What to Do for A Living in Vietnam

If you are dreaming about living in Southeast Asia for a while, exploring the many beautiful countries here and having countless wonderful experiences, you’re not alone! Many share this dream but not everybody makes it happen. One of the main reasons a lot of people never take the step is because they wonder how they’ll support themselves in a foreign country like Vietnam. To shed some light on this topic, we’ve outlined some basic information about how to look for a job in Vietnam, where to search for job listings and even some ideas of work you could do here. Let’s dive right in!

Photo: Pxhere

Where to Find Jobs in Vietnam

Now that you’ve made up your mind about coming to work in Vietnam, it’s time to start looking for a job. To save time, it’s best to start while you’re still at home. That way you’ll get a head start and might already have some interviews lined up when you get here, or, ideally already have a signed contract in hand.

There are several job sites you can check to get started. They include Vietnamworks, which specializes in jobs in Vietnam, AsiaCo Jobs Center, a website which covers all of Asia, and global providers like Monster. If you’re an IT, marketing, sales or engineering specialist, check out Jobstreet. To find teaching jobs, visit websites like ESL Employment, Total ESL, or ESL Café. Of course, there are many more, but these are a good place to start.

Photo: PTICA10 | Flickr

If you haven’t found anything by the time you reach Vietnam, fret not. Sometimes it’s better to just come here and be ready to work as soon as an opportunity presents itself. To find these openings, you could go to networking events hosted regularly by Chambers of Commerce from various countries. You can also find interesting get-togethers advertised on Facebook groups like Expats in Vietnam or the expat pages for the respective cities.

Co-working spaces can also be a great place to meet people and pick up clients if you’re a freelancer. Here you’ll likely find small businesses who need jobs done on a project basis and who would be happy to refer you to others in their network if you do a good job.

Since not all jobs are advertised, cold calling is another viable option. If there’s a company you really want to work for, just give them a ring or stop by their office. Examples of industries where skilled labor is always needed and you might be successful by just showing up include IT, construction, education and tourism.

Rules and Regulations

While many foreigners work on a tourist visa in Vietnam, it’s not legal and should be avoided. To get legal status as a foreign worker in Vietnam, you will need to get a business visa and work permit. The business visa is something your employer can help you with before you arrive, so it will be ready when you go through immigration at the airport. The work permit must also be sponsored by your employer but can only be taken care of once you’re in the country.

You will probably need to show documentation of your education and past work experience, so make sure to bring legalized copies of all of them. If you don’t, that can lead to significant delays and higher fees. For more information about visas, work permits and where and how to get them, check out this article or reach out to the Vietnamese embassy in your country.

It might be difficult and feel like a hassle to follow local rules and regulations, but it’s important for you to avoid issues while staying in Vietnam and when you travel in and out of the country.

Top Jobs you can do in Vietnam


Let’s start off with the most popular and common one: teaching jobs. If you meet a young foreigner working in Vietnam, chances are high he or she is a teacher of some sort. Possibilities here are endless. If you have a teaching degree, you could apply to the many international schools. They often look for teachers for various subjects including math, science and languages. Keep in mind, these schools will require records of formal training and teaching degrees.

If you don’t have that, you could apply to smaller language schools. There are scores in cities like Ho Chi Minh, Hanoi and Danang, and if you are proficient in English, getting a job shouldn’t be too hard. You could also try working as a private tutor. Parents often hire tutors for their children and even adults do it to improve their grammar and pronunciation. Building up a client-base might take some time though, so starting off at a language school could be good to avoid dipping into your savings.

Teachers’ pay depends on the type of school you work for or the type of clients you have. Of course, you can charge more if you have expert status, for example if you are a native speaker or specialize in helping people develop a certain accent (yes, that’s a thing!).

Real Estate Agent

With the countless new high-rises shooting into the air all around Vietnam and many people looking to move in, working as a real estate agent can be quite lucrative. Don’t have any experience in this field? Don’t worry! It will be easiest if you work with a Vietnamese partner who can help you with all the official paperwork while you take care of finding customers interested in a new place to stay. Commissions can be quite good and go up to one full month of rent.

Photo: by nerissadelacruz01 | Flickr

Be aware that this job often requires you to work evenings or weekends when people have time to go apartment-hunting. In general, this job is very flexible though, so you can easily fit frequent travels around your work.


The hospitality sector in Vietnam is booming and many hotels, resorts and restaurants are looking for qualified staff. If you have experience in hotels in Europe or North America, your skills are likely to be in high demand and it won’t be too hard to find a job. Especially if you speak several languages, you will find it easy to get interviews.

Perks of working at hotels can include staff housing and getting staff rates when you stay at any of your chain’s other properties. Working in hospitality comes with its disadvantages too though. Long hours and frequent work on weekends and public holidays will be the norm and pay likely won’t be great unless you are in a senior position.

Also, be ready to work in remote locations. Of course, there are many hotels in the big cities, but the ones urgently looking for staff and sometimes willing to throw in a few extra perks are often out in the countryside. While you might not have easy access to nightlife and shopping malls, living close to untouched beaches and beautiful nature does have its charm.

Tour Operator and Guide

Love to travel? Then claim one of the many vacancies in the tour business. Here language skills will come in even more handy since you might be the reason an operator can reach out to a new target market or offer a tour in a language they previously couldn’t.

By working as a guide, you will have the chance to travel around Vietnam and get to see the country all while getting paid. Now, isn’t that the dream come true? Of course, the job can be demanding as well, especially if you are the sole point of contact for your tour participants but with some practice, you will quickly learn to manage that.

onetrip saigon food tour
If you want to be a Onetrip tour guide, click here!

You can also act as a middleman. For example, you could help guests from your home country book their trips to and tours around Vietnam, all while earning commission. This job is great because you can scale it nicely once you make a name for yourself, have a solid base of customers and a network of local partners.

Sports Instructor

Vietnam is home to several large chains of gyms which are always open to hiring international trainers. If you have experience as a personal trainer and have the certification to prove it, you could land a job with a company like True Fitness or California Fitness and Yoga. These companies are known to give competitive packages and even offer commissions if you sign new clients.

You can work as a freelance trainer or yoga teacher as well. Once you have loyal customers, you will have a steady stream of income which will generally allow you to live quite comfortably.

Photo: Pixabay

If you’re looking for something more outdoorsy, check beach towns like Danang and Nha Trang. They have several diving schools which occasionally look for new instructors. As a certified instructor, you could try your luck there. The same goes for surfing and other water sports.

Investment Consultant

Depending on your background, this could be an interesting job for you. If you already have some experience in this field and are an outgoing, resourceful person, working as an investment consultant could be worth a try.

With Vietnam’s economy booming and more and more international businesses coming into the country, there is always a need for savvy experts who have contacts in the right places and can help clients navigate the difficult jungle that is the Vietnamese bureaucratic system.

To learn the ropes and get familiar with how things work in Vietnam, consider joining a consulting firm here before setting out as a freelancer. If you already have a network and are knowledgeable of Vietnam’s legal frameworks concerning foreign businesses, you can be up and running as an independent consultant in no time.

Market Researcher

With many companies either expanding or launching into Vietnam’s market, demand for high-quality research is on the rise. There are several large international firms providing these kinds of services and they are often on the lookout for talented new staff.

To give you an idea, this work includes tasks like collecting primary and secondary data, finding subjects to interview for your studies, evaluating collected data, creating reports and presentations. These jobs generally pay quite well and offer interesting opportunities like promotions and transfers within a company.

Content Creator

Since more and more international companies set up shop in Vietnam and finally understand the importance of having a strong online presence, the demand for original content has been growing rapidly. This includes but is not limited to content in English. If you can offer services in languages like French and German as well, you’ll quickly find customers running towards you. Of course, you should only offer to write in languages you’ve truly mastered, so if you only speak one, it’s fine to stick with that.

Photo: pixabay

One thing to note is that you will not be able to command the same fees in Vietnam as you would in Europe or North America. This has to do with the lower base salary as well as the low cost of living here which makes it possible to live on less. If you have a lot of experience and want to ask for higher rates, you could pitch clients abroad. Today, companies are used to freelancers, so it likely won’t make a difference for them whether you live back home or on the other end of the world


A great way to make a living in Vietnam is as a photographer. Whether you specialize in wedding photography or portraits, there will be no shortage of work. Thanks to Facebook and Instagram you will be able to promote your work easily and be able to find new customers on a regular basis.

Photo: Publicdomainpictures.net

In Vietnam, a lot depends on word of mouth as well. This means that once you have a few happy customers, they are likely to start sending their friends to you. This is true especially in the expat community, so make sure customer relations work is always a priority.

Web Designer

This is a great job you can do from anywhere in the world. Especially if you have prior experience and a portfolio to prove it, you will be able to find either a fixed job or freelance gigs without much trouble.

Since the demand for well-designed websites has risen dramatically in recent years, there’s enough business to go around. As with content creation, note that your rates in Vietnam will likely be lower than in Europe or North America. If you want to get high rates, you’ll probably have to look for your clients outside of Vietnam. Again, since you’d be working remotely anyway, your country of residence shouldn’t matter to your clients.

Want to Make a Difference? Try Volunteering!

If you’re traveling to Vietnam and want to make a difference, you can do so in several different ways. For starters, you can work with responsible tour operators and support local businesses when possible. If you want to take it a step further though, you could sign up for a volunteer program in Vietnam.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

For details about all non-governmental organizations (NGOs), check out the Lonely Planet’s NGO Resource Center. Here you’ll find a complete list of all NGOs working in Vietnam. Another great place to look is with Service Civil International, a group that works closely with groups like the Friendship Village, which helps victims of Agent Orange. If you are interested in sustainability, the Center for Sustainable Development Studies is worth a try or you can reach out to Pan Nature to work in the environmental sector. For more options, the UN’s volunteer program also offers interesting possibilities.

Now that you know about the many options you have when it comes to working in Vietnam, you’re ready to launch your search and make your dream of living and working in Southeast Asia come true. It might seem a bit daunting at first, but once you get started, you’ll quickly learn the ins and outs and find a job you enjoy. We’re keeping our fingers crossed for you!

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