One of the questions Tim and I regularly get asked by people interested in moving to Taiwan is what kind of opportunities are available for them. Generally people fall into two categories (teach English or Study Chinese) and if you are reading this blog, you probably fall into one of those categories. However, you can also do other things in Taiwan, like work in other industries, study in graduate programs and start your own business.
This is by far the most popular reason why people in Western countries are interested in coming to Taiwan. And with good reason, too. Taiwan is an excellent place to teach English and there are low barriers to getting a job (essentially you need a bachelors degree or equivalent from a Western university and hold a passport from Ireland, the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, or South Africa).
Most people get on a plane, land in Taiwan, and within a few weeks of sending out resumes and going to interviews have a full-time teaching job lined up (20-30 hours teaching a week) that pays a decent salary. We’ll get into all the details of teaching English in Taiwan in a later post and cover things like, what are the specific requirements to get a job, what is teaching like, how many hours a week will you work, how much money you make, etc.
Spending a year or two (or longer) teaching EFL in Taiwan is a fantastic way to get out of your home country and get the awesome experience of living abroad and seeing and doing strange and fun new things, all while making a decent salary.
Mandarin has by far the most native speakers in world (approximately 3x English native speakers) and is continuing to grow in importance with the rise of China in the world economy. With the need for Chinese speaking westerners growing, now is an ideal time to learn Chinese and Taiwan is a fantastic place to do it.
Taiwan is renowned for having some of the best Chinese language training programs in the world. There are many high-quality different programs, with the most famous being Mandarin Training Center of National Taiwan Normal University. There are many other fantastic programs to study at both in Taipei and around the island and we will get into that in a later post.
The Taiwan government also provides a scholarship to many students to study Chinese and is worth checking out.
In recent years, many Taiwan universities have started to try and appeal to an international audience and they have done this by offering Master or Doctor level programs entirely in English.
There are several notable programs, including National Chengchi University’s International MBA program or their Master’s/Doctor’s Asia Pacific Studies programs, National Taiwan University’s Global MBA program, National Cheng Kung’s International MBA program, and several others.
If you are interested in studying and living in Asia, these programs should definitely be checked out and can often receive generous tuition grants or waivers. You can even get stipends from the Taiwan government to cover some of your tuition and living costs.
While English teachers are definitely the dominant Western working group, there are plenty of people working in other industries, primarily in the tech field.
Taiwan is home to some of the world’s largest and increasingly well known tech companies, including Acer, Asus, HTC, Gigabyte, MSI, and many others. While most of these companies don’t have a huge western workforce, all of them employ foreigners, generally in sales, marketing or engineering.
Finding a job in the tech industry is not easy like finding a teaching job. Generally speaking, you need to have experience in the industry you are interested in and be willing to come to Taiwan and network with people here while looking for a job (few Taiwanese companies will hire someone from overseas unless you are at a senior level). At the same time, the salaries for most Taiwan tech companies are far lower than what one would get in the West.
But it’s not all negative. Lot’s of people have come here and found jobs and are happy with their experiences and continue to stay (many for the long-term).
Start a Business
Although most foreigners do this after living in Taiwan for a while, there are people who move here to start businesses. The requirements for starting a business are relatively relaxed and an ARC (visa to stay in Taiwan) can be obtained through some businesses.
We’ll go into more details about starting business in future posts, but if you are serious about it now, it’s best to contact a CPA that can walk you through the process and help you with all the details and paperwork. One CPA that caters and advertises to the English speaking community can be found here.