Cambodia is a majestic, calming, and mysterious country. It is a very welcoming country and a great place for both first time travelers interested in teaching English Abroad or experienced educators ready to expand their career internationally. Requirements to teach abroad in Cambodia are lenient, yet there are still competitive teaching jobs in Cambodia for individuals interested in making a real living. Cambodia offers international teachers the awe inspiring ruins of Angkor Wat, miles of green rice paddies, and a laid back lifestyle even by Southeast Asian standards.
Phnom Penh, the intriguing capital city, is Cambodia’s largest city with a population of over 2 million. The city is packed with teaching jobs for those interested in teaching English abroad. Phnom Penh is a typical big city, in that you will find sharp contrasts, action at any hour and bad traffic, but it offers a history that is at once romantic and heart wrenching at the same time. The city was planned by the French during their colonization of Cambodia and the French influence is still clear in the historic French Quarter. Individuals who teach in Phnom Penh will also learn about a darker time in Cambodia’s history. The Choeung Ek Village is about 10 miles south of the city, and most widely known as the commemorative site of the Killing Fields. This Buddhist memorial is built at the site of a mass grave that contains thousands of victims led to the Killing Fields from prisons in Phnom Penh.
The feel of Siem Reap is almost schizophrenic and the city will surely leave you gaping. It is the gateway to Angkor Wat, one of Southeast Asia’s most popular attractions with over 2.5 million people visiting the ancient city each year. Visitors can stay at the ritziest resort then walk across the street and eat bugs. Its modernity is evident yet it still manages to feel quiet and slow. Some streets are dirt, others paved, and they are filled with tuk-tuks, trucks, shiny cars, bicycles, and even the occasional elephant en route to Angkor Wat. The side streets are small and still flanked by small shops and foodcarts, a charming characteristic of the city. There is also a pretty established expat community in Siem Reap, with easy access to air transportation as well as natural areas, and a high demand for international teachers.
Rural Areas. English teachers are in high demand in the rural areas of Cambodia, but are almost exclusively on a volunteer basis, unless teachers are paid a small stipend or perhaps given assistance with housing and meals. Teaching jobs in Cambodia’s rural areas are usually flexible and will typically require teachers to teach subjects outside of English, such as art or technology.
Teaching in Cambodia is perfect for someone who is looking to see as much of Asia as possible while teaching abroad. Cambodia teaching jobs may not pay as well as neighboring countries, but the working schedule is less and the time off is great. Although school runs year round, there are weeks of vacation at a time, and not a week passes without a holiday or festival of some kind.
The academic year starts in September. and teachers will work 15 to 30 hours per week. The school day may run from as early as 7:30 a.m. until as late as 7:00 p.m., but there is usually a long afternoon break in between. Teachers will only teach specific sessions throughout the day and not conduct classes during the whole day. Private schools and language centers offer the most positions for English teachers, especially international schools in Cambodia, and there are many opportunities to tutor adults in the evenings too. Speaking even intermediate English provides incredible opportunities in Cambodia, so many adults are excited to learn the language.
Cambodian culture tends to be polite and respectful toward teachers, so it is important to look the part and remember to dress professionally and conservatively. Boys and girls will stay in separate groups most of the time, but will be extremely affectionate toward each other. Cheating is also commonplace and even acceptable (or ignored) in some schools, but it is also perfectly acceptable for you to set a new standard for cheating in your own classroom.
Salaries & Costs
The appeal of Cambodia, in terms of teaching English abroad, is found in its easy access to teaching jobs rather than in the pay rate. Those who teach in Cambodia will find they could make more money in other Asian countries, but they will also find that the lesser pay is balanaced out by the amazing vacation spots and smooth start thanks to the welcoming culture. Teaching jobs in Cambodia are quite easy to find, especially if you are a light skinned female (though this may sound a little less than politically correct to Western ears, it is quite accurate). Paid English teachers will make around $10 to $14 if paid by the hour and $1000 to $1200 a month if on salary.
Cambodia is an affordable place to live and teach English abroad. Food will cost you about $15 a day and transportation only a few dollars. Your living expenses will range from around $700 to $1000 a month depending mostly on where you find it is most comfortable to live.
Accommodation & Visas
Accommodations will be very much in your own hands while teaching in Cambodia. The cheapest decent apartment in most areas will be a bit over $200, while Western style, higher scale places will run around $500 a month.
Important to Notes. Consider if you want a Standard or a Serviced Apartment. Serviced apartments will usually include perks like a security guard and a back up generator for power outages, but they can cost close to double a standard apartment. Also, be sure to compare prices because it is common for landlords to try and take advantage of new, naive foreigners.
Visas. Cambodia is one of the easiest countries to relocate to for international teaching jobs. Americans need to purchase a visa upon arrival, which will cost $20 and you will need to have two passport pictures with you to apply. It is a painless and quick process that can be completed in the Phnom Penh or Siem Reap Airports. Visas last for one month and can be extended for an additional month. After the initial two months runs out, teachers can get a Business Visa which can be extended in increments all the way up to a year, and then year after year thereafter if you decide to stay for multiple years.
Benefits & Challenges
- USD and/or Riel. ATMs in Cambodia will give you the option to withdraw either currency, or sometimes only USD. You can pay in USD or Riel, or even with a little of both, but the same applies for receiving change too. Prices are often listed in both currencies, though just in USD for touristy items (such as entrance to Angkor Wat).
- Old School Job Hunt. Print some resumes, grab some passport photos, and hit the pavement. Teaching jobs in Cambodia are not really advertised. Most people are hired either through connections or reaching out to the school directly, either in person or electronically. You can research schools in your area, put on your Sunday best, and then physically visit them to inquire.
- Perks? Financial perks are not Cambodia’s strong suit. While teachers who begin their international teaching career usually have assistance paying for their plane ticket and housing, this is not the case in Cambodia. However, non-monetary perks are wonderful. Teachers are respected, quality housing is easy to find, staying for extended periods of time is easy and cheap, and there will be plenty of days off for additional travel around the country and region.
- Requirements. There isn’t a set government standard regarding teacher requirements for teaching in Cambodia, so requirements are entirely school dependent. Some schools in Cambodia will be happy if you have a high school degree and can speak English, while others will want all teachers to have a masters degree. You can find a job with no experience and no certification, though this is not always recommended it is possible. Just remember you will be standing in front of a large group of students all depending on you for their education, so you should take some responsibility for it.