Working in Hong Kong is many peoples dream, but finding work in Hong Kong can be a nightmare. Not only do you have to have the requisite educational background but you also have to prove that the job you’re doing can’t be done by a local and that only you can fill the position.
There are a number of specific jobs and industries that have traditionally provided employment for expats in Hong Kong.
Once you've picked your job below, take a look at our How to Find a Job in Hong Kong article, which has a list of essential resources and contacts.
- Banking and Finance – Most expats in Hong Kong work in the banking and finance sector, however, almost all of these have been moved here on temporary contracts by there home office in New York, London, Paris etc. It is unlikely, although not impossible, that you will find work in Hong Kong’s banking and finance sector individually, unless you have past experience with a certain bank or in the Asian financial sector.
- Teaching – One of the most popular forms of employment for English speakers in the city (with limited opportunities for French and German speakers), the educational and skills requirements for teaching English in Hong Kong are generally high compared with other countries. Hong Kong has a number of highly regarded International Schools, where the sole language of instruction is English, meaning there offer openings not only for English teachers, but Science, History, and other subject areas. Competition for jobs at these schools is fierce, and you will typically required to have a Bachelors Degree, a professional teaching qualification and usually, although not always, a year or two of teaching experience. On the upside, pay and conditions are generally excellent.
TEFL qualified teachers will also find opportunities in the city, although these can often be off the books and relatively poorly paid. The more experience you have, the better the school. There are many, many cowboy schools to look out for in Hong Kong. If you want to work legally, you will still need to have a degree in your suitcase.
- Publishing/Media - There are a number of both local and international publishing houses and media organisations based in Hong Kong. Hong Kong Magazine, Time Out and the South China Morning Post Magazine are all local magazines that regularly hire English speaking expats with relative experience. If you don’t have a background in journalism, it will be almost impossible to get hired. Internationally, many major magazines and news organisations maintain offices and bureaux’s here, BBC Magazines, CNN and VOA are three of the biggest.
- Restaurant and Bar Work - Once a staple of expat employment, the opportunities for bar and restaurant work, if you don’t have a Hong Kong ID Card, are dwindling. The exception is trained chefs and cooks, for who there are good opportunities working at the city’s many western restaurants.
- Hospitality Industry - If you have a background in hotel hospitality work from manager to concierge, Hong Kong has excellent opportunities. The city is packed with international chains who seem to carte blanche to employ whoever the wish. Contracts are extremely lucrative.