to consider when thinking of researching teaching salaries in Vietnam.
ESL teachers in international and private Vietnamese schools also have a pretty good gig: they work daytime hours and their classes are much smaller than at public schools. Work here is a bit more serious than at the language centres and public schools, and teachers are expected to have the qualifications for it. There are, of course, great perks, such as a 6 week paid summer holiday, lunch included and insurance. Depending on the school and teacher, expect to take home a minimum of 2000 USD for a full time position. Teachers work through the day and generally have 20 contact hours per week. They are also expected to be at the centre for an additional 20 hours a week for planning, marking and any other admin that’s needed. Unfortunately, private and international schools rarely hire first time teachers, opting instead for teachers that have already been teaching in Vietnam for over a year. To add to this, they usually only recruit once a year, for a September start date, whereas the language centres recruit all year round.
There are also a couple of popular options for boosting your monthly earnings: kindie schools and private classes. These are both great options for ESL teachers in Vietnam as there is demand for both, and they can fit around your existing schedule. Kindergarten and preschools throughout Vietnam like to offer a couple of hours of English a week to their students, which usually comes in the form of singing songs, colouring in and playing games. Although some teachers feel a little like they’re being paid to babysit, a wage of 20-27USD/hour is pretty nice. As you can see, the salary for teaching English in Vietnam is very high compared to the low living cost.
Private classes come in all different shapes and sizes. The most common private classes are groups of around 5 kids. They are usually cousins, or friends from school, in their early teens whose parents split up to 25USD/hour for a teacher to come to their home a couple of nights a week. Some teachers also tutor university students for a similar hourly rate. Those with enough experience tutoring students for their IELTs exam can also land some nice additional tutoring hours. Students will often pay 30USD/hour for the right teacher, and occasionally more if you have enough experience. Although private classes are great for boosting your monthly income, they do have one drawback. To work legally in Vietnam you need a work permit. For teachers choosing to only teach private classes this means working illegally, risking fines or deportation should you run into any trouble. Also, each class only runs once or twice a week, so it takes time to build a schedule which works for you and get enough hours to live off. Some teachers also find it frustrating having to go to a different location each day. Although the salary for teaching English in Vietnam will still appear comparatively low to a Western salary, due to the low living cost, you’ll still be able to live an abundant life style, and save money!
When deciding where you’d like to teach ESL in Vietnam, the salary and wages fluctuate a little depending on where you go: those teaching in Ho Chi Minh City will likely earn a little less per hour than their colleagues in Hanoi, and the higher paying private classes are easier to find in Hanoi.
If you’d like more of an idea of what you can earn a teacher’s salary in Vietnam based on your personal experience and qualifications drop us a line and we’ll be happy to give you some advice. You can chat with us via Skype or contact me.
Written by Charlie Metcalfe for Teacher’s Friend Vietnam.