Want to move to Taiwan and work as a Software Engineer

Hi everyone,

I’m looking for some advice with regards to moving to Taiwan.

I’m a 22 year old Canadian citizen (half Taiwanese, my mom has a citizenship card and passport) currently working in the software industry. Recently, my girlfriend has decided to pursue a new degree in a Taiwanese university and I’ve been thinking about moving there with her. I wanted to know how realistic this would be, and what are the steps I need to take to make this happen?

I heard that Google has an office there and I have been setting my sights on applying to work for them. But I’m not sure how the whole situation works in terms of obtaining a Visa (if it’s even necessary given my mom’s citizenship) and getting covered under the health care system.

I’d greatly appreciate any insight or guidance on this :slight_smile:


You need to spend a whole lot of time researching this. If you try and take Taiwanese citizenship you will at some point have to do military service here. I wouldn’t pin your hopes on working at Google. Taiwan is littered with Taiwanese Canadians/Americans trying to find jobs in the tech industry. But on the plus side there are jobs here for software engineers. Anyway someone will be along shortly to give some more advice on what you need to be doing.

What the_bear said. Taiwan has more software people than it knows what to do with. If you genuinely are an engineer - as opposed to a “coder” - you might find yourself with an interesting job, but it’ll almost certainly be at a foreign-run company. There aren’t many locally-run companies that value code quality or robust design.

I have no idea if Google Taiwan does any actual software development here; I always assumed it’s just a data centre.

As you may already know, salaries are not great in Taiwan, although this is offset by a fairly modest cost of living. At 22, you’ll probably be starting on less than NT$50K.

You might be better off thinking in terms of either (a) setting up on your own and running your business from Taiwan or (b) doing a postgrad degree. I wouldn’t worry too much about military service - apparently it’s down to a few months now, and in between lots of boring routine you do get to play with big machines and blow stuff up.

Also … I can’t help wondering if your gf’s decision is a not-so-subtle hint she wants to move on. At 22 you’ve got your whole life ahead of you and she may have just realised there’s a whole big world out there.

To add to all that, you also need to compete with foreigners who work here in those IT companies. My advice? Don’t give up everything and move to Taiwan without a job, unless you can support yourself throughout your girlfriend’s time at school here. If you can at least speak Mandarin, then that could at least be an edge. IT companies do give plus points for that ability as it makes collaboration easier.

If I were in your shoes, I’d only move to Taiwan for either of these two things: I’ve found a job here, or that I genuinely want to at least explore it for at least a month.

Does it!?

Embedded software I could believe, but 90% of the time when I view a Taiwanese website it’s pretty clear that webdevs don’t grow on trees.

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Web development, IMHO, is not software engineering. It’s mostly done by artistic types who learned Java (or whatever scripting language the Web uses this week) as a sideline.

Taiwan actually has some extremely talented artists and designers. Unfortunately, they’re just not being hired. Corporate websites look like they were put together by 12-year-olds in 1990 because the bosses still haven’t realized that your website is your public face. They genuinely think that flash animations, broken links, and impossible-to-navigate HTML product lists are just a-OK.

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@nubreed141 If you want to work at Google Taiwan, your best shot might be to get a job at Google Canada first. However before you do anything else I’d take finley’s observation to heart and consider whether your gf is actually interested in moving to Taiwan with you.

I think you are confusing web design with web development.


Re Canada, word has it they take their sweet time choosing among candidates, like so sweet they need a year’s supply of insulin.

The times they are a changing. Browsers are a software platform now, and any engineering of applications that work in a browser is - by definition - software engineering. My day job is in ye olde fashioned native apps, but I can see the writing on the wall.

I’m in completely agreement. There’s some serious design talent in Taiwan. I said 90% of websites, because there’s a 10% that’s just brilliant.

If you will gross 100K US, (gross not profit) then I highly recommend you establish your company in Taiwan. Register it is in Taipei and there are startup grants for new businesses. Then you can sponsor your own work permit.

Well, monkey_yuan was specifically talking about websites. I do realise you can now - say - build a database front end that runs in your browser, and that probably does demand a software engineer, but my point was that simply writing some code doesn’t make you an engineer, any more than building a shed in your backyard makes you an engineer.

An engineer has some formal training, has served some kind of apprenticeship, and (possibly) has a certification from a professional body. He realises that what he does has real-world consequences if he does it badly, even if those consequences just involve wasting his employer’s money (eg., he writes code that’s so execrable that it can’t be maintained and has to be thrown away and done again).

There’s a common idea these days that anyone can design software. This is about as daft as imagining that anyone can design a bridge if they watch enough YouTube videos.


Anyway, my point was, if the OP is an actual engineer, he’ll be appreciated by certain companies who really are seeking engineers, and unappreciated by the vast majority who think what they need is “coders”.

I don’t think software engineering is a very meaningful concept at this point in time. An engineering needs to be based around a science, and I don’t think we’re a science yet. Alchemy had to transform into chemistry before chemical engineers could exist.

I’m sympathetic to what your saying, but I don’t know if our immature not-quite-a-field is ready for it.

[quote=“monkey_yuan, post:12, topic:160598, full:true”]
I don’t think software engineering is a very meaningful concept at this point in time. An engineering needs to be based around a science, and I don’t think we’re a science yet. Alchemy had to transform into chemistry before chemical engineers could exist.[/quote]
I dunno about that. The Romans made great concrete, despite knowing nothing about Chemistry. They also made some pretty good roads using rules-of-thumb about soil bearing capacity, properties of materials, etc.

In any case, there is a lot of solid science behind software engineering. Would you employ a coding guy who hadn’t formally studied the many algorithms that have been developed by PhD types over the years? I wonder how many “coders” waste time inventing something from scratch - badly - because they’re unaware that someone had already solved their problem in 1956? I wonder how many of today’s graduates can’t even write, say, a bubble sort or a linked list because it’s already in a class library somewhere?

At a more mundane level, good engineers put plenty of comments in their code because they’re aware of the human factors involved in writing (and maintaining) good software.

I’d say the problem is not that it’s immature, but that it’s evolving too fast for engineering good practice to keep up with it. Engineering, of any type, is inherently conservative (or anally-retentive, depending on your views). When I was younger I got very frustrated with older engineers who were highly resistant to, say, using a new-on-the-market MCU instead of one that’s tried-and-trusted with a bug-free toolchain. Having experienced endless frustrations trying to do things the ‘modern’ and ‘better’ way, I now have a much more nuanced view of these issues.

Personally, I blame salesmen. While I love the fact that I can now design with (say) a switchmode power controller IC that’s pathetically easy to use, I also find it depressing that that wonderfully-designed piece of silicon will be thrown in the garbage two or three years from now.

Have you considered trying to find a remote development job in Canada / US? Or maybe even freelance? Although it might be a little hard to find if you don’t have much work experience – making CAD and spending TWD is not a bad way to go… The general impression I get from my [Taiwanese] girlfriend is that “coders” don’t get much respect here (I haven’t worked with any of them so I’m not sure what the average skill level is).

I’m an American software developer and work for a small American mobile game development company. My boss is pretty nice and lets me work whatever hours I want (he also works weird hours so I often speak to him in the middle of his night). I make less than I would in America… but it’s still more than enough to live with in Taiwan.

If you have a small portfolio and a CompSci bachelors I would think you could also easily make enough from freelancing to support yourself here…

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I advertised for a remote Senior Dev in Canada about two months ago PHP/MySQL in CI. I had precious few applications from qualified coders. I suggest that you learn what’s hot, hone your skills in those areas and look around. If you’re fluent in any commonly used stack, you’ll be in great demand. In all of North America there are more jobs than qualified applicants, and, believe me, being fluent in English is definitely another feather in your cap.

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Yeah, I’ve occasionally advertised from freelancers and got responses from people who could barely spell their own name. There is a tiny subset of people who call themselves “programmers” who are actually competent to do the jobs asked of them. Americans are still in demand for such positions because (very broadly speaking) they set themselves high targets and attain them.

As I qualified coder it’s always a red flag when job postings think that experience in a tech stack is the most important criteria for hiring. Tech stacks come and go, and a good programmer can learn any of them fairly easy. It’s a bit like asking for a builder who has experience with a certain brand of hammer - who cares as long as they know about carpentry.

If you want decent candidates, talk about real skills. Any code monkey can “learn” a language. Not everyone can talk to stakeholders, care about reliability, and design something that won’t be a maintenance nightmare. Far more important than whether they’ve used a certain brand of SQL database.

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I will give my opinion on this topic later. Software development can be very, very tiresome and it’s partially the coders’ fault.

It’s a field I want to get out of in the next 5 years. The issue is at the end of the day it’s pseudo-engineering, and I don’t want to be treated like a pseudo-engineer.

Which is a shame as it’s a genuine passion of mine.

Many of the talented types leave as quickly as possible. Especially those with grad degrees and overseas experience. Why work here for half the pay of China? It’s a real problem as this kind of talent is essential, though many SME business leaders likely don’t realize it to be so.