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Working in Vietnam

As one of the fastest growing economy in the region, the range of jobs available for expatriates wishing to move to Vietnam is also growing. The majority of expatriate jobs are in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, but some can be found in the smaller towns. Most jobs are in IT industries, construction and tourism, however there is also a large English teaching community and there are many NGOs operating out of Vietnam, particularly in Hanoi. While it is possible to find a job from within Vietnam, the government is beginning to implement stricter visa regulations which may make it more difficult in the future.

Expatriates doing business in Vietnam will find that the work environment here is similar to that of other Asian countries such as China, South Korea and Japan. Business is a very formal occasion and pride and tact are key. Vietnamese business people prefer to be recommended by a friend or another business contact rather than approached directly. Expatriates in Vietnam will soon find that a broad social network does wonders in the world of business.

Vietnam has an interesting and complex history, with war and famine occupying a significant part of the social memory. As such, tact and caution are prized in a business environment and negotiations and settlements can be a long and drawn out process as businesspeople examine and interrogate all the risks. Business meetings are formal and expatriates should dress accordingly, regardless of the hot and humid Vietnamese weather. In summer a linen suit or slightly more casual attire is passable. Punctuality is important and lateness is seldom tolerated kindly.

The wages are generally low in Vietnam, but there are strong differences between regions and industries. Minimum wages are divided into four different regions. Region 1 consists of the centres of Hanoi and HCMC, and the most rural areas are represented as region 4.

In 2012, the monthly minimum wages were as follows:

• Region 1: ₫2,000,000 ($96);
• Region 2: ₫1,780,000 ($85);
• Region 3: ₫1,550,000 ($74);
• Region 4: ₫1,400,000 ($67);

Wages have steadily increased over the last few years, and 2012 was the first year with equal minimum wages for international and local companies. Prior to 2012, wages were higher for employees in international companies.

With a bachelor’s degree, you can expect to earn around $10,000 a year, and with a master’s degree, the number about doubles. Also, never underestimate the worth of employee benefits, as many companies offer, for example, free housing.

Employee benefits are typical for governmental universities when you work as a teacher. Private institutes may pay more ($6-US$15 per hour, compared to $5-$10 at governmental organisations), but it is unlikely you will get free housing or other benefits with a private institute.

Usual working hours are from 7:30 am until 4:30 pm, with at least a one-hour break for lunch. People have the right to one free day a week, and an additional 12 days of vacation during one year. By law, the maximum work hours permitted is 48 hours per week.

There are at least nine holidays a year, including local and official ones. There can be more, depending on the region where you are working. If one of these days is a Sunday, the day off will be moved to Monday.





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