Live in the Philippines — Get a Job?

Ah yes, the most searched for term on PhilFAQS, where you learn how to answer the FAQS (Frequently Asked Questions) about living in the Philippines.

Also,one of the most frequently asked question in comments here and in personal emails I get (don’t forget, you can always send me a (short) private email by clicking on the Contact link up on the top main menu), is “How can I find a job in the Philippines”?

How to Move to the Philippines Manual

Well, the “party line” hereabouts is, you can’t.  Or, in the rare case that you do, you won’t like it and/or will barely earn enough to live on, if that.  You can read more on this in some of my more popular articles, starting here. More About Foreigner Jobs in the Philippines or perhaps Philippine Jobs and Productivity — Mutually Exclusive?

But, like almost all questions, there’s always another side to this story.  And that is, there ARE Americans and other foreigners working here in the Philippines, and some have darn good salaries and really nice expat expense/compensation packages that are the evny of many.

So what’s their secret?

Well, first of all, they actually know something,  They have some valuable skill which makes their employer money … their job wasn’t just given to them because they needed one.

Let me give yu an example.  I just this morning saw a prominent (and relatively expensive) ad from a head hunter/recruitment firm that was prominently extolling the virtues of jobs in the Philippines.  Are you familiar with Oracle 11g?  How about SAP, and in particular the current “darling” of the backend business Process outsourcing industry .. BPO for short… SAP HANA?  The ad was filled with more acronyms and buzzwords about impressive, high-end business software too.

Get a Job Living in the Philippines

Living Good in the Philippines

Are you familiar with these sort of high-end business systems, or are you a programmer/software engineer?  Or, very much in demand, are you a proven project manager, with professional project management certification?

Then there are jobs for you in the Philippines.  I can assure you of that.  The picture on the left is just one of Manila’s very high-end condo developments where at least one reader of PhilFAQS lives, rent paid by his employer (the rent on a condo unit here would be in the $2000 to $3000 a month range).  He also gets a car allowance, educational allowance, free hospitalization plan, and, since he’s living overseas on overseas-sourced income, he pays little or no US taxes.

Wow!  How lucky is that.  What a lucky man, I’m so jealous,

Well turn off the green eyes, sports fans, because it wasn’t “luck’ that put this fellow in his position, it was work and dedication.

He Worked:

Work at earning his undergrad degree, work at earning graduate degrees, work at staying on the job, even when deadlines loomed and things didn’t go right.  And work that meant staying at the office and doing whatever was needed to finish a project, no matter what his “job description” said.

Work Means Work:  This may seem like something pretty obvious.  May even break your train of thought.  Which is what I hope it will do.

Why?  Because in more than ten years of dealing with folks who want to find jobs in the Philippines … and in even convincing Google that I know a lot about finding jobs for foreigners, especially Americans, in the Philippines, I have come to know quite a bit about the people who are looking for jobs in the Philippines.

Many of them have a much different concept of WORK than I do, or what the people living in that condo have.

A first clue I get comes from the number of people who visit here from their work.  Hello?  Reading this website may be more or less pleasurable to some, but it can’t be classified as WORK.

If you are the sort of person who can’t figure out what to do either to improve your employer’s bottom line … or to improve your OWN bottom line/abilities/education, etc., then my prediction is you are not going to have much success.  Surfing the ‘net while your employer is paying you to work is not the most productive use of your time.

A second clue I get is the most common ‘weak sister” “help me” message that starts out “I don’t care what the job is, or what it pays.”

Well, guess what?  If you have no idea where you are going, any road will get you there.  To find a job, you have to focus and aim at a target that is suitable to you.  There are some good tips here, if you currently have no focus.  Jobs in the Philippines — Rifle or Shotgun?

If you don’t even have a resume, or a focus on a goal, then the most important thing you can do, right now, costs nothing, is to get serious and figure out what you want to do.

Trust me, this is one of the single most important things that those of you are “adrift” out there can do.

But I Don’t Know Anything Special:

Then who the heck would want to hire you?  Seriously, this is the sort of comment/attitude that depresses me.  For three major reasons:

First, when you say that about yourself it shows me you have no self-respect.  EVERYONE on the face of the earth is SOMEONE.  You are special, as am I and everyone else.  If you don’t figure that out, don’t think enough of yourself to find out in what way you are special, then how on earth do you figure other people will treat you well?

Second, You did not go to school once in your life, when you were young, then take one job and be done with education (in life education).   Your real job in life should be investing in your own education.  If you haven’t learned something new recently, stop reading my blog (or anyone else’s) and get out there and learn something.  This goes double for all those out there who surf from work because they are “under-employed” and bored with work.  Perfect opportunity to help yourself grow. (oh, and by the way, there is VERY little to learn on Facebook!)

Third and final observation for today:  Be open to change!

Not too long ago I enjoyed watching a Discovery Channel series about coal mining in West Virgina.  It was pretty cool, I learned a lot about mining.  And, like most such series, it was told through the lives of a number of real-world miners.

One particlular clip which was used extensively in promoting the show was a tiny clip of one of the grizzled old miner, covered in coal dust, uttering the simple phrase “Coal Mining’s All I Know”.

Well, it was dramatic.  But it was also sad.  because he was a fellow in his 50’s, already worn down by work and with alarge family depending upon him.

The sad part was, after nearly 40 years of life at work, he had not seen the opportunity to learn something else aside from coal mining.

In other words, he had not thought enough of himself, had not bothered to invest in himself, one little iota since he left high school.

I see this all the time.  People who have lost their jobs, often because of contractions in the economy, and then sit and wait for “the economy” to improve … so they can get their old work back.

Well, what if their old job doesn’t come back?  Are they going to sit and wait until 99 weeks of unemployment runs out? Do you know how many buggy whip craftsmen sat and waited for Henry’s Model T to fail in the ‘ought years of the last century?  If they were still alive, they’d be waiting still.

The world changes guys, you can change along with it or you can become and angry old man who doesn’t know “anything special”.

You are not where you are today because you were put there by others, or luck, or anything else except you, yourself and you.  And you, not “the government”, not some rich uncle who is going to die and leave you a fortune.

If you want something better, if you want that job in the Philippines that comes with that fancy condo, or if you just want to feel good about yourself and know more than you did when you were in high school, take action.  It’s all up to you. Will “coal mining” be all you know?


  1. John Miele says


    I’ll let you in on a little secret… First public mention of this.

    You know about my new job, and I am being taught quite a bit about naval architecture by my new boss (I’m learning from the best… He wrote most of the texts that the maritime academies use for teaching about propulsion and propellers).

    So, here’s the secret. I may be returning to school. That’s right. At nearly 45 years old. What has gone down is that, though my skills were very specialized, The fog in my brain from physics classes taken 25 years ago needs clearing. So, I may be taking an online naval architecture program through one of the European maritime academies. What is interesting is that I can take the classes while still traipsing around the world for work.

    This isn’t a requirement by my employer. It is a desire myself to learn as much theory as I can. The reason I was hired is that I am able to put technical concepts into terms that make business sense.

    You and I don’t always agree about schooling. Indeed, I think that many people waste education. But your article really drives home the fact that it can simply come down to choosing what you want to do… whatever that may be. It is never too late to acquire a new skillset or education, regardless of age. Will it make you employable? Still unlikely in the RP for most jobs. But by learning and becoming proficient in something that is in demand here, it certainly opens more doors than, “Well, I’ve worked as a journeyman tile installer… find me a job.”

    • says

      That’s good news, John. Indeed you make too much of our educational differences. I have a great respect for education that a., actually teaches something, and b., has a technical, real world value … not, for example, how to get rich dreaming up phony mortgage derivatives.

      It’s great they have a program like that available online. Is it a degree granting program, certificate to ??? Funny you should mention that particular subject. I was watching a show the other night regarding some ship safety issues and techniques that had been recently developed to cope with them, and I was thinking to myself … you know, to be a naval architect sure requires a little larger skill set than designing tract houses for Ayala. ;+)

      Hit it hard, John. That’s one of those things that can’t _Not_ provide some benefit down the ‘pike.

      And your comment about your age is exactly ne of my points. A whole lot of guys (and gals) are in sub-optimal jobs .. or no jobs at all … these days becuase they thought at 40-something “learning time” was over.

      In actuality, the years from 40 to 60-ish should be a wo/man’s most rewarding and productive.

      Take me as a (less than sterling) example. Just before I was 40, I was an airplane mechanic, dragging my toolbox along the flight line, busting my knuckles, burning my hands on hot wrenches in the summer, having wrenches freeze to my hand in the winter.
      By the time I was 60 I had been the program manager of a world-wide communications network upgrade, managed multi-million dollar annual budgets, and my salary was knocking on the door of $100k .. with government benefits on top.

      I did not get there by resisting change. I changed jobs every chance I had when it looked like a great opportunity. Steep learning curve? You bet. Steep learning curves are the one to watch for, you master the job quickly … it’s the shallow learning curves, like mining coal which will trap you.

      A proper education would no doubt have helped me grow, even helped me rise higher, I will not deny that … but changing jobs and taking advantage of opportunity … that’s the story of my success.

      And I was very, very seldom bored over my ‘growth years’ from about ~40 to about ~60).

      Full speed ahead, John … fair winds and following seas, as another old saying goes.

      • John Miele says

        Thanks Dave: It’s actually a bachelor of naval architecture degree, but I may just take the theoretical courses… But, I may follow through to degree… I already have, many times over, the “general” course background requirements. One of the opportunities that have arisen is here in the Philippines. Though there are naval architects here, there is a desperate shortage of those skills. (Petron, the military, the PNP, the shipyards… all need those skills and are screaming for help) The profession is on the restricted list, so my company is being hired to provide the services in demand here.

        • John Miele says

          Dave: To further clarify… There are many filipino graduates, but they are snapped up for jobs abroad almost immediately upon graduation. A naval architect with a BS can easily earn US$65K + immediately upon graduation. A MS? Well over US$100K. At those wages, it is pretty tempting to go and work for ARAMCO or Exxon, eh? Locally, they pay pretty good wages to Filipinos in the profession… not much different from foreign wages, which makes the profession a very good one for young people who want to make their living here.

  2. John Miele says

    Dave: As an FYI… I’m also really loving the new job. It’s easy to be enthusiastic when you like what you do!

    • says

      I’m d-double delight3ed to hear that, John. You know, many folks don’t seem to realize that job and unhappiness/dissatisfaction don’t have to march together. Isn’t there some famous saying out there that says something like “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life”?

  3. marjorie says

    Hi Dave

    There is an another apt saying – ‘You are never too old to learn’. Even when you are retired from going out to work there are still things to learn. As the detective Poirot say, we have to keep the little grey cells working.

    Around Johns age I had to learn all about using a computer in an office. When I left to bring up the family no one knew much about them. I even ended up in a dreaded call centre, but I enjoyed myself.

    Happy studying folk

  4. Kano2bee says

    ‘ll throw both Dave and John some credibility and validity bones…ready….here, catch!

    I began my career in meteorology and oceanography with the U.S. Navy in 1973. By accident and very early in that career, I became a computer operator in the largest computing center in the eastern hemisphere (at the time) , Fleet Weather Central, Guam.

    I figured while I liked being in the business of weather, I also like big giant computers and would learn more about computers (1974). I began taking courses at the University of Guam. Over the years, I attended several other colleges and studied everything and anything that interested me at the time. Oceanography, accounting, business, political science, underwater basket weaving (well, okay not really UBW), but the point is, I kept learning.

    After retiring from the service, I felt the need to go into business for myself and the restaurant and nightclub businesses ‘tried’ me for a while before I hired into the National Weather Service. Here is where I fell off the learning progression wagon. I rested on my laurels, and worked for about 5 years as a forecaster and observer/climatology QC specialist. Then, as the progression of technology would have it, the job was pulled out from under me like a fake oriental rug.

    I had nothing, no direction, no leads, no current skills…nothing. 2 years and 4 gigs later, the only feasible thing for me to do now was to get to real estate school fast, get licensed and start earning again.

    I was now 47 years old and going back to school and this time though, I would not rest. I got my license and within 2 years I was a licensed broker, owned my own national franchise, and had a number of agents working for me. I learned everything related to real estate under the sun, and in 5 short years, landed myself in the top 5% of all RE people in NE Mississippi by 2007 (production). I became successful again because I never stopped learning; technology and real estate, blogging and real estate, website syndication, Search Engine Optimization and more real estate.

    Now that the RE market has gone bust, I am once again in the training mode. Electronics this time around and not that I would ever use it, but just in case. I talked to an employer rep yesterday about a job (temporary until we make the move to the RP) and he asked me a couple of questions: “Can you do mechanical work” Yes! I replied. “Do you know how to….” Yes, I replied again. Three more questions, three more yes responses and he then asked for my resume. I gave him one…4 full pages worth.

    The job, receiving worn out jumbo aircraft for dis-assembly and parts dissemination. Am I qualified? You bet ya! Now ask yourself, are you qualified?????

  5. Kano2bee says

    As a footnote, of all the jobs I’ve ever held, I can humbly say as a weather observer, I was one of the fortunate (lucky) ones to get paid for watching the sky. The only job I want these days is to be a weather observer again but without any formal responsibility or the paycheck. I’ll simply just watch the clouds for free. Just give me an occasional cold SM.

  6. Fariq says

    It is perfectly legal to work here. lol Easy to find jobs. And the pay is great!

    How can you say life is so hard if one is making $80,000 a month, with a $1,500 a month mortgage? Can’t do that in the USA or the UK?

    Not to mention the national health insurance, HMO, Pag-IBIG personal and housing loans, SSS personal and housing loans, etc., etc….

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