Expats working in Taipei will find themselves at the centre of the Taiwanese economy. The city prides itself as a global leader in electronics and industrial manufacturing. The country’s improved trade relationships and proximity to China have also led to more business opportunities in Taipei.
Foreigners need a work permit for Taiwan to legally take up employment, a process that must be started by a local employer.
Job market in Taipei
During the "Taiwan Miracle", a period in the second half of the twentieth century when the country experienced rapid economic growth, foreign investment substantially increased and presented many employment opportunities for foreigners.
Although growth has slowed since then, there are still many employment opportunities for foreigners in Taipei. The downside is that, aside from company transfers, opportunities for expats in Taiwan are concentrated in a few industries, such as IT, English teaching, translation, international trade and journalism. There are many English-language publications, so qualified expats may find work with a newspaper, magazine or with other publishers. Long-term residents often start up their own businesses, including bars, bakeries and restaurants.
That said, if an expat has the right kind of qualifications, there may be opportunities in their field. It's common to meet foreigners working in tech companies, accounting firms, banks, finance companies, pharmaceutical firms and more.
Finding a job in Taipei
Most foreigners with senior positions in Taipei have been transferred to the city by their company back home. Apart from this, it can be difficult to find a senior position, as most companies try to hire locally.
Expats searching for jobs in Taipei should look for listings on online job portals and through local publications. As there are many multinational companies in Taipei, job seekers should also visit company-specific websites to see if any positions have been posted. Otherwise, expats should approach recruitment agencies who represent companies in Taiwan.
Work culture in Taipei
One major complaint by expats and locals alike is that the 9am to 5pm workday in Taipei actually consists of longer hours than initially advertised. Expats may be asked to work on weekends and might get emails or phone calls from work as late as 10pm. It isn't uncommon for employers to expect their employees to finish projects or conduct research in their personal time.
Teachers and other hourly-wage workers may find themselves with more unpaid work than they think is fair. While it's uncommon for locals to protest these incursions into personal time, if they are polite, it is possible for expats to establish boundaries regarding what they are willing to do and when they are willing to do it.
►For an overview of the housing market, read Accommodation in Taipei
"As an expat, assuming you’re an English teacher, you’ll make a decent salary and pay a relatively low rent. It’s possible to get by and save money with little difficulty." Read more of Nick's thoughts on working in Taiwan.
Are you an expat living in Taipei?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Taipei. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
Jenna is originally from New York, but has also set down her suitcase in Washington, D.C., Madurai, India, and Zunyi, Guizhou Province, China. For the past six years she and her husband, Brendan, have called Taipei home. While she still picks up that suitcase to travel the world, she has found so much to love about living in Taipei that she hasn't yet considered moving elsewhere. From a young age she's loved travelling, and never did see herself building a life in her home country - her preferred method of moving abroad is to get there on your own with some money in your pocket and no set plans, to find a job and a way to stay legally, and to build from there.
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