Top 7 Jobs for Expats to Earn Quick Money in Vietnam

Updated on January 23, 2018
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Hanh has a Master's Degree in Economics. She enjoys researching and writing about economic and business issues.

As Vietnam’s economy expands rapidly, boasting a growth rate of 6.81% and an income per capita of $2,385, opportunities to earn money also arise for those who have the right skills and are willing to work hard. As of 2016, more than 83,000 foreign workers work in Vietnam, and the expatriate community grows rapidly in the past few years. In big cities such as Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, or Danang, there are even foreigners’ corners where foreigners live, do businesses and socialize such as Bui Vien Street in Ho Chi Minh City, Ta Hien - Dinh Liet - Luong Ngoc Quyen streets in Hanoi, or Hoi An Ancient town near Danang City. Since Vietnam’s culture has become much more tolerant of foreign values, foreigners’ skills and knowledge are highly sought-after to bridge the gap between Vietnam and the world. Here are some of the most common and high-paying jobs for expats living in the country.

The Ocean Villas, one of the luxurious real estate projects in Danang
The Ocean Villas, one of the luxurious real estate projects in Danang

Real estate broker

Real estate has been a hot sector in Vietnam. The property price in Vietnam has continually increased, with land price in big cities, and recently-developed areas rising exponentially. For example, land prices in the Old Quarter in the center of Hanoi City are more exorbitant than those in Tokyo, or Paris; the asking price can be as high as $20,000 – 60,000 per squared meter. In any city/ province where foreign direct investment and state-sponsored investment projects flooded in, land and property prices soared. An instance is Phu Quoc Island. As Kien Giang provincial government invested heavily in the island, constructing several multi-million dollar hotels and resorts and other infrastructure projects, in some locations, land prices have increased more than 10 times. Many key foreign investment funds and corporations become a big player in Vietnam’s property sector, acquiring strategic land and property projects in the country. Under the new Law on Housing 2014, foreigners and international organization can purchase houses in Vietnam in commercial housing projects, and own the right to use for up to 50 years. Land speculation and hoarding are also rampant, giving opportunities for real estate and property companies to thrive. Many people make a living as real estate brokers, either by directly buying and selling properties, or by helping people to spot opportunities to buy and sell. Many realtors make a fortune by taking advantage of the explosive growth, wild price fluctuation, and information asymmetry in Vietnam’s property market. For expats living in Vietnam, with the right information and connection, they can easily work as real estate brokers.

Hanoi Office Rent and Vacancy Forecast
Hanoi Office Rent and Vacancy Forecast | Source
Ho Chi Minh City's Office Rent and Vacancy Forecast
Ho Chi Minh City's Office Rent and Vacancy Forecast | Source

Foreign language instructor

In Vietnamese culture, education has been highly appreciated. For working class families, education is believed to help their children escape from poverty and climb up the social ladder. For upper-income families, education is expected to equip their children with the right knowledge and skills to inherit and manage the family’s wealth and success. In both cases, parents are willing to spend on their children’s schooling, and often set aside educational fund. Lately, as Vietnam has further integrated into the global economy with more and more companies doing business with foreigners, English and other foreign language skills have become highly desirable, enabling job-seekers to get high-paying jobs easily. Seeing the rising demand, an increasing number of foreign language centers have been established in Vietnam, and they aggressively hire foreign teachers to teach their students. Depending on their qualifications and experience, foreign teachers can earn from $15 to 100 per teaching hour, a much higher rate than Vietnamese foreign language teachers. Many foreigners also open their own language centers or home classes, allowing them to have more control over the curriculum and earn higher salaries. In fact, many foreign backpackers also teach English or other foreign languages such as Japanese, Chinese, German, Spanish, etc. as a way to earn extra income. Nonetheless, with the influx of foreign teachers and the rise of highly-qualified Vietnamese teachers, the standards for foreign language instructors are very competitive now, requiring expats to hone their teaching skills and English knowledge if they want to land the most lucrative positions.

Lodging and food providers

In Vietnam, foreigners are allowed to set up and operate restaurants. Currently, there are 639 FDI projects registering $12 billion in the accommodation and food sectors in Vietnam. Since Vietnamese is more open to foreign food and have higher disposable income, many international restaurant brands such as McDonald, KFC, Starbucks, etc. spot their golden chance and exert their presence in Vietnam. Over the period of five years, these restaurant chains have succeeded in expanding their businesses in many cities and provinces, and gaining customer loyalty. In addition, there are many foreigners settling in Vietnam and running their family-owned lodging and/or restaurants. These places attract not only foreigners but also local people who want to experience authentic foreign food and culture right in their home country. By implementing advanced management skills and customer services, bringing in the exotic and genuine elements of their culture, and integrating with the local taste, many expats are very successful with their business models.

A foreign-owned bakery and coffee shop in Danang, Vietnam
A foreign-owned bakery and coffee shop in Danang, Vietnam

Tour operator

In the past few years, Vietnam has welcomed a higher number of foreign visitors. In 2017, nearly 13 million foreign visitors came to Vietnam, up 30% compared with 2016. The needs of visitors also diversify, emphasizing on authentic and customized experience, which domestic and existing tour companies cannot satisfy. Hence, many expats living in Vietnam offer their services for foreign visitors to learn and explore Vietnamese culture from the point of view of foreigners. The services can range from tour guide, accommodation, consultation to other additional supports. With knowledge of local language, culture, and logistics, together with an understanding of foreign taste, traditions and expectations, expats can earn a good living by serving foreign tourists.

Investment consultants

Newly-registered FDI projects in Vietnam
Newly-registered FDI projects in Vietnam

In 2017, Vietnam boasted an all-time-high number of foreign direct investment inflow in the country, recording 2,591 newly-registered projects with a total committed capital of $21.2 billion, up 42.3% compared to 2016. Although opportunities for new businesses in Vietnam are tremendous, the legal procedure for setting up a new business can be a pain in the neck for foreigners who are unfamiliar with the administrative system and practice in Vietnam. For example, investors need to find a suitable location for their projects, signing contracts with the land lord, and complete the application dossiers. After receiving the investment registration certificate, they also have to undergo other applications for getting required permits, opening bank account, etc. The Vietnamese government’s guidelines for these procedures are quite vague, and investors often have to meet with the local authority many times. As a result, many new foreign investors - especially those with small projects - seek professional support of competent individuals or companies to deal with the bureaucracy. Depending on the size and complexity of a procedure, the ongoing service charges for obtaining an investment/ business registration certificate or other related permits can vary from several hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. Consequently, expats who possess expertise in carrying out the legal and administrative procedures and have connections in Vietnam can work as investment consultants to assist foreign investors to set up and manage their businesses.

Market researcher/ analyst

As big companies investigate Vietnam market’s prospects to capture its 95-million-people market, market researcher/ analyst jobs based in Vietnam are also on the rise. Most jobs include such duties as conducting research and collecting primary or secondary data, meeting and liaising with clients and business partners, surveying, analyzing business data and legal environment, writing reports and presenting results, and developing business plans and proposals, etc. These jobs often pay very well. Moreover, if the companies succeed in entering Vietnam, the market researcher/ analyst can be hired for a longer term and be promoted to better positions.

Market researcher/ analyst and online writer are hot jobs for expats in Vietnam
Market researcher/ analyst and online writer are hot jobs for expats in Vietnam

Online writer/ Content maker

According to Internet World Stats, about 64 million, or 67% of Vietnamese people, have access to the Internet. Although not the fastest in the world, the Internet in Vietnam is quite cheap and stable. With the rise of the Internet, the needs for online marketing and content writer are growing, especially for competent and experienced writers/ content developers. However, these occupations are relatively new in Vietnam. Hence, many expats residing in Vietnam choose this career path They work as full-time writers or content makers, launching their own websites, blogs, video-blogs, etc., partnering with local companies to implement online marketing campaigns, or even outsourcing for companies abroad. Some expats cooperate with Vietnamese newspapers and media outlets to write news articles, and publish their own books in English and even in Vietnamese.

In sum, brimming with potentials, Vietnam is rife with opportunities for both local people and expats. Generally, foreigners are paid with higher rates than Vietnamese people due to their perceived skills and stigma. Moreover, many expats work several jobs at one time, allowing them to make the most out of their skills and networks.

What is the most high-paying job for expats in your country/area?

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