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Ask Matt: Finding a Teaching Job in Taiwan Through a Recruiter

Hi Matt, I like your site!

I just landed a job at a language school in Taiwan, teaching both kindergarten and elementary age kids.  I found the job through IACC.

I have a few questions:

First, I noticed that you said do not deal with recruiters as many of them have shady business practices.  I have heard this before, but so far IACC has been very helpful.

Second, do you think NTD $50,000 per month + 5000 rent subsidy is too low a salary?

Kindest Regards,

Mel

Dear Mel,

I have said before that, as a general rule, you should not use a recruiter of any kind to find a job.  Despite this, I’m sure that some agencies are not all bad.  However, it is generally believed among teachers that most agencies are trying to make money at the expense of the teacher.

Agencies make money because they can hire people abroad who do not know the going rate, and pay them less.  You should never teach English in Taiwan (except in very rare cases) for less than NT$600 per hour.  From the looks of the job you have been offered the salary is low.

The web page you sent me says there 25 teaching hours per week.

25 X 4 = 100 hours per month.

NT$50,000 + NT$5000 housing bonus = NT$55,000.

NT$55,000 / 100 hours = NT$550 per hour.

Personally, I would never accept this job.  But, even though the pay is a little bit low, it may not be too bad of a job.  Some people would argue that if the school gives you block hours each day (all of your working hours in a row, rather than at different times of day) and that you are not spending your time running to different branches of the school in different parts of the city, then it’s not a bad deal.

But, you should notice that your working hours are listed on the website as being 8:00 am to 6:00 pm, which is a lot more than five hours per day.

You should be warned that some schools and agencies will offer certain terms to entice a person into work, but will change the conditions of employment once the school has arrived.  They will use the new teachers ignorance about Taiwan, their ability to find a new job, and their ability to get a work visa and ARC, to pressure the teacher into accepting their terms.

Protect yourself at the front end. Hold the school to the terms you’ve agreed to.  If they don’t, then leave.  If they are dishonest at the front end, they will remain dishonest during your employment.

Don’t let them scare you into accepting conditions that are less than fair.  You can leave and you can find a different job and a work permit on your own.

Best,

Matt

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11 Responses to Ask Matt: Finding a Teaching Job in Taiwan Through a Recruiter

  1. Carrie September 29, 2010 at 7:45 am #

    Hi Matt and Mel,

    Based on my personal experience with a recruiting company in Asia, I respectfully have to disagree with Matt’s statement. In the past, I think a lot of these companies deserved a bad rap, and in many cases, some of them still do. To be sure, there are plenty of recruiting companies out there that are terrible. I would, for example, automatically reject any recruiting company that charges the teacher for a job. I think the tide for recruiting companies, however, is changing, and I can think of a few companies that have done an excellent job of helping teachers and volunteers find work abroad.

    First off, I’d like to state that Matt is an expert. He knows what he’s talking about, he offers excellent advice, and I pretty much agree with everything he said above, with the exception of his statement about recruiters.

    Since Matt points out that some recruiters aren’t all bad, this is where I’d like to add my two cents worth on recruiting companies in Asia:

    My husband and I both came to Taiwan with Reach To Teach Recruiting in 2006. We have watched Reach To Teach blossom and grow into a caring and helpful company that has their teachers and schools best interests at heart. We count ourselves very lucky to have been brought to Taiwan with Reach To Teach. We had a terrific support network upon arrival and our recruiter checked in with us regularly throughout our first year. We were invited to monthly events that not only allowed us to meet other teachers, but also served to teach us more about living in Taiwan. We have referred several friends and many online contacts to Reach To Teach and we have never heard any negative feedback about their company.

    There is absolutely no cost to the teacher. Instead, the schools pay RTT to screen and find the best applicants for the job. From what I have been able to ascertain, your hourly rate of pay is not affected by the school fee, meaning that the school doesn’t pay you a lower hourly wage because they’ve had to pay a company to find you.

    Reach To Teach now works with some of the biggest and best schools in Taiwan; applicants are put through a strict application process to determine whether they are qualified to teach at these schools, (a good number of those applicants are rejected for not having the proper credentials) and the schools are also carefully screened for their work conditions and foreign management team. Since these schools pay RTT to find them the best and most qualified teachers for the job, RTT is able to say that not only do they work with reputable schools, but they are usually able to offer the standard rate (NT$600 an hour) and in some cases, they may even offer you a higher salary than what you might find on your own. My husband and I have accepted several jobs through RTT in the past, and in all cases, we were paid a higher than average salary, especially for our first year in Taiwan.

    I’d also like to point out that you are just as at risk of running into the problems that Matt mentioned above on your own as you are with a recruiting company. What it all boils down to is research. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and make sure you thoroughly investigate the school or company that you might potentially be working with.

    Matt: Thanks for letting me have my say. I love your site, and I think you’re an invaluable source of information to anyone considering a move to Taiwan!

  2. Matt September 30, 2010 at 1:37 am #

    Carrie is absolutely right about this. Although I have never heard a success story quite as good as Carrie’s, I’ve known several people who have had good experiences with recruiters. The reason that I warn people against using them is that the people I know who were unhappy with their recruiter and agent experiences vastly outnumber those who were happy.

    The differences between my and Carie’s experiences also may have to do with the places we live in Taiwan. She lives in Taipei where the industry is more established and professional. I live in Tainan, where the teaching industry is still maturing. It’s easier for unprofessional hucksters looking for a quick buck to start companies where I live.

    So, as Carrie says, the key is research. If you can’t be sure that you are dealing with somebody fair, then you may want to consider whether you want to deal with them or not.

    Thanks for your comment Carrie! It really changed my view of recruiters. I’ve never heard anyone come to their defense like that before.

  3. Jennifer November 10, 2011 at 9:05 am #

    While I believe that Carrie was being honest in her evaluation of Reach to Teach, it was interesting to learn through her website that she is in fact the Global Director of Recruiting for Reach to Teach.

  4. manoj March 17, 2015 at 3:05 pm #

    Hey matt

    I was just wondering whether a non-native or native level, tefl certified can secure a job in Taiwan or any where else in asia?

  5. Chris May 13, 2016 at 9:30 pm #

    Hello ALL,
    My name is Chris. Very interesting reading, I have so much to learn. I finished TEFL in Prague, Czech Republic, currently teaching at Channel Crossings School in Prague until end of June. Cost of living is relatively high in Prague and the pay hardly cover my expenses. I heard so much about Taiwan and the Middle East. Looking into Taiwan possibly Oman. I would like to try RTT, now that I am more confident after reading these articles. Thank you for sharing. I am new at this, Channel Crossings is my first teaching job after getting certified from TEFL. Do I have a chance teaching in Taiwan or Oman?? (In your opinion)

    • Matt May 15, 2016 at 9:02 pm #

      Hi Chris. I’m not sure if you are qualified to teach English in Taiwan. In order to legally teach there you must be from one of a few English-speaking countries (Canada, USA, Britain, South Africa, Australia, maybe others…I’m not sure). If you are from one of those countries then you probably do have a good chance of finding a job in Taiwan.

      You should definitely contact Reach to Teach for more information.

      I don’t really know anything about Oman, so I can’t help with that.

  6. Chris May 16, 2016 at 10:31 am #

    Thank you Matt. Yes I am a USA citizen. Will contact RTT definitely. Thanks again

  7. Mandy September 9, 2016 at 12:35 pm #

    Hey Matt!

    A friend and I are currently looking to teach in Taiwan. If we were to fly there in October how would you suggest we go about finding full time English teaching employment? I heard that if we go find a job once we are there then we wouldn’t necessarily need to sign a one year contract and we could get better pay.

    Let me know your suggestions!

    Mandy

    • Matt September 9, 2016 at 6:45 pm #

      Hi Mandy. You’re best off to arrive just before the end of the semester, when people are changing jobs. October will not be a good time to find work.

      Most jobs will require a one year commitment. It is likely you can find better pay on the ground in Taiwan than you can looking from abroad because you will have more options.

  8. Anne February 10, 2018 at 11:32 pm #

    Hello Matt! I’m a Filipino and planning to work as English teacher. I am a graduate with bachelors degree and i have TESOL certificate too. Can i apply in Taiwan legally even if Im a Filipino? Also, which is better.. find a work when Im in Taiwan already? or Should i need to find a job first before i get to Taiwan?

    I’m planning to do volunteer English teaching in Taiwan for 7 weeks to have at least gain an experience since i don’t really have one yet. I’m planning while Im in Taiwan for the volunteer, i will look for jobs opportunities. What do you think, Is my plan a good idea?

    Hope to really hear from you, thank you!

    • Matt February 12, 2018 at 1:45 am #

      Hi Anne. As far as I know you need to be from one of the recognized English-speaking countries in order to qualify for a teacher visa, and last I heard Philippines wasn’t included on the list.

      I know that sometimes there are exceptions to the rule, but I’m not sure how people are able to get past the normal rules.

      I would suggest that when you go to volunteer in Taiwan you spend some time looking for a school that is willing to help you try and get a visa.

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