An honest teaching job in VN with no bachelors degree

I know the forums cover this topic often, but what I cant find is an example of someone who has a legit teaching job in VN resulting in a work permit, who didn't require a bachelors degree

I have undertaken 3 years tertiary study and have obtained a diploma, and have been working in broadcast media over the past 8 years (apparently industry experience can compensate for no bachelors degree?) My field of work requires a high level of English and communication. I can obtain an English teaching degree TESOL TEFFL or something like that before I come over. I can get all qualifications and work experience verified. I have no police record, no health issues. In many ways I believe I would be a good fit for an English teacher.

But I don't want to work illegally in Vietnam, would prefer to pay my taxes and not have the troubles that can present when working for an employer without a proper work permit.
I know many people do, and I am not judging at all (please don't let that put you off commenting as I am interested in answers from all sorts of people in different situations)

I understand I probably wont get a job at a real flash school or anything, but do language centres for example have the same requirements for teachers? (e.g. bachelors degree)

I am a New Zealander, who after being made redundant from my job, is desperate to move to VN next year, I visited last year and loved it!

Thanks in advance for any help

The distinction is not between working and not working.  It is between working legally and working not legally.  Possibly a majority of ESL teachers in Vietnam never bother to get a work permit, particularly those who do not intend to stay more than a year.  However, a significant percent of those still have the requisite qualifications. 

The requirement for a Bachelor's degree is a government one.  There is no distinction for language centers.  In fact almost all public schools utilize the language centers as third party employers.  Some use placement agencies.  I have heard of some public schools hiring directly but  generally only Universities do so.  I only knew one person who obtained a work permit without a degree but he paid a lawyer $3000, of which I would guess at least half went to bribes of officials.  It doesn't sound like that is the way you want to go.

We are not supposed to advocate illegal activity on this forum so I won't, but I think you know that you probably can find a job in Vietnam.  Your problem is that you can't really hold that job legally.  Sorry I couldn't be more optimistic for you.

Hi thigv your post was really helpful, and interesting. Really surprised to hear that even teachers who qualify may be working illegally. I suppose it's just an extra hassle for the employer and employee, sounds like a bit of a process to get WP and have read many stories where employers try and avoid it. Certainly don't want to pay out any extravagant bribes to corrupt officials! Thank you for replying. I know this subject on the forums get tedious!

ALifeLessAverage :

Really surprised to hear that even teachers who qualify may be working illegally.

I don't have any real numbers to back up my assertion but it is based on direct observation at my center where there was a core of semi-permanent teachers but also a revolving door of people who stayed about six months or less.  Numerous commenters on this forum seem to have said the same.

ALifeLessAverage :

Certainly don't want to pay out any extravagant bribes to corrupt officials!

The person who paid this amount already had a lot invested in Vietnam.  He had been in Vietnam for over three years (he was in his early 30's) and most importantly had a new wife.  He got the WP when there was word of an impending crackdown in our district requiring permits to work in public schools, which like me he enjoyed.  He told me that if he had faced the situation when he first arrived, he would have simply left the country.

As far as bribes, even those who obtain work permits through legitimate means are probably paying small bribes indirectly, as the schools may be greasing the wheels to keep paperwork from sitting too long in someone's inbox.  Small bribes are a way of life in Vietnam.

Many schools don't want to go down the road of doing WP, it's a hassle for them, they rather do things another way.

You can get a WP if you can show documented five years of experience.The problem for you is that you can't show five years experience in English teaching, in your field of TV presentation you can, but your WP will be aligned to that type of job.

I understand. Thanks again Thigv for your knowledge, very helpful indeed. I'll check out the language centres when there, see what happens... feel free to recommend any if you can ;-)

Just what I thought colinoscapee, thanks for your advice. Helpful to know that 5 years work experience would only grant me a WP in the television field. I don't have much hope getting a job in my industry. To be honest, I am not sure how I would verify the 5 years experience, get the VN embassy in my own country to verify perhaps? I bet it's not easy when in VN. I have a bunch of references but doubt that's enough

ALifeLessAverage :

I have a bunch of references but doubt that's enough

That probably would be enough if the writers were willing to detail the periods that you worked and have the letter notarized.  You could then take it up the chain, whatever that is in NZ, to be certified by the VN Embassy.  Unfortunately as has been discussed elsewhere your odds of finding a job in TV are probably slim but it might be a good idea to get such a letter certified just in case.

3000$ for a TRC????

My mate got one for 500$ and hes new here

Thaiger :

3000$ for a TRC????

My mate got one for 500$ and hes new here

Does your friend have neither a Bachelor's degree nor five years experience?  The fellow in question was a good teacher but was not qualified on paper.  I am not sure of exactly how they did it, but my guess is they faked the 5 years rather than the degree.  Also it was for the WP but the TRC follows. 

Actually $500 is too high for the TRC if the person in question already has the WP.  It's just a matter of some paperwork that links the TRC to the WP and a small fee.  Even if done by  a local lawyer it shouldn't be over $100.

my friend had no WP.

However, wish u'd told me about the linking with lawyers thing earlier as ive had to pay 145$ again for another 1 year visa despite having a two year WP.

Surely, if u r right, I could have got a 2 year visa through a lawyer, saved a stack (plus bank and driving licence benefits) and gone over the head of the immigration mafia? hard to believe.

i mean the trc is the 2 year visa obviously

Perhaps slightly off-topic, but I eventually got a work permit for a sub-editing job at an English-language sub-editing start-up in Saigon. I needed to show my Masters degree from the University of Amsterdam,  which showed my Masters in History on one side and my Dutch equivalent of a Dip Ed on the other (which I had earned by teaching History at secondary level and doing the required units).

Problem was, the degree was all in Latin and no-one in Saigon could officially translate that with the required red stamp.

I then had to get a letter from a publisher where I had worked as an Associate Publisher for 10 years, get that translated and authorised from English into Vietnamese, and that did the job after a Moc Bai border run. Hundreds of dollars through an agent.

It's a lovely country with great people, but this sort of crap reaally hods it back.

Where there is a will there is way.  I'd VN is the cliff you want to jump from then Go for it!!! You can work all that other stuff out.  The hardest part is actually jumping.  Also remember, a few weeks in holiday will be a different experience from everyday life even in Saigon or Hanoi.

Thanks for your post, I am thinking I will verify any qualifications and work experience at the Vietnamese embassy here in NZ before I come over, as well as have all documents translated. Hopefully save me some hassles over there. Thanks for sharing your experience :-)

Totally agree, I've been reading up loads on getting work, obtaining WP, extending VISA's etc, it's enough to do your head in! Sounds like people tend to land on their feet over there so I trust it'll work out. Ha I actually only spent 3 days in Saigon on my 3 week VN holiday, it's chaos, am nervous but excited! Vietnam is a wonderful country and I cannot wait to call it home for a while :-)


I'd suggest, get in touch with some IELTS and Soft Skill training centers and see what their minimum requirements are for a WP. Your extensive experience in Communication and Media should be relevant there.

Another suggestion ... bit  :offtopic:

In case you can't find a job (with WP) in Vietnam, you may wish to consider neighboring Cambodia to get started as an ESL teacher.
- Teaching English in Cambodia
It seems Cambodia has more relaxed WP regulations. You can now apply for your Cambodia WP online.
- Ministry of labour - Cambodia

Phnom Penh to Saigon is just a six-hour bus ride.

Good idea! Yes I had actually considered going to Cambodia initially. But then I discovered that I can actually undertake studies in another country extramurally, but only in approved countries and VN is one of them. So I started looking into VN. I'm just desperate for a lifestyle change after being made redundant from my job, I will consider all my options.
Thanks so much for sharing the links, will have a look ;-)

robvan :

Problem was, the degree was all in Latin and no-one in Saigon could officially translate that with the required red stamp.

A friend of mine had a similar problem with his diploma from a Canadian university.  His solution, with the assistance of a local lawyer, was to find an elderly Catholic priest whose training predated the church reforms of the 60's.  The priest's translation was notarized at a district (Quận) level government notary and sufficed.  I don't recall the amount, but it was not at all free.

If you have media experience, perhaps you can get a part-time job in your field (probably for menial pay) in the industry as a foreign expert and qualify for a work permit. I'm not sure how many hours is required though, so this or may not be possible. Then you could do teaching on the side or even the majority of your work might be teaching.

Sorry THIGV, what are the 1960s' church reforms you refer to?

The Catholic Church dropped the Latin mass after the Second Vatican Council report of 1965.  This allowed the mass in local languages but did not forbid Latin.  However Latin mass is very rare today and study of Latin is no longer mandatory in seminaries.  As a result, very few modern priests know Latin.

I am not a Catholic but if you were alive at the time it was news you could not avoid.  Unfortunately I am old enough to remember when this happened.  :cool:

My advice:
1.  is to do whatever you can to complete your Bachelors's degree in whatever you were studying. You will find that the university degree opens a lot more doors whether legally or not. Plus in other Asian countries you would also have options to teach English legally.
2. Get the one year tourist visa. You still need to leave and enter every 90 days, but it reduces the paperwork.

I think you picked the right country. the people are wonderful.
Good luck.

Jesus it’s like you’re all speaking a foreign language lol. I’m trying to keep up and keep my head from exploding. I’ll be headed to Viet Nam in the fall. Looking for a teaching job. I will have my TESOL diploma by then. Is there anything I can do here or from here (USA) now to be ahead of the WP/VISA situation? Referrals to people who know people in high places? Etc. 🙏🏾
I’m super excited, I’ve never done anything like this but it’s right up my alley, and I figure where there’s a will there’s a way!

Nijiah :

Looking for a teaching job. I will have my TESOL diploma by then. Is there anything I can do here or from here (USA) now to be ahead of the WP/VISA situation? Referrals to people who know people in high places?

I assume that you mean a TESOL certificate and not a four year diploma with TESOL as your major.  As far as ways around the lack of a degree, see my posts #2 and #4 above.  I doubt that you could go that route or even know who could help you to do it unless you had been in the country for a while. Knowing "people in high places" is not enough.  You need to have the money to give them.

There will be (and have been on other threads) those who will say words to the effect of "Come on down, the water is fine" but working without a work permit is illegal and without a bachelor's degree, you can not legally obtain a work permit.

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