Guide to TEFL in Cambodia
Cambodia’s English teaching market is thriving. It has been growing fast for a number of years and the country now has a large expat teaching community. After a long period of turmoil and hardship, the economy is growing, and the young population is eager to learn English. This means there are plenty of opportunities for newly qualified and experienced teachers alike to experience this wonderful country with its incredibly friendly and hospitable people.
Where can I teach English in Cambodia and what types of English teaching jobs are there?
Most of the TEFL jobs in Cambodia are in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, but you can find some in more rural areas too. Most are either in private primary and secondary schools, or at private language schools teaching kids and business professionals. Work at private language schools tends to be in the late afternoon and evening, after kids have finished school and adults have finished work. It is also possible to find work in international schools, but you will most likely need some teaching experience for this (more on this below). There are also shorter term volunteer jobs available in Cambodia, with a number of NGOs and other organisations operating in the country.
How do I find a job teaching English in Cambodia?
Some teaching jobs in Cambodia are advertised on TEFL jobs sites, but the majority of private language schools tend to recruit teachers already in Cambodia. So most teachers travel to Cambodia armed with their CV, and email or visit schools directly. Demand is high, so it doesn’t normally take long to find a suitable job, and the low cost of living makes it easy to live quite cheaply while looking for work. Language schools hire year round so you’ll be able to find work at any time of year. In some cases visiting schools directly also gives you the chance to negotiate a little with the salary offered.
Do I need a degree to teach English in Cambodia?
Cambodia is one of very few countries in Asia where you don’t need a degree to teach English. This is good news for TEFL teachers without a degree, as the number of countries where this is still possible is falling. But although a degree is not a requirement for a work visa, many employers do still prefer you to have one, so you may have to search a little bit harder if you don’t have a degree.
As for a TEFL certificate, it’s possible in theory to find a job in Cambodia without one, but almost all language schools now require one, or at least have a strong preference for one. So again, you will have to search a lot harder if you decide to look for a job in Cambodia without a TEFL qualification under your belt. The other thing to remember is that many of your Cambodian students will have saved the majority of their extra income to take English classes (or pay for them for their children), so having a qualified teacher is a fair expectation for them.
One option is to get your TEFL certification in Cambodia. You’ll then have the advantage of already being in place to look for your first job, and you will also be able to use the local knowledge and contacts of your TEFL course provider in Cambodia.
To teach in one of the international schools in Phnom Penh or elsewhere, you’ll most likely need a Bachelor’s degree and some previous teaching experience.
Can I teach as a non-native English speaker in Cambodia?
Most employers in Cambodia prefer native speaker teachers, but it’s possible to find a job if you are a qualified non-native speaker. Again, you will just have to search longer and harder for jobs.
How much can I make teaching English in Cambodia?
Most schools in Cambodia pay hourly, for actual teaching hours, rather than a monthly salary. Average TEFL salaries in Phnom Penh are $10-14 USD per hour. This means that you could expect to earn up to about $1200 USD a month, as most schools will offer between 20 and 25 weekly teaching hours. If you are a more experienced teacher, you can expect your salary or hourly rate to increase and perhaps bring in an extra couple of hundred dollars a month. Experience also opens up the possibility of teaching in one of Cambodia’s international schools, where salaries are higher. As you go out of Phnom Penh, this hourly rate or salary will decrease.
Because most schools pay hourly, teachers in Cambodia don’t often receive benefits like paid holday, health insurance, accommodation costs or flight reimbursements. However, the low cost of living makes these things affordable nonetheless, and leaves plenty over for exploring the country. Cambodia has a large number of public holidays, giving you plenty of time to travel.
What’s the cost of living as an English teacher in Cambodia?
You can expect to pay between $200 and $300 USD for a basic apartment (or up to $500 USD for a less basic one) and another $100–150 USD for bills. Many teachers report finding accommodation in Cambodia easily through Facebook groups.
Food is very cheap, with basic street food at $1, or $4 to eat at a restaurant.
All this means that as an English teacher in Cambodia you’ll be able to live comfortably and save a few hundred dollars a month for visiting this remarkable country.