Teaching English in Sihanoukville

By | October 2, 2013

Sihanoukville is located 185 kilometres southwest of Cambodia’s capital city, Phnom Penh. It was named after the late King Norodom Sihanouk and is a popular destination for visitors to Cambodia. Lured by the relaxing and beautiful beaches, many visitors decide to extend their stay. There are many opportunities for foreigners living and working in Sihanoukville and teaching English is just one.

Teaching English in Cambodia is an attractive choice for many reasons. The salary given to most foreign teachers is well above the national average and teachers can afford a relatively comfortable lifestyle on their salary alone.

Moreover, given the relative ease of obtaining a visa and the often very low standards for recruiting native English speakers (although this is increasing each year), many people of all ages, qualifications and experience can easily find jobs teaching English in Cambodia.

Why Teach English in Sihanoukville?

Whilst most teachers find jobs in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, Sihanoukville also provides some opportunities for those wanting to teach English. Many of these people choose Sihanoukville because of the beach and/or party lifestyle. Two of the things that this city is most famous for! Moreover, the cost of living is relatively low in the city and even teachers can afford to enjoy themselves and have quite a comfortable lifestyle.

The transport links to Phnom Penh and Vietnam are cheap and affordable and there are also regular trips to the many islands located off the coast of Sihanoukville. So if you want to work in Cambodia, and you want to live by the ocean, this city might just be for you.

Types of Teaching Jobs Available in Sihanoukville?

There are both paid jobs and voluntary jobs available. Cambodia is a poor country and there are many NGOs across the country providing a range of services for local communities and English language tuition is just one of them. Sihanoukville has many NGOs that offer English courses for poor children, so if you want to volunteer you should have no problems finding an organisation that will be happy for your time.

If you’re interested in getting paid work there are also opportunities available. There are many schools that provide English courses for children (between the ages of 5 – 18). Moreover, some of these schools provide evening classes for older students (usually young adults) and there are a couple of universities that provide English language courses at a variety of levels.

Teaching Requirements & Qualifications

Sihanoukville - Cambodia

Sihanoukville – Cambodia

As is typical for most of Cambodia, there are very few minimum requirements for finding teaching Jobs. Most schools like to have a foreign teacher of any description because it attracts more students to the school. There is a belief (that may be true or false depending on the teacher) that native English speaking teachers are better at teaching English. Therefore, you shouldn’t have any problems due to a lack of qualifications or experience.

If you have qualifications (at least a bachelor’s degree and a TEFL, TESOL or CELTA) then this would definitely work in your favour. But many schools in Sihanoukville will employ you regardless of your qualifications.

If you are looking for higher paid positions or you want to work in a University then you will need at least a bachelor’s degree. A TEFL, TESOL or CELTA certificate will also help your application, but is not always necessary.

Depending on the school or university that you are applying to, there will be different requirements for experience. Some schools will employ you with no experience, others will prefer that you have some experience in teaching and this experience could be either paid or voluntary.

As a teacher, I believe that you owe a duty to provide the best standard of education that is possible. If you aren’t qualified or experienced, it doesn’t necessarily make you a poor teacher. But you should consider that Cambodia is a poor country and learning English is often a necessity to find a job that pays more than just a few dollars a day.

Considering this, families often send their children to study English and spend a significant part of their income in doing so. You have responsibility to provide these children with a good education. So if you’re planning on just working for a few weeks or months to continue your travels, then teaching might not be the best option for you or your students.

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Expected Salary & Living Costs

[sociallocker id=”767″]Expected Salary

Salaries for teaching English in Sihanoukville can vary depending on the school or university that you are teaching in. Most schools will pay you an hourly rate for your teaching hours and there are few, if any, that will pay you a monthly salary. Therefore, always expect to get paid for the hours that you actually teach. Therefore, if there is a holiday (and there are many in Cambodia) you won’t get paid if you aren’t in the classroom. You will be lucky to find a salaried job that pays holidays and sick leave in Sihanoukville.

The rate of pay per hour can vary a lot. Some of the smaller schools will only be able to afford to pay you just a few dollars per hour. Some of the bigger and more popular schools will be a bit higher and you can expect around $7 per hour. You might get more if you stay at the school for a longer period of time.

Universities pay a bit higher, but they will required that you have qualifications. A qualified teacher at a university might expect around $10 per hour, you might get a little more if you have experience and stay in the job for at least a year or so.

Moreover, don’t think that you can work 40 hours per week teaching. This is impossible for a few reasons. Firstly, with class preparation and marking there just won’t be enough hors in the week. Moreover, schools aren’t open that long. You will probably get a few hours in the morning and afternoon. You might get a few hours in the early evening as well.

Therefore, your salary could be anywhere between $400 and $1200 a month depending on the school that you’re working for and how many hours you’re working.

Cost of Living

The cost of living in Sihanoukville is comparable to the rest of Cambodia insomuch that it is extremely low when compared to western countries.

You can rent a small one room studio apartment for as little as $50 a month and the price will increase depending on how many luxuries you want. For a nice 1 bedroom apartment with air-con and a separate kitchen and living room, you can find something for about $200 per month and more.

Food is cheap, especially if you eat Khmer food. Even if you eat western food, you can find restaurants that sell food for about $4 – $5 a meal. Obviously, it’s much cheaper to eat at home if you’re looking to eat western food. But if you eat the local food, it can cost just $1 – $2 for a meal. This is much cheaper than what it would cost to prepare western food at home.

Transport is very cheap and because the city is very small, you can get anywhere on a bicycle fairly easily. You can buy one for about $40 – $50 for a fairly decent one that will get you from A to B with no problems.

You can also rent a moto for around $5 a day, and there are longer term rentals available for about $50 a month. If you don’t want to drive a moto and would rather pay, then moto taxis are your cheapest option and you can go a few kilometres for just a dollar or so.

For more information about the cost of living, Numbeo has an extensive run down of the cost of living in Sihanoukville.

Therefore, you can earn enough money to pay for a relatively comfortable lifestyle if you don’t expect too much. Moreover, don’t expect to save a lot of money when living in Sihanoukville because the salary in most cases just won’t be enough.[/sociallocker]

Visa Requirements

If you have 6 months left on your passport and a few free pages, you’ll get a business visa. There are no real requirements in Cambodia for visas and as long as you have the money (about $280 for a year visa) then you’ll get a visa. To work legally in Cambodia, you will need a business visa. Business visas are available on arrival. If you arrived with a tourist visa you can change it to a business visa when it expires.

How to Find a Job Teaching in Sihanoukville

Sihanoukville Beach

Sihanoukville Beach courtesy of Wiki Commons.

Most schools will not advertise for vacant teaching positions in newspapers or on the internet. Therefore, the best bet is to get your CV ready and contact the schools directly. You can either call or email the schools or visit them in person.

Personally, I wouldn’t bother sending emails to the schools because most schools don’t have email addresses that are actively monitored. In most cases staff members use free online services like Yahoo Mail, Gmail and Hotmail. If your CV is lucky enough to get through these spam filters you can be pretty sure that the email addresses are not monitored or checked very often.

Therefore, try to get some contact telephone numbers for schools and universities and give them a call and try to arrange a meeting at the school.

Alternatively, just get your CVs ready, put on your nicest clothes and visit each school in person. Usually you’ll be greeted by a receptionist. Explain that you are looking for a job and ask to speak to the director or principal. If they ask to take your CV, try to get the number for the person in charge and follow up your visit. This is probably the best way to find a job teaching English in Sihanoukville.

Teaching English in Sihanoukville

There are quite a few schools in Sihanoukville and also a number of native English speaking teachers working in the city. With the high number of teachers that come and go, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find a job teaching English in Sihanoukville. Remember, that many teachers come and go quite regularly and if you don’t find a job right away it probably won’t be too long before a vacant position comes up. Stay in regular contact with the different schools so that they remember who you are.

You might get lucky and be offered a job in just the first few days. But in all likelihood you probably need to apply to a number of different schools and regularly follow up with phone calls and visits to be in with a chance of securing a job.

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Other Places in Cambodia

Battambang.Battambang Teach English in Phnom PenhPhnom Penh Teach English in Siem ReapSiem Reap

9 thoughts on “Teaching English in Sihanoukville

  1. PETE

    Your blog is becoming my inspiration to stay in the EastI have tried to make Thailand a success , even attempting to start an online BA TESOL degree .So rightly as you say,children and their parents deserve good teachers for their money.And if I think of the disdainful way Thailand approach the idea of English,then the Cambodians are definitely my kind of people.

    1. William Lake

      Thanks Pete. I’m trying to research countries around the world to provide my readers with up to date information and I’m glad you found it helpful!

  2. Buck Stanley

    How does one go about finding a list of school addresses?

    1. William Lake

      You go online and search! No really, it is that easy…

      Search for “language schools in Sihanoukville”, I’m sure you’ll find a number of them.

      Alternatively, you can try giving the Cambodian Yellow Pages a try!

  3. john

    In Thai schools you can not fail a child as they may loose face. How come they don’t mind if the teacher looses face by being told you can’t fail them. I had 1 student whom came to 1 class ONLY , I had already turned all my paperwork in and was ready to go home, when the director brought in 1 boy who needed to take his test. I ask, asr you sure? He has only been 1 class?
    I was told he needed a test so he could graduate.
    In front of the Director I asked to see his books, there were some questions that he had written in the book, when I asked him where he got the questions he said he got them from his friends. I said(“so you cheated)?
    My first question to him was “What is the name of the King of Thailand” He did not know
    My 2nd. question was “Who is the Prim Minister of Thailand? He did not know.
    My 3rd. question was “What is my name”? He got that one correct. So I passed him…… Watch out world these are your new leaders.

    1. William Lake

      I’ve never taught in Thailand, so I can’t comment. However, some schools in Cambodia are similar. Not all of them, but some. I don’t think its to lose face, I think it’s because they don’t want to make the students angry. At private schools they are, after all, customers. If they’re unhappy they’ll leave. Students that fail are unhappy! But like I say, not all schools are the same in my experience.

    2. Sloopcaptain

      John, you are an *English* teacher, for Pete’s sake!

      “Cannot” is one word, not two.

      One loses face, not “looses.”

      “I had 1 student.” Why the numeral “1”? Except when enumerating miles and quarts and such, “one” is proper English.

      “Asr you sure?” I believe the word is “are.”

      “Director” is lowercased, unless it immediately precedes a proper name as a title. Ditto “prime minister.” Check any good style manual. Because this is Thailand, will with due deference oblige a capitalized “King.”

      And so on and so on. Please do not cheat your students by teaching them corrupt English!

  4. Codi Michelle

    Hello There!
    Thanks so much for this information. It is incredibly helpful. I will be moving to Cambodia in November, and am currently debating between Siem Reap and Sihanoukville, so this was great 🙂
    I do have two questions that you might be able to help me with. I noticed you wrote you can easily change the tourist visa to a business visa when it expires. Do you know if this is still true? Also, I’ve read that they might ask you for certain bank account balances, or exit flight information when you apply, but I can’t find any details on this anywhere! If you know about these two things, I would really really appreciate it!!
    Thanks so much for taking the time to reply to your readers and for setting up this site!

    1. William Lake


      The rules about visas and work permits are currently going through a big change. But you can still enter the country and find work on a tourist visa. You might be able to change it to a business visa after your arrival, or you might need to leave the country and re-enter with a business visa. The rules are changing and they seem to be a bit haphazard at the moment!

      Don’t worry about it, these things are easily arranged in Cambodia!

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