Hong Kong’s reputation as a global powerhouse in free economics and investment has been no secret for decades — they have been judged the world’s freest economy on the planet for 25 years. This land of opportunities is obviously a very attractive prospect for ambitious foreigners, and luckily Hong Kong has its arms open — if you have the right skillset.
While Hong Kong has many low barriers in terms of investment, they can be quite particular about which foreigners can move in to live the Hong Kong dream. We take a look at what jobs are available to foreigners, how you can qualify, and exactly how to get that perfect Hong Kong job you’ve been chasing.
- Job opportunities for foreigners in Hong Kong
- Average Hong Kong wages and salaries for foreigners
- Requirements for working in Hong Kong
- Networking for jobs in Hong Kong
- Applying for jobs in Hong Kong
- What Hong Kong employers look for when hiring foreigners
- Being a self-employed foreigner in Hong Kong
- Hong Kong’s business culture and etiquettes
What are the Job Opportunities for Foreigners in Hong Kong?
First thing is first, most Hong Kong businesses with a predominantly local focus will have issues with your application if you do not speak at least basic Cantonese (and in some cases Mandarin). On the other side of the coin, language generally should not be a barrier if you are looking to work in internationally geared industries.
Even better, the Hong Kong Government has their Quality Migrant Admission Scheme, that makes it as easy as possible to get a job in Hong Kong if you are in the right profession for their needs. They even have a Talent List website dedicated to clearly explaining the type of workers they are after.
As of 2020, Hong Kong is focussed on attracting professionals from the following fields:
- Waste Treatment Specialists — with a relevant Master or PhD plus 10 years of experience, or relevant Bachelor’s degree with 15 years of experience.
- Asset Management Professionals — with a relevant Bachelor’s degree and three years of experience.
- Marine Insurance Professionals — qualifications in ACII, ANZII, or equivalent and three years of experience.
- Actuaries — with a relevant first degree, and three years of experience.
- Fintech Professionals — with a relevant Bachelor’s degree and some experience preferred.
- Data Scientists — with a relevant Bachelor’s, Master’s or PhD, and some experience preferred.
- Cyber Security Specialists — with a relevant Bachelor’s degree and some experience preferred.
- Data Scientists — with a relevant Bachelor’s or Master’s degree, and four years of experience.
- Innovation and Technology Experts — with a relevant STEM degree from a top institution.
- Naval Architects — Bachelor’s degree in naval architecture and five years of experience.
- Marine Engineers — Master’s of Engineering with two years of sailing experience as a Chief Engineer.
- Ship Superintendents — Master’s of Science, with five years of experience as a superintendent.
- Creative Industries Professionals — varies depending on role.
- Dispute Resolution Professionals — Proven record of three years experience in international dispute resolution and arbitration.
- Transactional Lawyers — Qualified foreign lawyers with five years experience in cross-border transactions.
Hong Kong will allow 1,000 expats to enter the country annually if they meet the above criteria.
Related Read: Your Guide to Immigration in Hong Kong
What are the Average Wages and Salaries for Foreigners in Hong Kong?
When looked at from the perspective of average and median salaries, Hong Kong does in fact seem to offer low remuneration:
- Average salary — HK$120–HK$130 HKD (US$15–17) per hour or about HK$240,000 HKD (US$30,000) annually.
- Real Estate/Professional/Business Services — HK$140 (US$18) per hour or about HK$280,000 (US$36,000) annually.
- Personal Services — HK$170 (US$21) per hour or about HK$340,000 (US$43,000) annually.
It should be noted of course that more sought after professions that receive better remuneration:
- Business Analyst — HK$160 (US$20) per hour or about HK$320,000 (US$41,000) annually.
- Digital Marketer — HK$220 (US$28) per hour or about HK$440,000 (US$56,000) annually.
- Finance Analyst — HK$180 (US$23) per hour or about HK$360,000 (US$46,000) annually.
- Software Engineer — HK$160 (US$20) per hour or about HK$320,000 (US$41,000) annually.
If you would like to have a comfortable life in Hong Kong, we would recommend you find a role that pays HK$400,000 to HK$600,000 per year. Luckily, the above salaries are likely skewed by entry-level salaries that don’t include perks and bonuses, and you can expect your salary to double after 10 years of experience.
What are the Requirements for Working in Hong Kong?
As we’ve mentioned, Hong Kong employers need to be picky when they are choosing foreign workers. The workers themselves need to meet some relatively strict qualifications and experience guidelines, and the employer must be able to prove they could not find a suitable local resident alternative for the role.
We recommend you take a look at our section on Hong Kong Visa and Work Permits, to find out the finer details of what you will need to be accepted into Hong Kong as an employee.
If you would like to see what the application process looks like, you can apply directly through Hong Kong’s Immigration Department website.
How to Network for Jobs in Hong Kong
Thankfully, networking in Hong Kong is the same as most other Western countries — turn up to a seminar or other business/social event, bring a business card, and mix and mingle.
There shouldn’t be a language barrier, as English is one of the official languages in Hong Kong.
You can start by taking a look at Internations, which can help you connect with fellow expats in Hong Kong.
How to Apply for Jobs in Hong Kong
Again the job application process in Hong Kong should be very familiar to Westerners. You can write your resume in English or Cantonese, but neither language will give you an inherent advantage or disadvantage.
When writing your CV, follow the same conventions as you are used to — write a cover letter, your CV should have personal information, contact details, education, most recent experience listed first, as well as extracurricular activities. The one exception — we don’t recommend putting your photo in your application.
While you don’t have to attach copies of your qualifications to your application, you should take them to any subsequent interviews.
Try and keep the whole application to two pages or less.
What Hong Kong Employers Look for in a Job Interview
The interview process in Hong Kong is reasonably similar to that in Western countries, however you should perhaps be a little more modest and polite, rather than overly confident and assertive.
Research the company and the role well, and be prepared to both answer and ask pertinent questions. If you know any Mandarin or Cantonese, practice what you know and slip it into the conversation where appropriate.
Dress neatly, and not too ‘flashy’. Men should be clean shaven, and women should have minimal makeup. Listen attentively and actively, and answer questions with enthusiasm, but without boasting.
Bring the following to your job interview:
- Your CV (multiple copies)
- Your Hong Kong ID card if you have one
- Originals and copies of your qualifications
- Proof of experience, e.g. references
Can I be a Self-Employed Foreigner in Hong Kong?
The short answer is yes, you can be self employed in Hong Kong. There are three main options for your self-employed business structure:
- Sole Proprietorship
- General Business Partnership
- Limited Liability Business Partnership
If you wish to create a large enterprise, you can choose one of the following business structures:
- Private Limited Company
- Public Limited Company
- Company Limited by Guarantee
- Branch, Representative, or Subsidiary Offices
You can read the full details of each option in our article What Are the Different Types of Business Entities in Hong Kong?
What Is the Culture and Etiquette of Hong Kong Business?
Hong Kong is a place of hard working people, where Saturday is usually considered a work day. Working hours are usually 9am to 6pm, with shorter hours on Saturday if you are required to work them. You’ll probably work an average of 50 hours per week, but 60 hours plus per week is not unheard of.
Vacations/holidays are mandated, but many Hongkongers avoid taking them to maintain their reputation as good workers.
Greet contacts with a handshake and a small bow, greeting the most senior member in the group first. Address them by the title and surname, and avoid physical contact beyond the initial handshake.
Endeavour to be gracious at all times, for example, try to be more diplomatic than a generic “No” where possible. If your business contact has English as their second language, speak slowly and clearly to accommodate them.
In terms of dress code, dress neatly but conservatively. Be aware of the colours you wear, as they have significance in Hong Kong/Chinese culture. For example red is a lucky colour, while white is a sign of mourning. With that in mind, you can’t go wrong wearing dark or muted grey colours.
Conclusion — What’s Next for Getting a Job in Hong Kong?
Hong Kong remains an attractive destination for expats who want to work hard and progress their career.
As relatively simple and straightforward Hong Kong can be once you are employed there, there are many aspects of the job application and visa process that will require expertise.
If you’d like help to make things as easy as possible for your Hong Kong job hunt, HKCR has an expert team who know all of the ins-and-outs of getting to where you want to be — working and can also assist you in your immigration to Hong Kong.
If you have any questions about how you can get a job in Hong Kong, please do contact us — it’s both our job and pleasure to assist.
- Can foreigners work in Hong Kong?
- Yes foreigners are allowed to work in Hong Kong with the required Hong Kong Visa or Work Permits.
- What is the working culture in Hong Kong?
- Saturday is usually considered a work day. Working hours are usually 9am to 6pm, with shorter hours on Saturday if you are required to work them. You’ll probably work an average of 50 hours per week, but 60 hours plus per week is not unheard of.
- What type of jobs are highly demanded in Hong Kong?
- Here are 5 popular jobs that are in demand in Hong Kong:
- Cybersecurity Specialists
- Banking & Financial Analysts
- Compliance, Audit & Risk Specialists
- Digital Marketers
- Can I be a self-employed foreigner in Hong Kong?
- Yes, foreigners can be self-employed in Hong Kong. There are three main options for your self-employed business structure:
- Sole Proprietorship
- General Business Partnership
- Limited Liability Business Partnership
Let Us Help You Find Your Dream Hong Kong Job
Our experienced team at HKCR consists of advisors who can help you successfully move to and work in Hong Kong.