So, you want to teach English in Vietnam…

So, you want to teach English in Vietnam

I, Ondřej Žváček [GFDL (, CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or CC-BY-2.5 (], via Wikimedia Commons

The Vietnamese Government is very focused on improving the quality of English language teaching across the country. Unlike a number of countries in South-East Asia – Indonesia, the Philippines and Cambodia for example – the days of the ‘backpacker’ foreign English ‘teacher’ have largely finished in Vietnam with more hoops to jump through to be eligible to work.  Over the past year or so, there’s been a noticeable exodus of backpacker ‘teachers’.

With backpacker ‘teachers’ leaving in droves, there is huge demand for foreign English language teachers in Vietnam who meet the requirements to be eligible to work, laid-down by the government. Specifically, if you wish to legally work as an English language teacher in Vietnam for a period exceeding 3 months, you need to produce the following:

  • an internationally recognised TESOL certificate (or equivalent);
  • a health check (original document – not more than 3 months old);
  • a university degree in any discipline (original document);
  • an academic transcript related to your university degree (original document); and
  • a police clearance from your home country (original document – not more than 6-months old).

Obtaining TESOL certification (or equivalent) on arrival in Vietnam is a realistic option. It will almost certainly be cheaper than going down this path in Australia, the United States, Canada and so forth. There are some great, internationally recognised TESOL courses available in Vietnam, but like anything that costs money, you’d be wise to do some due diligence. Go and visit the TESOL providers personally. Don’t rely on forum posts by anonymous people who mostly have an ‘axe to grind’.

There are public hospitals in each major city in Vietnam that are authorised by the government to conduct work-permit related health checks for foreigners. Again, I’d encourage teachers to consider meeting this requirement when they arrive in Vietnam. Having a health check in Vietnam will cost a fraction of what you’d pay in your home country, unless you have some kind of private health insurance.

It would be a smart move in my view to have an ‘apostille’ placed on official documents you bring with you to Vietnam – university degree, criminal record check and alike. While ‘notarised only’ documents will satisfy some officials in Vietnam, there are others who may well question the legitimacy of your paperwork. If you go down the ‘apostille’ path in your home country, you’ve ‘covered all bases’.

I’ve been living and working as an English language teacher in Vietnam for rapidly approaching 7 years. It’s ‘the people’ that make Vietnam such a super place to live and work and I’m very grateful for the opportunities that have been extended to me in this truly wonderful country. I’m sure you’ll have a similar view after you’ve been here for a period of time.

About the writer: Peter Goudge is the Managing Director of the Australia-Vietnam School of English (AVSE) in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam:


Peter Goudge is the Managing Director of the Australia-Vietnam School of English (AVSE), located in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Peter established the Australia-Vietnam School of English (AVSE) from scratch in 2009 – quite an achievement for a foreigner in a developing country like Vietnam. The Australia-Vietnam School of English (AVSE) has grown to become one of Vietnam’s most dynamic English language schools and an employer of choice for professional ESL teachers.



  1. Buma Cletus Gwetang

    Hi am CLETUS, I am very interested in teaching English in Vietnam. I am a secondary school teacher with a diploma and a five years teaching experience. can I be given an opportunity?

  2. 3 years ago i did a music internship in Hanoi, Vietnam. I graduated soon after and have been a bit lost ever since. I realized today that now is the perfect time to return! I’m starting to seriously consider a teaching job! Thank you for the information!

  3. I am about to complete my TEFL certification. I have a Masters Degree. I have many years of experience teaching college humanities courses in the U.S. I have over ten years business sales experience with international companies like IBM and Oracle. I am interested in a teaching position in Vietnam preferably teaching high school or older. I probably will want to teach in HCMC or Da Nang. I want to be employed by a reputable school or business before I travel. I will need help with obtaining proper travel documents. Any advice that I can receive would be greatly appreciated. — Thank You!

  4. Hi Jennifer, I just noticed your post from last November. Did you find a course? Peter Goudge

  5. I’m a degree holder and I really want to apply as a teacher in Vietnam but I don’t have any idea of where I can apply for a TEFL course.

  6. Hi Tamlyn,

    As Peter says in the article, it is tightening up in Vietnam and the same is true for Thailand, for teachers without degrees.

    I would imagine you would still be accepted on English teaching volunteer programs in both countries.

    There may be some schools that may accept you but whether they would be able to provide you with a correct working visa in a situation that is completely above board I can’t be sure.

    Perhaps Peter has more to add?

    It might be better trying Indonesia, the Philippines or Cambodia as you can still teach English without a degree in these countries.

    Good luck!

    Jon Duckett

  7. I have just completed a 110 hour TEFL course and would love to teach in either Vietnam or Thailand. I, however, do not have a degree, but I do have a 2 year Diploma. Is there any hope of getting a job in one of these 2 countries with a diploma? I am leaving South Africa in the next week and am Asia bound, ready to start looking for employment. Do you have any advice for me?

Comments are closed.