I will try to answer some of your questions, but I won't be able to answer all of them because I'm currently living in Hanoi and have no experience in HCMC.
Just a bit of a background on myself: I'm a 36 year old male. I'm of Asian descent but I'm an American citizen. My BA was in Sociology and I have an MBA. I had no previous teaching experience before moving here.
I want to teach English in Ho Chi Minh City. I want to teach primarily kids and teenagers (adults not preferred). Here are my questions:
1. What exactly are the educational requirements for teaching in Vietnam? I want to ask to be completely sure. I read online that only a BA in any subject is required, and that a TEFL is not required, but preferred if I have want to have more career opportunities in Vietnam.
A TEFL is required from the government and all of the schools here in Hanoi will require it too. The laws are changing and you basically have to either have a degree in English and/or teaching, or 5 years teaching experience to get a work permit.
2. Regarding the TEFL, I read there is also a TESOL and CELTA. Which of these two (or something else I did not mention) is recommended for me? And assuming I want to get accredited with the TEFL (or something else), I have these questions:
a. How long is the process?
The programs vary depending on which one you choose. The CELTA is by far the most sought after certification, but it will take a month of intensive learning on your part. I want one but I just don't have the time right now to get one. If I could do it all over again, I would have gone for the CELTA certification.
b. Are there online courses available?
There are some online courses available, but they are generally not well-received. Most HR managers will not even consider your application if you have an online TEFL certification, unless you have teaching experience. They will meet the requirements for a work permit application from the government though.
c. What is the price to get this certification?
Again, it depends on the certification that you choose.
d. Where do I look if I want to get my TEFL (or equivalent)? I don’t know where to look.
For the CELTA, go here: http://www.cambridgeenglish.org/exams-a ... ons/celta/
For the rest, just do a Google search for "TEFL certification."
3. What is the average pay if I work there? I plan to start off working 20 hours/week.
I can't answer this for HCMC, but in Hanoi the average monthly wage is between $1000 - $3000. Most people see about $1500.
4. How much of my income gets taxed in Vietnam? To my knowledge, I am not a Vietnamese citizen. Is it beneficial, tax wise, to get Vietnamese citizenship? I plan to keep my US citizenship.
Tax is done on scale depending on how much you make, but generally it's pretty steep. I don't know how things work in HCMC, but here in Hanoi, most of the part-time English centers won't obtain a work permit for you so that they don't have to pay taxes. This means that you don't pay taxes on those wages either. It's illegal, but commonly happens (from what I've heard, I have a full-time job with a work permit).
5. How much of my income gets taxed by the US? I know that as a US citizen, my worldwide income is taxed by the IRS. But I also read that I can get my income exempt from US taxes if I meet certain requirements. I don’t know the exact requirements.
If you meet residency requirements (usually means spending 330 days in Vietnam) and you earn less than $97,600 USD, you can file a 2555 for a tax exemption request. Consult the IRS website for more info.
6. Assuming I met all of the educational requirements, what is the next step? What do I do now? Where exactly do I look for jobs?
Again, I don't know how things work in HCMC, but most of the employers here in Hanoi want you to be in country before they talk to you. Some of the top tier schools will interview you while you're overseas, but that's only for top-tier teachers. For the rest of us with no experience, you should be here and ready to start teaching immediately. You should find the names of reputable schools in HCMC and contact them about finding work.
7. If a school requires proof of degree, how would I provide this proof? I assume I don't have to send my physical degree to Vietnam.
You can send scanned copies of your degrees and certifications if you are overseas, but in country, they will want to see notarized copies of everything. This means taking them to the US Embassy in HCMC and getting them notarized (pretty expensive too, can't remember if it's $25 or $50). This reminds me: you should also plan to get a criminal records check and medical check up just prior to moving to Vietnam. You'll need them for your work permit application and they are only valid for a few months (must not expire by the time your work permit application is in process). Otherwise you'll have to get a medical check here and live here for six months (the local police department will not issue a criminal check for anyone here less than six months).