Teach English In South Korea

a world of opportunities

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Kirsten Colquhoun
June 7, 2024

Contents

Why teach in South Korea?
Where to teach in South Korea
Visa requirements
Teaching experience
TEFL certification
Degree requirements
Non-native English speakers
Local language requirements
Healthcare & insurance
Startup capital
Types of teaching jobs
How to get a job
Teaching online
Average salary
Additional benefits
Cheapest places to live
Saving in South Korea
Living in South Korea

What do you imagine when you think of South Korea? Is it seeing yourself walking the neon-lit streets of Seoul, lazing on a beach in Busan, or enjoying delicious bulgogi on Jeju Island?

Or maybe you imagine yourself in the classroom, chatting with friendly students and sharing your knowledge of the English language and culture?

Whatever your vision is, if it involves teaching English, South Korea may be the perfect destination for you. Why, you ask?

High paying teaching jobs? Check. 

Opportunities for professional development and advancement? Check. 

A rich and fascinating culture to explore? Check, check, check! 

Teaching English in South Korea can offer all of this and more.

Why teach in South Korea?

South Korea is a mixed bag of tricks, famous for its ramen, Kpop, norebang (karaoke rooms), centuries-old temples and futuristic neon-lit streets. But that’s not all! Let’s look at a few reasons you should teach English in South Korea:

  • It has a rich cultural heritage. With over 13,000 Buddhist temples to visit you are spoilt for choice. When visiting a temple, you will most likely catch the resident monks praying – you could even join them, along with the locals, to pay your respects.  On some days you could even enjoy temple food (free of charge) after a scenic hike on one of the many hills and mountains in each city!
  • Foreigners are welcome. South Koreans are known for their hospitality and friendliness. There is a large expat community from all sorts of different countries, making South Korea an eclectic mix of nationalities. No matter where you’re from, you’ll feel welcome in South Korea.
  • There are tons of teaching opportunities in South Korea. South Korea offers plentiful job opportunities, competitive salaries, generous packages, and job satisfaction. Teachers in South Korea might work hard, but they are well-paid and are able to save a pretty penny every month.

Where to teach English in South Korea

South Korea’s most popular destinations for English teachers, include the capital city of Seoul, beachy Busan, Geoje, Daegu and Gwangju. 

1. Seoul – best for a fast-paced lifestyle.

Seoul is a bustling cosmopolitan city with many expats and English-speaking locals. Getting a placement in Seoul is very competitive.

2. Daegu – a city with a bit more breathing space. 

Offering the same lifestyle as Seoul but more laid-back, Daegu is a great city to live in as you can travel via KTX (fast rail) to all major cities. 

3. Busan – great for outdoor living and activities.

Busan is a coastal city, with a mix of city life and a more relaxed setting. Busan is known for its popular beach – Haeundae- where you can experience exciting beach concerts, fun in the sun, and artsy events. 

4. Geoje – island living

If you are looking for a more laid-back kind of lifestyle, the island of Geoje is recommended. Just one hour away from Busan, Geoje has lovely beaches with clear, blue waters – and 11 mountains for those who are feeling a bit more energetic.

5. Gwangju – best for culture vultures

If you appreciate culture, Gwangju is a great city to live in. There are a variety of museums and galleries to visit, and festivals all year round to enjoy. There are serene parks to relax in too, making Gwanju an ideal city to live in if you want a slower-paced lifestyle.

 

Do you need a visa to teach English in South Korea?

Obtaining an E2 visa will allow you to legally teach English in South Korea. 

An E-2 visa is specifically designed for native English speakers who want to work as English teachers in South Korea.

You will be required to first apply for an English teaching job and receive a contract of employment before applying for your E-2 visa.  

Here are the requirements to apply for an E-2 visa: 

  • Be a native English speaker from USA, Canada, UK, Republic of Ireland, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand, or have proof of English-medium education for at least seven years
  • A Bachelor’s degree
  • Clear criminal background check
  • Clean health exam and drug test

Note that a TEFL is not needed for visa purposes in South Korea, but it is highly recommended in order to get a job. A Level 3 120-hour TEFL certificate is the minimum requirement, but if you’re serious about finding a good job in South Korea we recommend the Level 5 168-hour Combined TEFL course to give you the best shot. The additional classroom training will give you the edge in the application process.

Do I need teaching experience to teach in South Korea?

It isn’t a prerequisite to have teaching experience, but if you do, you can expect a higher teaching salary. Most, if not all, teaching jobs in South Korea require you to have a degree and TEFL qualification. 

Teaching positions in public schools and universities often require teaching experience. But not all is lost because hagwons, which are for-profit private language schools in South Korea, offer a more accessible path for first-time teachers.

Which TEFL certification is best for teaching in South Korea?

If you want to learn how to teach English in South Korea, you will need to complete an internationally recognized TEFL course from a reputable TEFL course provider.  

The TEFL Academy’s Level 5 Combined Course (168 hours) is the best certification to get if you are looking to get formal work as an English teacher in public schools, private language schools, or universities. This course offers 10 hours of in-class instruction.

The Level 5 Online TEFL Course offers the same opportunities to teach in formal institutions but is completely online. If you would like to add practical experience to your qualification but are unable to attend a face-to-face course, The TEFL Academy offers a Level 5 40-hour Observed Teaching Practice Course which gives you real-life teaching practice with the convenience of online teaching.

Can I teach English in South Korea with no degree?

To teach English in South Korea, it is required that you have a degree and that you are a native English speaker. You may hold a degree in any subject, provided that the language of instruction is English. 

This degree must be from an accredited college or university (4 years in the US/3 years in the UK). In most cases you’ll also be required to apostille your degree certificates, which means to verify the authenticity of the documents and make them legally valid for use in another country.

Can non-native speakers teach English in South Korea?

To teach English In South Korea, you will need to be a native English speaker and come from an English-native-speaking country such as the US, the UK, South Africa, and New Zealand to name a few. South Korea’s visa requirements are strict when it comes to this.

If you are a non-native speaker you will need to show proof of education in an English-medium school for at least seven years, or hold a teaching license from an English institution.

Do you need to speak Korean to teach English in South Korea?

Absolutely not! However, learning some basic phrases will help you transition into your new life faster.

If you live in a major city like Seoul or Busan, it’s easier to get around with only English, but in smaller cities you may need a few Korean phrases to get by.

Speaking only English in the classroom is ideal, as you are there to foster English speaking skills. Immersion learning is known to be a very effective means of teaching a language, which is why it’s not necessary to be able to speak the local language when teaching English abroad.

At work, our colleagues’ English proficiency may be low so learning Korean will improve your work relationships.

Healthcare & insurance

Once you have arrived in South Korea, it is a contract and visa requirement to pass a health check at a South Korean hospital with your educational supervisor. It will cost you about 50,000 KRW (~ $40).

Teaching contracts with a public school, private school, or university, offer a 50% medical insurance contribution and the other half (~ $50-60) will be automatically deducted from your salary.

In case of any medical or travel issues, it is recommended that you get travel insurance to cover you while you travel to South Korea and before your national health insurance benefits kick in.

How much startup capital do I need to teach in South Korea?

You will need one month’s worth of start-up capital of about $500 (650,000 KRW)  to teach English in South Korea. 

This includes visa costs, accommodation and living expenses until  your first paycheque. Bear in mind, this doesn’t include your flights. Depending on your school, you will receive your flight reimbursement (1.3 million KRW or $1,000) and a settlement bonus (of up to 300,000 KRW or $250) shortly after you start teaching, or at the end of the first month.

The cost of getting an E2 visa is subject to your home country. You can expect to pay between $50 -$100.

Types of teaching jobs in South Korea

Government-sponsored programs are the most popular option for teaching English in South Korea, closely followed by working in a hagwon.

1. Government sponsored programs:

The South Korean government has invested in their students’ English education by offering native English speakers opportunities to teach in public schools throughout the country. The EPIK, GEPIK, and SMOE are long-running English teaching programs. These English teaching programs are credible and safe options for those who are looking for a sense of security when teaching abroad.

EPIK Program

The EPIK program is the most popular amongst the three and offers placements for teaching English throughout South Korea, with intakes twice a year for the fall and spring terms. A one-week orientation is provided before the start of the contract. The program offers a settlement allowance and contract completion bonuses, as well as paid vacation time. Participants in the program will have support for teaching and are required to teach 22 hours a week.

GEPIK Program

GEPIK places you in a public school in the area surrounding Seoul known as Gyeonggi. You work 22 hours a week but your working hours are 40 a week. You can start either in March or September. Each month you will earn approximately 2.1 million KW, but your pay is dependent on your qualifications. You are provided with accommodation and reimbursed for your flights. Contracts are for a year, with 20 days of paid vacation. This programme prefers experienced teachers.

SMOE Program

SMOE places you in a public school in one of the 25 districts in Seoul. You teach for 22 hours a week but you work 40 hours a week. Each month you will earn approximately 1.8 million to 3 million KW, depending on your qualifications and experience. You are provided with accommodation or a housing allowance, flight reimbursement, a settling-in allowance and a severance package on completion of the contract. You need a Bachelor’s degree and a TEFL certificate or a teaching qualification, as well as a clean criminal record. Furthermore, you need to be a citizen of South Africa, Canada, Ireland, the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia or New Zealand. You must be below 62 years of age. An SMOE contract is for one year.

2. Recruitment companies

Applying for private or public school positions with a recruiter will be extremely useful. Recruiters such as Korean Horizons, Korvia Consulting, and GoldKey Education provide great assistance for teachers. Recruiters guide and support you through the application and interview process, as well as during your arrival and settlement in South Korea.

Tip: Some recruiters are established in South Korea and can help you when you arrive, whilst others might not be able to. Be sure to ask your recruiter if they’ll collect you at the airport or put you up in a hotel.

3. Universities

Teaching English at a South Korean university requires you to be an experienced teacher and have a Master’s degree. They are generally hard to come by. Depending on the university, the requirements may be flexible for those who already teach English in South Korea or who have the necessary teaching credentials. Long paid leave days and generous housing stipends make teaching at universities very appealing.

4. Private schools

Hagwons or private language schools are after-school academies that South Korean students attend for extra-curricular learning. Working at a hagwon offers you a flexible work schedule, a competitive salary, and the opportunity to work alongside other English teachers, unlike public school programs, where there is usually only one English teacher per school. Class sizes are small, with a maximum of 15 students per class.

These are the benefits of teaching at a Hagwon:

  • Placement throughout South Korea
  • Placement throughout the year
  • High paying salaries
  • Lesson plans are provided (depending on the school)
  • Lessons start in the afternoons, after normal school hours.

 

How to get a job teaching English in South Korea

From obtaining the necessary qualifications and documents to navigating the application process, there are several steps you can take to increase your chances of success. Here they are:

  • Meeting the minimum requirements: This is the first step towards securing a job teaching English in South Korea. 
  • TEFL certification: Acquiring a 168-hour TEFL certificate (for those who haven’t taught in an ESL classroom) is first on the list. 
  • Prepare your documents: To gather all documents (passports, apostilled copy of your degree, reference letters, etc.) might take a bit of time but that’s OK. The trick here is to get started early. For public school job applications, you will need 2 reference letters from direct supervisors from past or current jobs or your college or university academic professors.
  • Prepare your resume: Even little tweaks and tricks can make a big difference when it comes to getting some eyeballs on your application.
  • Start your job search: You can also scour our jobs board for teaching positions.
  • Consider using recruitment companies: Find a recruiter (Korean Horizons, Korvia Consulting, GoldenKey) and start your application process with them. They will guide you through what documents are needed for the school you are applying for. 
  • Visa application: Once you get to interviews and get offered a job, the job of applying for a visa begins. This can take another few additional weeks, so be patient.

Whether you choose to work with a recruiter, go down the route of government sponsored programs, or search for positions independently, there are many great opportunities available for English teachers in South Korea. Steady wins the race, and turns your dream of teaching in South Korea into a reality.

Can I teach English online to Korean students?

The online teaching market is very competitive. Since the COVID pandemic, the number of TEFL teachers teaching online has grown considerably! Depending on the company, your application will be stronger the more qualified you are, and the more English teaching experience you have. If you can rock an American accent, that could count in your favour too, as Koreans learn American English. 

There are plenty of online companies that offer English language lessons to Korean students such as Nil English, English Hunt, Tutoring Go to name a few. The requirements are typically less strict than those for teaching in a physical classroom.

What is the average English teacher salary in South Korea?

How much you earn is an important factor when deciding to teach English in South Korea. Fortunately, the salaries for English teachers in South Korea are generally quite competitive and higher than many other countries. 

The pay can vary depending on factors such as experience, location and where you teach:

  • Securing a public school position will earn you a monthly teaching salary of $1,700 – $2,100.
  • At a hagwon/private school, your average salary usually starts from $1,700 to $3,000.
  • Your monthly salary at a university is much higher and can start from $1,900 to $3,100.

While it’s possible to make some extra money privately tutoring, it’s important to note that this will most likely be in violation of your contract (and visa). 

However, if you’re in a public school system you can legally teach during summer camps and make some extra money. These camps are usually staffed by people who work full time in one of Korea’s public schools.

What else does my compensation cover?

South Korean public schools offer great incentives. You are reimbursed for your flight and receive a settlement bonus soon after you arrive in South Korea. 

You are given furnished accommodation for your contract duration, which includes the basics (stove, washing machine, fridge, TV, bed). If you are lucky, the previous English teacher would have left some useful goodies for you too!

South Korea has one of the cheapest healthcare systems in the world. In most cases, the school will pay 50% of your health insurance premiums, with the other 50% deducted from your monthly salary (~ $50 – $60).

You are also given a full month’s extra salary at the end of your contract, called the completion bonus. 

Where in South Korea is the cheapest to live?

The cheapest places to live in South Korea would be the rural areas. There are fewer opportunities to spend your money and the government programs offer monetary incentives to those who teach in rural areas. 

Living in a rural area has its perks. You feel more connected to the community, you save tons of cash, and get to spend more time in nature – hiking, cycling, and walking. 

Although you may be the only English speaker in your area, you can still take short trips out into the city to get a change of scenery and meet up with other foreign teachers. South Korea has a great public transportation system that is safe and reliable to use. 

Is it possible to save as a TEFL teacher in South Korea?

Teaching salaries in South Korea afford you to save substantially. Depending on how well you work with your money, you can save enough to travel to other countries, pay off student loans, and have some left over too! 

English teachers enjoy a comfortable life, with rent not being an expense, food being affordable, healthcare premiums really cheap, and transport being very safe and budget-friendly too. In other words, the cost of living can be low. 

It’s little things that can determine whether you’re able to save $1,000 or $200. 

For example, eating out at western restaurants costs a lot more than eating with the locals. Have a wife and a kid you’d like to travel with? It  most likely won’t be possible to save up anything more than $500 a month, and that is still if you don’t have to pay for additional housing.

What’s it like to live and teach English in South Korea?

Finding teaching jobs in South Korea is easy. It’s an amazing opportunity for personal growth, travel, and teaching experience. Teachers are highly respected and students are always curious and excited to interact with and learn from a foreign teacher. 

English teachers have a great work-life balance. With ample sights to see, festivals to attend, and cultural events to experience, you will never grow bored. The expat community is spread throughout Korea, so you will have ample opportunity to find like-minded friends too.

Contents

What do you imagine when you think of South Korea? Is it seeing yourself walking the neon-lit streets of Seoul, lazing on a beach in Busan, or enjoying delicious bulgogi on Jeju Island?

Or maybe you imagine yourself in the classroom, chatting with friendly students and sharing your knowledge of the English language and culture?

Whatever your vision is, if it involves teaching English, South Korea may be the perfect destination for you. Why, you ask?

High paying teaching jobs? Check. 

Opportunities for professional development and advancement? Check. 

A rich and fascinating culture to explore? Check, check, check! 

Teaching English in South Korea can offer all of this and more.

Why teach in South Korea?

South Korea is a mixed bag of tricks, famous for its ramen, Kpop, norebang (karaoke rooms), centuries-old temples and futuristic neon-lit streets. But that’s not all! Let’s look at a few reasons you should teach English in South Korea:

  • It has a rich cultural heritage. With over 13,000 Buddhist temples to visit you are spoilt for choice. When visiting a temple, you will most likely catch the resident monks praying – you could even join them, along with the locals, to pay your respects.  On some days you could even enjoy temple food (free of charge) after a scenic hike on one of the many hills and mountains in each city!
  • Foreigners are welcome. South Koreans are known for their hospitality and friendliness. There is a large expat community from all sorts of different countries, making South Korea an eclectic mix of nationalities. No matter where you’re from, you’ll feel welcome in South Korea.
  • There are tons of teaching opportunities in South Korea. South Korea offers plentiful job opportunities, competitive salaries, generous packages, and job satisfaction. Teachers in South Korea might work hard, but they are well-paid and are able to save a pretty penny every month.

Where to teach English in South Korea

South Korea’s most popular destinations for English teachers, include the capital city of Seoul, beachy Busan, Geoje, Daegu and Gwangju. 

1. Seoul – best for a fast-paced lifestyle.

Seoul is a bustling cosmopolitan city with many expats and English-speaking locals. Getting a placement in Seoul is very competitive.

2. Daegu – a city with a bit more breathing space. 

Offering the same lifestyle as Seoul but more laid-back, Daegu is a great city to live in as you can travel via KTX (fast rail) to all major cities. 

3. Busan – great for outdoor living and activities.

Busan is a coastal city, with a mix of city life and a more relaxed setting. Busan is known for its popular beach – Haeundae- where you can experience exciting beach concerts, fun in the sun, and artsy events. 

4. Geoje – island living

If you are looking for a more laid-back kind of lifestyle, the island of Geoje is recommended. Just one hour away from Busan, Geoje has lovely beaches with clear, blue waters – and 11 mountains for those who are feeling a bit more energetic.

5. Gwangju – best for culture vultures

If you appreciate culture, Gwangju is a great city to live in. There are a variety of museums and galleries to visit, and festivals all year round to enjoy. There are serene parks to relax in too, making Gwanju an ideal city to live in if you want a slower-paced lifestyle.

 

Do you need a visa to teach English in South Korea?

Obtaining an E2 visa will allow you to legally teach English in South Korea. 

An E-2 visa is specifically designed for native English speakers who want to work as English teachers in South Korea.

You will be required to first apply for an English teaching job and receive a contract of employment before applying for your E-2 visa.  

Here are the requirements to apply for an E-2 visa: 

  • Be a native English speaker from USA, Canada, UK, Republic of Ireland, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand, or have proof of English-medium education for at least seven years
  • A Bachelor’s degree
  • Clear criminal background check
  • Clean health exam and drug test

Note that a TEFL is not needed for visa purposes in South Korea, but it is highly recommended in order to get a job. A Level 3 120-hour TEFL certificate is the minimum requirement, but if you’re serious about finding a good job in South Korea we recommend the Level 5 168-hour Combined TEFL course to give you the best shot. The additional classroom training will give you the edge in the application process.

Do I need teaching experience to teach in South Korea?

It isn’t a prerequisite to have teaching experience, but if you do, you can expect a higher teaching salary. Most, if not all, teaching jobs in South Korea require you to have a degree and TEFL qualification. 

Teaching positions in public schools and universities often require teaching experience. But not all is lost because hagwons, which are for-profit private language schools in South Korea, offer a more accessible path for first-time teachers.

Which TEFL certification is best for teaching in South Korea?

If you want to learn how to teach English in South Korea, you will need to complete an internationally recognized TEFL course from a reputable TEFL course provider.  

The TEFL Academy’s Level 5 Combined Course (168 hours) is the best certification to get if you are looking to get formal work as an English teacher in public schools, private language schools, or universities. This course offers 10 hours of in-class instruction.

The Level 5 Online TEFL Course offers the same opportunities to teach in formal institutions but is completely online. If you would like to add practical experience to your qualification but are unable to attend a face-to-face course, The TEFL Academy offers a Level 5 40-hour Observed Teaching Practice Course which gives you real-life teaching practice with the convenience of online teaching.

Can I teach English in South Korea with no degree?

To teach English in South Korea, it is required that you have a degree and that you are a native English speaker. You may hold a degree in any subject, provided that the language of instruction is English. 

This degree must be from an accredited college or university (4 years in the US/3 years in the UK). In most cases you’ll also be required to apostille your degree certificates, which means to verify the authenticity of the documents and make them legally valid for use in another country.

Can non-native speakers teach English in South Korea?

To teach English In South Korea, you will need to be a native English speaker and come from an English-native-speaking country such as the US, the UK, South Africa, and New Zealand to name a few. South Korea’s visa requirements are strict when it comes to this.

If you are a non-native speaker you will need to show proof of education in an English-medium school for at least seven years, or hold a teaching license from an English institution.

Do you need to speak Korean to teach English in South Korea?

Absolutely not! However, learning some basic phrases will help you transition into your new life faster.

If you live in a major city like Seoul or Busan, it’s easier to get around with only English, but in smaller cities you may need a few Korean phrases to get by.

Speaking only English in the classroom is ideal, as you are there to foster English speaking skills. Immersion learning is known to be a very effective means of teaching a language, which is why it’s not necessary to be able to speak the local language when teaching English abroad.

At work, our colleagues’ English proficiency may be low so learning Korean will improve your work relationships.

Healthcare & insurance

Once you have arrived in South Korea, it is a contract and visa requirement to pass a health check at a South Korean hospital with your educational supervisor. It will cost you about 50,000 KRW (~ $40).

Teaching contracts with a public school, private school, or university, offer a 50% medical insurance contribution and the other half (~ $50-60) will be automatically deducted from your salary.

In case of any medical or travel issues, it is recommended that you get travel insurance to cover you while you travel to South Korea and before your national health insurance benefits kick in.

How much startup capital do I need to teach in South Korea?

You will need one month’s worth of start-up capital of about $500 (650,000 KRW)  to teach English in South Korea. 

This includes visa costs, accommodation and living expenses until  your first paycheque. Bear in mind, this doesn’t include your flights. Depending on your school, you will receive your flight reimbursement (1.3 million KRW or $1,000) and a settlement bonus (of up to 300,000 KRW or $250) shortly after you start teaching, or at the end of the first month.

The cost of getting an E2 visa is subject to your home country. You can expect to pay between $50 -$100.

Types of teaching jobs in South Korea

Government-sponsored programs are the most popular option for teaching English in South Korea, closely followed by working in a hagwon.

1. Government sponsored programs:

The South Korean government has invested in their students’ English education by offering native English speakers opportunities to teach in public schools throughout the country. The EPIK, GEPIK, and SMOE are long-running English teaching programs. These English teaching programs are credible and safe options for those who are looking for a sense of security when teaching abroad.

EPIK Program

The EPIK program is the most popular amongst the three and offers placements for teaching English throughout South Korea, with intakes twice a year for the fall and spring terms. A one-week orientation is provided before the start of the contract. The program offers a settlement allowance and contract completion bonuses, as well as paid vacation time. Participants in the program will have support for teaching and are required to teach 22 hours a week.

GEPIK Program

GEPIK places you in a public school in the area surrounding Seoul known as Gyeonggi. You work 22 hours a week but your working hours are 40 a week. You can start either in March or September. Each month you will earn approximately 2.1 million KW, but your pay is dependent on your qualifications. You are provided with accommodation and reimbursed for your flights. Contracts are for a year, with 20 days of paid vacation. This programme prefers experienced teachers.

SMOE Program

SMOE places you in a public school in one of the 25 districts in Seoul. You teach for 22 hours a week but you work 40 hours a week. Each month you will earn approximately 1.8 million to 3 million KW, depending on your qualifications and experience. You are provided with accommodation or a housing allowance, flight reimbursement, a settling-in allowance and a severance package on completion of the contract. You need a Bachelor’s degree and a TEFL certificate or a teaching qualification, as well as a clean criminal record. Furthermore, you need to be a citizen of South Africa, Canada, Ireland, the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia or New Zealand. You must be below 62 years of age. An SMOE contract is for one year.

2. Recruitment companies

Applying for private or public school positions with a recruiter will be extremely useful. Recruiters such as Korean Horizons, Korvia Consulting, and GoldKey Education provide great assistance for teachers. Recruiters guide and support you through the application and interview process, as well as during your arrival and settlement in South Korea.

Tip: Some recruiters are established in South Korea and can help you when you arrive, whilst others might not be able to. Be sure to ask your recruiter if they’ll collect you at the airport or put you up in a hotel.

3. Universities

Teaching English at a South Korean university requires you to be an experienced teacher and have a Master’s degree. They are generally hard to come by. Depending on the university, the requirements may be flexible for those who already teach English in South Korea or who have the necessary teaching credentials. Long paid leave days and generous housing stipends make teaching at universities very appealing.

4. Private schools

Hagwons or private language schools are after-school academies that South Korean students attend for extra-curricular learning. Working at a hagwon offers you a flexible work schedule, a competitive salary, and the opportunity to work alongside other English teachers, unlike public school programs, where there is usually only one English teacher per school. Class sizes are small, with a maximum of 15 students per class.

These are the benefits of teaching at a Hagwon:

  • Placement throughout South Korea
  • Placement throughout the year
  • High paying salaries
  • Lesson plans are provided (depending on the school)
  • Lessons start in the afternoons, after normal school hours.

 

How to get a job teaching English in South Korea

From obtaining the necessary qualifications and documents to navigating the application process, there are several steps you can take to increase your chances of success. Here they are:

  • Meeting the minimum requirements: This is the first step towards securing a job teaching English in South Korea. 
  • TEFL certification: Acquiring a 168-hour TEFL certificate (for those who haven’t taught in an ESL classroom) is first on the list. 
  • Prepare your documents: To gather all documents (passports, apostilled copy of your degree, reference letters, etc.) might take a bit of time but that’s OK. The trick here is to get started early. For public school job applications, you will need 2 reference letters from direct supervisors from past or current jobs or your college or university academic professors.
  • Prepare your resume: Even little tweaks and tricks can make a big difference when it comes to getting some eyeballs on your application.
  • Start your job search: You can also scour our jobs board for teaching positions.
  • Consider using recruitment companies: Find a recruiter (Korean Horizons, Korvia Consulting, GoldenKey) and start your application process with them. They will guide you through what documents are needed for the school you are applying for. 
  • Visa application: Once you get to interviews and get offered a job, the job of applying for a visa begins. This can take another few additional weeks, so be patient.

Whether you choose to work with a recruiter, go down the route of government sponsored programs, or search for positions independently, there are many great opportunities available for English teachers in South Korea. Steady wins the race, and turns your dream of teaching in South Korea into a reality.

Can I teach English online to Korean students?

The online teaching market is very competitive. Since the COVID pandemic, the number of TEFL teachers teaching online has grown considerably! Depending on the company, your application will be stronger the more qualified you are, and the more English teaching experience you have. If you can rock an American accent, that could count in your favour too, as Koreans learn American English. 

There are plenty of online companies that offer English language lessons to Korean students such as Nil English, English Hunt, Tutoring Go to name a few. The requirements are typically less strict than those for teaching in a physical classroom.

What is the average English teacher salary in South Korea?

How much you earn is an important factor when deciding to teach English in South Korea. Fortunately, the salaries for English teachers in South Korea are generally quite competitive and higher than many other countries. 

The pay can vary depending on factors such as experience, location and where you teach:

  • Securing a public school position will earn you a monthly teaching salary of $1,700 – $2,100.
  • At a hagwon/private school, your average salary usually starts from $1,700 to $3,000.
  • Your monthly salary at a university is much higher and can start from $1,900 to $3,100.

While it’s possible to make some extra money privately tutoring, it’s important to note that this will most likely be in violation of your contract (and visa). 

However, if you’re in a public school system you can legally teach during summer camps and make some extra money. These camps are usually staffed by people who work full time in one of Korea’s public schools.

What else does my compensation cover?

South Korean public schools offer great incentives. You are reimbursed for your flight and receive a settlement bonus soon after you arrive in South Korea. 

You are given furnished accommodation for your contract duration, which includes the basics (stove, washing machine, fridge, TV, bed). If you are lucky, the previous English teacher would have left some useful goodies for you too!

South Korea has one of the cheapest healthcare systems in the world. In most cases, the school will pay 50% of your health insurance premiums, with the other 50% deducted from your monthly salary (~ $50 – $60).

You are also given a full month’s extra salary at the end of your contract, called the completion bonus. 

Where in South Korea is the cheapest to live?

The cheapest places to live in South Korea would be the rural areas. There are fewer opportunities to spend your money and the government programs offer monetary incentives to those who teach in rural areas. 

Living in a rural area has its perks. You feel more connected to the community, you save tons of cash, and get to spend more time in nature – hiking, cycling, and walking. 

Although you may be the only English speaker in your area, you can still take short trips out into the city to get a change of scenery and meet up with other foreign teachers. South Korea has a great public transportation system that is safe and reliable to use. 

Is it possible to save as a TEFL teacher in South Korea?

Teaching salaries in South Korea afford you to save substantially. Depending on how well you work with your money, you can save enough to travel to other countries, pay off student loans, and have some left over too! 

English teachers enjoy a comfortable life, with rent not being an expense, food being affordable, healthcare premiums really cheap, and transport being very safe and budget-friendly too. In other words, the cost of living can be low. 

It’s little things that can determine whether you’re able to save $1,000 or $200. 

For example, eating out at western restaurants costs a lot more than eating with the locals. Have a wife and a kid you’d like to travel with? It  most likely won’t be possible to save up anything more than $500 a month, and that is still if you don’t have to pay for additional housing.

What’s it like to live and teach English in South Korea?

Finding teaching jobs in South Korea is easy. It’s an amazing opportunity for personal growth, travel, and teaching experience. Teachers are highly respected and students are always curious and excited to interact with and learn from a foreign teacher. 

English teachers have a great work-life balance. With ample sights to see, festivals to attend, and cultural events to experience, you will never grow bored. The expat community is spread throughout Korea, so you will have ample opportunity to find like-minded friends too.

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