Most people from Western countries moving to Taiwan end up in the English teaching field. Whether it’s as a way to support themselves while exploring a new culture, or as a way to try and speed up repaying their student loans, English teaching in Taiwan is extremely popular among westerners.
Today, there are more options than ever for aspiring EFL teachers.
These positions are the most common type of English teaching job in Taiwan. They are also known as cram schools. These are basically like after-school programs.
Buxibans are businesses that offer parents a place to send their children after school with the added bonus of supplementary education. Buxibans come in all shapes and sizes, from small boutique schools to large international organizations, such as Hess. They teach everything from musical instruments to foreign languages. Most of the English language focused schools look for native English speakers for their EFL programs.
As a buxiban teacher, you can expect a starting hourly wage to be around NT$600 (As of the summer of 2020, that’s about $20.35 USD), or a monthly salary of around NT$60,000. You might get lucky and find something that pays a little more, but this is a good conservative base to keep in mind.
In order to qualify for a work visa, you should be working a minimum of 14 hours a week, so most teachers work anywhere from 60 to over 100 hours a month. Since buxibans are a form of supplementary education, and they don’t replace students’ compulsory schooling, most classes are held in the afternoon and early evening. Some buxibans even hold Saturday classes.
These are another option for people who are looking to teach in Taiwan. There are not as many of them seeking native speaking teachers as there are buxibans, and they tend to have stricter hiring requirements, but they also tend to be more stable positions.
Being a licensed teacher from your home country greatly helps when you are trying to land one of these jobs as a new teacher in Taiwan. You will also find teachers who are married to locals, or have permanent residency, working here.
Public schools have the strictest hiring requirements, so they are not for everyone. If you are a licensed teacher, finding one of these gigs should not be a problem.
The one drawback that I have seen with public school jobs is not the job itself, but that it’s harder to find the vacancies as the schools do not have much experience with hiring native speaking teachers. Once you find them though, they should be fairly easy to land.
Often referred to as private teaching, tutoring is another way to make money; but, there are a few things to be aware of regarding this form of income.
Firstly, this type of work should only be done by those with APRC’s and JFRV’s. Permanent residency allows someone to get a work permit that comes with open work rights, and marriage visas also come with open work rights. If you obtain your visa through a school, then you are tied to working for them. You may have other schools added to your ARC, but you may not work independently.
Remember, even those with proper work rights have to report their earnings so that they can be properly taxed.
Also known as kindy, it’s is a bit of a taboo subject. I want to preface this section by stating that both Nick and I have pretty much avoided this aspect of teaching English in Taiwan. There is a lot of gray area involved with the legality of non-Taiwanese individuals teaching kindergarten.
I am not a lawyer, and I have almost no clear understanding of Taiwanese law, but there has been so much confusing information over the years about working in kindergartens, that if you want to move to Taiwan the right way, or if you want to live in Taiwan for several years, I personally would avoid teaching kindy.
Many people do teach kindergarten and don’t run into any problems, but I never wanted to run the risk of getting deported. I never really saw kindergarten as an option, but you are of course free to make your own choices.
Your Work Visa
Before accepting any type of job, teaching or otherwise, you should have a general understanding of the Taiwanese visa system. In an earlier post I linked to the Bureau of Consular Affairs, because they have a really detailed explanation, and I strongly suggest taking a few minutes to look it over.
The short story on visas and work permits is that there are four main types:
- Students get a student visa. They can apply for permission to work a limited amount of hours. To my knowledge, this permission allows them open work rights. That is, their work permit and visa are not tied to a particular employer.
- Next in line is the standard work visa. This is sponsored by a particular company, and you will come to know it as an ARC. You can attempt to add more companies to this later, but you need to get the initial sponsor first.
- The other two visas are the aforementioned Alien Permanent Resident Certificate, or APRC, and…
- the Joint Family Resident Certificate, or JFRV. If you have Taiwanese citizenship, then all of this is moot, as you don’t need any type of visa.
Finding a Job
Knowing how to find a teaching job in Taiwan is just as important as knowing what types of English teaching jobs are available. Finding a job here is very similar to how you would find one in your home country.
One avenue is the Internet. The most popular job website used by foreigners in Taiwan is tealit.com. You may or may not have success using it, but it’s a must visit if you are job hunting. There are other sites too, like Forumosa, but they don’t have the same volume of job postings. They are still worth a visit though, as every lead helps.
The other three methods of job hunting are rather traditional approaches. One surprisingly effective method, which many people seem reluctant to use, is to simply hit the sidewalk and visit buxibans. I have personally had some great results with this approach, so I know it works.
You can also use your network, if you have one. Word-of-mouth goes a long way in Taiwan, so if you are moving because you have friends or family here, don’t be afraid to ask for their assistance.
The last method is to use a recruiter. The opinion on recruiters varies from person to person, and I am not their biggest fan, but if you are in a jam, they can help. We’ve heard positive things about Reach to Teach, but have never used them personally. They are also one of the ways to get in contact with public schools.
FAQ About Teaching English in Taiwan
Over the years we’ve received many emails from readers asking some specific questions, so we thought now would be a great time to answer the top 5 frequently asked questions we get about teaching English in Taiwan.
What’s the best time to come teach English in Taiwan?
Assuming we soon break out of the Covid-19 era, historically the biggest hiring period for English teaching jobs in Taiwan is during the summer. This is when the vast majority of people either leave and head back home or switch jobs.
Many buxibans (cram schools) tie their schedules to the academic calendar and so they want to hire teachers who will stay throughout the whole year. July and August are probably the best months to come, but being here before July 3 is helpful for tax purposes.
The other big hiring period is right before or right after Lunar New Year. This period is much slower than summer, but still can be active. Other than those two times, there isn’t a particular time I’d recommend coming. Basically, you can find an English teaching job throughout the year, but it just may take a little longer than it would if you came during Summer or around Chinese New Year. Just make sure to save a little extra money if you don’t come during a peak hiring period.
We have a more detailed on when is the best time to come teach English in Taiwan if you want to know more.
How much money will I make teaching English?
This really depends on both how much per hour you make and how many hours a week/month you work. There are people who don’t work much and make around $40,000 NTD, while others who work a lot and make as much as $120,000 NTD a month or more. For most new teachers you can expect to make around $60,000 NTD per month (roughly 25 hours a week at $600 NTD/hour) and I’d suggest this as a goal.
Though this number has been stagnant for years, $60,000 should be plenty of money to cover your cost of living and have a pretty decent lifestyle as long as you are relatively smart and don’t blow your money assuming inflation doesn’t spiral out oof control.
How do I find a job?
Most people find jobs after they arrive. There are Facebook groups like this one or this one that people find jobs through. If you are in Taipei this is probably the easiest and best way to find a job.
If you choose to go to a smaller city then you can check out other smaller websites that list jobs (there are many of them so contact us if you know which city you want to go to and we can point you in the right direction). Several people have shared stories on social media about going to smaller cities and just knocking on the doors of all the English schools and dropping off resumes until they found one hiring.
Should You Use a Recruiter to Find a Teaching Job in Taiwan?
Sometimes when you are looking for an English teaching job in Taiwan, you don’t always have a lot of time. Perhaps your last employer didn’t give you much notice that they were not going to renew your contract, thus leaving you without an ARC. Or maybe you are new in Taiwan and your visitor’s visa is getting short on time. You need a job quick!
For help with finding work people often enlist the aid of a recruiter. Recruiters sometimes get a bad rap in Taiwan, and some of that negativity may be justified, but not all recruiters are the same. Regardless, it’s always a good idea to know what you are getting yourself into.
One major benefit that you get from working with a recruiter is that they have infinitely more contacts than you. While you may only need to look at different buxibans every year or so, it’s their job to be in contact with them daily. They will also have built relationships with smaller schools which you may never see advertise on any of the major English language outlets, if at all.
Because of their network, you have a very good chance at finding a job much faster with their assistance than on your own. If you are new and just want to get an ARC and revenue stream rather than spending a couple of months looking for the perfect situation, then a recruiter is right for you. They most likely already have openings that they want to fill so they too can get paid.
Just as they have some benefits, recruiters have some potential problems inherent with their services. Their business is to provide service to their customers, and never forget that their customers are the schools. They may treat you like you are the center of the universe for awhile, but that is because they want to sell you and your service for their gain, thus they don’t always have your best interest at heart.
Another potential downside of using an agent or recruiter is that they usually represent lower paying positions. It could be because of their commission taking a chunk of the available salary budget, or it could be due to the fact that many of the smaller schools simply cannot afford to pay huge salaries, but whatever the case, they often pay near the industry minimum. It’s very rare to find a higher paying English teaching job through a recruiter.
What’s the interview process like?
Check out the long post on what interviews are like here. In almost all cases you will be asked to give a quick 15 minute demo to a class of students or sometimes other teachers.
Essentially the demos are to make sure you are fine around kids and can communicate basic concepts.
If you have never taught before then I suggest talking to other foreigners who teach when you arrive and asking them for some tips. If you talk to other people you can get some info about what they did for their demos and what works/doesn’t work. One tip is to come up with a quick and fun game that can be used at all English levels, as many buxibans encourage playing games (while using English of course).
Is teaching English in Taiwan fun?
Teaching English in Taiwan can definitely be really fun and I know lots of people who enjoy it. That’s not to say everyone loves it though and there are many people who don’t like it and complain about their jobs. I think that’s true for any job anywhere though, and teaching in Taiwan isn’t really any different than anything else.
Basically if you work for a good school and have good classes, then chances are you will enjoy your job. Finding a good school is very important, which is why we recommend saving enough money before you get here so that you have some time to find a good position and don’t have to settle for something that isn’t good.
If you are wondering about how to move to Taiwan to teach English, I hope this post is useful. If you have any questions about this topic, please leave us a comment below. Best of luck with finding a job teaching English in Taiwan!