There’s no better time to be an engineer than right now. Of all the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields of study, engineering has some of the best prospects for landing a great job — especially if you’re willing to relocate.

Many countries in Asia are boasting booming economies. Due to this boom, they’re looking for engineers to help build the infrastructures of their thriving cities — they simply need more engineers than they currently have, which is why there are some countries where American (and European) engineers can easily find work. Throw in the added bonus of a low cost of living, and you’ve found a place to grow your career and establish yourself!

Here’s what you need to know about working in Asia and why it’s an avenue that you should pursue in your engineering career.

Why choose Asia?

Why should an engineer choose to work in Asia? The answer can be summed up in one word: opportunity.

Many Asian countries have rapidly expanding economies. That means that they must industrialize their cities and build infrastructure to support that rapid growth. Countries such as Singapore have instituted initiatives that will require them to add 1,000 new engineers every single year just to satisfy the needs of their planned infrastructure projects.

Plus, they’re not simply building new roads or laying new train lines; they’re pushing the envelope of smart technology and microelectronics, installing sensors in everyday items such as street lamps to make them “smart,” and pursuing exciting technology such as self-driving vehicles.

Simply put, moving to the edge of the world can put you at the cutting edge of your field.

Where to go?

As an American searching for work in Asia, you must find those countries with the demand for skills in your particular field, as well as countries that won’t bury you in bureaucratic red tape along the way. There are several Asian countries that meet these criteria and speak English in the larger cities, too. You’ll also have to keep in mind how isolated some of these countries are and how often you’ll have to hop on a plane to explore anywhere new (or, in China’s case, to get to the other side of the country!) Let’s explore a few of these places:

Hong Kong

Hong Kong is truly where East meets West, as it manages to blend together its Eastern culture with Western business practices. English is spoken here, but a basic understanding of Mandarin and Cantonese will be helpful for living and working in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong Harbour

Visitors can go to Hong Kong without a visa for up to 180 days. If you want to stay and work there, then you’ll need to meet a few minimum requirements (which are standard for most Asian countries). These include:

  • A degree or technical qualification.
  • Proven experience in your field of study.
  • An offer of employment.
  • Meeting the level of financial support needed to sustain your lifestyle in Hong Kong.

Most Americans who move to Hong Kong do so through a company for which they already work. In that case, your employer can help you to make the specific visa arrangements required for relocation.

Singapore

Many American engineers are attracted to Singapore because it offers many professional opportunities. Singapore simply needs more engineers and is willing to pay for them. It also offers a low cost of living, a great climate, and low taxes. It’s known as the hub to Asia, which makes it a welcoming and safe place to live and work, too.

To get a job in Singapore, you first must make sure that you’re eligible to work there. You can check with the Ministry of Manpower to help gauge your eligibility. They have a self-assessment tool that you can complete online to help you figure out your qualifications.

Every foreigner in Singapore must have a work permit to legally work. They’re referred to as work passes, and there are many different pass types available. You can find out all about them on Singapore’s government website.

South Korea

Remember that dazzling drone display at the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea? That’s a representation of all the exciting technology being explored in South Korea today — technology that engineers want to be a part of.

With some of the world’s most innovative companies calling South Korea home, it’s no wonder that many engineers are attracted to this country. It also holds the status of the third-largest economy in Asia, and the South Korean government pushes a high-tech and industrialized economy, which makes for a lot of professional opportunities for engineers. South Korea has even become a host to one of the foremost international conferences on power electronics in the world, the ICPE 2019-ECCE Asia.

Any foreigner who wishes to live and work in South Korea needs a visa. There are several different types of visas offered, determined by the type of employment that you wish to have as well as the duration of your stay. You can find out more about specific visas and how to get them by visiting the U.S. Embassy and Consulate in South Korea. You can also get a visa for South Korea online with their new eVisa program, which doesn’t require you to leave your home at all. Talk about cutting-edge technology!

Bon voyage!

Before you hop on a plane and begin your new life and career in a foreign land, make sure to have all of your ducks in a row. Working abroad is exciting, but it does require you to go that extra mile to ensure that you’re doing it on the terms of the country that you want to call home.