If you’re looking for an adventure and want to make a real difference in the world, then going abroad to teach English in Cambodia may be the perfect opportunity for you. Not only will you be able to help students learn one of the most important skills they can have, but you’ll also get to experience a new culture and way of life.
We’re going to cover everything you need to know about teaching English in Cambodia, from what qualifications are required to where you will work to what the average salary is. We’ll also give you some tips on how to find a job teaching English in Cambodia.
About teaching in Cambodia
Cambodia is located between Vietnam and Thailand. It’s less developed than both countries, much more rural, worse infrastructure and very humid. Cambodia overall is less strict when it comes to what is required to stay in country as a teacher and is definitely a unique ESL experience.
Please be aware that Cambodia is significantly poorer than it’s neighbors and for most is a tougher adjustment for most expat English teachers who have expectations that Cambodia is similar to Thailand. With that said, it’s a beautiful country with a low cost of living that provides a more laid back, rural experience for teachers.
Where will you work in Cambodia?
Cambodia offers a few different options for those looking to teach abroad in Cambodia. Depending on your qualifications affects where you’re able to work as well. Cambodia is unique in that you don’t need a bachelors legally but you do need a TEFL.
- Accredited international schools
- Non-accredited international schools
- ACE schools
Accredited international schools
Located primarily in Phnom Penh (the capital city) and Siam Reap, accredited international schools are where students go to study all their subjects in English. From math and science to computer class or history. These schools follow some international standard (UK, US, Australian system) and are accredited.
To teach here you need to have proper qualifications from your home country. While legally all you need is a TEFL in Cambodia, no international school is going to even consider your application if you lack the educational credentials from your home country.
Non-accredited international schools
These are schools that may say “international” in the name, but are in fact not properly accredited. These schools pay teachers less, are more affordable for students to attend, they tend to be less resourced than proper international schools as well.
However, they are a good option for a new teacher as these positions are more readily available and they are ideal if you want to teach somewhere other than Phnom Penh. In general, these schools typically want you to have a bachelors degree in anything and a TEFL certificate.
ACE schools ( English tutorial centers)
Cambodia does offer private, English only tutorial centers where you can find work as well. The most popular being ACE schools. This is a good option for any teacher looking to make extra money by teaching after class and is also a good option for teachers who don’t have a bachelors degree but do have the required TEFL.
These centers are typically found near high schools and the way it works is that students go to their respective government school and for English class visit the language center. The hours at these centers are all over the place with classes both in the morning, afternoon, evenings and weekends.
What about teaching online in Cambodia?
Currently there are no companies based in Cambodia that provide online teaching. You can technically teach online through iTalki, Fiverr or Cambly. But these platforms are not Cambodian specific and don’t provide you with the required documents to stay in country. As such you’ll need to do visa runs to maintain your tourist visa.
How to get a teaching job in Cambodia
For international schools you can find numerous posting online that you can apply to simply through doing a search for “international schools Cambodia.” You can also find the schools website and contact the hiring manager directly. For everything else however, the best way to find a job in Cambodia is to visit Cambodia on a tourist visa and then look for work.
Not the most practical, but it’s how things work. You should visit Cambodia with money saved as your startup money and then develop a list of schools and apply in person. You should prepare a packet of documents to hand off to the hiring person and dress nicely when doing so.
The packet should contain your resume or CV, a cover letter, copy of your TEFL certificate, a copy of your TEFL certificate transcripts and a passport sized photo of yourself. If the school is interested they will either call or email you to setup an interview.
Teacher recruiting agencies
There are private agencies that exist that can help place you in a school. Overall these agencies seem to be more of a money grab and in general are more of a waste of time. When an agency places you they get a commission and tend to not have relationships with any decent places to work. In short, avoid agencies.
Best time to apply
Quality international schools start looking for new teachers to join for the upcoming semester starting in October through December. During this time they collect resumes and then start reaching out to teachers in February and March based on staffing needs. Don’t expect a job offer until April or May.
Have a demo lesson ready
Lastly, for quality school they may ask you to teach a demo lesson. Your students will be teachers and staff who work at the school and you will be expected to teach about 20 minutes all together.
Legal requirements to teach in Cambodia
Cambodia is pretty simply with the legal requirements to become an English teacher. You only need a few things in order to live and work in the country legally:
- Business visa (type-E)
- TEFL certificate
- Native speaker
- Criminal background check
A business visa is what you need in order to obtain a work permit. You can get a business visa after you have secured a teaching position at a school and your school will provide the required documents to process your visa.
Please note that if you enter Cambodia on an e-visa (obtained online) you can’t change that visa in country and will need to do a boarder run. So we suggest entering Cambodia by paying for a standard tourist visa obtained at the airport. Tourist visas are valid for 30 days which can be extended once for another 30 days.
TEFL certificate (120 hours)
A TEFL is a legal requirement in Cambodia and you can be obtained through taking an intensive course on how to teach English. There are quite a few programs that offer a TEFL or a TESOL. Both are accepted in Cambodia.
The main difference is that a TEFL is for “teach English as a foreign language” and is designed to teach English in countries where English is not the native language where a TESOL (teach speakers of other languages) is aimed more at immigrants to a native speaking country.
One thing you need to make sure is that you enroll in a 120 hour course at a minimum. Also, as previously stated you’ll want copies of your TEFL/TESOL transcript.
Not a legal requirement, but Cambodian schools will typically only hire native English speakers. You may have luck and find a school who is willing to hire you if you’re non-native and have a great TOEIC score, but it is unlikely.
Having a degree is not a legal requirement in Cambodia but if you if you’re looking at working for an international school or even a non accredited international school you’ll need a degree. Make sure to get your degree notarized in your home country as it’s quite difficult to do in Cambodia.
Criminal background check
Along with having a diploma, a school may ask to see a criminal background check. This criminal background check should be from where you have lived for the past 6 months and should be notarized as well. Schools sometimes don’t ask for this, but it is sometimes asked for during the interview process and being well prepared gives you more leverage when it comes to pay.
How much do teachers in Cambodia make?
Teachers in Cambodia can expect to make between $600-$2500 USD a month. The pay absolutely depends on your experience, qualifications, where you work and willingness to work. Some schools like a tutorial center will pay you by the hour, other proper schools will give you a salary with paid time off.
The $600 range is for inexperienced, backpacker style teachers with perhaps only a TEFL certificate. $800-$1100 is what you can expect at an unaccredited international school if you have a bachelors in anything and a TEFL certificate. The upper range of $2500 is only for international school teachers.
Cost of living
Cambodia is cheap. You can live comfortably on $600 a month as a single person with no debt. Locals by contrast live on $300 a month. If you’re able to secure a teaching position that pays $1200 USD a month and are open to teaching evenings occasionally, you can earn more than enough to cover your living expenses.
English Teacher benefits
There any additional benefits teachers can expect when working in Cambodia. The higher tier school, the better the benefits. But at a minimum if you work full time at a school you can expect to get a salary with paid holidays and time off.
Accredited international schools usually offer some sort of housing allowance to entice qualified teachers to make the move to Cambodia for a year or two.
Paid flight home
Top tier schools also pay for your flight to Cambodia and sometimes back to your home country as well. Again, not a standard benefit but it is something to take note of if you’re a qualified teacher.
Paid vacation and holidays
For teachers across the country who are employed at a school with a salary it’s normal and expected to get paid time off for vacation and holidays.
Teach English in Cambodia – Conclusion
Cambodia is a great place to teach English and gain experience in the field. If you are looking for an adventure and want to make a difference in someone’s life, teaching English in Cambodia is the perfect opportunity for you.
Although it can be challenging, the rewards of working with students and seeing them progress makes all the hard work worth it. Plus you get to experience Cambodia in a way most who visit do not. As a local who is apart of the community.
Editorial StaffThe editorial Staff at Teach and GO is a team of teachers with a broad range of experience led by David Unwin. We have been creating helpful advice, guides and tutorials for teachers since 2018.
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