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Show me the money

When I first came to Taiwan in 1999 I was paid NT$480 per hour at ELSI (now known as Kojen). Now seven years later, I am getting paid NT$650 per hour, a 35% increase.

It seems ok at first glance. However, when you consider a number of factors it is not very good at all.

The first one is exchange rates. Back in 1999 the exchange rate was NT$19 to AU$1. So if you convert the hourly rate to Australian dollars I was earning AU$25.26. In 2006 the exchange rate is NT$24 to AU$1. So my hourly rate is now AU$27.08. This is an increase of just 9% which would be below the rate of inflation.

The other thing to consider is my qualifications and experience. When I first came to Taiwan in 1999 I had just completed a TEFL certificate but I had no teaching experience. I could barely make a complete sentence in Mandarin. I now have four years of teaching experience and I can speak Mandarin well. While I was searching for a job in April this year a number of employers were interested in hiring me because of my experience but all of them still offered the same rate of NT$650 per hour.

I am sure there are some jobs out there which do actually reward people for their qualifications and experience, but they seem to be the exception rather than the rule. Often jobs that require a B.Ed. or Master’s degree offer salaries that are little different from what an FOB gets paid for working in a kindergarten.

Money is not the main reason I came to Taiwan. And even though the hourly rate I am getting paid is not great I am still earning more than the average Taiwanese university graduate (and a hell of a lot more than someone working in 7-Eleven). However, I really would like to be rewarded a little for my experience.

UPDATE: Mark of Doubting to Shuo discusses this further on his blog. He has some interesting ideas about how to realise financial rewards teaching in Taiwan.

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Comment from Mark
Time 28 June 2006 at 3:49 am

I really, really think someone with your skills can get more. You haven’t been back for that long, though. Keep an eye out!

Comment from Todd Alperovitz
Time 30 June 2006 at 1:37 pm

Mark is right….

Seriously David, you should be getting much more. I get paid as much as you and I have only been here a couple months. The only thing I have going for me is a state of Michigan Secondary Education Certificate which looked nice during interviews but by no means sent me soaring above the competition.

Comment from Danielw
Time 2 July 2006 at 2:19 pm

Hi David, I’ll ask my school if you like. They offer somewhere between 650-700 starting salaries. It’s a good place to work, I think – in downtown Taipei.

Comment from David
Time 2 July 2006 at 4:20 pm

Thanks, Daniel. I am looking to change jobs in the next month or two. It is not just about money. I don’t feel the school I am working at offers a good working environment. I really want to develop my skills as a teacher, but I at least need some decent books to work from and other teachers to consult for advice.

Comment from Anonymous
Time 7 July 2006 at 3:34 pm

I think the salary sounds pretty fair considering the profession you are in. Local teaching salaries are quite a bit lower.

Pingback from The Best Way Of Teaching In Taiwan « memoirs on a rainy day
Time 29 November 2006 at 1:39 pm

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