An image that depicts the contrast between a smiling teacher with a degree and a person in jail clothes, symbolizing the consequences of teaching in Vietnam without proper qualifications

Can You Teach English in Vietnam without a Degree?

Before you pack your bags and board a flight to Ho Chi Minh City, for some people, there’s an important question you need to answer: do you have a bachelor’s degree or higher?

The rules around eligibility for a work permit in Vietnam can be confusing. And while some estimate that over 50% of ESL teachers in Vietnam don’t have a degree, complying with the letter of the law requires a bachelor’s degree or higher. Without one, finding a job may be difficult and could even put you at risk of deportation.

In this article, we’ll explore the requirements for teaching in Vietnam and whether it’s possible to do so without a degree.

Can You Teach English Without a Degree in Vietnam?

  • Teaching English without a degree (in any subject) in Vietnam is illegal.
  • Some estimate that over 50% of ESL teachers in Vietnam do not have a degree, but a bachelor’s degree or higher is required for compliance with the rules.
  • Without a degree, finding a teaching job in Vietnam risks being deported.
  • Work Permit requirements in Vietnam include a notarized and legalized copy of a legitimate University Degree, teaching certificate, national background check, and health check.
  • Schools that employ teachers without degrees are breaking the law and are likely to be untrustworthy.

Work Permit Requirements

If you want to teach in Vietnam, you must meet the Work Permit requirements.

  • Educational Credentials: Provide a notarized and legalized copy of your University Degree.
  • Background Checks: Submit both local and national background checks, which may include obtaining a Vietnamese background check.
  • Health Checks: Complete necessary health checks as part of the application process.
  • English Proficiency: Demonstrate English proficiency at C1 level or higher (or be a native speaker).
  • Teaching Qualification: Hold a nationally recognized TESOL, TEFL, or CELTA certificate.

These requirements apply to all types of teaching jobs in Vietnam and include a notarized and legalized copy of your University Degree, teaching certificate, local and national background checks (you can get a Vietnamese background check here), and health checks. You’ll also need proof of English proficiency at C1 level or higher and a nationally recognized TESOL, TEFL, or CELTA certificate.

It’s important to note that an Associate Degree is insufficient for a Work Permit in Vietnam. The background check has a limited lifespan, and the health check must occur in Vietnam. You’ll need sponsorship by an employer or school to be eligible for a Work Permit, which is separate from a visa.

However, if you do decide to teach in Vietnam without a degree or proper Work Permit, you may risk deportation and blacklisting by immigration (which means you won’t be allowed to return).

It’s always best to check with qualified experts for a definitive answer on Work Permit eligibility and follow the rules to ensure a smooth and legal experience in teaching abroad.

Alternatives to Teaching if You Don’t Have a Degree

If you don’t have a degree, we don’t recommend teaching. It’s not fair on the students and it’s illegal. Don’t do it.

That said, there are some alternative options if you want to stay in Vietam long term to enjoy the low cost of living and fantastic travel opportunities.

  1. Volunteering. As a volunteer, you won’t be getting paid so you can teach as a volunteer and not break the law. Opportunities are often available in schools, language centers and orphanages.
  2. Enrolling in a university. If you want to stay in Vietnam long-term, you can enroll in a university and get a visa that way. The Vietnamese Studies department at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities is popular. You’ll also end up with a degree at the end of it, which will make you eligible to teach!
  3. Teaching in Cambodia. Holding a degree is not a core requirement for a Work Permit and related visa in Cambodia.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the consequences of teaching in Vietnam without a degree?

Teaching in Vietnam without a degree can result in legal consequences such as fines, deportation, and even imprisonment. It’s essential to have the necessary teaching qualifications and comply with the country’s regulations to avoid these risks.

Can non-native English speakers still teach in Vietnam with a Work Permit?

As a non-native English speaker, teaching opportunities in Vietnam are possible with a Work Permit. However, you must have proof of language proficiency at a C1 level or higher and meet all other Work Permit requirements, including a legitimate degree and clear background check.

How long is the lifespan of the required background check for a Work Permit in Vietnam?

The validity period for a background check required for a work permit in Vietnam is six months. It must be renewed before expiration to avoid impacting job prospects. Consult with experts for accurate information.