Working in Cambodia



The Kingdom of Cambodia is indeed facing many challenges that hinder it from being the great nation it was always meant to be. However, the seemingly unbreakable façade of lack of political freedom, widespread poverty and corruption still don’t stop expats from unravelling the potential this awe-inspiring country hides. 

Cambodia boasts of a very rich and ancient culture - from Theravada Buddhism to amazing tourist spots like the remains of once a great empire immortalised in the Angkor Wat temple. One might easily think that this country is just a famed tourist spot, but during the recent years, many expats, especially those blessed with courageous hearts eventually decided to seek their dreams and success in Cambodia. According to the World Bank, this country experienced significant economic growth during the past two decades whereas the gross national income or GNI per capita reached USD 1,070 in 2015. Though the unemployment rate in Cambodia increased to 0.50% in 2015 from 0.10% in 2014, expats, particularly the highly-skilled professionals still stand a high chance of getting employed here. 

Job Opportunities in Cambodia 

More often than not, foreign nationals who go to Cambodia are either tourists or are a volunteer member of an NGO that helps Cambodians improve their living standards. Teaching English is the most common employment opportunity that an expat in Cambodia can find, and the income depends on the level of experience. Those who have a certificate for English-language teaching have the opportunity to earn more than those without certificates. Apart from this, there isn’t much to choose from because most of the foreigners do volunteer work. 

Expats who are looking to apply to work with NGOs in Cambodia can inquire at the Cooperation Committee for Cambodia (CCC) which usually posts vacancies. However, it should be noted that most of the work are on a voluntary basis and people needed for specialised positions in an NGO are mostly recruited from an international organisation or their home country. It is also important to note that the main job industries in Cambodia include the garments, construction, agriculture, and tourism sectors. 

Average Salary and Work Hours 

The average salary range of workers in Cambodia is 1,000 KHR a month, and this applies mostly to those who work in the capital city, Phnom Penh. Tour guides in Cambodia are said to earn more, about $300 a month. Meanwhile, local government officials at the commune and village get $37.50 a month, but this is said to rise to $75 a month this year according to a government sub-decree in Cambodia. 

The standard working hours in most Cambodian offices are from 8 AM to 12 PM and 2 PM to 5 PM, Mondays to Saturdays. Government offices operate Monday to Friday, from 7:30 AM to 11:30 AM and 2 PM to 5 PM. Full-time workers are entitled to 1.5 days of fully paid annual leave for every month of service, which corresponds to 18 days for 12 months’ worth of service in a company. Moreover, Cambodian employees are also entitled to paid holidays during Festival holidays, including religious and memorial holidays. 

Cambodian Income Tax 

The income tax rate of workers in Cambodia is on a progressive scale, starting from 5% to 20% and is determined by the gross monthly taxable salary of an employee. Non-Cambodian residents are required to pay monthly salary tax only on their Cambodian-source income, which is taxed at a flat rate of 20%. 

Taxable Income Bracket in Cambodian Riel

Tax Percent (%)









12,500,001 and above


The Cambodian Business Culture 

Khmer is the official language in Cambodia which is used by 90% of the population and in most social contexts including government administration and mass media. Though there are locals in the corporate world who speak English, it is still important for expats to learn about their Mother Tongue to communicate in a more efficient manner. 

A majority of the Cambodian population also follows Theravada Buddhism, a religion that deeply influences even the work environment. The locals believe in ‘Karma’ which is a term that practically means ‘you reap what you sow’. Expats who will work in this country are free to practice their religion but should still be aware about some of the most important Theravada Buddhism principles that apply in the local business culture: 

  • Have the right thoughts
  • Speak the right words
  • Have the right goals
  • Perform the right deeds
  • Earn a living the right way
  • Make the right effort
  • Be intellectually alert 

Handshake is an acceptable greeting in Cambodia but many still uses, particularly the women, the traditional greeting which is a bow combined with a bringing of the hands at chest level which is quite similar to the hand gesture when praying. It is also worth noting that the locals are best addressed using honorific titles such as ‘Lok’ for men and ‘Lok Srey’ for women followed by their first and last name. Business cards are best translated to Khmer if possible, and must be handed after the initial introduction.


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Work Guide

Expat Services in Cambodia