Teaching English in Phnom Penh

By | November 21, 2012

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?

Teach English in Phnom Penh

The Silver Pagoda 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?

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.

Teach English in BattambangBattambangTeach English in Siem ReapSiem ReapTeach English in SihanoukvilleSihanoukville

 

45 thoughts on “Teaching English in Phnom Penh

  1. williamalake

    Hi Tyson,

    Yes, Cambodia is a poor country, but not as poor as some might expect. Yes, there are many very poor people, but there is also a number of very wealthy people too. Also, there is a growing middle class. Therefore, there is a large number of private schools that teach English with no shortage of students!

    Reply
  2. jamesgremo@gmail.com

    Hi
    This is a really informative blog
    I am relocating to Phnom Penh at the end of Feb, hopefully to teach English, I have completed an online 100hr TEFL course and I have vocational qualifications (NVQ) in Social Care (Diploma equivalent).
    I have no experience in teaching English, although i have some experience with communication activities with people with Learning Difficulties and i’m hoping that this will help me with teaching English.
    Do schools want to see original certificates or will colour copies suffice? as i’d rather leave these at home due to the expense of replacing them if they get lost etc. Also do vocational qualifications help getting a job?
    many thanks James

    Reply
    1. William Lake

      Hi James,

      For the schools that pay the lower rates, they probably won’t need to see certificates. They’re just happy to have a foreign teacher working there. For the schools that require higher qualifications you’ll need to show them proof. I’ve found that a high quality scan in .pdf form was fine for the schools that I applied to. I’m sure it’ll be the same for you too.

      Most higher paid schools require a degree, but you’ll find many schools willing to accept you regardless of your education. The salary will be a bit less, but you’ll have no problems securing $10 per hour which is a good salary in Cambodia. For the higher paid and better quality schools, a degree, a TEFL/CELTA is required.

      With what you’ve said, I think you’ll find a position easily. If you reply to the email I sent you, I can give you a list of schools that I know of that will pay at least $10 regardless of qualifications/experience.

      Reply
  3. Nicole

    Thank you for sharing! I would like to ask if it is easy for Asian to find an English teaching there? Thank you!

    Reply
    1. William Lake

      If you were qualified, I’m sure you wouldn’t have a problem. I’ve worked with many Filipino teachers in the past and I’ve had friends who have worked with Chinese and Japanese English teachers before. However, their salaries are lower than native speakers.

      Reply
  4. Katye Ellison

    William,

    Thank you so much for writing this post! It is incredibly helpful!

    I am planning on moving to Cambodia (preferably Siem Reap, but if the jobs are in Phnom Penh then I can go there as well) in August and will be looking for teaching jobs as well. I was wondering if you could explain a bit more about the certifications needed to find one of the higher paying jobs?

    I have a year of in-class experience teaching English in the US, and an additional year of ESOL Tutoring, as well as 2 months of teaching English experience in Siem Reap at a local NGO. I have read a lot of posts about finding work in SR and PP and about how the schools only accept the CELTA because of the in-class experience you gain from it.With that being said, is it still necessary for me to get something as intensive (and expensive) as a CELTA, or would they accept a smaller certification (maybe something online)?

    Also, would it be possible for you to send me that list of schools that pay at least $10 regardless of qualifications? I would really appreciate it!

    Katye
    ekatye@gmail.com

    Reply
    1. William Lake

      Hi Katye,

      It certainly isn’t true that schools only accept CELTA students. As I’ve written, there are schools that pay a decent salary with no qualifications.

      CELTA is a great qualification. If you have one of those, or even a TEFL (not online course, but a classroom based TEFL) and a degree, you’ll have enough qualifications and it seems enough experience to find a job in one of the higher paying schools.

      With regard to your request about the list. I’ll drop you an email.

      Reply
      1. Jay

        Hi there!

        Just wondering if there’s a chance of getting in any trouble while teaching without any qualifications? In Vietnam they are checking everyone for their certificates, and even deporting people teaching while unqualified. Is Cambodia ok with it?

        Thank you!

        Reply
  5. Dan Owen

    Thank you for sharing! This is very insightful and inspiring. I have a bachelor in education and have been teaching 3rd grade for 2 years now. I have always wanted to teach in S/E asia and thinking about doing so soon. So my questions are:

    - Due to my experience and qualifications in education, would I get paid a little more than the average?

    - Are you given any longer periods of time (2-3 weeks) off work?

    Your reply is much appreciated!

    Daniel.

    Reply
    1. William Lake

      Hi Dan,

      I’m not sure. As long as you have a teaching qualification (a bachelor in education doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re a qualified teacher?!), experience and a degree (which you have) then you could apply to schools that give higher salaries. With regard with longer periods of time, some schools only pay your for hours taught, whereas others give you salary and this includes paid holidays. It really depends on the school!

      Reply
  6. Lee

    Hey Will,

    Great post – I see from earlier comments that you have a list of schools that pay regardless of qualifications. I’m in Phnom Penh now and looking for a teaching post, any chance you could send me the list?

    Thanks,

    Lee

    Email: REMOVED

    Reply
    1. William Lake

      Hi Lee,

      First off, good luck finding a job.

      About the list: I’m going to publish a small list of schools that I know of that give a reasonable salary regardless of qualifications. These schools are places that some friends of mine work in, but times change and there policies might too!

      Sovannaphumi School
      BELTEI International Institute
      Singapore International School

      English Language Training Institute
      Westline School

      Things are changing in Cambodia very quickly, this includes the schools too. There seems to be more and more people coming to find teaching jobs in Cambodia, and because the schools have more choice, their standards are increasing too.

      Reply
  7. Ron

    Hey Will,

    I am thinking about moving to Phnom Penh, and teaching English. The only problem is that I do not speak any other language. Would this be a problem?

    Thanks,

    Ron

    Reply
    1. William Lake

      Hi Ron,

      It’s absolutely no problem that you don’t speak Khmer. I think it’s best for the English teacher to only speak English anyway!

      Will

      Reply
  8. Eleanor Westmancoat

    HI William,
    I am currently travelling in Vietnam and will arrive in Cambodia in around a weeks time and would love to stay and teach English in Phnom Penh. I will of course send emails to schools before I arrive and then go in person when I arrive in Phnom Penh but I just wondered if you had any idea as to how long it would take after arriving to land a job. Also a rough estimation of what salary I could expect would be a great help as I am hoping to teach for a while with the intention of then travelling further….I don’t have a tefl or a degree but I have 5years experience working in language schools abroad.
    Thanks
    Eleanor

    Reply
    1. William Lake

      It won’t take long before you secure a few job offers, but it depends on how you go about finding a job. Get yourself out there and keep going to schools until you start to get phone calls.

      I’d say it’s easy enough to get about $10 per hour.

      Most schools probably won’t offer you a lot of hours to start with, but once you’ve proved yourself to be reliable, you’ll get more hours.

      Reply
  9. Christina

    Hi Will, I just moved to Phnom Penh and I am planning on delivering my CV personally to the schools. But what time is best to go? I tried a few and I couldn’t get past the security guards outside (all Khmer.)

    Thanks,
    Christina

    Reply
    1. William Lake

      Hi Christina,

      Go during the school hours when people are there. Usually this is in the morning between 7:30am and 10:30am and the afternoon between 12:30pm and 3:30pm.

      Don’t speak to the guards, just walk straight in and speak to the receptionist. Try asking them to speak to the director or principal and don’t tell them you’re looking for a job unless they ask.

      If you still can’t get to the person in charge, then leave your CV with the reception staff and make sure that you get a business card for the person in charge, either this or his telephone number. Sometimes, you might need to be a bit persistent!

      Good luck!

      Reply
  10. Richard

    Hi Will,
    What is your view teachers 40 + years of age getting a job ? Any age barriers in Cambodia?

    Thanks,

    Richard

    Reply
  11. Hans

    Hi, Mr. Lake!
    I am interested in to become an English teacher. Is there any way to look up the job demand via online?
    I am worry about that I may not have a job after I moved there. Are they interviewing through the Skype?
    Have a nice day!

    Reply
    1. William Lake Post author

      Hi Hans,

      Don’t worry about finding a job after you arrive because you will find a job. Usually schools don’t employ over the internet, they require an interview in person.

      You might find some TEFL jobs in Phnom Penh advertised online, but not many. It’s better to go out and visit the schools in person!

      Good luck!

      Reply
  12. Jon

    Hi William,

    How would an online certification compare against a classroom based one? For example would an online CELTA take preference over a classroom TEFL?

    Are schools in Phnom Penh particularly fussy about how you obtained your certification?

    Kind regards,

    Jon

    Reply
    1. William Lake Post author

      Hi Jon,

      You can’t do an online CELTA! A CELTA is a classroom based certificate. You can do both online and classroom TEFLs and the classroom ones are always much better than online ones. However, in Phnom Penh, it isn’t required that you have any type of teaching certificate to find a job, so even an online one would be a plus!

      Reply
  13. Raul

    Hello William,

    first of all thanks for the tips and info and tips you post here, it´s pretty useful.

    I am currently teaching in China and I may move to Cambodia soon. I have an English language related Bachelors degree (4 years), TEFL and Cambridge CAE examination diploma, cos I am not a native. My question is if you think I will be able to assure something before going there with these qualifications I have, plus my teaching experience, and if I will manage to save money, since Im not really wealthy at the moment.

    Thank you in advance f

    Reply
    1. William Lake Post author

      Hi Raul,

      Yes, you will find something. I’ve worked with non-native teachers that don’t have any of the qualifications or experience that you discuss. You won’t have a problem at all. You might be able to save little, but don’t expect to get rich teaching in Phnom Penh!

      Reply
  14. Dean from USA

    I have just arrived in PP yesterday. I already found a apartment for only $55.00 a month. It is newly remodeled. Vary nice for the price. No hot water though, tbey said for $80.00 I could have hot water but I did not think paying more then the rent for hot water was such a good idea. it just does not make good since to me. There must be a cheaper way.
    I am also looking for a job, maybe teaching English. I just came from Shenzhen China where I was teaching English. I am from USA and have blond hair in blue eye born and raised in California as I understand that can help me get a good teaching job he he. No brag intended here. I am just saying. Hope to find a way to make money here soon although I do get some money from my company I own in USA but not much.

    Reply
    1. William Lake Post author

      Good luck finding a job! I understand what you mean about the blue eyes and blond hair. Unfortunately Cambodia is a very looks orientated place people go to all sorts of lengths to whiten their skin and look more like us ‘Barrangs’!

      Reply
    2. ashley olson

      I am currently in laos, but plan on moving to phnom penh here shortly to try and get a teaching job myself. How did you find an apartment for $55? Is there a leasing agent that you used. Any advise you can give me on finding accommodations would be much appreciated.

      Reply
      1. William Lake Post author

        Hi,

        There are agencies that will help you find apartments, but the best way is to ask your colleagues and friends! Especially if you’re looking for a cheap room and looking to live like a local.

        Reply
  15. Tommy_ London UK

    Hi William,
    You have a great Site!
    I am a very experienced teacher but i am over 60 is this a problem?
    Thanks
    Tommy London Uk

    Reply
    1. William Lake Post author

      Hi Tommy,

      I’ve worked with teachers well into their 60s, but they did look younger. I don’t think it will be a problem at all.

      Reply
  16. Faithe

    Hi all – I work in PP and saw the rental numbers that are listed, and I have to say that I think they are incorrect.
    You can find a decent Khmer style place to live for about 200$ a month – some maybe a little cheaper, but really 55$ I think would be quite questionable. I don’t know any teacher who pays that a month and some teachers are quite destitute and would be happy to pay 55$. Some villas a bit further out you can get for maybe 300$ but these are all Khmer style – which is fine, but they range from location, noise, construction, cable, no cable, wifi no wifi, cleanliness of hallways, people you are sharing the area with – safety, place to park your motorbike, there are a lot of BAE so you have to be careful of that. We had three teachers have their places robbed at different times and those are just the ones I know about. Just FYI… :)

    Reply
    1. William Lake Post author

      Hi there,

      I last worked in Phnom Penh 3 years ago, and those figures were pretty good back then. Nowadays, prices might have increased somewhat, but I do still know a few teachers that are paying just 60 or 70 USD for a small room. I don’t go to agencies when I’m looking for a house, instead I ask my Cambodian colleagues and friends and they often can find these small rooms for that amount. One friend is living in Pochentong and he rents a studio (1 room with toilet inside) for $60 a month. It’s a relatively safe area, but he has to put the moto in his room at night. Yes, he has no cable, no wifi, the hallways aren’t clean, but for $60 a month he’s happy. There are no other foreigners where he lives, only Cambodians.

      Yes, safety is a big issue in Phnom Penh!

      Reply
  17. Piper Purcell

    Hi there. Love this it is very informative. I would love the list if you don’t mind! Thanks.

    Reply
    1. William Lake Post author

      I’m sorry, although I did give out a few schools to a commenter earlier, I don’t really have such a list. There are literally 100s of schools in Phnom Penh with new ones opening up every week!

      Reply
  18. MARTIN SAMUEL

    I agree that this is a very informative site. I am looking to get out of Thailand and try ESL teaching in Cambodia. I don’t have a lot of money but could I at least earn enough to support myself and my greedy (but loving) Thai wife? I don’t have a degree in Education but I do at least have a degree and a CTESOL from Transworld schools in San Francisco. I have been teaching English for over 8 years in Thailand, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and only briefly in China; should I just fly to Phnom Penh and give it my best shot by going around to different schools?

    Reply
    1. William Lake Post author

      If you have a degree, a TESOL and experiences, you will find a job very very easily! Just get yourself to Phnom Penh and get yourself out there and go and find a job. You will find one no problems at all. With your experience and qualifications, you should find a decent paying job too.

      Good luck!

      Reply
  19. Seema Blake

    Firstly, many thanks for all the information! I studied English literature at University, but due to ill health, had to drop out before I sat for my Finals. I did , however, manage to get a Celta, and speaking five languages has helped me prove to prospective employers that I’m linguistically inclined. Now I’m in Phnom Penh, and until I read your blog, I was getting very low thinking I had to have a degree to get any kind of job here! Seema

    Reply
    1. William Lake Post author

      I know many teachers without any qualifications whatsoever, I’m sure that you’ll do just fine! Good luck!

      Reply
  20. Aryan kumar singh

    i am indian and i am persuing my bachelor in english and i want to move in cambodia for english teaching what would be my expected salary in cambodia please let me know.

    Reply
    1. William Lake Post author

      I’m sorry, I’ve never met any Indian English teachers in Cambodia, so I don’t really know what your expected salary will be. I’m sure it will be lower than a native speaker’s salary though.

      Reply
  21. Colton Tieman

    Hello William,
    I have read your blog and most of the posts that people have sent you. You seem to know a ton about living there and make me that much more excited to move there. I plan on moving to Phnom Penh in July of this year. I am curious to know if there are any precautions I should take/bring due to being in the rainy season. In your blog you talk about how its easy to receive a business visa. Are you saying that I can apply for a tourist visa here in the USA and once i get over there I can just pay for a business visa before finding a job, or do you have to find a job before receiving a business visa? Also I am curious if you could email me at [email deleted] so I may continue to stay in contact with you during the next few months. Thank you! Ive enjoyed reading about your experience and am thankful for the information I have obtained from doing so.
    Colton

    Reply
    1. William Lake Post author

      Hi Colton,

      With regards to the rainy season, you can buy everything here that you will need. Namely a raincoat!

      Regarding the visa, you should need to prearrange one, you can get one on arrival. I think they’ve become a bit stricter now and you might not get a business visa on arrival. You might also need to have a job before you can apply for a business visa, however, this is Cambodia and it all depends on which immigration officer you speak to! It’s likely to change with each one.

      I have your email address, I’ll send you an email when I get the chance.

      Good luck!

      Reply

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