Cambodia has a reputation that is much worse than reality. It’s got a history of genocide and civil war which is still evident across the country. However, Cambodia has now become a very peaceful country and attracts millions of visitors every year. Cambodia is known as “The Kingdom of Wonder” and most people that visit Cambodia fall in love right from the start of their visit. Cambodia shares borders with Vietnam, Thailand and Laos.
Cambodia is a developing country and because Cambodia was a French Colony most of the older people in Cambodia can speak some French. However, the younger generations are looking towards speaking English as it is the de facto international language. As a result of this, there is a huge need for people who can teach English, especially native English speakers. Native speakers are welcomed from any country that they come from, whether it’s the US, UK, Australia, or wherever.
The Cambodian people are very friendly and very respectful, especially towards their teacher! Cambodia is still a very poor country, and as a foreign English teacher you can expect a salary that is far higher than what most people would earn in Cambodia. In this blog post I’ve outlined some of the more important things you would want know about teaching English in Cambodia.
Where to Teach in Cambodia
Most people find it easier to secure work in the 2 main cities; Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. In the smaller towns and cities, it is still possible to find work but there are less schools, so you might find it a bit more difficult to secure a job. Follow the links below to read more about teaching English in Cambodia.
|Battambang||Phnom Penh||Siem Reap||Sihanoukville|
How to Find a Teaching Job in Cambodia
Whilst it is not impossible to secure a teaching position before you arrive in Cambodia, the vast majority of people find a job when they are already in Cambodia. Most schools want to meet you in person before offering you a job.
Most prospective teachers find a job the ‘old fashioned’ way, that is, they put on their nicest clothes, get a handful CVs ready and go and ask for a job! Alternatively, you can email your CVs to prospective schools and you might find some that contact you back, but most teachers that I know in Cambodia have had far more success going around the schools and asking for work.
So to find work in Cambodia, get yourself out there and start handing out your CV. Alternatively, many people have had success from emailing and telephoning the schools directly. I would say take a look online and do some research, most schools have a website in English so it’s not difficult to find schools at all. Then, contact them via email or telephone and try to arrange a meeting. Finally, get yourself out and about and start handing out your CV. It is also common practice in Cambodia to attach 2 passport sized photos to your CV.
When you get to the school, ask to speak to the principal or director directly. Most schools work in the morning from about 7:30am to 11am and then again in the afternoon from about 1pm to 7pm. So try to go at these times as well.
You will probably find that security guards and reception staff will do their best to stop you from seeing the director, but with persistence you should be able to speak to them. If they just won’t allow it, get the director’s business card and make sure that you follow up your visit with a phone call.
Expected Salary and Cost of Living
This depends on a number of different things: what city you are working in, what school you work for, what qualifications you have and what level you teach. I’ve heard a wide range of teaching salaries ranging from $8 per hour up to $25 per hour. Some schools offer fixed salaries with paid holidays and most only pay you for the teaching hours that you work.
The lower salaries are usually for ‘teachers’ that have no qualifications or experience and their only qualification is that they speak English. The higher salaries are usually reserved for ‘real’ teachers with qualifications and experience.
For non-qualified teachers $10-$12 is about the norm in Phnom Penh and a bit lower in Siem Reap about $8-$10 per hour. But for qualified and experienced teachers it can range anywhere from $15-$25. Each school is different. Most schools pay you either weekly or monthly in cash.
The cost of living in Cambodia is very cheap when compared to western countries and is considerably cheaper than neighbouring Thailand.
It’s easy to find a studio apartment (or room!) to rent for $50 a month and a fairly decent apartment with air-con for about $150 in Phnom Penh. Siem Reap is a little cheaper for accommodation. If you eat Cambodian food, you can easily eat for just a few dollars every day. It becomes quite a bit more expensive if you want to go shopping for western food in Cambodia because everything is imported. For those who don’t mind sacrificing the creature comforts of home, you can easily live on $400-$500 per month. However, $1000 a month would give you a very comfortable lifestyle.
Travel costs are very cheap. There is an abundance of Tuk-Tuks and Moto-Taxis everywhere you go and the price varies per city and distance. It’s better to get yourself a ‘regular’ driver and they’ll often agree to take you for a fixed price each week. Plus, your new friend is an invaluable source of information, and can help to find places to stay, etc. If you want to buy your own transport, a moto is definitely the way to go. You can buy a new one for about $1500 or a second hand one for much cheaper. It’s best to try and get a Cambodia friend to arrange this for you so you don’t pay too much.
Foreigners, whether living or just visiting Cambodia, are seen as very rich. As a result of this, you will need to haggle for the best price for virtually everything you buy!
This all depends on the school that you’re working for. There are teachers who aren’t native speakers, some with no qualifications or experience and some who are qualified ESL teachers with years of experience. All schools have different requirements. There is no set requirement from the government for foreign English Teachers. Some schools will require that you have at least a Bachelors Degree, some might want a Master’s Degree (especially if you’re teaching Bachelor students), some might want nothing at all. It really all depends on the school. If you do some research online, you’ll soon find out what schools need from you.
So if you have no qualifications or experience you can still find a job teaching. If you do have qualifications and experience you would be wise to go to a school that requires you to have them because you will get a higher salary than those with no minimum requirements.
Visa requirements? What are they?! They simply don’t exist in Cambodia (not at the time of writing anyway!) If you have the money, you will get a business visa. Simple. It costs about $280 per year. Some schools, especially the schools that only recruit experienced and qualified teachers, might even pay this for you. Most won’t, but it doesn’t hurt in asking!
Teaching English in Cambodia
I’ve really enjoyed my time and experience teaching English in Cambodia and I’m sure most people will enjoy it too. I’ve been Teaching English in Cambodia for 3 years at the time of writing, so if you have any questions leave a comment below and I’ll answer them as best I can.