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Secrets of Saigon

Is it easy for foreigners to get a job in Vietnam?

It’s quite easy for foreigners, especially English speaking people, to find work in an emerging country like Vietnam. The 2012 HSBC Expat Explorer Economic League Table report listed Vietnam in the top 10 destinations worldwide for attracting foreign expat workers. The living standard in Vietnam is also quite reasonable, so many expats find that they are able to save more money when working here.

What type of jobs are available?
There are also many jobs available for skilled workers at multinational companies in marketing, public relations, finance, and IT. The base salaries for these jobs (on a rotated expatriate package) are around US$5000 - $6000 net per month, plus allowances for housing, transport, and health insurance.

I have also seen quite a few foreign entrepreneurs come to Vietnam to launch their businesses, such as publishing magazines in English, Japanese, and Korean for expat their communities, as well as fashion designers, store owners, and freelance photographers set up here.

To be able to work in Vietnam you need a working visa. To obtain one, an expat needs a work contract in place; documentation from your workplace supporting the work permit; and a University degree, professional certificate, or more than five years of experience working in the same field.

You can also work teaching English at an International School or English Language Centre. The base salary for these jobs is around US$1300 - $2000 net per month, depending on the number of teaching hours.

What is the workplace culture like?
In general, Vietnamese people are friendly and helpful and Vietnam is a relatively safe and stable country, especially for foreigners. Crime against foreigners is very low and apart from the occasional bag snatcher, is usually limited to petty theft.

Like other Asian countries, Vietnamese are very relationship-oriented when doing business, and are more comfortable working with someone they already know – often recruiting their family, relatives, and friends. Expats may find that workplace communication is more indirect than what they would find in other parts of the world, and that direct conflict is often avoided.

Working hours in Vietnam can vary. Most government agencies work eight hours per day, from 7.30 am to 4.30pm (with a one hour lunch), while multinational company offices are generally open from 8.30am until about 7.30 pm. Banks are open from 7.30am to 11.30am, and again from 1pm to 4pm on weekdays, and department stores are open from around 9.30am until 9 or 10pm each night.

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Networking in Vietnam

Moving to Vietnam? Start your professional network by getting in touch with RMIT Vietnam's alumni network.

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Rectangle Kaci Nguyen

”Ho Chi Minh City is an energetic and dynamic city, full of bustling markets.”

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How easy is it to get around in Ho Chi Minh City?
The most popular method of transportation here is the motorcycle. In terms of public transport, we only have a bus system, and taxis. There is currently a planning process underway for a metro system in the city, which expected to be completed within the next five to seven years. Many expats walk, take taxis, or use a “xe om” (motorcycle taxi) to get around.

How are RMIT alumni perceived in Vietnam?
Over the last decade, RMIT has showcased the quality of its education through its successful graduates, and it now enjoys a great reputation throughout Vietnam.

Myself and my fellow RMIT graduates have proven to the workplace and wider community that we are different, and many big corporations now prefer to recruit students from RMIT Vietnam. This is partly because of the English language skills we develop, and also for the active, result-oriented approach, and critical thinking that we bring to an organisation.

I’m proud to be an RMIT alum! Through my work, I’m still in close contact with other graduates across many different sectors, and I also recruited many RMIT students in many of my previous workplaces.

What are your favourite things to do on your days off?
Ho Chi Minh City is an energetic and dynamic city, full of bustling markets (try Ben Thanh Market) and colourful streets to keep you busy – definitely a place to be, not just to see.

What I like most about Saigon is the eating and drinking. No matter what the cuisine, you can easily find anything from cheap street food to high end restaurants, and as long as the place has great food, a good mix of foreign expats and Vietnamese executives can be found there. Some of my favourites are Pho Hoa, which has served the best bowl of Pho (beef noodle soup) in town for the past 40 years, and Cuc Gach Quan, where the food, décor, and ambience are true representations of a home-style Vietnamese meal.

Pictured: RMIT alumnus Kaci Nguyen in her home town, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Rectangle Kaci Nguyen