Employment in Malaysia

Before you can start working in Malaysia, you need to be granted expat status. The country has a dedicated Expat Committee, which deals with questions of expat employment.

There are two preliminary requirements which must be fulfilled by prospective expats before they can start working in Malaysia: a minimum salary of RM 5000, and a minimum period of employment of 2 years. On top of that, only people who fall into one of the following categories qualify for working in Malaysia as an expat:

  • Key post: You occupy a top managerial position in the company in question.
  • Executive post: You hold a middle management post and have relevant professional experience and academic qualifications.
  • Non-executive post: You are highly skilled thanks to your technical know-how and are thus indispensable for the company. This is normally the case for English teachers. For an updated list of English teaching jobs in Malaysia, please visit TeacherGig.

ESL Jobs in Malaysia

Although the demand for English teachers is not as high as in Japan, Korea and China, there are opportunities, especially if you are willing to go that extra yard to secure a position. Many people simply travel to Malaysia and begin looking for work after they arrive. Jobs are advertised all year round in local newspapers but it’s quite acceptable to walk in off the street and approach schools directly. Be sure to dress smartly; men should wear formal pants, shirt and tie, although a jacket is not necessary. You should also carry several copies of your resume.

Job requirements are a little more demanding in Malaysia than in most other Asian countries. In addition to a 1st degree, you will need to have a recognized TESOL qualification and at least two years English teaching experience. Greater experience and a post-graduate degree in either TESOL or linguistics will likely be necessary to secure more competitive positions. Work visa requirements also mean that prospective teachers must be at least 26 years of age and many schools will be reluctant to hire those over the age of 50 unless they are already working in Malaysia. For new English teaching jobs in Malaysia, click here.

In most teaching establishments, your work schedule will be around 30-35 hours per week. For public schools, the education system is highly centralized. Local authorities have very little input into curriculum design and classes are geared towards passing standardized examinations. Foreign English teachers will largely be responsible for conversational classes although you may be asked to participate in other classes, such as sport, drama and music, particularly if you have an interest in these areas.

Although most teaching jobs are to be found in and around Kuala Lumpur, it is likely that you will have plenty of opportunity to explore other parts of the country while you are there. With long coastlines and a multitude of islands, there are great opportunities for those who enjoy water-sports, particularly scuba-diving.

For those with some background in teaching and basic TESOL qualifications, Malaysia is a choice destination, offering a vibrant lifestyle and an exotic cultural experience.

Teaching jobs in Kuala Lumpur

Malaysia is already home to some 60,000 expatriates – many of whom herald from the United Kingdom originally – and because employment opportunities are relatively plentiful, the cost of living low and the standard of living high, living and working in Malaysia is now a popular choice for internationally minded individuals.

Unemployment in Malaysia is currently low, running at 3.6% (2005 est.) which means that there are currently no restrictions on foreign workers seeking employment in Malaysia.  Once an application has been made for a job in Malaysia it’s normal for a potentially suitable candidate to travel to the country for an interview.  Working as a teacher in Malaysia is quite common. A successful candidate will then be granted an Employment Pass or Professional Pass by their employer which will give them the right to residency in Malaysia.  A travelling spouse and children will then require Dependent’s Passes.

And finally in terms of Malaysian taxation – the country has many double taxation agreements in place which means that there is little risk an expatriate will have to pay tax twice - employment income is taxed on a sliding scale with the top rate of tax just 28%, and if an individual decides to own property in Malaysia they will face stamp duty of between 1.5 and 1.75% and capitals gains tax of between 0% and 30% depending on how long they hold their property for before reselling it. Teaching jobs in Malaysia.


Teaching English in Malaysia

English teachers are in high demand in Malaysia.

I very much doubt that you will be able to secure a job before you get here, although some schools advertise on the Web. Malaysian employers will want to put you through a full interview and then consider carefully before employing you. 

There is quite a variation in the salaries offered for English teachers. International schools are the best paymasters. Colleges and universities are surprisingly not the top payers. For teaching jobs in Malaysia please go to TeacherGig.

Jobs here will give you good experience as you are likely to be teaching foreign students as well as Malaysians and most centers have computer labs and modern facilities.

The capital of Malaysia is Kuala Lumpur, or KL, and this is basically where the teaching jobs are. KL is a modern city with skyscrapers, modern highways, shopping malls galore and plenty in the way of entertainment. However, it is still a developing city, so it has its share of slums and all the problems associated with a developing city: overcrowded buses, poor service in some shops, and a whole host of things that don’t work properly. English is widely spoken, sometimes well, sometimes badly. There are four daily English newspapers, three or four TV channels that feature mainly English programs, and plenty of English radio stations. Malaysians prefer to use British English, so Americans may have to adapt accordingly.

If you work as a teacher in Malaysia you will probably have to work hard, but you will be exposed to all kinds of different cultures. On weekends, you can travel around the country and visit the islands. You can get to Singapore and Thailand easily by bus, train, or plane. Language is not a problem. Basically, you can experience a whole new world without giving up the “Western” comforts that we are so used to.

Find teaching jobs in Kuala Lumpur here