Updated 4 months ago

When it comes to expat living, Phnom Penh has it all. Thanks to an influx of foreign investment over the past decade, many western amenities have popped up across the city, making the capital even more popular with the expat crowds. Read this article to find out more about finding a job in the Penh.

Phnom Penh's gentrification hasn't been welcomed by everyone, but many expatriates appreciate the creature comforts that many of the new developments provide, from organic food stores to luxury gyms. And, in spite of the western-style cafes on every corner and the general trappings of modernity, Phnom Penh still maintains its Cambodian heart, and is as chaotic and charming as ever.

It is also one of the most affordable capitals to live in South-East Asia, and there are many jobs and investment opportunities for foreigners with ambitious and adventurous spirits. Ultimately, it is a city of choice, and almost everything is available to meet different needs and budgets. Likewise, employment opportunities abound, and jobs range significantly to suit different skillsets, qualifications, experience, salary expectations, and career goals.

Types of jobs

Phnom Penh is a city of opportunity. All sorts of companies have set up shop in Cambodia’s capital, from global banks, insurance companies and engineering firms, to travel agencies and language schools. Expats can work, intern or volunteer in a variety of fields — education, hospitality and tourism, arts, law, business, health and medicine, communications, to name but a few.

The capital is also home to numerous global development institutions and non-profit organisations that all employ a range of foreign staff, from highly-paid country managers to interns who may not even receive a daily stipend.

If you are fluent in English, a very easy way to earn a bit of money in Phnom Penh is to teach English at one of the many language centres or private institutions. There are even opportunities to tutor on an individual basis. Requirements are quite low, and if you have a degree, you can stand to earn between US$10 and US$15 per hour. However, if you want to earn more, work at one of the more reputable centres, or make a proper career out of teaching English, then it's worth getting relevant qualifications by doing a TEFL or CELTA course. Do note that if you wish to teach at an international school, this is a different ballgame and you'll need comprehensive teaching qualifications and experience.

Salaries in Phnom Penh can range from extremes — while many Western executives receive a generous expat package, many entry-level associates make just enough to cover their basic needs. Generally speaking, most expats in Phnom Penh live on an annual salary of anywhere between US$12,000 and US$60,000, depending on their profession.

Finding a job

If you relocate to Phnom Penh on an expat package, the salary and benefits are likely to be very attractive, so this is understandably the holy grail for many ambitious professionals.

When it comes to finding work at an NGO, most of the recruitment for specialised positions is done while potential employees are in their home country. However, if you're already in Cambodia, then it's worth paying a visit to the Cooperation Committee for Cambodia, which has a noticeboard that advertises available positions. Alternatively, you could enquire at your embassy about vacancies in these organisations, or try to get a foot in the door by applying to work on a voluntary basis. Do note that if you wish to work at an NGO, you should bring copies of your qualifications and references with you to Cambodia.

Although many people prefer the security of finding a job beforehand, it is possible to look for most types of work once you arrive in the capital. One of the best ways to find a job in Phnom Penh is by making friends with other expats, then finding out about vacancies by word of mouth.

Many regular networking events take place in Phnom Penh, from cheese-and-wine nights and fancy-dress parties, to lavish black-tie affairs and international holiday celebrations. Many big hotels or popular restaurants host these events, and they tend to be funded by well-known enterprises, so it is easy to find out about them by making some simple enquiries. Making connections in the capital can also lead to you finding employment in other parts of the country.

You could also search for openings on specialised websites. Some good job announcement portals include Top Job Cambodia, Bong Thom, and HR Inc, and it's worth joining relevant social media groups, such as Phnom Penh Jobs Alert.

Some local newspapers, guesthouses and restaurants also advertise positions, or you could seek professional help from a recruitment agency when you're in the city.

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