How Much Money Can you Earn from Teaching in Vietnam?

We’ve spent the last few weeks trying to transfer the bulk of our hard-earned teaching dollars safely back to the UK. After four trips to Vietcom bank, multiple phone calls to our English bank and the help of a Vietnamese colleague to translate, we heaved a huge sigh of relief when the money finally landed in our account. That is, until we saw that we’d lost £300 in the hefty exchange rate. Oh, and we still have another instalment to transfer next month but hey, we’re halfway there!

How to Teach English in Vietnam E-Book

We’ve provided information in this post about how much we’ve earned and saved during nine months of teaching in Hanoi, Vietnam. So, if you’ve been wondering where to teach in Asia or how to save up some cash fairly quickly, perhaps this will help you make a decision.

Dollars and Dong

Teaching in Vietnam – Earnings and Living Costs

We moved to Vietnam to earn back the money we’d spent during the first year and a half of our travels. Although we’d researched where to teach in Asia, Vietnam was a bit of a gamble as it’s not a very common teaching destination. I’d say that the gamble paid off as high wages and demand for English teachers, combined with a low cost of living, has allowed us to meet our savings target.

We are extremely lucky to earn a high wage in Hanoi; after tax, Andrew earns $23 per hour and I earn $22. Our working hours throughout the academic year have fluctuated due to schedule changes and personal preferences; at one point I was working 22 hours a week but exhausted, I’ve now dropped down to around 15. Andrew’s hours have varied from 19 per week to as much as 26. This sounds pretty measly, especially when compared to the 40 hour work-weeks I was used to in London, but it feels like we’re working much more than we are here because our hours are so spread out. Our longest day is from 8am till 8.30pm but we actually only teach for a three-hour block in the morning, two hours in the afternoon and three hours in the evening. We also have to add in time to lesson plan and gather resources on a weekly basis.

Vietnamese Student

Although we live far more extravagantly here than we did in London, as our living cost breakdown shows, we spend on average just £700 to £800 a month. We have a lovely apartment, eat out regularly, get weekly massages and take trips away whenever we can. Dinner for two in one of our favourite restaurants, including drinks and dessert, comes to less than £10. Our apartment costs just £280 a month to rent and transport in the form of our motorbike rental, petrol and taxi trips cost around £60 a month. We pay approximately £30 a month for electricity, which sounds high but we’ve had to run either the heating or air conditioning on a regular basis.

How Much Money have we Saved in Vietnam?

We still have two pay checks left to collect, but we are finally able to calculate exactly how much money we will have saved after nine months of teaching and living in Vietnam. While we haven’t earned a spectacularly high amount per person (the table lists figures for two people), we have managed to save over two-thirds of our income due to the low living costs in Vietnam. We will combine this money with the savings we already have in the UK to fund our future travels.

Month Income in GBP Savings in GBP
September 2014 £1,645  £1,416
October 2014 £2,652  £1,011
November 2014 £2,552  £2,090
December 2014 £2,982  £2,090
January 2015 £2,447  £1,011
February 2015 £1,662  £1,348
March 2015 £2,786  £2,225
April 2015  £2,475  £2,000
May 2015  £1,867  £1,500
Total  £21,068 £14,691

There are a few things to note about these figures:

  • The money was earned by two people over nine months from September to May, following the Vietnamese academic year.
  • We are paid for teaching through a combination of US dollars and Vietnamese Dong; the Dollars went into a savings account with Vietcom bank and Dong was used for daily living costs.
  • It cost us £35 in fees to transfer money back to the UK and high exchange rates mean that we ended up with slightly less in our UK savings accounts than we’d anticipated.

If you need help finding a teaching job in Vietnam or anywhere else in the world, it can be easier to go through a specialised recruitment agency like ESLstarter. They can help you navigate the whole process from submitting your CV to accepting a role.

Find out more about teaching English abroad in these posts:

What’s Next?

We have big plans for our savings; in just seven weeks’ time we leave Vietnam and head for a three-week holiday to Thailand before flying back to the UK for a summer break. A large chunk of our savings will go towards a highly-anticipated three-month trip to America in the autumn. After spending December back in England we will be heading to Europe – exciting times ahead!

How much money can you earn teaching English in Vietnam?

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55 thoughts on “How Much Money Can you Earn from Teaching in Vietnam?

  1. Well done – you guys did so well to save that much. Helps the USD is worth a bunch more in GBP than it was a few months ago too I bet. Who did you use to transfer cash? We’ve used transferwise and tranzfers but that was for more common countries (gbp, usd, cad, nzd etc) – guessing transferring from Vietnam is quite a lot harder!
    Matt recently posted..100th Post and Our Worst Travel MomentsMy Profile

    • Thanks Matt, we’ve been working hard! 😉
      We simply transferred the money with our Vietnamese bank, I don’t think Transferwise can help us in Vietnam. There’s a lot of red tape involved here.

  2. We are planning to get to HCM mid April and eventually Hanoi in early May. I have a bad feeling we might just miss you.

    Great post though guys. We’re looking into doing something similar next year in Vietnam…Korea…Japan etc I know you have another excellent post advising people like us which / how to pick the best country 🙂
    stefan recently posted..How many days to spend in Luang PrabangMy Profile

    • Hi Stefan, we’re leaving Hanoi on the 5th June so hopefully you’ll make it here before then? It’s exciting to hear that you might be teaching somewhere in Asia, if you like Vietnam it’s definitely worth considering working here.

  3. Fantastic achievement, not only about the money saved but also all the new skills that you have learned. Your future plans also sound wonderful. If your travels bring you to Dorset in the summer you are welcome to stay with us, we have a spare bedroom:)
    Gilda Baxter recently posted..Tobago – Hello Old Friend!My Profile

    • Thanks so much for the kind offer Gilda, I will let you know if we’re in Dorset 🙂 When I think back to my first few classes I realise just how much I’ve learnt in such a short space of time.

  4. Fantastic achievement guys – you are amazing at saving!!

    Very excited to read about your future travels. We’re back in the UK in the summer too – if you find yourselves in the Northwest it would be nice to meet!
    Katie recently posted..Three days in YangonMy Profile

    • Thanks Katie, it is pretty easy to save money here in Hanoi though 🙂 Exciting news that you are also returning to the UK, I’ll let you know if we’re in the Northwest at all, it would be great to finally meet!

  5. Congrats on the savings guys, and on taking on these jobs — over 20 hours of class time, is actually quite close to full time commitment due to lesson planning, and checking homework, etc, as you point out 🙂
    Jenia recently posted..A Stroke of Luck in Vang ViengMy Profile

    • True Jenia, the lesson panning and resource gathering process does bump up our working hours considerably. Luckily we don’t have any homework to mark though 🙂 When we first arrived here we intended to work 22 hours each per week for the entire academic year but we totally underestimated how tough that would be. We especially didn’t take into account how often we’d get sick or how exhausting it is to work in sweltering heat and humidity.

    • We will definitely have fun spending our hard-earned dollars 🙂 We’re really lucky to have been able to earn and save so much money here; the low living costs have made all the difference. It’s going to be a shock getting used to prices in the Europe and America!

  6. Congratulations Amy and Andrew! You are doing exactly what you set out to do, finding your path and making it work for you! You must really be looking forward to a vacation in Thailand and spending your summer back in the UK! So happy for you both!
    Patti recently posted..Viana to Najero – Days 9 & 10My Profile

    • We are really looking forward to a break Patti! I’m also starting to research our trip to New England; it feels great to be planning a new trip!

  7. I just stumbled on your blog this morning, and this work day is in great danger of being less than productive….at least as far as my actual work is concerned! Thanks so much for this. I was really curious about the possibility of teaching English to rebuild my savings. Glad to see it’s completely doable – even if transferring money is a bit messier than we would like. Your trip to the US: are you going to make it to NYC?
    Jen recently posted..The Great Saunter – A Photo Essay of my First Walk with the ShorewalkersMy Profile

    • Hi Jen, thanks so much for reading and commenting. Teaching in Vietnam is definitely a good option if you’re looking to rebuild your savings and experience life in Asia. Are you seriously considering it? Yes, we will be in New York in November and we can’t wait!

    • Hi Jessica, yes, I did a 120-hour online course plus a 20 hour practical course in London. Andrew didn’t take a course because he is a qualified, experienced teacher in the UK.

  8. Hi,

    Very inspiring post! I am thinking of doing the same as yourselves only I am always hesitating due to he fact i’m a bit shy. I’m worried I’ll make for a bad teacher. I even skipped presentation modules in college due to shyness. I suppose i’ll have to get over it eventually though. Would you recommend going for it?

    • Hi Ronan, I’m not a very loud person and I don’t like public speaking so I was nervous about teaching too but teaching helped me to get over that. It took a while for me to get used to being the person at the front of the class in control, but it helped that the kids were fairly young, enthusiastic and keen to meet me – having a microphone helped too. I would definitely recommend going for it, you may feel a bit uncomfortable at first but it will quickly become easier and I’m sure you’ll have a great experience. Good luck, if you need any help or have any other questions, let me know.

      • Thanks for the prompt response, very much appreciated! I think i’m just worried I’ll go into panic mode or not know what to say when i’m teaching the class (stumbling my words/mumbling etc). My savings account isn’t great at the moment so I could only afford the LoveTEFL course which sounds pretty in depth despite it being an online one.

        I’m in Australia on a working holiday now but the work situation isn’t great and its so expensive here! Added to that, it feels too much like home. I’ve felt for 2 years now that I’d love to teach English in Asia but never had the courage to just try it – instead ive been sticking to coming on holiday.

        But im seriously considering just booking a flight next week, completing the TEFL course ASAP and getting on the job hunt. I suppose my further questions would be whether being shy would be noticed a lot by the students and would I be given a hard time? I remember at school having sub teachers who were clearly nervous and were given a rough time, are Vietnamese kids similar to us Europeans? My other question is in relation to finding jobs, can it be done quickly? Ideally I’d find something within 1 or 2 weeks of completing my TEFL. Thanks very much in advance for any info

        • Even if you do go into panic mode (that happened to me often!) the kids can’t usually tell, especially if they’re young, same goes for being shy. It sounds like primary would be a good start for you as the middle school kids Andrew taught could be much trickier; generally the younger kids I taught were lovely, the only problem I had was that it was noisy because the class sizes were so large. I would definitely recommend just booking a flight and going over, as long as you get there before the start of the school year in September you should have luck finding something. Where are you thinking of heading? If you get to Hanoi in Vietnam pretty quickly I reckon you’d be able to find work. If you are thinking of Hanoi, let us know and we can put you in touch with our old language centre.

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  12. Thank you so much for posting all these amazing teaching in Vietnam resources!
    Seriously, they’ve been so helpful in deciding whether to move there or not when I could barely find any other information online.

    • Hi Jade, thanks for reading and commenting 🙂 I’m glad you’ve found our posts useful and if you have any questions, let me know.

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  15. Hello there, thank you so much for such a detailed report of your savings. Congrats on your achievements and Happy New Year! I taught in Malaysia last year and couldn’t save much because their taxes are at %25.

    What was your favorite city if any in Vietnam and if you noticed the difference in living standards in those places? Thank you. Marina

    • Hi Marina, thanks for reading and commenting. Wow, that’s a high tax rate! I definitely loved Hanoi the most, which is why we chose to settle there, but it depends on what you like. Many people think HCMC is more modern and westernised, it’s also hot and humid all year round. Hanoi has seasons and is full of old colonial buildings and coffee shops, it has more ‘charm’, I’d say. I’d recommend travelling around the country to get a feel for the different places and see what suits you.

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  17. Hi Amy, I’m currently living and teaching in Hanoi for a company called BME. I am working full time but have the evenings off and would like to use this time to bump up my pay. I was fascinated by your post and wonder if you could perhaps put me into contact with the language center you worked at. Or perhaps do you have any contacts for giving private English tuition in Hanoi?
    Thank you very much
    Joe Payne

  18. Hey Guys!

    I’m looking to move to Vietnam in July and teach English so your blog has answered many question for me – and has definitely got me more fired up about going!

    I have just a couple of questions for you if I may? Firstly I am a fully qualified secondary teacher of Design and Technology with 2 years experience (post PGCE). Do you feel it is necessary for me to gain a TEFL qualification in addition to having QTS and teaching experience? Also, what is the best way for me to sort out accomodation do you think. I am a single traveller and would ideally like to live with other teachers if at all possible.

    Many thanks for your time.

    Helen

    • Hi Helen, thanks for reading and commenting, I’m glad you’ve found our blog useful. Andrew has QTS and got a job very easily in Vietnam without a TEFL qualification but the rules may be different now, so if you have time I’d recommend getting an online TEFL as well. As for accommodation, are you thinking of moving to Hanoi? If so, you might want to check out The New Hanoian to find rooms in shared houses; you can find similar websites like this for other areas of Vietnam. Your language centre might also be able to help you find accommodation. Good luck and if you have anymore questions, let me know!

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  21. I don’t understand your earnings to savings calculation. Together you earned £1645 total the first month, then saved £1416? So your expenses were only £229? But on average you spent £750 per month?

    • Hi Noe, Yes, in the first month of earnings we only spent £229 but the month before that we paid for three months’ rent up front and paid for motorbike hire upfront too. Over all the months we were there our monthly outgoings averaged out to roughly £750, some months we spent more, some months we spent less. I hope this makes sense 🙂

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    • Thanks for reading and commenting, I’m glad you found our info useful. Good luck with everything in Vietnam!

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  27. Hi,
    Just wondering if i could ask a different one. I am a math teacher and would like to teach in Vietnam. Can i have an advice from you?..thank you

    • Hi Bessie, I’m really not sure about maths teaching in Vietnam. We only knew ESL teachers I’m afraid. However, I would say that you’d probably have to look for jobs at international schools though, so start by searching for schools in your preferred cities. International schools usually have job listings on their websites. If you have teaching status in your home country and are a native English speaker (or whatever language the international school requires) then you should be fine. Good Luck!

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