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. Not only will you be able to help students learn one of the most critical skills they can have, but you’ll also experience a new culture and way of life.
We will cover everything you need to know about teaching English in Cambodia, from what qualifications are required to where you will work to the average salary. 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, has worse infrastructure, and is humid. Cambodia is less strict regarding what is required to stay in the country as a teacher, and it is a unique ESL experience.
Please be aware that Cambodia is significantly poorer than its neighbors. For most, it is a stricter adjustment for most ex-pat English teachers who expect Cambodia to be 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 affect where you’re able to work as well. Cambodia is unique because you don’t need a bachelors legally, but a TEFL.
- Accredited international schools
- Nonaccredited international schools
- ACE schools
Accredited international schools
Located primarily in Phnom Penh (the capital city) and Siam Reap, accredited international schools are where students study all their English subjects, from math and science to computer classes or history. These schools follow some accredited international standards (UK, US, Australian system).
To teach here, you must have proper qualifications from your home country. While legally, all you need is a TEFL in Cambodia, no international school will even consider your application if you lack the educational credentials from your home country.
Nonaccredited international schools
These are schools that may say “international” in the name but are, in fact, not adequately accredited. These schools pay teachers less, are more affordable for students to attend, and tend to be less resourced than proper international schools.
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. Generally, these schools typically want you to have a bachelor’s degree in anything and a TEFL certificate.
ACE schools ( English tutorial centers)
Cambodia also offers private, English-only tutorial centers where you can find work. The most popular are 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 bachelor’s degree but 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 schools and, for English classes, visit the language center. The hours at these centers are all over the place, with courses 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 must provide you with the required documents to stay in the country. As such, you must do visa runs to maintain your tourist visa.
How to get a teaching job in Cambodia
For international schools, you can find numerous postings online that you can apply to simply by searching “international schools Cambodia.” You can also find the school’s 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, 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.
The packet should contain the following:
- Your resume or CV.
- A cover letter.
- A copy of your TEFL certificate.
- A copy of your TEFL certificate transcripts.
- A passport-sized photo of yourself.
If the school is interested, they will call or email you to schedule an interview.
Teacher recruiting agencies
Private agencies exist that can help place you in a school. Overall these agencies are more of a money grab and, in general, a waste of time. When an agency puts you, they get a commission and tend not to have relationships with decent workplaces. In short, avoid agencies.
Best time to apply
Quality international schools are looking for new teachers for the upcoming semester, from October through December. During this time, they collect resumes and start contacting teachers in February and March based on staffing needs. Expect a job offer in April or May.
Have a demo lesson ready.
Lastly, for quality schools, 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 lead about 20 minutes altogether.
Legal Requirements to Teach in Cambodia
Cambodia is pretty simple with the legal requirements to become an English teacher. You only need a few things 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 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 and must do a border run. 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 by 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 “teaching English as a foreign language” and is designed to teach English in countries where English is not the native language. In contrast, TESOL (teaching 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 willing to hire you if you’re non-native and have a great TOEIC score, but it is unlikely.
A degree is not a legal requirement in Cambodia, but if you’re looking to work for an international school or even a nonaccredited international school, you’ll need a degree. Ensure you get your degree notarized in your home country, as it takes a lot of work 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 six 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 paying.
How much do teachers in Cambodia make?
Teachers in Cambodia can expect to make between $600-2500 a month. The pay 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 monthly as a single person with no debt. Locals, by contrast, live on $300 a month. If you can secure a teaching position that pays $1200 USD a month and is open to teaching evenings occasionally, you can earn more than enough to cover your living expenses.
English Teacher benefits
Are 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 housing allowance to entice qualified teachers to 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. Again, it is not a standard benefit, but it is something to note if you’re a qualified teacher.
Paid vacation and holidays
For teachers across the country 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.
Although it can be challenging, the rewards of working with students and seeing them progress make 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 a part of the community.
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Editorial StaffI'm David Unwin and I head the editorial staff here at Teach and GO. I've taught as an ESL teacher in Thailand for 5+ years at all levels of education, from elementary to University. I was also one of the first 1000 VIPKID teachers. I and my team now share my extensive experience as a teacher here at Teach and GO. Learn more.
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