With an ever-expanding economy, the range of jobs available for expats moving to Vietnam is also growing. The majority of expat jobs are in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, but some can be found in smaller towns.
Most expats working in Vietnam are in the IT, construction and tourism sectors. There is also a large English teaching community and many NGOs operating out of Vietnam, particularly in Hanoi.
Job market in Vietnam
Vietnam has a relatively low unemployment rate, with most Vietnamese people working in the agricultural and service sectors. Many others are employed in Vietnam’s manufacturing industries such as machine-building, food processing and the country's famous garment and shoe production industry.
Expats working in Vietnam generally relocate to take up high-level managerial positions or are young people moving to Vietnam on a short-term basis to teach English or volunteer.
Most companies will offer expat relocation packages of some sort; however, the type of package will often be a reflection of an individual’s skill level as well as their ability to negotiate. Salaries in Vietnam are generally lower than in other large expat locations, although the cost of living in Vietnam is also lower, meaning that expats will often be able to maintain the same quality of life as in their home country.
Finding a job in Vietnam
Employment opportunities can be found online through company websites, job portals and recruitment agencies. Word of mouth from fellow expats online can also be a good source of leads. Expats typically move to Vietnam with a job already in hand.
While it is possible to find a job within Vietnam, the government is beginning to implement stricter visa regulations, which may make it more difficult in the future. Any expat intending to work in Vietnam must have a valid work permit.
Learning to speak basic Vietnamese will have expats in good stead with colleagues and associates, as well as enhancing a person’s ability to make the most of their spare time when exploring Vietnam and interacting with the local people.
Work culture in Vietnam
Expats working in Vietnam will find that the work environment is similar to Asian countries such as China, South Korea and Japan. The Vietnamese have a healthy work ethic and are generally hard-working and industrious.
Offices are formal environments, and workers are expected to dress and behave appropriately. Networking is incredibly important in Vietnam, and expats will soon find that a broad social group is important when it comes to securing a position or moving up the ladder.
Communal lunches are an important part of working in Vietnam, as is socialising with colleagues after work. These social occasions also provide good opportunities for expats to connect and interact with their Vietnamese counterparts.
Companies in Vietnam have a very hierarchical structure and expats are expected to show the necessary respect towards their seniors in the workplace. Punctuality is valued and lateness is seldom tolerated. Expats are therefore advised to arrive early for meetings or interviews.
► Education and Schools in Vietnam gives an overview of the various schooling options available in the country
"The hierarchy in organisations is more present in Vietnam than in western countries. That is one of the main work culture differences that Asian countries have. As a fresh foreign worker, you may have to adjust your behaviour when talking to someone who is older or has a higher position in your company. Other than this minor adjustment, Vietnamese people are very friendly and curious about foreign perspectives, so in a work environment, you will feel that your ideas and suggestions are well listened to by your team."
Learn more about working and living in Vietnam in our interview with French expat Guillaume.
Are you an expat living in Vietnam?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Vietnam. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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