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Ask Matt: How Do I Find a Teaching Job in Taiwan?

Dear Matt,

I’m thinking of moving to Taiwan, but I’ve heard there are not as many teaching jobs as there used to be.  Are there still many jobs?  How can I improve my chances of finding one?

Thanks!

Cliff

Dear Cliff,

When I first arrived in Tainan six years ago I would be approached on the street and in restaurants by people who needed teachers.  When I went to an interview, I would be interviewing the school, rather than the school interviewing me.  Teachers were in very high demand. Schools would accept anybody.

Now, due to changes in the English teaching industry and an increase of the number of Westerners looking for teaching jobs (many driven here by the recent global recession), the job market is more competitive.  You may have to interview with several schools before finding a job.  If you come at the wrong time of year,  you may have a lot of trouble finding one at all.

That being said, any person who plans properly and is willing to pound the pavement for a few weeks should be able to land a good job. To ensure that you find a job, it is important to plan your move to Taiwan properly.  There are several things you can do to improve your chances of finding a job.

1) Find a Friend
Do you know anyone in Taiwan.  If so, ask them if they know about any jobs.  Most teaching jobs tend to be found by word of mouth.

2) Come at the Right Time
Teachers tend to sign contracts at the beginning of the semester, as this is when schools prefer that they start. Most contracts are one year long, and end the same time they started.  This is when most teachers leave their jobs to travel or move home.  So, the best time to look for a job is the end of the semester so that you can replace a teacher who will be leaving. The overall best time to look for work is the end of August, before the fall semester.  Just before Chinese New Year (usually around the end of January) and the end of June are also good times.

3) Go Where the Jobs Are
The other thing you can do to improve your chances is move to the South.  Taipei and Taichung have traditionally had larger foreign communities, and attract more teachers, making the teaching market more competitive there. Kaohsiung still seems to have a lot of teaching positions, and is a large and comfortable city.  The market in Tainan is also fairly good. Personally, I prefer to live in the South anyways.  There are usually fewer earthquakes and typhoons, and the weather is much better.

Schools in smaller towns are also usually good places to look for jobs. Few teachers are eager to move to them, as most prefer to live in a larger center with a larger expat community.

4) Know Where to Look
Many schools look for teachers on these websites:

The Tainan Bulletin

Kaohsiung Living

Tealit

5) Know What Not to Do
If you respond to teaching job ads online, chances are you will be contacted by an agent or recruiter.  Although some agent/recruiters are good, they have a reputation for being overwhelmingly greedy and dishonest.  They are referred to locally as ‘snakeheads’.  Unless somebody has personally recommended an agent to you, then I would strongly suggest that you avoid dealing with them.  Many people have lost their VISAs, lost pay, and been screwed over in every manner imaginable by agents.

If you would like to read the tale of one infamous agent, go to the Kaohsiung Living bulletin board listed above, and search for the name ‘Selwyn’.   You will find numerous posts warning people about this agent who operates in Kaohsiung. There are some unbelievable stories about him!

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6 Responses to Ask Matt: How Do I Find a Teaching Job in Taiwan?

  1. Matt Gibson September 20, 2010 at 7:34 am #

    You are going to be really happy with Taiwan, I’m sure. Don’t worry too much about finding a job here. You are at the very tail end of job-hunting season. But, with your experience it shouldn’t be too hard. Experience is the foot in the door that you need.

    Check out those websites, and let me know how it goes. I’ll keep my ear to the ground here for you.

    Or, if you want an editing job, I just saw this one advertised. They have offices in Taipei and my city, Tainan. Check it out. Pay probably isn’t as good, but the experience is.

  2. David S. Wills September 20, 2010 at 7:25 am #

    Thanks for the advice and for the link. I’ve decided to take your advice and forget China and Japan. I’ve been doing a few interviews (or rather, have been interviewing the schools…) in Taiwan. I’m aiming to get somewhere in the south of country. I wish I’d realised this last month and spent time searching. It sounds like I’ve picked a bad time.

  3. David S. Wills September 20, 2010 at 2:03 pm #

    I guess that a problem for me is that I already have two pretty full time jobs. I work editing my magazine (no money) and Korean textbooks (lots of money). However, I need a place to live and I want that place to be Asia. Mostly I need a job so I can get a visa.

    I was wondering, also, how much it would cost me to live over whilst looking for work… I bet Taipei is expensive, but would it be possible to do such a thing in the south?

    I’ll see if I get a reply from that editing job. Thanks for the link. I was enthused by the interview I had the other day (recruiter, sadly) but the buggers haven’t e-mailed me back.

  4. Matt Gibson September 21, 2010 at 12:39 am #

    In the South get by fairly comfortably on about $700 USD per month, but you won’t be traveling or partying a lot. You need a bit of start-up cash. If you want an apartment you’ll need first and last months rent, plus deposit, which, for a decent place, will run you close to $800 USD. You will also probably want a scooter, which will run you anywhere from $3-500 USD. Of course, cheaper options than those are available. Those are just standard.

    If you’re really strapped, you can live in a hostel and get a bicycle or ride public transportation (in Kaohsiug).

  5. David S. Wills September 21, 2010 at 3:52 am #

    Thanks for the info. That was really helpful.

    I’m generally not much for partying (anymore). I don’t tend to need much money to live on, so that sounds alright. I’ll definitely be purchasing a motorcycle of some description. It’s good to know that there are hostels, too.

  6. Bek January 23, 2011 at 5:46 pm #

    Dear Taiwan expert Matt

    I found about you from google and was very happy to know that I have finally found the one that can help me out. The question is I am willing to do my PhD in Taiwan. However, I have faced several problems, which I hope might be solved by your advises.
    First, I am planning to do my PhD either in Political Science or International Relations?

    Second, I speak chinese well, but it is really hard for me to do PhD in chinese, therefore are there universities that political science PhD programs tought in english, OR half english and half chinese?

    Third, if you even dont know the answer to above mentioned questions could you please provide me with some helpful websites.

    Thank you Matt

    Bek

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