Want to Move to HK - Starting Totally From Scratch

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  1. #1

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    Question Want to Move to HK - Starting Totally From Scratch

    Hello all, I have a very very difficult set of questions, but I can see this is a good place to start asking.

    I have a very, very strong urge to move to Hong Kong (for a relationship, mainly, but I also love the area very much having been there). If possible, I would like to find work and stay for extended periods of time, if not indefinitely.

    My problem is this: I'm 31 years old. So far, I have taken many wrong turns in my life. I had children early, got divorced. I have never been to a university, received a degree, or even job training of any kind. I have a high school certificate, but that is all.

    I have worked faithfully for a company for 10 years now, I have been lucky to have been with a family business where my boss was also not a college graduate, and was willing to take a chance on me. I've had a solid work record, and I'm making as much as many of my friends who DO have degrees. It's a very specialized sort of work that I do (taking pictures on microscopes), so much so that I doubt I could find similar work here in the States, much less in Hong Kong!

    I realize what I need to do is start from scratch. I have to find what job I would be suited most for, and train for it. But... where do I start?

    Many job postings, including those for ESL (English Second Language) teachers say I need a "degree"... but... degree in what? What is the proper course selection for teaching or tutoring in HK? Perhaps should I try to learn Mandarin or Cantonese and become a translator? What is an easy career path there?

    I'm not even sure what I could do, or how to train for it... or even where to begin. What I'm sure of is, I would like to live and work in Hong Kong.

    I'm starting out completely from nothing, and could use anyone's suggestions and help as to how to begin this process. If anyone has been in a similar predicament, I would love to hear how you did it. I need all the help and inspiration I can get!

    Thanks in advance for any help anyone can offer me

    Last edited by homerpez; 20-04-2008 at 12:18 PM.

  2. #2

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    There is a course called TEFL - Teaching English as a foreign language which I think is the appropriate "degree" to teach english.

    You could send out letters to labs with your resume to see if what you do is needed - worth a shot.

    What work areas interest you? There are so many possibilities but doing something you enjoy would make sense.

    The other thing is the old adage of "its not what you know...its who you know" - do you have anyone who could help you out in HK?

    I don't have enough of an idea of the work visa/department of labour's requirements in HK to help with that so it would be worth finding out what you are "allowed" to do - if you're allowed to freelance etc. or if you have to be sponsored.

    You sound like you have a strong will and determination and a good sound work ethic and I hope this benefits you in getting what you want.

    I wish you the best of luck


  3. #3

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    To live in Hong Kong you need a Visa. There are only a few ways of getting these:

    - marry a HK resident (excluding a Domestic Helper or someone here on a Study Visa); this would get you a Dependant Visa which would allow you to live and work here freely

    - obtain a job offer and sponsorship from your potential employer for an Employment Visa. These are granted for teachers, but only with qualifications, and it seems to approved more reliably and smoothly if you have some teaching experience

    - invest HK$6.5M (about US$800K) in Hong Kong assets and get a Capital Investment Entrant Scheme visa

    - come to study on an approved educational course and get a Study Visa; but this would not allow you to work.

    Full details are at the Immigration Department website


  4. #4

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    The above guys have given you good practical advice and PDLM's I can't expand on as its pretty comprehensive.

    You mentioned one of your main reasons is for a relationship? I would go as far to say don't do it if its your main reason.

    you could always do TEFL as previously suggested but you of course need some experience too either in a training/coaching capacity as well thus if you haven't done this in your current role then you could be stuck, As you won't get a visa without the experience, So if you want to do it then maybe get the qualification done still but maybe do some teaching/coaching in the states for a while to get the experience under your belt, Volunteer at an adult learning college or something like that for example.

    Good luck and hope you make it.


  5. #5

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    jimbo's advice is VERY GOOD!

    Product Testing is a HUGE industry here in Hong Kong as a matter of fact several of these testing labs/companies hire program/project managers to interact with their western clients.

    With the restricted and banned substances list these industries are having difficulty trying to locate qualified personnel who know the lingo and have the necessary abilities to do the job.

    Last edited by Alby; 21-04-2008 at 10:20 AM.

  6. #6

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    Thumbs up

    Thanks everyone, for the help so far... I can see that I have quite a ways to go, before I can make this a reality.

    @ mumto2 : TEFL was the exact course that I needed to look up, thank you!

    I was shocked to discover that there's a 60-hour course that I can take in teaching English in foreign countries, and in fact, they help you find work straight away, and GUARANTEE you WILL find work somewhere. The cost would only be $1000 US or so, which is far less than a full degree, but would be recognized in this field (as far as being an ESL teacher goes). The only problem I have is that I'm currently employed, and the school seems geared towards very quick placement (6 months or less). I might have to move faster than I anticipated!

    @ PDLM : I was aware of some of the ways to "quickly" become an HK resident and get a work visa. However I think the work route would be the best for me. The two of us both are very wary of marriage right now, for our own reasons. I obviously don't have $800 US (much less $800K US) to invest in the HK economy. Thank you though for giving me more information - the more, the better.

    @ jimbo : Thanks for the advice and input... as I said, at least superficially looking at the TEFL course and placement, they would be helping me find work, perhaps not in HK, but they did mention that as a likely location where there are many openings. Many of the classes are observed (to critique the new recruits like myself), and many are also done with teaching teams, rather than solo. I know this is the polar opposite to what I do now, so I will need all the help I can get!

    @ Alby : As much as I would love to do something like quality control or product testing in HK, that would be a different route altogether (I would probably have to take a course in Cantonese/Mandarin, which I plan on anyway, but it would be hard to do so where I live). And as I said, I do not have ANY accreditation, or advanced schooling of any kind. I can use microscopes and computers, but I have no technical, science, or math degrees that an employer there would DEFINITELY like to see.

    So far, it seems TEFL seems the path of least resistance... I'm going to look more into that and see if it's something I think I can do.

    In the mean time, I would definitely love to hear more advice, suggestions, and help for me. Maybe I'll get lucky and someone will have an opportunity for me here? (I know, life doesn't work that way)

    Thanks again everyone!


  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by homerpez:
    T
    @ Alby : As much as I would love to do something like quality control or product testing in HK, that would be a different route altogether (I would probably have to take a course in Cantonese/Mandarin, which I plan on anyway, but it would be hard to do so where I live). And as I said, I do not have ANY accreditation, or advanced schooling of any kind. I can use microscopes and computers, but I have no technical, science, or math degrees that an employer there would DEFINITELY like to see.
    You are thinking LAB work ... I was speaking more of a Program Management role ... such as a Fortune 500 Brand now has signed a HUGE contract with a testing LAB provider however ... who is going to be the intermediary / communicator between the lab and the Brand... a Program Manager - no Cantonese / Mandarin needed - your knowledge of the Lab / technician language is enough and if you have more than 7yrs experience in a lab or similar role a degree is often overlooked. With this restricted & substance area growing at this point several labs are strapped to find capable employees.

    Even if the JD states degree is a must - you never know what the applicant pool looks like. I know several MNC's that have hired Form 7 (high school degree holders) based on their practical work experience as the potential pool of applicants with degree's were not so great.

    One HH / Recruiter friend of mine said in reference to applicants with degrees that had applied for a posted position that the applicants, 'didn't know their way out of paper bag let alone how to talk to client's and lab technicians.'

    If you PM me your email address I can send you an example of the JD's (job description's) of exactly what I am talking about instead of talking in abstract terms.


    ***no I am not a HH/recruiter but know my fair share of them***
    Last edited by Alby; 22-04-2008 at 05:17 PM.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by homerpez:
    @ jimbo : Thanks for the advice and input... as I said, at least superficially looking at the TEFL course and placement, they would be helping me find work, perhaps not in HK, but they did mention that as a likely location where there are many openings. Many of the classes are observed (to critique the new recruits like myself), and many are also done with teaching teams, rather than solo. I know this is the polar opposite to what I do now, so I will need all the help I can get!
    Don't worry about those companies that say they can help you find work, Once you qualify and have experience under your belt then the work is pretty much available anywhere and anytime.

    Some of us did it all online and didn't find it a problem as you don't really need/require to go and observe if you have some sort of coaching/training background which some of us have had.

    Voluntary work might be the way to go to get the experience/help you need for some of the TEFL course, I.E reading with kids whose english is a second language and that type of thing.

    Try and find a local language centre and offer your services and see if its something you really want to do.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by jimbo:
    Voluntary work might be the way to go to get the experience/help you need for some of the TEFL course, I.E reading with kids whose english is a second language and that type of thing.
    Chinese YMCA is looking for volunteers to work with / teach English with several disadvantage kids in various areas of Hong Kong.