This is a detailed breakdown of how much money you will earn in Vietnam as an English teacher.  Teaching EFL abroad is one of the only jobs I can think of that allows you to actually save money while working part time.

A lot of the larger TEFL websites I’ve checked out have really strange income estimates for Vietnam. $800 to $2,000 is a pretty wide range. I’m not sure if this data is just dated, or what, but they also don’t really give you any idea how much you’ll have to work in order to make the listed amounts. Below are a few sample schedules and their attended incomes, based on my experience and a couple of friends that let me dig through their pay-stubs.

Typical part time schedule for an English Teacher at a Language Centre

 Mon.Tues.Weds.Thurs.Fri.Sat.Sun.
TimeOff5:30p-
7:30p
Off5:30p-
7:30p
5:30p-
7:30p
7:45a -
6:30p
7:45a -
6:30p
Classes11133
Hours22266

Total Hours: 18 a week, or 72 hours a month

Pay Rate: 430,000vnd/h  ($19/h)

Week= 7,700,000VND ($340)

Month= 30,800,000VND ($1,360)

After tax= $1,230

This was my schedule for the first year I worked in Vietnam. These are the most abundant types of jobs here.  A few of the big schools are Apollo, ILA, VUS, and AMA.  Since they teach mostly (or only) kids, there are no 7:30-9:30pm classes on week nights.  Because of this, you can only get in two hours a day on Monday through Friday, so you kind of reach a hard cap on how many hours you can work.  It’s not really possible to get more than 22 hours a week at these centres.

Saturday and Sunday were not fun days. While four or five classes are scheduled on Sat/Sun, the vast majority of teachers will only do three classes per day (Four is brutal. Five would be lethal.) There’s usually a few hour break over lunch time. 

Treating Saturday and Sunday as work days takes some getting used to, but keep in mind that during the week, your work day doesn’t start until 5:30.  Sunday through Thursday are your new Friday nights.

Advanced, High Income Schedule at Multiple Schools (2nd year)

 Mon.Tues.Weds.Thurs.Fri.SatSun.
Time5:30p -
9:30p
6:00p -
9:00p
5:30p -
9:30p
6:00p -
9:00p
Off10;00a -
12:00p,
4:30p -
6:30p
10;00a -
12:00p,
4:30p -
6:30p
Classes222222
Hours434344
SchoolTest PrepPrivateTest PrepPrivateKids
Centre
Kids
Centre
Rate$23/h$30/h$23/h$30/h$20/h$20/h
Total$92$90$92$90$80$80

Total Hours: 22 a week, or 88 hours a month

Pay Rate: variable

Week= 11,800,000vnd ($525)

Month= 47,200,000vnd ($2,100)

After tax= $2,050*

 *Working at multiple jobs equals much lower tax.

This was my schedule in Saigon after two years.  Note that I’ve taken care to group my teaching days into chunks of two classes.  Two classes is not much harder than one class (you’re already at work, after all.) However, three back-to-back classes is exhausting.  Two is the magic number.  

Saturday and Sunday were not ideal, what with the huge four-hour break in the middle of the day.  However, at the time a few coworkers and I had loaded up on stuff from the Steam Summer Sale so this was our designated Borderlands 2 time. Not complaining.

This is a pretty high-intensity schedule that would overwhelm a new teacher pretty easily.  Only after you’ve become an extremely efficient planner and know how to get around town quickly would I recommend this.  Not something to just dive into.

As for income, anything over $2k a month is an obscene amount of money here.  I was living like a king and saving $500 a month… on a 22 hour work week!  I wanted for nothing and bought a ton of stupid stuff. It was great!

Full Time Position at an International School

 Mon.Tues.Weds.Thurs.Fri.Sat.Sun.
Time8:00a -
4:00p
8:00a -
4:00p
8:00a -
4:00p
8:00a -
4:00p
8:00a -
4:00p
OffOff
Classes44444

Total hours: 40 a week, just like back home.

These are all salaried jobs.  Most teachers here make $2,200 to $2,500 a month.

After Tax= $1,800-$2,200

These are widely considered to be the highest paying (and best) teaching jobs around. However, you are expected to be in your office during normal business hours, whether you have classes or not. Contracts are often two years and you get outstanding benefits. Paid summers off, for instance!

These jobs are usually only accessible to people holding a PGCE, or some other teaching certificate from their home country.  However, it’s certainly possible to get these jobs without such a certification, however it’s not easy.  You need to have a few years of experience and catch them at the opportune time.   While these jobs are awesome, I chose to avoid this path because I hate all things 9-to-5.

So in summary:

It all basically depends on how much you want to work, and how good you are at hustling. If you want to work your face off and don’t mind zipping all over town, expect to make more money than you can possibly spend in a month. Restaurants every day.  Bars every night. House every weekend.

If you want to work like 12 hours a week so you have time to work on your band/art/novel, expect to make about $1000 a month.  A totally live-able wage.  I don’t know of anywhere else in the world you can do this so easily.

Check here if you want to see how far that salary will take you.

If you want to work your face off and still only make $600, we recommend checking out Thailand.

Hasta la victoria Saigon,

-z