Finding a Job in Vietnam as a Foreigner: The Complete Guide

Finding a Job in Vietnam as a Foreigner

Vietnam is one of the fastest-growing countries in the world at the moment and we see skyscrapers popping up here and there in Ho Chi Minh City. As living expenses become more expensive in China, we also see increasingly more foreigners relocating from the Middle Kingdom to Vietnam.

Some of the reasons are that living costs are lower, the weather is warmer, and you’ll be close to other Southeast Asian nations, like Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and more.

As a result, increasingly more foreigners look for local jobs in Vietnam. Therefore, we have written this article where we explain how you can find a job in Vietnam, the requirements, about local salaries, the best job searching websites, and more.

How can I find a job in Vietnam?

Finding a job in Vietnam is not the easiest task on hand for foreigners, but it is manageable if you stay persistent and have a clear plan. The key is to land your first job, get some experience, and then you’ll see more job opportunities coming. Thus, the most difficult part is to find your first job, something that I will explain in greater detail in this article.

Below I’ve listed the four most common ways of finding jobs in Vietnam.

Finding a job through referrals and recommendations

This is by far one of the most common ways for foreigners to land jobs in Vietnam. The reason is that Vietnam’s job market is comparatively slim and still fairly closed to foreigners. That said, by knowing someone, or some who knows someone, you can find a job with the blink of an eye.

If you just arrived in Vietnam and look for jobs, I recommend you to attend as many networks and socialize as much as possible. In that way, you can land a job more quickly.

Finding a job via job boards

In addition to socializing, you should look for jobs on job boards in parallel. Yet, I must say that this process can be slow and don’t be disappointed if you’re not called for interviews. Some job seekers almost become demotivated as they get invited for several interviews but don’t get hired for vague reasons.

This can be due to miscommunication/cultural issues. Not to forget, sometimes, recruiters need to meet certain KPI targets and therefore invite candidates to meet those targets.

Some of the most popular websites to look for jobs in Vietnam are:


Finding a job with the help of inhouse recruiters

LinkedIn is one of my favorite websites to connect with in-house recruiters at companies. One of the benefits of connecting with recruiters is that their job is to find candidates to fill open positions. Thus, they are ‘sometimes’ willing to give you a helping hand.

Check companies you’re interested in working for and whether they have offices in Vietnam. You can then use the search function on LinkedIn to find recruiters at that company.

If you have the opportunity, you can also add hiring managers directly. But, they tend to be rather busy, at least if they hold a position as a director or above. Give it a try at least.

Finding a job via recruitment agencies

Renowned recruitment agencies like Robert Walters and Michael Page both have offices in Vietnam. In the past years, we’ve seen increased competition among these kinds of companies in Vietnam. Some of the companies you should have a look at are:

  • Robert Walters
  • Michael Page
  • Monroe Consulting
  • Adecco

One of the benefits of checking for jobs at Robert Walters is that they often have managerial positions or above, being more suitable to experienced foreigners. The salaries are also generally higher compared to locals, ranging between everything from VND 50 – 300 million (USD 2,155 – 13,000) a month.

You can apply for jobs directly on the companies’ websites or connect with their recruiters on pages like LinkedIn.

How is the job market in Vietnam?

Vietnam has recorded the fastest growth in Southeast Asia, hovering at around 7% a year. Vietnam is now a player to count on in the manufacturing sector and we see more and more foreign companies relocating from China to Vietnam.

Even if many locals flourish in the local job market, it’s still fairly difficult for foreigners to find jobs, unless you have a special expertise and/or a long experience.

Some of the industries where we see a greater demand for foreign workers are:

  • Medical/pharmaceutical industry
  • Insurance industry
  • Education
  • Manufacturing (particularly furniture)
  • IT/hi-tech industry

If you’re an engineer who has worked with hardware products in the automotive industry, for example, you’ll notice that it’s significantly more difficult to find a job in Vietnam compared to countries like the US, Germany, and China.

As such, if you’re in a dire need of finding a job, don’t be picky and be prepared to lower your salary requirements.

Requirements for foreigners to work in Vietnam

If you work in Vietnam for more than 3 months, you need a work permit. Applying for a work permit is not extremely complex in Vietnam, even if there are some pre stipulated requirements.

To get a work permit, you have to:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be in good enough health to satisfy the job requirements
  • Apply for a position of a manager, executive director, or expert with technical skills and knowledge
  • A clean criminal record and currently not subject to criminal prosecution or criminal sentence

Your employer or agent should fill in the request form and required documents to the Department of Labor – Invalids and Social Affairs and at least 13 days before you start working.

You have to prepare the following documents for the application:

  • A request form for Vietnam work permit (form number 7 issued together with the Circular No. 40/2016/TT-BLDTBXH)
  • Health check certificate
  • Proof of criminal records, not older than 180 days). If you have stayed more than 6 months in Vietnam, you will have to provide both Vietnamese criminal records and the criminal record from your home country
  • Certified copy of your certificate/degree
  • Working experience confirmation document from former employers
  • Passports copy
  • Approval certificate from the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs or the People’s Committee, showing that your employer is allowed to hire foreign workers. You should apply for the certificate at least 20 days before the expected date of recruitment
  • Certified copy of the Employer’s Business Registration Certificate
  • Two 4 x 6cm photos
  • Employment contract

How high are salaries in Vietnam?

Local salaries are low compared to Western countries and newly graduated people can earn everything between USD 500 – 1,000, according to the position.

That said, foreigners usually apply for jobs where salaries tend to be higher, such as English teachers, managers, directors, and similar.

Below you can find examples of salaries for different occupations in Vietnam for 2020:

  • Business Controller: USD 20,000 – 42,000
  • Investment Analyst: USD 23,000 – 35,000
  • Engineering Manager: USD 42,000 – 62,000
  • Production Manager: USD 40,000 – 62,000
  • HR Manager: USD 40,000 – 62,000
  • Key Account Manager (Sales): USD 40,000 – 60,000

How high are the income taxes?

The personal income taxes are surprisingly low in Vietnam and the rates increased progressively, same as in Singapore and China, for example. Besides, it’s said that companies try to plan tax payments as well as possible to reduce the tax burden.

Below you can see how the tax rates increase depending on how much you earn:

Monthly taxable income / tax rate:

  • Up to VND 5 million: 5%
  • VND 5 to 10 million: 10%
  • VND 10 to 18 million: 15%
  • VND 18 to 32 million: 20%
  • VND 32 to 52 million: 25%
  • VND 52 to 80 million: 30%
  • Over VND 80 million: 35%

Which cities are best to look for jobs in Vietnam?

Many foreigners prefer to look for jobs in Ho Chi Minh City as it’s a bigger city with a more international atmosphere. That said, Da Nang and Hanoi also receive a fair amount of foreign workers and expats, depending on their preferences and occupations.

Below I explain more about the benefits of working in any of those cities.

Working in Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City is the commercial hub and the biggest city in Vietnam. You’ll notice that even people from Hanoi move here to look for jobs and settle, but it’s usually not the other way around.

You can find jobs in plenty of sectors in Ho Chi Minh, including everything from IT, pharmaceutical, fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), furniture, insurance, banking, electronic components, and the list goes on.

The only real drawback when looking for jobs in Ho Chi Minh, or in Vietnam in general, is that there aren’t that many jobs available in the heavy industry. For example, if you have a background as a hardware engineer or sales engineer in automotive, you’ll find it difficult to find jobs in Ho Chi Minh.

That said, Ho Chi Minh probably has the most job opportunities for you.

Working in Hanoi

Hanoi is the political and cultural center of Vietnam and slightly smaller than Ho Chi Minh city.

Just by comparing the cities’ stock exchanges then you’ll know what I’m talking about. At the end of the first half of 2019, there were 377 companies listed on Ho Chi Minh’s Stock Exchange (HOSE) with a total market cap of almost USD 140 billion.

In Hanoi, on the other hand, there were 367 listed companies on the exchange in September 2019 with a total market cap of just USD 8 billion.

However, Hanoi is the home to many countries’ embassies and everybody from ambassadors to embassy clerks is based here. The reason is that they need to be close to the Vietnamese government and authorities.

Not to forget, Vietnam’s car brand, Vinfast, has its headquarter and production in Hai Phuong, which is located in proximity to Hanoi. If you want to pursue a career in automotive or at an embassy, then Hanoi might be a better option.

Just keep in mind that the salaries are generally lower here and so also the living costs.

Working in Da Nang

Da Nang is the fifth biggest city in Vietnam and famous for its beaches, mountains, and for being comparatively developed. Over the years, many Koreans and other foreigners have moved here and we also see increased commercial activity.

Local companies like FPT Software have opened offices here and it’s become a hub for IT outsourcing. One of the benefits of living in Da Nang is that it’s not only a resort city, but has a well-functioning economy.

Many people who get tired of the pollution and many scooters in Ho Chi Minh move to Da Nang for a more peaceful atmosphere and tranquility.

On top of that, prices are roughly 30% lower in Da Nang compared to Ho Chi Minh, looking at rents, restaurant visits, and more. With that said, you won’t find as many job opportunities in Da Nang compared to Ho Chi Minh, but it’s still worth giving it a try.

Photo Credits: Photo by Quangpraha on Pixabay

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