I know it is very difficult to answer the "Can I get a job in HK?" questions, but hopefully this one is generic enough to be workable.

I am looking into moving to Hong Kong. I work in IT (several years of networking and unix experience, good certifications, etc.). But I don't speak Cantonese, so I think that will get in the way of finding an IT job. If anyone doesn't think so, let me know. I have searchrf the English classifieds (like,, etc.). But I think the posting being in English doesn't indicate no Cantonese required. :/

So I was considering teaching English. And I actually have a genuine interest in doing this. But my background is not suited to teaching - unrelated degree, no TEFL certification, no experience, etc. So I in no way qualify for the NET program or many of the primary/university level jobs I have found. But what about the kindergarden/private schools? Is being a native English speaker from the US good enough? What kind of salary do those positions pay? I have done many job searches, but I don't think it is the time of year for schools to be hiring. So does anyone know from seeing these job postings in the past? Thanks!


Hello Radix,

You don't mention whether you need a visa to work here, or you already have the right to live and work here ? If you need a visa, and you don't speak Cantonese, then unfortunately I think you'll find it difficult.

The big companies are likely to insist on Cantonese, whether or not that's what they say in their job ads. The smaller companies (especially those which are run by expats) may be more willing to hire other westerners - but unless you have very unique skills they probably won't want the trouble of applying for a visa for you.

Maybe I'm being too pessimistic - are there any readers who've arrived in HK in the last few years and been able to find a company here to arrange their visa and give them a job ?



It's definitely getting a lot more difficult than it was some years back.

I've worked for large organisations in the HR field for many years and while previously it was almost a 'routine' to be gone through with not too much inspection at immigration headquarters, nowadays each case seems to be gone through with a fine tooth comb.

In one case, we were challenged as to how comprehensively we had sought the skills we were looking for locally and had to provide documentation to evidence our local and unsuccessful search.

While hard, it's not impossible, the thing in most countries now....are you bringing skills which are not available in the local labour market...if you are, you stand a pretty good chance of a successful employment visa application. It will depend on finding a company willing to sponsor you of course.

Good luck if you decide to pursue the move over here.


Well, what sort of things qualify as skills no local has? Because other than speaking native English, Hong Kong has enough well-educated people to fill any need. Doesn't it? :)

Is there a directory of expat-owned businesses, by any chance?



Sorry, one more thing...I do not have a work visa. I am trying to move there with my fiance. Her parents were born in HK, and hold resident cards, I believe. Not sure if that helps her case. Either way, if she were to become sponsored for a work visa, I could go as her dependant. I realize this wouldn't allow me to work, but is it easier to transition to a work visa given you are already there as a dependant? Thanks.


my company has successfully hired managerial level employees with specialist skills, i.e. in the hospitality industry but even then we sometimes have to battle to demonstrate that a particular skill level or international experience base couldn't be found locally or we could not recruit locally

It sounds as though it will be very difficult for you unless you have something - you mention english as a language, perhaps you could pursue a TEFL qualifcation or the like

With regard to your fiancee, if she was not born here or previously held a permanent ID card, it will be difficult and she will most probably have to enter on a visitor visa and perhaps seek a change once here onto residency, depending on how long she was here and how long she's been away.

Also, you can only enter as her dependent if actually married, there may be a short-term fiancee visa but to be honest i haven't ever had to use that so am not too sure. Unfortunately, as of July 1, 2003, the rules were changed here in that previously as a dependent of someone with a work visa, that entitled you to automatically be on employment status too, and free to find work. This was changed to work visas being issued now only to the individual and dependents not being automatically granted the right to work. They now are required to qualify for an employment visa along the same lines as everyone else.

a good source of visa information is:


for 'expat' companies you may like to start your search here:





best of luck, it's not easy getting in here any longer, and with unemployment still not stable, jobs are tenuous to say the least.



Well, now I am considering getting my MBA in Hong Kong. It is something I always wanted to do, and the idea of doing international business in Hong Kong and mainland China appeals to me very much. I could learn a lot about the culture and languages by living there, which I'm sure would help me in business. However, I'm wondering how well respected the schools are? I have seen their rankings, but how well thought of their are by non-Asian based international companies? I would think companies that do business there would be aware of them and their quality. It just seems like it would be better for me to study there than here in the US due to the benefits mentioned above.


Hi Radix;

I'm fairly well up on this topic, as Mrs Tall just completed an MBA last year.

In HK, The Chinese University (CUHK) and the University of Science and Technology (HKUST) both have programs that are very highly rated -- within Asia. Mrs Tall didn't apply to either, since she wanted a more international perspective, having done her undergrad degree at Chinese U, but more on that in a bit. I don't know that I'd recommend Chinese U's program to a non-Chinese speaker. You might be able to get by, but CU exists with a mandate to further higher education using chinese language. HKUST would likely be a better fit, as it's an English-medium program, and just generally a nice place to study. Several other HK universities offer the MBA, but I'm not sure they'd be of much use outside HK/China, unless you were aiming at focusing your career on your China expertise -- but you'd need a lot of experience over here beyond academic study to pull that off.

The other option is to do an internationally-offered and respected program via distance ed; there are *many* such programs on offer in HK, and many of them have enough students here to maintain admin/support staff in Hong Kong. Mrs Tall did her degree with Henley Management College from the UK, which was recently ranked at #11 for all MBAs in the world by the Economist; Henley does run a support office here in HK. Another very good option from the UK is Warwick University; you could again study for their degree here (or from most places on earth, for that matter) via distance ed. And there are literally dozens of other options, if you look around.

The other thing to consider, of course, is cost -- you won't get a penny from the HK government if you attend a university here, obviously, and the overseas programs all require hefty -- although not utterly crushing -- fees. That said, it's way cheaper than studying for one at a decent program in the states.

Hope this helps.


Thank you for your response. I hadn't thought of distance ed - I will definately look into that option.

But I'm curious what you mean by the statement "unless you were aiming at focusing your career on your China expertise -- but you'd need a lot of experience over here beyond academic study to pull that off." Do you mean learning the language and culture? It seems like mainland China is a huge market just now beginning to be tapped. Wouldn't international companies be interested in an English and Chinese speaker with an MBA? Exactly what level of expertise on China do you think is required? Thanks!

china experience

Yes, that's just about exactly what I meant -- if you could speak Chinese, and had focused on China business in your studies, that'd be an excellent start.

I'm no businessman, though, so don't take my word on this topic! What do others who have more experience in this area think?

Working visa

Hi Radix,

Not sure if you'll see this, but I got 2 IT jobs and working visas between 2000 and 2003 - it can be done if you're persistent.

If you see this, post again and I'll give you more details...