This is a translation/update of my old French article that met a fairly decent amount of success. Now readers from everywhere around the world can benefit from it! I realized the previous article might be a bit long, especially after I updated it. So I’ve decided to split it.
Important disclaimer: immigration laws tend to change and each situation is unique. Always check with the authorities about your situation. They are nice people if you don’t try to toy with them.
First things first, is it really worth it to work in Taiwan?
The answer really depends on what’s your looking for. For a first experience abroad, it’s definitely worth it. At this stage you don’t have a family, low salary is less of a problem, and it won’t probably look too bad on your resume. It can also be a good opportunity to pick up a bit of mandarin and enjoy another culture.
People with a bit more experience might run into more problems. Working for a Taiwanese company does not pay and usually if you haven’t spent a decent amount of time in the same firm, there is a big chance your past knowledge and skills to be completely ignored by your boss. In addition, moving out the entire family to the other side of the world might be a challenge. I would recommend for you to work for a foreign company in Taiwan otherwise, it will simply not be worth it.
The specific case of teaching English
Since I’m French, I have zero experience of teaching English in Taiwan. Unless you have a passport from an English-speaking country (the list is somewhere on the government site), you’re not allowed to teach English legally in Taiwan. I still heard a couple of good advice if you’d like to become a teacher:
- Do your homework, as some schools might be shady and won’t actually give you a working permit.
- Avoid getting a job from abroad, as it’s most of the time issued by shady schools.
- Do not accept any kind of arrangements from your employer. It’s either you’re working 100% legally, either you’re not. In the case of a problem, you will be the one in trouble, not him.
- Read very carefully your contract, as sometimes they are fine prints, especially related to working hours.
- There are definitely a lot of ESL teacher jobs in Taiwan, but it’s not as easy as it sounds to get one since more and more people are interested in the island.
I can’t or don’t want to be a teacher, what do I do?
You have a lot of choices in Taiwan. But note that you can find only white collar jobs here. Here is a list of what I’ve seen or done in the past:
- Come and learn Chinese. Ok it’s not really working, but at least you’ll get something useful out of it and you’ll have time to get local contacts
- If you’re French, you can look for a VIE. Carrefour, for instance, has some openings.
- Marketing/copywriting: probably one of the areas where a foreign worker makes the most sense as Taiwanese companies are always looking for someone to bridge between cultures. But unless you’re in a nice company, the pay will be bad and you’ll be entirely replaceable for your boss.
- Software/hardware engineering: definitely some demand here, especially if you’re good in some rare technologies. But I noticed Taiwanese boss tends to ignore your skillsets.
- Your own company: definitely an option, as you’ll probably end up making more money and won’t have to deal with Taiwanese ridiculous work culture. But the entry barriers are pretty high.
- Remote work: probably one of the best ideas, since living costs in Taiwan are relatively low. You’ll be able to enjoy a good quality of time without the stressful local work environment.
- Import/sourcing/logistics/food: not that much experience into that. But this is a field you might want to look into.
- Expatriate contract: probably one of the best options from a financial point of view. Get your company to move you to Taiwan and enjoy the benefits.
Wait a second, nothing seems perfect from the look of it.
Yup! Working in Taiwan can be challenging. This will be the topic I talk about in part two.