Updated: Jan 5
Among the more common questions asked on the local Facebook job boards for foreigners is something like, “What industries do foreigners in Taiwan work in?” It’s a great question and it’s certainly valuable to have some idea of the answer when conducting your own job search.
The list of industries below is compiled based on first-hand knowledge of many professional foreigners, discussions with friends and peers, and regular reading of job boards. The list is by no means exhaustive, but I do believe it’s accurate in covering the majority of non-teaching industries that employ a significant number of foreign professionals. Of course, there are a number of “unicorns” out there who have very few or no peers for what they do, but the industries that employ those few folks will be omitted here. Giddy-up.
Let’s get this out of the way: startups are not an industry, I know. But startups are a fast-rising employer group that merit their own mention here. As is the general trend on this island, the startup space skews towards tech, though there are startups of every stripe. Taiwan startups are often foreigner-friendly because of the changing mindsets of so many new business owners, who are increasingly in their 20s and 30s. Many of these new entrepreneurs have travelled extensively or lived/studied abroad, and also embrace the need or desire for foreign talent, diverse perspectives, and/or a multi-lingual workforce to bring value to their company. One other noteworthy point is that many startups operate with a fairly flat leadership structure, creating a more collaborative and open workplace (some might say more western) compared to traditional top-down management style.
Computer Hardware + Software
Next to manufacturing, computer hardware is on the short list of industries that has put Taiwan on the map. Numerous hardware consumer brands and OEMs employ foreigners in a variety of roles, spanning engineering, sales, marketing, and technical writing. These jobs can be found in the highest concentrations in Taipei and Hsinchu.
Computer software and Software as a Service (SaaS) are growing industries in Taiwan, and a growing source of professional opportunities. As with computer hardware, these jobs cover numerous specialties and needs, including engineering, sales, marketing, customer service, recruiting, and content creation.
Acting + Modeling
It’s really not clear how many foreign actors and models earn all or most of their income working in Taiwan. A huge number of people have done it at least once for what sounds like easy cash (that’s often not the case), and you don’t need to stay here long to meet people who clearly have pretty frequent gigs. That being said, the majority of these gigs don’t boast impressive payouts and most of the models and actors we know personally also mix in other work to fill out their monthly schedule and bankroll.
Mobile apps and games have boomed globally in the past decade. With some of the world’s fastest internet and world-class gamers, Taiwan is perfectly situated to host many game publishers and studios. Opportunities in the gaming industry are available for engineers, designers, sales, writers, translators, and marketing roles.
In this section we include newspapers, educational publishers, and all other book and magazine publishers. Reaching back 10-15 years ago, publishing was traditionally the most common industry for teachers who wanted to make the jump into other professional work. One aspect that many foreign professionals and freelancers take advantage of with publishing is occasionally submitting work to newspapers that pertains to their passions or the industry they may be trying to break into, such as event planning, music and movie reviews, or international politics. With a few educational publishers, occasional scholarly university stuff in English, and a couple of English-language newspapers, publishing offers a number of jobs doing primarily what you’d expect: writing and editing.
Marketing and Advertising
This section encompasses all marketing jobs, from in-house marketing teams to production jobs to work in creative, media, and digital agencies. Taiwan is home to an increasing number of brands with international aspirations, creating a need for different language skills in marketing and communication. These jobs tend to be more language-focused – such as content writers, social media managers, and people managers – rather than technical or design-focused. The same goes for agency work. The bulk of the jobs held by foreign professionals are language-dependent, so there are less account, design, and technical roles with foreigners than for other creative jobs.
Startup Incubators / Co-Working Spaces
Along with the boom in startups, we are experiencing the rapid appearance of multiple incubators and coworking spaces. In addition to investing in startups, these businesses also are home to small offices, have meeting rooms and hot desks for rent, and host events. As the crowds at Taipei co-working spaces are increasingly diverse, there is a need for foreign talent in roles like community manager, business development, and event management.
This one is kind of location specific, but worth noting because of the high number of bike manufacturers and brands that call Taiwan home. In addition to local companies, many European and American bike brands have teams on the ground in Taiwan, in roles that range from product development to quality assurance to product management to marketing. Note that the majority of bike-related jobs are based in Taichung.
In the past 10 years, the opportunities available to foreign professionals in Taiwan have really diversified. It can still be challenging to find openings that meet your expectations, but the good news is that this list will continue to grow as new industries and changing office dynamics create more jobs.