Teacher's license vs MA?

Hi everyone,

Been lurking for a couple of weeks, but first time posting. ^.^;

I’m currently teaching in Japan, but considering the move to Taiwan. I’m Taiwanese-born and also hold a New Zealand passport. I have 5+ years experience working in a private school (junior high/high school), a B.A. & B.Sc. (psychology & biology), and an online TEFL cert. I haven’t lived in Taiwan since I was 3, but I can speak/understand Mandarin fairly fluently in terms of daily life, but I can’t really read/write, or understand more advanced vocab.

I was interested in some more recent opinions on whether a teacher’s license or a master’s would be more useful when job hunting in Taiwan. I saw that some job listings have things like ARPC or marriage visa’s are ok in lieu of a teacher’s license. I can only guess that for some schools they can’t get visas unless you have a teacher’s license, but would still employ you if you didn’t have a license provided you have residency. If this is the case, is a Master’s a better option for me?

I was looking into master’s programs in both Taiwan and New Zealand. They’re cheaper in Taiwan (plus cheaper cost of living of course), but I’m not sure how widely recognised they would be. For the teacher’s license, I would have to relocate back to NZ, study for a year, and try to get the licensing sorted. NZ recently changed their licensing so that it has to be renewed once a year. I’m not sure what the process for renewing the license is and whether it would be useful or not.

Would love to hear your opinions or advice.

Teacher’s license is much more useful as it’s what most jobs are looking for. You’ll get paid more money as well.
Teacher’s license will allow you to work at private international schools or the public schools. Both decent jobs with good pay.

Some private schools might hire you with just an MA, but certified international schools need the license.

An MA is more limiting. It allows you to teach at language centers in universities. Their pay is less than most private schools.

My advice, get both. Get your BEd then come here and do the MA part time while you work.

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That license is the golden ticket.


Both would be great if the situation works out.

Is there a big difference between the salary/conditions at a private international schools vs regular private schools? How common are the international school positions? I don’t think I’ve seen any job listings for international schools when I’ve been browsing.

I’m kinda surprised the university language centres pay less than private schools. I would’ve thought they would be a step up. :S

Same, but it’s true.

Very big. Non certified teachers start at like 65,000.
With experience international schools pay 75,000 plus. Take a look at ISS. It’s a recruitment website. You need to pay, but that’s the only place some schools hire from.

Very common for licensed teachers. You still likely need to start at one of the lower tiered schools but with experience and networking, you can move up to better schools. Many pay 100,000 plus. They all require a teacher’s license, no exceptions because they’re WASC accredited.

Also check on the school websites. Hiring season is pretty much over for Sept 2021.

I suggest Hsinchu. There are a lot of international schools because of the science park, and most expats don’t want to live there, myself included. Haha

If you want to take the risk of trying for a uni job then the MA is more useful (and it is a risk in today’s job market… unis are increasingly turning towards PhD holders). If you want a sure bet with private schools, then go for the teaching license. I will say as a Uni instructor, that I do NOT have a teaching license and do have a Masters. I would like to take some time to get my license some day, but right now my job doesn’t require it. If for some reason I am laid off (a possibility for the not-too-distant future as the birth-rate decline that began two decades ago starts to affect student enrollment rates) I will have no choice but to get it.

It is true, but I feel this is offset by all the vacation time, fewer required teaching hours and no desk-warming in uni environments compared to private school environments. Although more prep time is required for uni jobs.

This is another reason to go for a certificate not an MA. The are other threads here where you can see. The university jobs are disappearing and getting more competitive despite being less pay than private schools

can’t you get a teacher licence while you are doing your master’s, or using the degree?

I’ve taught in both environments, and will say I enjoy teaching at a Uni a lot more than at a private school. There’s a lot of reasons (which I won’t go into) why uni jobs are so competitive, despite the pay not being great. But as a practical matter, it does probably make more sense to get a certificate. Since one can get a cert a lot quicker, OP should go for that first and then s/he can start working on a MA once they have the cert.

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I see~ I did notice there were quite a few listings for Hsinchu. xD I was mainly looking at jobs in Taipei because that’s where a lot of the universities are, but also because I have family there.

I guess it makes sense that the uni jobs are becoming more competitive, what with the declining birth rate compounded with a lot more people choosing education over the past few decades.

May I ask when the best time to look for a school job would be? In Japan, the hiring seems to start very early. School year wise, it’s a bit inconvenient going from country to country. Japan runs April to March, New Zealand runs Jan to Dec, and Taiwan seems to run Sept to Aug. I guess I could always go for a short-term bridging job with a buxiban or something.

Most schools ask teachers if they will return in about December so around then.

Taipei is much more competitive. Take a look at Linkou AAIA is good, there’s also Kang Chiao… It’s a decent school for a new teacher.

Yes, exactly

Ahh… desk-warming. Is it very common in Taiwan? How about air conditioners in public schools?

My current school in Tokyo is really nice to work at actually, because there’s no desk-warming, no micromanaging, and we’re paid through the vacation periods. Coworkers are great too. The only problem is that there’s no opportunity for development/upwards movement, and not much in the way of benefits (as I’m through a dispatch company). The pay is ok, but unlikely to increase beyond what I’m being paid now, and it’s difficult to save a lot without sacrificing lifestyle and choosing a much smaller box. Basically, my grass is green, but could it be greener? xD

Yes, it’s rare that a buxiban or private school doesn’t require deskwarming. That’s one advantage uni programs have over them.

To be honest, I’m not sure why you want to leave your school in Tokyo. It sounds nice. Is this a COVID thing? Just don’t make any career moves you can’t take back. You could leave a good school and end up at a place you really don’t like. It’s happened to me, and others. There isn’t a ton of upward mobility at the schools here either fwiw.

Not too sure on that one, but I didn’t think so. I’m still researching the courses though.

My uni is in Kaohsiung. It’s VERY difficult to find a uni job in Taipei without a PhD. The unis are a lot more competitive there, just be aware. If you are planning to move to Taipei, probably best just to focus on international school/ private school route.

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As far as public schools, the desk warming is very much a requirement although it varies by school how much you have to do. Right now is winter vacation time and I’m only doing half days of desk-warming while I know people at other schools who are doing full days. Depends on your relationship with your director and principal.

As far as the air conditioners, there’s a plan in place to get air conditioners in all public schools by… 2023?25? I forgot the year actually. Also not sure if it’ll happen or not.

I’ve been lucky to work in schools that have air-conditioners. Schools near airports and manufacturing zones have had them for a year or two now. Have to buy a prepaid card to turn it on though but its not that expensive.

Yeah, it is really nice and that’s why it’s been hard for me to decide what I want to do in the future because it really is a hard position to top.

It is a little COVID related, but a bunch of other stuff making me question where I want to be in the future. I’ve been feeling a bit lonely/isolated over here at the mo. My friends are always leaving to return to their home countries, my coworkers are awesome but my school works them hard so they don’t really have time to hang out, plus all the COVID stuff. I have about intermediate level Japanese, but I’m not very confident and can’t express myself very clearly, and it’s kinda difficult for me to make friends here. The other women my age are generally married with kids, or only go out to drink (I’m basically a teetotaler). Hanging out at friends’ houses isn’t common here. I feel like I’ll still run into many similar problems in Taiwan, but at least I’ll have family to turn to. I still can’t read/write, but at least I can speak well enough to have access to a bigger potential friend pool… maybe.

On the more practical side, in Japan, I’m not a citizen and don’t have the same rights. I would have to stay another 4 and a half years before I qualify for permanent residency. It’s difficult for foreigners to get mortgages in Japan, especially without PR or a Japanese spouse, and there’s discrimination even for things like finding a place to rent. I think a lot of people living here this past year really felt like “outsiders” because people who left Japan before/during COVID couldn’t return even if they had long-term residency. There were so many stories of people who left for some reason (some before the changes went through), and then couldn’t return their jobs and homes for months. Then there’s also just the general difficulties with paperwork and language; I know I’ll still have that in Taiwan, but again, at least I’ll have family who can help me with that. Also, cost of living in Japan is high, and I’ve been trying to work out savings potential for Taiwan vs Japan, and it feels like Taiwan is winning.

So yeah… I don’t want to end up somewhere I don’t like, but I don’t know that staying in my current job for the next however many years they’ll have me is necessarily the best move either. I’m in my mid-30’s now so I figure if I’m going to be doing some extra study, it’s now or never.

Oh yep, that makes sense. I meant that I was looking at school jobs in Taipei so that I could study part-time for master’s at one of the universities.

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What? xD So even if the schools have the air cons, they expect the teachers to pay for the comfort? It seems so crazy to me that schools don’t have air con considering the oppressive heat/humidity over the summers. I’ve only worked in one school this whole time and I’m so thankful they have air conditioners in all the classrooms and in the office.

It’s a shame that so many schools still do desk warming. I think part of the reason my school doesn’t do desk warming is cos it’s cheaper for us to stay home (most companies in Tokyo pay for employee commute costs).

Are you ever given projects or tasks for the vacation periods to keep you occupied?