Phnom Penh is the sprawling mass of what is the capital city of Cambodia. In places it is poor, dirty, smelly, crowded and run down, but in others it is rich, clean, modern and spacious. This makes the city one of the most contrasted places I’ve ever visited. Most people don’t like Phnom Penh, but it takes a few days to find its hidden charm!
It’s crazy, the traffic is bad and yet you can find it tranquil all at the same time. So many people have this view of Phnom Penh that they don’t come here to work, they come to visit, never leave and need to work to pay the bills!
Regardless of the reasons why you are looking for a job in the capital city of Cambodia, in my experience I can tell you that it is easy to find work as an English teacher, whether you have a CELTA, TEFL or nothing at all, it won’t be long before you find work.
Phnom Penh is the biggest city in Cambodia and home to about 2-3 million people and hundreds of schools. All of these schools that have English courses need a foreign English teacher for a number of reasons. Cambodians believe that native English teachers are better at teaching English (this may or may not be true depending on the teacher!) and as a result they want to send their children to a school that has a foreign teacher.
Therefore, if the school has a foreign teacher then they can attract more students and make more money! For this reason, even the most unqualified and inexperienced teachers will have no problems securing a job.
How Do I Find A Job Teaching In Phnom Penh?
There are many ways to find a teaching position in Phnom Penh. You can try looking in the two English language newspapers, the Cambodia Daily or the Phnom Penh Post. Talk a look at the yellow pages website for Cambodia and search for schools and fire off an email with your CV to ones that interest you. Or that are a number of HR companies based in Phnom Penh also.
But by far the most successful method, which I did and some of my friends also did, is to put on your best clothes, get a few copies of your CV and get a tuk-tuk to take you around all the schools you can find. I found this last method to be the most successful one.
Just a quick note for your CV, most schools also prefer that you attach 2 passport sized photos with it. For what reason, I don’t know. Also make sure that you ask to speak to the director or principal of the school and give your CV directly to them.
One thing for certain is that you won’t have a problem finding work as an English teacher in Phnom Penh.
How Much Will I Earn?
This all depends on the school you’re working for. I’ve heard stories of teachers being offered as little as $4 per hour, but you won’t have a problem finding a job that pays $10 per hour. Even if you’re unqualified and inexperienced, this won’t be an issue and you will have no problems finding a job paying $10 or more per hour.
For qualified teachers with CELTA or TEFL certificates can expect to earn a lot more if they apply at the right school. You could earn up to $25 per hour.
Most schools pay for every hour that you’re teaching, some pay salaries and paid holidays but not many. This can sometimes prove to be a small problem for teachers in Cambodia because Cambodia has so many holidays! If the holidays are on the weekend they roll over to Monday and Tuesday. Coupled with end of terms, random days off and holidays, you’ll actually find that usually you never work a full month!
There is just one thing to be aware of for unqualified teachers and this doesn’t seem to affect qualified teachers so much. Cambodian schools have seen their fair share of foreign teachers come and go and they are reluctant to offer many hours until you prove yourself and by this I mean that you are actually going to turn up everyday, and going to stay around for longer than just 2 weeks. Therefore, you might only get 5-10 hours of teaching to start with but more hours will come after you’ve proven yourself to the school. For this reason, many teachers find themselves working 5-10 hours per weeks at 2 – 3 different schools.
What About Living Costs?
Well, it’s fairly cheap. You can easily find somewhere to live for $50 a month if you don’t mind a small room! If you want to spend about $150 a month, you can get yourself a decent apartment in a nice area of town.
Transport is fairly cheap and unless you live many kilometres away from your school then you should easily find a moto-taxi to take you there for around a dollar or a bit cheaper if you get a ‘regular’ driver. Alternatively, if you’re brave you can buy a bicycle for about $40-$50 and even rent a motorbike for about $50-$70 a month. You can also buy one, new ones are about $1500+ and a decent second hand motorbike will be about $500. However, it’s always a good idea to take a Cambodian friend along with you so that you get the best deal.
Food can be expensive or inexpensive, it depends on you. You can buy fried noodles on the street for less than a dollar or you can go to a nice western style restaurant and eat for about $6-7. Supermarket shopping can also be fairly expensive, especially if you’re buying a lot of western food.
I’d say that you could live off about $500 or less a month, depending on your lifestyle and $1000 a month will give you a very high standard of living in Phnom Penh.
Teaching English in Phnom Penh
I think I’ve covered most of the popular questions asked by people who want to teach English in Phnom Penh. If you have any more questions please leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to answer them for you.
Other Places in Cambodia
Click the links to read more specific information about teaching in the areas listed below.