How is working as a foreigner Software Developer/Engineer in Taipei?

There are many exciting opportunities for software. Loads of startups that need people too.

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You need to learn Chinese mainly for communicating. It’s also going to help you bond with the rest of the RD team. Most engineers are quite shy and aloof, and may not be comfortable speaking in English.

Pay varies depending on the size of the company.

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I would have agreed 10,15,20 years ago. Today I’d say naaaa no need

It’s still important if you want to build good workplace relationships. I don’t ever work with the software engineers in my office directly, but I know that if you don’t have decent Chinese you can’t communicate with them very well. And they have meetings and conference calls which are conducted in Chinese somewhat regularly.

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Then OP needs to go with one of the many international startups. Language is no issue, but obviously nice to have

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Check out this thread:

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You may have to give us your definition of international here…

There’s loads happening here in liddle’ old Taiwan in the app, software, startup scene, lots of guys who couldn’t care a less about the expat being able to speak Chinese as long as they have the minerals

Thanks for the hint! Actually, I’ve already checked that thread some time ago

Thanks for the replies.
I am already working in a medium size company, but I know little about the market because I moved to Taipei recently. My question is for having an overview from people in this field, even with different backgrounds.

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Mind sharing what it is like working in medium size company in Taiwan. For instance what are the challenges and perks if there are any. Ballpark on salaries. Super interested. Thanks.

If I ever have kids, might go back to Taiwan for their elementary and middle school education there. US lacks community style education unlike Taiwan where students serve lunches or walk to school. Helicopter parenting is just too much to handle in the US.

I’m going back in November for another 2 months. I can ask one of my cousin’s husband who has a master degree. Last time I check, he works 2 jobs making close to 80k. It’s a very tough market as a developer there. His work life balance is pretty much non-existent. Last update was a year ago. He is also actively trying to save more money to buy an apartment. He is definitely your more experienced Web developer.

Another cousin worked in an hospital as IT making 40k a month. He is pretty entry level though. So not sure about your experience level. His English literacy is pretty abysmal to be completely honest IMO. He recently quit his job and changed to something less complicated.

Edit: Whoever pinned my previous post, thank you!!

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Unless you speak Chinese, you can forget most local companies and with the salary many of them pay you will likely want to avoid them anyway.

Look for international companies that have branch offices here. Even then many of them are literally just here to hire cheap labour and only the manager speaks English and translates everything for the workers.

You need to find a company that has a reason for existing here such as supporting their companies products for the Asia region, if they are supporting a product in markets like Singapore, Korea, etc. then they will likely have an English requirement for hiring. Those sorts of places will pay higher salary for candidates that have good Software Development skills and English skills. (Because it is hard to find people with both here)

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I know a couple of developers since we go to the same co-working space and imo, it’s not worth the pay, especially if you’re coming with family. The guys I know are single and basically just digital nomads who mainly work so they can continue hopping around from place to place, so pay isn’t that important to them.

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Hi, I’m currently working as a software engineer (R&D) in Taipei. It’s a local medium-sized tech company (according to EU’s criteria).

Firstly, I would say Chinese is extremely important. As my Chinese is not good enough, I have problems in communicating with co-workers. Moreover, they seem to be too shy to speak English, even though they can speak some of it. Therefore, it would be better if you could get a position in an international company where English is spoken professionally.

Secondly, work-life balance depends highly on your time management and the culture of the workplace. Generally, the work starts from 9 am to 6 pm, have an hour break.

To sum up, it is difficult to say that working as a software engineer is good or not. It depends on your boss, co-workers, environments, payment, etc. However, I think it will be a great experience working in Taipei for a while.

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To add to this, the software engineers where I work regularly put in extra hours, so there might be some pressure to do the same depending on your work environment. I see a few of them warm up a dinner around 5 or so and I’m told they often don’t clock out until 7, sometimes 8. :confounded:

On the bright side, they all seem to get along and enjoy working together.

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Just want to counter that, in the US Bay Area, we do work overtime quite frequently. We are not forced to but if you want to get to L3 and L4 senior level software engineer, you better put in the hours. Obviously with better pay and options.

Wondering how different it is there. Are they implicitly forced?

I imagine it is to some degree expected, or maybe even necessary to keep up with the workload.

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I agree with your honest comment, it confirms all my thoughts so far.
And thanks to everyone for sharing your experiences!

I’m gonna slightly disagree with much of the above. While traditional local companies are indeed a terrible work environment, I’m not sure branch offices of international companies are generally much better: they tend to be either marginalized or treated as cheap outsourcing shops by the parent company. You can do okay if you’re the person sent to run one, but it’s not a great place to be a working engineer.

Taiwan has a vibrant startup community (and an ocean of money looking for things to fund), and that’s where I’d go looking. There are lots of meetups and conferences and demo nights, and it’s very easy to find people looking to hire.

I’m also going to conditionally disagree with the importance of Chinese. I’ve been contracting and consulting here for fifteen years, and mine is still barely adequate, but I rarely need it. I’ve worked on projects at two major local telecoms and a local bank, and even there, everyone in the room spoke English. At startups it’s pretty much a given. You’d certainly need Chinese for a PM role, but not necessarily for engineering.

YMMV.

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Define conditionally? Are you working for international company where Chinese is less relevant or Taiwan based company? I think that makes a big difference. If it is Google in Taiwan, obvious English will be the primary communication language. However, if it is Taiwanese company, then Chinese.

I have worked in Bay Area for Taiwanese companies. Sure you can communicate in English just fine, but most of the time Chinese are spoken. Bigger decisions still relies on Chinese as main language even in the US.

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