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Teaching English in Cambodia (The Country Guide)

teaching English in Cambodia

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If you consider teaching English in Southeast Asia, Cambodia should definitely be on your list!

This coastal nation is full of beauty and a great place to live and work.

The best part is, teaching English in Cambodia is even possible for teachers without a degree and for qualified non-native speakers.

Read on to find out about the requirements, salaries, and jobs and get tips on how to start teaching English in Cambodia.

Short Info
Types of JobsPrivate schools, international schools, volunteering
Visa RequirementsValid passport
Average Teacher Salary$800-$1,600/month
Average Living Costs$500-$1,200/month
Peak Hiring MonthsYear-round

Country Info

Cambodia is most famous for being home to Angkor Wat, a majestic 12th-century temple complex that stretches over 150 square miles and draws thousands of tourists annually. 

However, this nation has more to offer than just jaw-dropping architecture and a rich, important history. 

People fall in love with Cambodia for the delicious food, as well as the nightlife in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. 

Tourists also come to see the stunning Cardamom Mountains, where there’s wildlife (like elephants!) and tropical wilderness galore. 

Cambodia can get pretty hot, so it’s not for snow bunnies (or sissies). However, it has a low cost of living, tons of ESL teaching jobs, and lots to see. 

It’s also easy — and inexpensive — to visit nearby Southeast Asian countries from here! If you decide to teach in Cambodia, you’ll be able to travel to Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, and more cool destinations with your extra teaching money during school breaks.

Tourists visiting the Angkor Wat Temple (Photo: Milada Vigerova, Unsplash)

Basic Requirements to Teach English in Cambodia

There are relatively few requirements for teaching English in Cambodia: having a bachelor’s degree is helpful but not required, and the same is true for being a native speaker. 

So if you are a qualified non-native teacher or don’t have a degree, try your luck in Cambodia!

A TEFL certification is not required to teach in Cambodia, although schools prefer teachers who have passed a TEFL course.

You should have some money saved up before you go to Cambodia: around $1,000 to sustain you until your first paycheck should do the trick.

TEFL Courses in Cambodia

It’s possible to get your TEFL certification online before arriving in Cambodia.

The accredited 120-hour online course from Let’s TEFL is a good choice. It includes job assistance and special support for non-natives!

If you’d prefer to get certified on-site, though, look into International TEFL Academy’s 4-week course in Phnom Penh

The program will run you $1,749, but apart from giving you a TEFL certification and giving you the skills you need to be a classroom ESL teacher, it includes free housing and job placement assistance. That’s a pretty good deal.

For about $1,500, you can take a 4-week course with International TEFL and TESOL Training (ITTT) in the small town of Koh Kong City.

You’ll also meet fellow ESL teachers in your on-site course, making it a worthwhile investment if you’re trying to make connections in Cambodia. 

Learn more about TEFL certification in our starter guide.

Job Opportunities and Salaries

The ESL industry is booming in Cambodia right now, but the majority of jobs are still in Phnom Penh. 

If you’re looking for paid teaching work but don’t have teaching certification in your home country, you’ll probably find yourself working at a private language school. 

Many schools offer flight reimbursement and housing stipends to teachers, but by all means not all schools offer these things.

Read on to find out more about different teaching opportunities in Cambodia:

Teach at a Private Language School

If you find work at a private language school, you’ll probably make somewhere between $800-$1,200 per month (less outside of Phnom Penh), and you’ll have students ranging from toddlers to adults.

Classes for school-aged students are usually held during the normal school day, while classes for adults are typically held after the business day ends at 5 pm. 

You’ll be able to talk to your school to find a work setup that works for your preferences and schedule. 

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Teach at an International School

You’ll need a teaching degree and previous teaching experience to work in an international school in Cambodia. 

If you meet these requirements, though, you’ll make a high salary and find yourself well taken care of by your school. 

Volunteer

Volunteering is a great way to get experience teaching if you’re nervous about teaching or unable to find work. 

It’s also a good way to become accustomed to Cambodian society and, you know, give back to the community.

Beware, though: because volunteer teaching in Cambodia is so popular, many shady organizations have popped up. 

If you decide to volunteer, make sure to do so through a well-regarded organization like the Peace Corps or the VSO program to ensure that you’re actually doing good. 

Hiring and Application Process to Teach English in Cambodia

Unless you do a TEFL course in Cambodia that assists with job placement, it’s a good idea to get a job before arriving in the country.

You can find jobs posted online in places like GoAbroad.com or Jora, or you can Google ESL jobs in your desired location.

Online job ads for ESL teachers in Cambodia on jora.com

You can also get work by going school-to-school upon arriving in Cambodia, but keep in mind that the process may take over a month, so you should have money to tide you over while you job hunt.

Also keep in mind that while you can find work in Cambodia pretty much any time of year, the country celebrates a number of public holidays

Make sure that you’re not arriving to the country jobless when everyone’s on a two-week break or you’ll be squandering your savings with no hope of getting a job until everyone’s back to work.

Application Materials

Whether you apply online or in person, schools will probably want to see some documents showing your qualifications.

The following is a general list of documents to bring, but of course, the exact requirements will vary by school and situation.

  • Teaching resume
  • Cover letter
  • TEFL certification (if you have one)
  • Passport-sized photo
  • 2 letters of reference
  • A copy of your diploma (if you have one)

Visa Requirements

Cambodian visa requirements have changed significantly over the years, so it’s important to make sure you’re looking at updated information when you begin your visa process. 

Disregard anything telling you to get a business visa, and visit the Cambodian embassy’s website or check with your local consulate to make sure that you’re following the right steps to get your visa. 

Cambodian consulates in North America (embassyofcambodiadc.org)

The changing process seems confusing, but thankfully the steps are pretty straightforward. 

You should apply for an E-class visa before entering Cambodia. The visa will cost you $35 and last you 30 days, at which point you can apply for an extension. 

The extension will cost you $100-$300 and will last 6-12 months. 

You can enter Cambodia on a tourist visa, but the visa also only lasts 30 days and can’t be extended, meaning you’ll need to exit and reenter the country in order to get your long-term visa. 

Getting a Tourist Visa

If you decide to enter Cambodia on a tourist visa, you’ll need to allow a week or two for processing time before your planned departure date. 

You should also deliver the following documents to your consulate, by mail or in person, in order to obtain the visa: 

  • A completed visa application form
  • A passport valid for at least 6 months after your departure date with two blank pages left for the visa
  • $30 (in the form of a money order or bank check)

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Getting an E-Class Visa

If you get an E-Class visa, you’ll also want to allow a couple weeks for processing time, and you’ll deliver your documents to your consulate by mail or in person. 

Below are the documents you’ll deliver:

  • A completed visa application form
  • Passport picture
  • A passport valid for at least 6 months after your departure date with two blank pages left for the visa
  • Invitation letter from your employer in Cambodia 
  • $35 (in the form of a money order or bank check)

Your employer will help you renew and extend your E-class visa and figure out what documents you need for it.

Apply for an E-visa on the official website (evisa.gov.kh)

Accommodation 

You’ll probably have to find your own accommodation in Cambodia, but Facebook groups like Phnom Penh Housing and Phnom Penh Shared Housing make it pretty easy to find housing here.

If you’re living outside of Phnom Penh, Google your area to find housing forums.

You can find a nice 1-bedroom apartment in Phnom Penh for around $300, and you’ll spend even less money if you share an apartment with someone else or live outside of the capital. 

Note that you’ll probably need to pay two months’ rent as a deposit up front, as well as utilities. 

Can You Save Money Teaching in Cambodia?

While you probably won’t be able to save a significant amount of money while living in Cambodia, you will be able to have enough to live more than comfortably — and if you’re careful with your finances, you’ll have money left over at the end of the month. 

The amount you’ll save depends on where you live and work, and how lavishly you live. In general, though, don’t plan on coming home from Cambodia with a ton of extra cash.

Check out Numbeo or Expatistan for more specific costs associated with living in Cambodia.

The Best Cities to Teach English in Cambodia

Phnom Penh

Royal Palace in Phnom Penh (Photo: René DeAnda, Unsplash)

The capital of Cambodia and its largest city, Phnom Penh has far more ESL teaching opportunities than any other city in the country. 

The cost of living is higher here than in other places, although life here is still pretty affordable. 

Phnom Penh has striking temples, good nightlife, amazing food, interesting art, and more. You’ll never be bored in this metropolis!

Siem Reap

Ta Prohm Temple, Siem Reap (Photo: Raph Howald, Unsplash)

This city is booming, with its own temples and ruins as well as a booming tourism industry, tons to do, and some truly spectacular vistas. 

While it’s slightly harder to find work here than in Phnom Penh, you’ll still be able to find a job here easily, especially if you have a bachelor’s degree and are a native speaker.

Sihanoukville

Koh Rong Island, Sihanoukville (Photo: Taylor Simpson, Unsplash)

If you love the beach, this laidback coastal city is the place for you. You can spend the time in between lessons surfing and exploring, or eating delicious street food. 

While the average pay is lower here than in the bigger cities, the cost of living is lower, too.

Classroom and Work Culture

While classroom culture is generally pretty laid back in Cambodia, you should still dress formally and present yourself well in the classroom. Think less denim, more slacks. 

Your children will generally be nice and enthusiastic, but you should still assert your position as the teacher and maintain order in the classroom.

While some schools provide teachers with materials, it’s likely that you’ll be responsible for curriculum and lesson planning, and you may find yourself in a classroom without many supplies or materials. 

Parents may also be involved in and curious about their children’s education, especially because many have saved up to afford English lessons. 

Show the parents that their efforts are paying off by sending your children home with artwork and English assignments and teaching them songs and phrases they can show off! 

If you’re ready to get creative and love having control over your classroom, you’ll enjoy teaching in Cambodia. 

Find other great places to teach English in Asia.

Conclusion 

Cambodia really has it all: delicious food, ancient temples, beautiful scenery, and more — and all at super low prices. 

If you love history, heat, and hidden treasures, you’ll love living here. 

And — have I already mentioned it? — if you are qualified, you will find jobs teaching English in Cambodia even without a bachelor’s degree and as a non-native teacher.

Come to Cambodia and start your ESL journey today!

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