Living and working in the Philippines can be an interesting adventure to navigate. There are several things to consider when you’re looking to make money in the Philippines to include getting a job, starting a local business or even working online while living in the Philippines.
But first lets cover a few other criteria you will want to consider when looking at working in the Philippines. That will be OFWs, Where to Live and Immigration.
Overseas Foreign Workers (OFWs)
The first fact you need to understand is that there are 10 MILLION Filipinos working outside the Philippines. This is about 10% of the population. These Filipino Overseas Foreign Workers often leave Spouses & Children behind for the opportunity to get work, work that pays well especially.
They would most certainly rather stay home with their loved ones if they could find work in their native land. These are predominantly skilled, intelligent people. Doctors actually retrain as nurses to work abroad. These OFW’s send over 2 BILLION US$ home EVERY MONTH!
If they can’t find work here, what makes you think you can?
The most important question is…
Where to Live?
For me, when I came to the Philippines and gave up everything from my past life, I promised my silly self “Only FUN Stuff!” If it is just about Making Money I could have stayed home and done that.
I also absolutely refused to live in the City while surrounded by a land full of Beaches so I spent a full year on the beaches looking at possibilities. Then another few years trying all of them until, finally, a few worked. The list of ideas that did not work is longer than the list of ones that did.
Immigration, Visas and the Department of Labor
Ouch! This one’s going to leave a mark!
Ok, so you still want to try and get a J.O.B, hey that’s Kool. I do know of many success stories.
However, a word of warning, get legit permits before you start. I said legitimate for a reason. Do not try to shortcut the process by using a fixer. You will only have one chance to get it done so do it right. In recent years the authorities have been cracking down on workers without the correct documentation. This means YOU. Everyone from Dive Instructors on the beach to Call Center agents in the city. Raids, jail, deportation, fines and Black Lists are the result.
The Immigration laws here are complex to say the least, constantly changing and a tedious process to process at the best of times.
I am constantly asked which Visa is best, what are the requirements, what is the cost, where do I apply, what papers do I need. The list is endless.
The short answer is, I DO NOT KNOW! Your friends don’t know, the guy you met at the bar won’t know, even many “professional” visa companies will not know. They will take your money & make promises but, when the visa is denied, the fault will somehow be yours.
The truth of the matter is that YOU will have to produce the necessary documents, submit the applications, attend the interviews take the medicals. All the Visa companies will do is charge you triple the price to lead you by the hand thru the process.
If you are serious about living and earning a living in the Philippines, do it yourself. Start learning how things work, and don’t work, right from the beginning. If you begin your relationship with the Philippines by relying on others then you are already headed for failure and frustration.
The Internet is a good place to do some research but the information you glean while researching online can be erroneous. Many of these articles are years old and the rules, regulations & requirements constantly change. This is still a good place to get the general lay of the land and possible options but, in the end, only Philippine Immigration can give you the correct answers.
Get on the Philippines Immigration website or email them then go to the office and ask questions! All Philippine laws, including Immigration, are written in English so no excuses.
They also speak great English which also ties into my explanation about why it is tough to find work here.
Working in the Philippines
There are several different kinds of jobs you could look for when you are considering working in the Philippines. It really depends on your experience and how much you will need to cover your expenses.
Some of the opportunities I’ll cover below (but are not the only options) are:
Working for foreign national companies
Call Centers or Business Process Outsourcing Centers (BPOs)
WHO and UNICEF
Below is some information and resources for each one.
People come from all over the world to be educated in the Philippines because of the cheap living and English instruction. The Philippines is a huge market for education, both academic and practical courses, and many schools are required to have senior staff with a certain number of years of education, particular trade qualifications and so on.
Teaching English in the Philippines – Speaking English is NOT enough!
Most Filipinos are highly proficient in English since the US has basically been here since they took the Philippines from Spain in 1898.
Depending on how you look at the statistics, by percentage of population that speaks English or the sheer number of English speakers in the country, the Philippines is 2nd or 3rd biggest English speaking country in the WORLD!
Companies in places like Thailand will hire foreigners just to talk to the other foreigners because Thai natives rarely speak good English. Korea, Japan and China will hire you, and pay you well, to Teach English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) and there are some spaces in the Philippines like this available but few and far between.
However, if speaking English is your only asset, then you might find work in the many English Schools set up for students in the country. Most of the Students are Koreans who are drawn to the country because of its low living cost and the great supply of instructors.
Many larger firms, especially banks, have established BPOs, Business Process Outsourcing, centers in the Philippines and have moved many of their business services here. Operations like Customer Service and computing functions are handled here and, in most cases, the upper management are foreigners.
As a general rule the company doing the hiring must show that the services of the alien, YOU, are indispensable to the management, operation, administration, or control of a local or locally based firm.
The company must be the one to convince the Philippine Bureau of Immigration that you possess special skills, like language abilities, which are difficult or impossible to find on the labor market.
If you expect to find a legal job here, you absolutely need to tighten up your search criteria, and make your qualifications more specific.
Please note… This visa may be applied for from within the Philippines BUT, the Working Visa “Belongs” to the Company not you. If you leave you lose.
These are another option. You can obtain work as an agent making P20k > P40 per month but you will be competing against Filipinos for the sit down jobs and they have the same qualifications as we do. They speak English, no secret there!
The real money is at the training and management level if you qualify. Accent Coaching also works if you speak clear American English. Recently there has also been a surge in call centers using languages other than English. This is an option if you speak another language or two. These pay double or triple the normal rate which is much closer to a western wage.
Working With WHO or UNICEF in the Philippines
If you have the credentials to back it up there are opportunities in Research, Foreign Service, and development work.
A very good friend of mine started this way. Working with an NGO doing Coral Reef surveys for conservation he became involved in the local diving industry. It did not take long to realize this was being poorly serviced and, when an opportunity presented itself, he bought a small Dive Supply company. Now, a few years later, his is by far the largest Scuba Diving Equipment Supplier in the Philippines.
Volunteering in a foreign country is often the most rewarding journey you can take. Whether it is guiding a child in his/her education or helping to build better homes, the value of giving a part of yourself to help others is immeasurable. Finding work like this, no matter where you go, is easy.
Starting a Small Business to Make Money in the Philippines
I had a bit of a different view when I came here on how to make money in the Philippines. This has always been my thing so it never occurred to me to get a JOB. I highly recommend that anyone wanting to live here should seriously consider starting a small business in the Philippines. At least then you are in more control of your own destiny as opposed to having a job.
Keep in mind though that you will have to put in the work to get it going and get systems in place to detour the common problems business owners have here.
Here also is the Philippine government website. There you will find some information on doing business in the Philippines under their eServices section.
Brick and Mortar Businesses
There are several kinds of businesses you can open in the Philippines as a foreigner but you have to know how to go about it and be smart about it as you cannot actually “own” the business, but there are a few safeguards you can put in place to make sure you control it.
3 quick tips to take in consideration when doing this:
You, or someone you REALLY trust, MUST be there always.
Be prepared, staff are going to be an issue.
If it is a bar, be prepared to drink ALL DAY.
Common Businesses Started by Expats
There are a range of businesses that are started by expats in the Philippines. It really will depend on where you live, what your past history or experience is in and what your interest is for a business here in the Philippines since you’ll be working in the business a great deal while you’re getting it off the ground.
Some commonly started businesses by expats are:
These are some of the most common types of businesses opened by foreigners, but there are plenty of others as well.
There are many different ways for earning money over the internet:
You can make money with:
A web site or a blog
Online Consulting Service (SEO, SEM, Design, so many more)
Surprisingly you can still start up and make money with very little capital BUT you must have an IDEA and put in the work!
Even if you are really afraid of online marketing and have no idea about setting up a web site or an online shop, remember that in the Philippines you can easily hire some great educated Filipinos who will build and write web site content for you for a little money. Again, all you need is an IDEA!
You have to be able to understand simple instructions,
Are you willing to put in the Time?
Can you follow instructions and do what the client tells you?
You do NOT need:
a website, blog or any online presence, just an email address
to use your real name
to live in your home country
to have a foreign bank account to get paid … PayPal and an ATM will do
to be a Filipino citizen
a working visa
to pay any money to start earning This is not a JOB.
Beware of online jobs that offer money for:
Typing and Get Paid
These usually require some type of up front fee and that is as far as you will go. Also, If they are legit then you will be getting about one third of what the company is charging for your services. You can get paid to learn the ropes of the businesses and then switch over to get the jobs yourself.
Much better to do the research and find the work directly and make 3 times more money.
Here are some freelance sites to look at and join if you want to start there:
I came to the Philippines in ’99 on a 2 week vacation and NEVER went home.
My time here has been an exciting and successful mix of BUSINESS and ADVENTURE. If you are interested in the Philippines, just visit my YouTube Channel and Blog.
I cover everything from Travel and Culture to Business and Pleasure and am always happy to talk about this curious country so come and visit us in Puerto Galera, this place is AWESOME!
2016 TripAdvisor Travelers Choice
The Best Resort in Puerto Galera
Get Your Free Ebook!
Submit your email and you'll immediately get access to your ebook, Your Guide to Traveling and Living in the Philippines, for FREE! You will also be sent an email with the link to the download page for future reference.
In this ebook you'll learn:
- How to deal with police corruption
- Cost of living
- Safety when traveling
- Starting a business here
- Getting a visa
- Places to visit
- And of course...Fun and adventure!
If you've been searching for a first hand perspective of an experienced expat in the Philippines then you want to read this book.
To instantly get your free ebook, simply enter your email address below.