Salary for Taiwanese-Americans with dual nationality

I’m a Taiwanese-American with dual nationality, recently moved to Taipei from the US to work as a translator at an academic editing company. I entered with my Taiwan passport. Initially, they said my salary would be 35k/mo during the 3-mo probation, and then increased to 40k after the probation.

A few days ago, I was offered to switch to become a FT proofreader; the senior (also the only FT) proofreader believes that my English skills are superb, and they need another FT proofreader, so she and the CEO both think that I’d be a good fit. I was also asked to back up translation editing on a per diem basis (i.e., in case of backlogs), though I have never done professional editing in my life. I was offered a 5k raise from the 40k I would normally get as a translator. I thought it sounded okay, so I agreed. I’m in transition right now (proofreading half a week) and also still on probation (1.5mo in), but will fully switch over in March.

However, after telling my fellow translators about this, they seem to think that I should be getting paid more, regardless of the position, because I’ve just recently arrived from abroad. Apparently (I don’t know how accurate this is), foreigners holding ARC in my company are getting 70k because of a certain minimum salary required for them to be able to stay in Taiwan, and that partly has to do with the fact that they still need to pay US taxes (?). Well, I still need to pay my US taxes this year too, and I am a US citizen. I’ve been trying to justify my salary by saying that maybe they also look at experience (I’m considered an inexperienced translator with about 7mo of translating experience, though my work gets a B+ to A, mostly As as per our editors’ grading), but the thought that I may be underpaid is still nagging.

There are probably 2 factors here: my dual nationality, and the job function. I don’t know how much a proofreader is supposed to get paid in Taiwan, but the senior proofreader says she gets paid more than the translators; I did not inquire what her salary is exactly for obvious reasons. I also have not tried finding out how much my fellow translators are getting paid for fear that it’s not culturally appropriate to ask (is it?).

So the real question is, should I be getting paid more than the 45k? Should I try asking for more after switching over for some time (depending on how well I do)?

Foreigner have to be paid a minimum of NT$48k or so. US taxes have nothing to do with it. $45k is pretty good for a Taiwan national. $70k is pretty well paid for a foreigner. You are being treated as a Taiwanese and paid fairly generously by Taiwanese standards. Everyone is underpaid in Taiwan, and you had better be prepared with a backup job if your roll up and demand $70k. Since it sounds like you’ve only been here a few months and are still learning the ropes in this field (and they already gave you two raises), I would suggest that you not raise this until you have really proved yourself (say after 1 year). You can make pretty good money doing this (for Taiwan) if you develop the skills and connections. Maybe start your own company in a year…

45 sounds about right. 70 is a lot, but you will never get that as a translator, or even a proofreader, mainly because of your ethnicity.

Thanks for the replies, but I actually was never planning, expecting, or even wishing for a 70k. I guess I indirectly mis-implied it when I gave that as an example. I was just wondering if I should be getting more than 45k, but ok, yeah, I do realize that translators/proofreaders aren’t the most lucrative careers.

I guess I voluntarily put myself at a disadvantage by working in Taiwan as a Taiwan national. So what if I had told them that I wasn’t a TW citizen, entered with my US passport, and had them apply for an ARC on my behalf? Technically in that case, I wouldn’t be treated as a Taiwan national, right? So I would be getting a foreigner-level salary instead? Just wondering.

I would argue that translation can be incredibly lucrative… because it is. However, like a lot of other things in Taiwanese (Chinese?) society, it’s all about giving people a good impression of yourself and knowing the right connections. If you can keep casework coming on a regular basis, it’s easy to make a comfortable living at home as a freelancer. In fact, if you’re into translation and want to maximize your income and flexibility, I would recommend getting a 9-5 job that reliably lets you off work and then taking assignments in your spare time. Once the influx of assignments becomes stable, you could even quit your day job (since unlike me, you don’t need an ARC to stay in the country).

By the way, I only have personal experience with C>E translation. My friends who are fully bilingual (as in, native speakers of both languages) make bank because they always have jobs coming in; when they’re short on CE assignments, they look for EC, etc.

That said, the translation industry here is what I would call a U-shaped spectrum. There are high-end and low-end cases and clients, and little in between. The main factor is how important quality is to the client – if it’s important they’ll pay a lot, but some clients have actually asked me for low quality freebies – and it will also depend on the skill of the translator and his/her confidence to defend decisions in the translation process.

I’d say 45K is pretty decent, depending on how many hours you pour into the job. If you work say, 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, I’d say you made out pretty well with 45K。

Apparently most Taiwanese graduates start off with 22k per month. I’m not saying that’s right, but you’re already earning a lot more than that.

Im jealous

Most companies will not give you more money simply because you hold another passport. Once you establish your residence as outside of the USA (with an initial proving period) you will not have to pay taxes as long as your earnings fall below a certain amount. You do have to declare your income though.

So in a word, once again. NO. You do NOT get extra pay simply for holding US citizenship in addition to Taiwan citizenship.

You get paid for what you are worth to them (and what they can get away with paying you).

That is the bottom line.

Unless you make over $92000 USD this year (I might be off a 2000-3000 USD, check the exemption on the IRS website), you don’t need to pay US taxes, but you must file it, or the IRS will try to fine you and steal your money.

Don’t forget to file that stupid FBAR form or the IRS will fine you and try to steal your money.