Joe Chen began working as a model and assistant in 2001. She entered the entertainment industry after winning 1st place on Sanlih E-Television's talent show. In 2002, she began her acting career by taking on a supporting role in the television drama, Lavender. She also became a host for SET variety shows Zhong Guo Na Me Da and Zong Yi Qi Jian, alongside famous Taiwanese hosts Jacky Wu and NONO.
After being neglected by her company for six months, she attracted the attention of SET's executive Zong Limei, who cast her in 100% Senorita (2003). This was her first leading role. The drama became the highest rated Taiwanese drama then, and also achieved moderate success overseas. Joe then make her debut in Taiwanese girl group 7 Flowers the following year.
From 2006 to 2007, Joe began to host several Taiwanese variety programs like Treasure Hunter and Stylish Man - The Chef. She also starred in the dramas A Game About Love and Ying Ye 3 Jia 1.
In 2008, Joe starred in Fated to Love You opposite Ethan Juan, which beat Joe's previous drama, The Prince Who Turns into a Frog to become the highest rated Taiwanese idol drama. The drama also received popularity overseas, and was covered by America's Wall Street Journal. Joe was nominated for Best Actress in a TV Series at the 43rd Golden Bell Awards and was named "Queen of Idol Dramas" by Taipei Times.
In 2009, Joe was then cast in her first Chinese drama, The Girl in Blue, adapted from an online novel by Fei Wo Si Cun. The series was broadcast on Hunan TV in 2010.
In 2010, she was cast in her first film, Breaking the Waves, a youth Sports film produced by John Woo for the Asian Games.
Joe returned to idol dramas after 4 years in the romantic comedy drama The Queen of SOP, which was broadcast on Hunan TV in 2012. The Queen of SOP achieved high ratings and positive reviews, further boosting Joe's popularity in China. She also released an OST for the drama titled "Like to be Lonely", which topped the Baidu Chinese Music Charts for two weeks.
In 2013, Chen's popularity rose in China, where she gained a large number of fans for her role as Dongfang Bubai in the Chinese wuxia series Swordsman. Chen also entered the Forbes China Celebrity 100 List for the first time. She established her status as an A-list-er with her roles in popular dramas and movies The Monkey King (2014), Cruel Romance (2015) and Candle in the Tomb (2016). In 2015, she is listed by Forbes as the 61st most influential Celebrity in mainland China.
In 2014, Joe starred in The Monkey King, portraying Princess Iron Fan. The film was a huge commercial success, grossing US$180 million internationally. She also featured in the road-trip comedy film The Continent, directed by Han Han.
In 2015, Joe starred in her first period drama, Cruel Romance alongside Huang Xiaoming. Cruel Romance was extremely popular during its run, and achieved high ratings. and was extremely popular during its run. Joe won the Best Actress in the Modern drama award at the 17th Huading Awards for her performance. Joe then starred in another period drama, Destined to Love You, written by Tong Hua. The same year, Joe returned to theater and reprised her role in The Woman on the Breadfruit Tree. She received acclaim for her performance, and was awarded Best Actress at the 4th Denny Awards. She also made a cameo appearance in the popular youth film, Our Times as the adult version of the female protagonist.
In 2016, Joe paired up with Wang Kai for modern romance drama Stay with Me, which she co-produced. She co-starred with Jin Dong in the web drama Candle in the Tomb, adapted from the novel Ghost Blows Out the Light. Candle in the Tomb was a critical success, and received acclaim for its performance and faithful adaptation.
On January 10, 2018, Chen was arrested for drunk driving.