Earning an Income in the Philippines — Without a J*O*B

(Updated 2 January 2020)

Earning an Income in the Philippines.

Dave, You Keep Saying Don’t Get a Job in the Philippines, But I Need an Income to Live



Yes, indeed that’s true unless you have a fat pension you most certainly need to know about earning an income in the Philippines.  But …

So Many Can’t Get Their Head  Around This — You Don’t Need a Job to Earn Income!

How can the average person possibly earn a living without a job?

Well, there are many ways, I’ve written a lot about some of them already, ask me and I’ll be happy to write more.

But I Have a Lot of Education, Dave, Surely That’s Worth Something?

Earning an Income in the Philippines

You Want To Work For These MONTHLY Wages?

Well even though I have little formal education myself, I’m not anti-education.

But there’s a lot more to education than what degrees one holds.

The real key is what you have learned in your educational efforts that makes money, for yourself, or someone else.

Here’s a comment I have received word for word several times.

It seems to be all about this reader’s education and what he feels he’s “owed” because he has that education.

But it doesn’t seem to mean much here in the Philippines.  Reader’s comments in blue:

It’s Just Not Fair!

It does not matter how much education you have, or experience, the jobs in the Philippines do not pay well. You can make more working at Walmart here in the USA than medical doctors and dentists make in the Philippines….

Quite true.

For more than 10 years now I’m been preaching to those who will bother to listen, Don’t Come To The Philippines For a JOB.  You can easily make more at a mundane, lowest common denominator job in the USA.

But I maintain that education, either formal as in college degrees or practical such as years and years of living, earning a living, raising a family, etc. is not ONLY to use for working for someone else in a salaried job.

Maybe you should be putting that education to work to benefit yourself and not some fat-cat who pays you 1/3 or so of what you are worth.

I have six college degrees, including a Masters of Science, and I made about the equivalent of one American dollar per hour teaching the 8th, 9th, and 10th grade of school in the Philippines.

As my TI at Lackland AFB used to say, many years ago, when a young trainee did something dumb, “Well, aw no shit, troop”.  What Did You Expect?

I imagine this salary issue is totally true.

In fact, the Philippines is replete with college graduates holding teaching degrees.

Many are lucky to be able to drive a tricycle or work midnight shift in a call center.

So how much more should a western college degree “earn” a teacher, just because his nationality and degree are from another country?

I really sense some “white supremacy” going on here.  Sad to say it is a rather common American obstacle to happiness in the Philippines.  Many Americans complain and “stew” about this all the time.

You are NOT “superior” to Filipinos.  You may feel very smart, but being white does not “earn” you anything here.

Learn to recognize that, or don’t come to the Philippines.

Even the American Embassy pays Philippine wages.

This is true in one sense and totally wrong in another.

Career Department of State employees of the US Embassy are in the competitive civil service, just as I was (with the DoD) for more than 28 years.

Their pay is the same as any other federal foreign service employee of equivalent grade and experience step.

In fact, being stationed in Manila each US employee makes substantially MORE than he or she would make if stationed, say, in Washington DC.

In Manila, regular competitive civil service makes about 20% above their regular pay scale and a tax-exempt housing allowance of about $34,00 a year.  Not bad work if you can get it. (and with 6 college degrees, why couldn’t you? Why are you trying to win “run of the mill” jobs away from Filipino job candidates?)

 For sure, these jobs are not hired off the street.

They are competitive foreign service positions and one starts competing for one of them by starting at the beginning with the Foreign Service Exam.  One little detail for those in a big rush to apply … you don’t start at the top.

Now what I believe this reader is referring to are what are known as “Local Hire” jobs at the Embassy.

Local Hire Positions

Most branches of the US government who have installations overseas are authorized these type positions.

They are what are known as “non-competitive” civil service positions.  They have:

  • No guaranteed career progression path,
  • No tenure (may be terminated at will),
  • No Federal retirement programs, etc.

They are generally technical, non-professional administrative support type positions, designed to be filled by qualified local nationals (Filipinos, in most cases).

Why on earth would the Embassy pay anything except Filipino-level wages for these jobs?  Do you think Filipinos can’t operate a copy machine or type a letter?

Isn’t the government supposed to operate as economically and efficiently as possible?  And why on earth would they want to hire someone with six college degrees to answer phones or file papers?

Commercial Sector US Citizen Jobs

You might be lucky enough to hook up with some American company to do work there otherwise you will have to have some kind of livable income before you go there.

You can live on $1,500 per month there but you often can’t make that much working there.

Luck or Skill?

Well, I have a number of readers either working now for American companies here in the Philippines (or other foreign nation corporations) or those who have worked such jobs in the past.

I can assure you “luck” had literally little or nothing to do with them getting those jobs.

Preparation is the key and in virtually no cases would an American company with operations here in the Philippines be hiring Americans “off the street” to fill “American” jobs here.

Think about it for a minute with the logical side of your brain, rather than the emotional.

If you wanted to hire Filipinos to fill jobs you felt were the “best fit” for Filipinos, where would you recruit them?  Kansas City or Omaha?

You’d be looking in Manila, right?

Why on earth would you be looking to hire Americans here in the Philippines?

As my hero, Mr. Spock was heard to often say, “Does Not Compute, Jim.”

In the vast majority of cases, these highly prized “American” jobs are filled by Americans already working for the company in the USA who want to transfer to the Philippines.

An American company coming here to the Philippines to find a US salaried employee is totally illogical to me.

But I do give you sources to search here from time to time, just in case you insist.

In Conclusion — Think More of Yourself

I get really disappointed when I get a message from readers saying, “I’ll take any job, I don’t care how much it pays.”

I get lots of messages like that.  This article sets out a lot of my thoughts on this:

Business Advice For Anyone: Whatever You’re Thinking, Think Bigger

If (for just one example) you wanted to set yourself up teaching English in the Philippines, that’s great, go for it, I’ve written a lot about just that very subject.

But set up a business (online) for yourself where you target Chinese and Japanese students, perhaps.

Avoid like the plague these ads you see online from Philippine companies (often illegal, by the way) who offer “as much as” the equivalent of $4 USD per hour.

If you offer conversational English tutoring and coaching to Japanese students, for example, you should be easily able to command $20 or $25 an hour .. which is what the fly by night “language schools” will charge the student and then pay you $4 an hour if you are lucky.

You Could Even Tutor US Students From Here In The Philippines

For goodness sakes you could tutor US students on-line in almost any subject and command more than $4 an hour … and “tutoring” does not require a degree, unlike professional teaching positions.

Parents these days hire tutors for children in grades all the way from elementary level to college.

Seldom does the tutor have to have a degree … s/he just has to know the subject better than the (failing) student and have patience and an interest in helping.

Bottom Line

Think more of yourself, don’t rant about the abysmal wages in the Philippines.

(I tried to tell you about that you don’t want a job here before you ever came),

but make yourself a better situation by thinking bigger.



You are so much more.

And that’s the end of today’s installment on Earning an Income in the Philippines.