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Teaching English in Cambodia

Updated on June 20, 2014

Despite a harrowing history of war and genocide, Cambodia is now one of Southeast Asia's most peaceful and heavily visited destinations. Many people travel to Cambodia to see the ancient temples of Angkor Wat, beautiful beaches of Sihanoukville and unique mix of modern and colonial architecture in the capital city of Phnom Penh. Combine this with hospitable and friendly people, a relatively low-cost of living and increased access to modern amenities and facilities, and it is easy to see why more and more intrepid travelers are choosing to make Cambodia home. One of the easiest ways to work and live in Cambodia is to teach English.


How to Find Work in Cambodia

The easiest way to find teaching work in Cambodia is to just show up in the country and start handing your CV out to schools. It is possible to find work before you arrive either online or by contacting the schools directly, but most directors at schools in Cambodia prefer to meet you in person and see that you are already in the country before they hire you. Additionally, many schools in Cambodia do not advertise job postings online, so it can be difficult to secure a job prior to being in the country.

Requirements for teaching English in Cambodia

Not so long ago it was easy to apply to many language schools in Cambodia with nothing more than a clean shirt and decent spoken English and land a job, but today standards have risen quite a bit due to an increase in competition amongst schools.

Most schools now require teachers to have a Bachelor degree and/or a Teaching Certificate such as a CELTA or TEFL. Degrees do not necessarily have to be in English or teaching related fields, but post-secondary education is definitely a must, especially at the better schools that offer higher salaries.

Furthermore, teachers should have a proven record of employment (not necessarily ESL teaching) and no criminal record. Pedophilia and sex tourism are huge problems in this part of Southeast Asia and many schools go to great lengths to ensure that they are not hiring dangerous criminals.

While there are still a few schools who will hire people with little education or experience, these schools generally pay very little and working conditions can be dismal.

Where to find work

Phnom Penh

The bulk of language schools and English teaching jobs in Cambodia can be found in the capital city of Phnom Penh. Popular schools here include the Australian Centre for Education (ACE), Cambodia's most respected language center, New World Institute, a large and relatively new school, the English Language Training Institute (ELT), and Home of English International. International schools like Northbridge International School and the Western International School and universities such as Pannasastra University and the Royal University of Phnom Penh also hire English language teachers, although teachers at these institutions are often required to have a Bachelor of Education or a Masters degree.

Siem Reap

Siem Reap also has a few schools where ESL teachers can find employment including a secondary branch of ACE, the British English Language School (BELS) and the International School of Siem Reap (ISSR).

Elsewhere

English is taught at many other smaller schools in cities and villages throughout Cambodia, such as Battambang, Sihanoukville and Kampot, but work is often on a volunteer basis as many centers lack the capital or amenities to attract salaried native English teachers.

The students

Overall, Cambodian students are lovely to teach. In Cambodian culture teachers are given the utmost respect, so students are often incredibly polite and respectful to teachers. Moreover, many are extremely motivated to learn as they understand the importance of learning English to secure a spot in the global economy. Students can be shy around foreigners, but after they feel a bit more comfortable around the teacher they will ask questions about grammar, pronunciation and culture, and they love to have a good laugh, so games and jokes always go over well.

The teachers

There is a lively expat scene in Cambodia, especially in Phnom Penh, made up of NGO workers, journalists and of course teachers. English teachers in Cambodia come from all over the world, with a large majority hailing from Australia, New Zealand, England and North America. Teachers in Cambodia tend to be adventurous, well-traveled individuals who like to venture off the beaten path, and enjoy getting to know the culture and local scene. Quite a few teachers in Cambodia have fallen in love with the country and have decided to stay there for the long haul, so at most schools it is easy to find veteran colleagues who can give pointers on living in the country, cultural differences and tips on teaching Khmer students.

Salary expectations and cost of living

Depending on the school, salaries can range anywhere from $500 USD to $3000 USD per month, and the better schools will include a one year contract, multiple entry working visa, medical insurance, and bonus incentives. Generally, international schools, universities and reputable language schools offer the best salary packages.

Teachers can also work on a casual hourly basis without signing a yearly contract, in which case rates can range anywhere from $8 USD to $25 USD an hour. Casual workers are not usually provided with any extra benefits.

Regardless of the level of salary one earns, the cost of living in Cambodia is quite low. A basic one bedroom apartment in Phnom Penh can cost as little as $200 USD a month, a meal at an inexpensive restaurant costs approximately $2 to $3 USD, a bottle of beer retails at about $1.50 USD, and a taxi ride across town (about 1 km) costs around $2 USD. 

Visa Requirements in Cambodia

Visitors from most English speaking countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United States, and the UK can get a single entry, one month tourist visa on arrival. The fee is USD $20 and you need to submit two passport sized photos with your application. It is also possible to buy a 30 day business visa on arrival for USD $25, also accompanied by two passport sized photos. The business visa is a good option if you would like to work soon after arriving in the country. Regardless of the type of visa you enter Cambodia with, it is very easy to change your visa after you arrive, and most schools will even arrange a multiple entry business visa with 6-12 months validity for you once you are hired.

Volunteer Teaching in Cambodia

Cambodia is a developing country and as such, many people throughout the country still struggle to get by. Education, especially in foreign languages, is extremely important given that tourism is a huge industry in Cambodia, but unfortunately it is a luxury many cannot afford. Volunteers teachers can make a huge difference helping to train people of all ages basic English language skills.

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    • wiserworld profile image

      wiserworld 13 months ago

      Thanks for clarifying the visa issues for finding work. I wasn't aware of how easy it would be to transfer the visitor visa into a business visa. Cheers.

    • profile image

      loyveasna2 3 years ago

      Sophisticate Elegance House

      Leading to furniture shop in Cambodia www.ufocambodia.com construction materials said there is a modest single home for a family wishing to downsize and simplify.

      In addition, this home will make you feel evocative of the mid-century modern homes. One more thing this house was designed with the natural materials such as rammed earth walls, limestone floors and

      Douglass Fir wood ceiling are woven inside and out in a sophisticated for indoor and outdoor living spaces.

      Moreover the size of the house is connected with a style of art toward materials and detailing, and it focuses on art and nature.

    • profile image

      tion nall 3 years ago

      The highest Racecars for the Auction

      Trustworthy cars for sale in Phnom Penh MG Cambodia said, the race car of Mercedes with highest price was shown in public.

      It is a part of a group of racecars that won 9 world championship-qualifying. Those classic cars can make the auction increase from one day to one day.

      Anyway the auctions were paid $1 billion, because of those classic cars. The special thing in this cause the cars were bought in private person with higher price, that is rarely to hear. By this time the Mercedes-Benz was sold for $29.9 million.

    • profile image

      sothida 3 years ago

      hi, there.

      i;m from laos. we are USSC english training center. we need english teachers for our school. if any want to work as english teacher in vientiane, Laos, please feel free to drop your cv to us at info@ussc.la, or call us +856 30 5724388

    • profile image

      Edwin 3 years ago

      Thanks a lot!!! Great, great article! A treasure. Can you please advise me also about my chance of getting an english teaching job in Pnom Penh? I'm not a native English speaker but I have a Masters in sociology though no TEFL, have a year of volunteer teaching in an english club I formed in Ho Chi Minh, and taught a Starting a Business training in one university in HCM. I also worked as Marketing Manager for at least 2 companies in our country and was a business consultant to one local and international companies.

    • profile image

      Daniel2013 4 years ago

      Hey, anybody now a person who can teach english writing and reading for beginners to a juvenile boy in Sihanoukville.

      He speak and spell already, but don't read and write.

      He need a couple of days a week about 3 hours a day someone to help him.

      Please contakt me: animationdaniel@yahoo.de

      I will call you or write email back!

      Thank you ;)

    • profile image

      krunesh 4 years ago

      very well written

    • Jeff Poirrier profile image

      Jeff Poirrier 4 years ago from Washington

      Teaching overseas has been something I've wanted to do ever since I earned my BA in English. Well done, and thanks for all the advice!

    • Kevin Peter profile image

      Kevin Peter 4 years ago from Global Citizen

      The hub is both informative and very wonderful. You have described well of the teaching opportunities in Combodia, which is also blessed with its natural beauty. You have also included the different places there where people can find the job as an english teacher.Great hub!

    • LensMan999 profile image

      LensMan999 4 years ago from Trans-Neptunian region

      The hub on ‘ teaching English in Combodia ‘ by Lost in Asia is describing the atmosphere of teaching in Cambodia, so this hub attracts the unemployed youngsters to this beautiful place. You gave a clear picture of teaching in Cambodia including the nature of educational institutions, students and salary also. Thank you so much for this informatory article.

    • Lost in Asia profile image
      Author

      Lost in Asia 4 years ago from Bali, Indonesia

      Hi there,

      If you're seriously considering teaching then your best bet is to take a CELTA or a TESL course. There are many courses in Thailand that are top notch and offer internationally recognized certificates. If you would like more info about what qualifications you need, salary expectations, etc. check out these links:

      http://www.southeastasiawanders.com/country-guide-...

      http://www.southeastasiawanders.com/teaching-engli...

    • profile image

      ollie 4 years ago

      i am currently in cambodia. i am considering tying to get a job in phnom pen. Not entirely sure what yet. I have considered teaching but was just wondering what qualifications i would need, or if i need any. I have no teaching experience, but am willing to give it a go. just wondering if anyone could give me any information.

    • profile image

      Ben 4 years ago

      Thanks, good advice and much appreciated.

      Ben

    • Lost in Asia profile image
      Author

      Lost in Asia 4 years ago from Bali, Indonesia

      Hi there,

      To answer your questions, it is pretty easy to find part-time or casual work in Phnom Penh. Many schools offer evening courses, and are quite happy to have teachers who can work a few hours a week.

      As for the TEFL course, CELTA is a sure winner, followed closely by the TESOL and TESL/TEFL courses. Just be sure to choose a course that offers an internationally recognized certification with practice teaching hours as well as classroom hours. You can do courses online, but these are not looked very highly upon. Your best bet is to find a reputable school and do the course there.

    • profile image

      Ben 4 years ago

      Hi,

      Can you tell me how easy it is to get a part time/casual teaching job in Phnom Penh? I'm hoping to fit this in alongside volunteering for an NGO (which is my main reason for going to Cambodia), probably teaching for one day a week to help fund my stay. Is it possible to get private tuition jobs in the evening or weekend?

      Also, I have a BSc but no teaching qualification as yet. I've been looking at TEFL courses - is there a particular course or qualification that you'd recommend?

    • Lost in Asia profile image
      Author

      Lost in Asia 4 years ago from Bali, Indonesia

      Hi there,

      I think you probably have a great chance of getting a job with those qualifications. If you want more info about other countries where you can teach English in SE Asia, check out this post:

      http://www.southeastasiawanders.com/country-guide-...

    • profile image

      Travelingteacher8 4 years ago

      Hello!

      Many thanks for your helpful post.

      I'm not a native spekaer, but I have a degree in management in English and a CELTA. Do I have chances to get a teaching job in Cambodia?

      Do you know other Countries where it would be possibile?

      many thanks!

      Take care

      Mary

    • Lost in Asia profile image
      Author

      Lost in Asia 4 years ago from Bali, Indonesia

      Hi Lena,

      You would be much better off finishing your BA before heading to Cambodia. Also, an ESL or EFL teaching certificate plus experience teaching in some capacity would definitely increase your chances of finding employment. It does not really matter whether you can speak the Khmer language, although that would help you greatly on a day to day basis in the country.

    • profile image

      her 4 years ago

      Really helpful! By the way, I do not own a BA yet nor do I have any certificates regarding ESL or any teaching standards. My BA goes towards Criminal Justice and I have experience of babysitting for over 10 years, would that even be credible towards landing a teaching job in Cambodia? Would it benefit me if I knew knew Cambodian in any way?

      Hope to hear from you soon,

      Lena

    • Lost in Asia profile image
      Author

      Lost in Asia 5 years ago from Bali, Indonesia

      So glad I could help. Enjoy your trip, and yes - definitely explore! Cambodia is an amazing place and I'm sure you'll love it. :)

    • profile image

      Indigoblue 5 years ago

      Thanks a lot for the detailed reply, much appreciated. It's invaluable to get some advice from someone who's been there and done it!

      Flights all booked, notice handed to employer, packing commenced - decision's been made. I'm confident that I'll be able to find some work when I arrive, but think I'm gonna give myself a few weeks to acclimatise and explore. I'll certainly keep you updated!

      Thanks so much for your advice and information. Those 3 paragraphs will go further than you think.

      Take care mate,

      Indy

    • Lost in Asia profile image
      Author

      Lost in Asia 5 years ago from Bali, Indonesia

      Hi there,

      Sorry for the delay in response, I've been away for a slew of weddings this summer/fall. Ok, so here's my 2 cents:

      I think the degree will do you well, and will definitely look good to schools in Cambodia. However, many of the good schools (the ones that pay well and offer good benefits) will also like to see a TEFL qualification. That being said, it is very easy to get a TEFL or CELTA from within Cambodia, or in neighboring Thailand. I'm sure you can find a job once you reach the country, and then get the TEFL afterwards to increase your chances of getting better pay or an in at the better schools.

      As for Xmas time, Cambodia does not celebrate Xmas, so that won't really affect the hiring or school periods. However, some schools take Xmas holidays to give the foreign staff a chance to spend time with family or travel home. School terms usually follow the Australian language school model, with terms of 6 weeks followed by a short break, and then back to it again. In this respect, it is possible to get hired on at pretty much any time of year.

      As for the leaving your career thing, well only you can make that choice. I started teaching when I was 27, and worked for 5 years before changing careers. I found that often, I was one of the youngest teachers on board. So, no, I don't think you're a fool, and I think you will find that many people make ESL teaching a lifelong career. At the very least, you will find that teaching is an eye-opening and very rewarding experience regardless of whether you stick with it or not.

      Good luck, and please do let me know how it goes!

    • profile image

      Indigoblue 5 years ago

      Hi there,

      Excellent article, many thanks for the information. I am planning to arrive in Cambodia from the UK in November, and will be job-hunting for teaching jobs as soon as I arrive. I have a BSc degree but no TEFL qualification so was wondering what you thought my chances were of obtaining a job within several weeks of being in Phnom Penh. Furthermore, I'm aware that the Xmas period is looming and I was wondering if this had any effect on the job market, i.e. school holidays etc? Any reply containing your views on my queries would be hugely appreciated.

      Thanks again for such an informative post.

      PS. I'm giving up a fairly well-paid job in the UK to pursue this. In your humble opinion, am I a fool? I'm approaching 30, so maybe it's time to be sensible and stick to the career ladder. Or maybe not.

    • Lost in Asia profile image
      Author

      Lost in Asia 5 years ago from Bali, Indonesia

      Hi Nick,

      Actually,it is getting harder and harder to get a teaching job in Asia without a degree. In Cambodia you can find a teaching job without one, but the pay and working conditions may not be great. Some schools now even prefer teachers with a Masters over teachers who have just a B.A. If you really want to make ESL teaching a career, my suggestion is to enrol in some sort of post-secondary education program. Most of the time it doesn't matter what your degree is in, what is important to language schools is that you have one.

    • profile image

      Nick 5 years ago

      Wonderful post full of helpful information. I was wondering if you knew what requirements there are in respect of degrees? I have a tefl cert. but no degree and I'm finding it difficult to find a country I can get a visa to work in legally in Asia (other than china)

    • Lost in Asia profile image
      Author

      Lost in Asia 5 years ago from Bali, Indonesia

      Hi Wayne,

      I think it really depends on which school you work for. There are definitely schools that just want bodies at the front of the classroom, and are not willing to provide benefits that are in line with the rest of Asia. However, there are many schools that offer fair salaries, fair workloads, and decent benefits.

      I worked for New World Institute and the Australian Centre for Education. I really enjoyed working at ACE. The pay was decent, and the benefits were good too. When I worked at ACE there were 2 types of contracts: Casual and Salaried. Casual teachers were expected only to teach the classes they had, and were paid accordingly per teaching hours. Salaried teachers made a bit more per month, but were expected to work a set amount of hours per week, and do extra projects, including curriculum development, IELTS preparation classes, and helping out at the Student Resource Centre.

      If you have a Masters you should be able to secure yourself a salaried position somewhere that will include a decent salary, medical benefits, and all visa expenses. I would suggest trying ACE and perhaps some of the Universities in Phnom Penh.

    • profile image

      Wayne 5 years ago

      I'm considering teaching English in Cambodia. I've taught in Vietnam and China, including at training centers and a university. I've taught kids and adults of all levels. Also have a Masters and a TEFL cert.

      I can go to Phnom Penh and hand out CVs, that's not a problem. But I'm wondering what the workload is like, and if a lot of extracurricular duties are required. There's a general trend in Asia to increase teacher workload and slash and burn benefits, but maybe that's not true in Cambodia.

      What were your contracts like at the schools you worked for?

    • Lost in Asia profile image
      Author

      Lost in Asia 5 years ago from Bali, Indonesia

      Hi Jeff,

      Teaching in Cambodia was definitely a rewarding experience for me. I spent 2 years in Phnom Penh and loved every minute of it. My suggestion to you is to just get out there and talk to schools. Drop in and say hello and hand out CVs. That was how I found my jobs working at both New World Institute and ACE. Good luck with the job hunt and enjoy Cambodia! And if you have any questions at all just shoot them at me and I'll do my best to answer.

    • profile image

      jeff 5 years ago

      I appreciate this information and hope to have a one year or more teaching experience in lovely Cambodia. I am TESOL certified and have spent three weeks in Cambodia. Any additional help is appreciated in terms of finding a good school

      hendrix1967@hotmail.com