A Guide To Working Abroad in Vietnam
Described as an exotic and utterly compelling country, Vietnam possesses breathtaking natural beauty, with an astonishing heritage that goes beyond its Communist-era leadership to include the accent of both Portuguese and French colonial occupation. As one of the fastest developing countries in Southeast Asia, it has continuously gained popularity among tourists and expats alike.
Choosing a good place to work in Vietnam is quite easy. When considering working in Vietnam’s major cities, expats can choose between Hanoi in the north and Ho Chi Minh in the south. Otherwise there are multiple emerging smaller cities, such as Da Nang, Na Thrang, and Hue, which are especially good for those interested in a laid back atmosphere.
Ho Chi Minh. Strategically located in the southernmost part of the country, Ho Chi Minh is the gateway of Vietnam to Southeast Asia. The city is jam packed with job opportunities for both expats and local job seekers alike. It is definitely a fast-growing city with an equally growing job market, particularly in the IT industry, finance, and engineering and construction fields.
Hanoi, located in the northern part of the country, is known for its rich culture and its centuries-old architecture. The mix influence of Southeast Asian, Chinese, and French influences makes the city extraordinary. It is a fascinating blend of East and West, combining traditional Sino-Vietnamese motifs with French flair. The bustling city of Hanoi is specifically well known as a great location for teaching English abroad.
Da Nang is the third largest city in Vietnam and is growing into the most organized urban the area. The city of Da Nang is known among the Vietnamese people for its speedy real estate and private property development, but it is better known for its authentic cuisines. Due to the low influx of visitors in Da Nany, resident’s lives still take place in much the same way as they did decades ago, providing expats with a very traditional way of life.
The demand for skilled workers is high in Vietnam due to rapid growth in the nation’s business sectors, and general economic growth in recent years. But there are many different job opportunities in Vietnam for skilled expats in a variety of fields outside the business realm too.
Education. The highest number of expats find jobs in Vietnam in the field education. As a non-English speaking country, Vietnam has overtime increased its focus on developing language skills to help students become competitive employees on a more global scale. Therefore, teaching English as a second Language, is the most common type of teaching job in Vietnam. However, international schools in Vietnam also recruit foreign nationals with certain specialized skills or alternative areas of specialty, such as computer, arts, music, science and mathematics, to fulfill teaching vacancies.
Business & Engineering. Many people in Vietnam are employed in manufacturing industries, like machine building, food processing, and garment and shoe production. Shoes and clothes are among the most common exports of Vietnam. With this, more and more international employees are needed in the business or engineering realm of these companies, especially in production, maintenance, finance, and managerial positions.
Agriculture. The majority of people in Vietnam work in the agriculture industry, at least in some sense. The main agricultural products of the country are rice, coffee, rubber, cotton, tea, pepper, and soy beans. The export of agricultural products is a growing industry in Vietnam, as nearby countries are gradually coming to depend on the nation’s agricultural products.
The business culture of Vietnam emphasize relationships and a strict hierarchical structure, so seniority within each company is well observed and respected. The general workplace etiquette is quite similar to other Asian countries, such as China, South Korea, and Japan. Overall, the Vietnamese people have a healthy work ethic; they are generally hardworking and punctuality is valued highly. Work typically starts at 8:00 a.m. and ends at 5:00 p.m. in Vietnam, and runs on a Monday through Friday schedule.
Since Vietnam is technically a non-English speaking country, foreign workers may have some difficulty in day to day activities in and outside of the workplace with no knowledge of the local language. Foreign workers should study the basics of the Vietnamese language either before or during any job in Vietnam, to be able to better understand and communicate effectively, especially within the working environment.
Living in Vietnam’s major cities is becoming more and more convenient as the country develops. There are a wide selection of accommodation options available for foreign workers, ranging from single bedroom apartments and studio type units to double bedroom apartments and full condominium rentals. Renting is made easy in Vietnam, as contracts usually have the option of being short or long term.
Prior to working abroad in Vietnam, you will need to obtain a visa. A business visa typically requires an official entry clearance from your employer in Vietnam before being approved by Vietnamese immigration to work abroad in Vietnam. On the other hand, if there is no employer, business partner, or related sponsor, applicants can also apply for a business visa to work in Vietnam for less than 90 days.
Additionally, in order to live and work in Vietnam for an extended period, work permits and residential cards are required. Employers who want to hire foreign workers must apply for work permits on the behalf of each employee. For professionals who want to provide services, such as healthcare providers, documents illustrating proof of technical skills and professional qualifications are usually required to obtain a work permit as well. Work permits take around 15 days to process on average. Those who are approved for a one year work permit can then apply for a Temporary Resident Card, which is valid for up to five years. Expats who obtain a Temporary Resident Card can enter and exit Vietnam freely without having to obtain a visa each time.
The moderate salaries and low cost of living in Vietnam is one of the reasons why it is gaining popularity among foreigners interested in working abroad. Salaries in Vietnam vary between regions and industries, and are greatly influenced by educational attainment and work experience. Typically, private institutions pay higher wages than public institutions, but public employment tends to employees with more benefits, like free housing.
Depending on your lifestyle, living and working in Vietnam can be very affordable. For people living in upscale apartments, who buy their own car, and dine out every now and then, it is easy to spend $700 per month in Vietnam. While people who prefer a simple lifestyle and basic amenities, who live in a shared apartment, occasionally dine out, and shop at local markets, monthly spending can range from $300 to $400.
The biggest chunk of living expenses will go toward housing costs. You can get a decent single room with air conditioning for $170 to $250 per month and double room apartments can be rented at $400 to $600. Prices vary based on the type of amenities and location; the farther the district is from the city proper, the cheaper it is.
Life in Vietnam is compact with many tastes of different cultures, thanks to its past of colonial rule. Expats living and working in Vietnam will experience an ancient culture, which is considered the oldest culture in East Asia and gradually evolving into something very unique. Although, in both city and rural life, the nation’s ancient culture and traditions are apparent.
Additionally, the abundance of flora and fauna in the country make it an even more compelling place to live and work abroad for those with an interest in nature, or a simple appreciation of its beauty.
A country with a low cost of living and limitless, untouched natural resources, Vietnam has proved itself as a great destination for expats looking for jobs abroad in Southeast Asia.
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