Teach English in South Korea (2023)

Types of teaching jobs in South Korea

There are many different types of ESL teaching jobs in South Korea, all with varying application requirements, work schedules, benefits, and pay. Regardless of the type of English teaching job you're interested in, it is required, or at least highly recommended, that you're TEFL certified.

Read on to find the option that best fits your skill level and ideal teaching environment.

Government-sponsored programs

Benefits such as higher job security, furnished housing, and paid vacation makes working in a public school an ideal teaching opportunity for many first-time ESL teachers. While these positions tend to be more competitive with slightly lower pay, your application will be made stronger by having a teaching certificate like your TEFL or TESOL.

You’ll work alongside a co-teacher, coordinating classroom instruction times, and even create lesson plans. Public schools hire about six months before their start dates; the beginning of March and September. Pay starts at $1,350-$2,700 USD. The various government-sponsored programs are: SMOE, GEPIK and EPIK.

EPIK program, which stands for English Program in Korea is organized by the Korean ministry of education and places teachers in elementary and middle schools all throughout South Korea. In recent years, the other major government-sponsored programs SMOE and GEPIK merged with the EPIK program and now all share the same application.

The SMOE program, renamed to EPIK-Seoul, places teachers into public schools throughout Seoul, the capital city of South Korea. GEPIK is located in the Gyeonggi Province—the rural area surrounding Seoul.

Read more: Guide to EPIK Program: Teaching English in South Korea

(Video) Why You SHOULDN'T Teach English in South Korea ...

Recruitment companies

In South Korea, applying to teaching programs through a recruitment company, like Korvia Consulting or The Fewer Things is encouraged to secure your placement. Once you register, they will send you information about job openings, ensure you have the proper certifications, and walk you through the application and interview process.

Universities

Most people begin teaching at universities once they've taught in South Korea for at least a year and have made contacts. However, if you have a master’s degree, you qualify for teaching at the university level. Extremely low working hours and equal pay make working at universities very appealing. You can earn between $2,050-$3,100 USD per month.

However, unlike starting work at a public or private school, at a university level job, you will need to find your own apartment. You'll also have to provide the key deposit for your apartment, a deposit on average of about $5,000 USD that'll be returned to you at the end of your lease -- a potentially huge expense for teachers who are relocating from abroad.

Private schools

Private schools can be a great option if high pay, easy application process, pre-planned lesson plans, and shorter work days are a high priority for you. Private schools, called hagwons, are an excellent option for teachers looking to spend a year abroad and save as much money as possible.

Starting pay at hagwons is usually about $2,000 - $2,200 USD/month with a workweek of about 35 hours. In addition to shorter working hours, most hagwons have pre-prepared lesson plans for teachers and start later in the day, typically after 1pm.

Hagwons typically hire year-round, usually through recruiters.

Average salary and benefits

On average, an English teacher's monthly salary in South Korea is between $1,350 - $4,400 per month, which is among the highest salaries for ESL teachers in the world! The salaries typically vary by teaching institution, location, and teaching experience.

(Video) *EASY* HOW I BECAME A TEACHER IN SOUTH KOREA | timeline, cost, visa + more

Common teacher benefits

Below are some of the benefits you can expect while teaching English in South Korea:

  • Housing
  • Flight reimbursement
  • Health insurance
  • Contract renewal bonus
  • Paid vacation

Read more: How Much Money Can You Save Teaching Abroad?

Cost of living in South Korea

Overall, the cost of living in South Korea is affordable, but if you live in a bigger city, the cost can get a bit more expensive. However, since most teaching jobs cover your apartment's cost and all you have to take care of is your utilities and cell-phone bill, it’s safe to say that 80% of your paycheck can be used for living or traveling expenses. The most enticing part of the deal comes when you finish your English teaching contract, as most contracts provide an extra month’s bonus upon completion. This means that the last time you get paid, you actually get paid twice!

Depending on how much you want to work and how frugal you are with your money, you can travel and save during your time teaching in South Korea.

  • Food: $80 - $100 (depends on how much you eat out or spend on groceries)
  • Transportation: $43.28 for a monthly public transportation pass
  • Entertainment (movies, bars/clubs, etc): $68 - $80
  • Housing: ~$810 one bedroom apartment in the city center

Source: Numbeo

Where to teach English in South Korea

Seoul and Busan provide the most popular settings for English teachers in South Korea. With its vibrant nightlife, trendy restaurants, and stunning palaces, the capital city, Seoul, offers the most eclectic mix of options in South Korea. A quieter city bordering the Sea of Japan, Busan—home to the popular vacation spot, Haeundae beach—is a bit more low-key and provides a nice compromise between busy and relaxed.

If you’re taking this year to reflect in peace and quiet, consider Gyeongju, a small city with a big lotus pond and a rich historical heritage. No matter your taste, there is a multitude of jobs to teach in cities across South Korea. Public schools typically hire at the start of their semester, March 1st and September 1st, and accept applications six months prior. Private institutes hire year-round.

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Read More: The 7 Best Cities to Teach English in South Korea

How to get a teaching job in South Korea

It is highly encouraged to find and apply for teaching jobs through a recruitment company, which you can find right here at Go Overseas! Our international teaching job board is also a great place to start finding jobs if you have your certifications and/or prior experience teaching abroad.

When to apply

Public schools typically hire at the start of their semester, March 1st and September 1st, and accept applications six months prior. Private institutes hire year-round.

Common qualifications

The qualifications for ESL jobs in South Korea may vary depending on which institution you apply for. Below are the basic, common qualifications for becoming an English teacher in South Korea:

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited university
  • Teaching experience and training – TEFL, TESOL, CELTA (not required, but highly recommended)
  • Be a native English speaker
  • Clear criminal record

Read more: What are the Requirements to Teach English Abroad?

Working Visas in Korea:

Most foreigners working at public or private schools qualify for the school-sponsored E-2 visa. The E-2 visa will permit you to teach in South Korea for a year with a single entry. For a fee, you can get your single entry status changed to multiple entries, allowing you the option to travel in and out of the country.

Once all of your documents are completed and you receive your visa confirmation number, you will need to either mail or deliver your passport to your local Korean consulate so it can be stamped with your visa. When you've been cleared, your school will help you obtain a residency permit within 90 days. To learn more about Korean visas, visit VISA HQ.

(Video) What it’s ACTUALLY like to teach English in Korea 🇰🇷📚✨ an *emotional* daily vlog 🤍

Classroom culture in South Korea

As an ESL teacher abroad, it’s essential that you take the time to research the country’s etiquette and classroom culture, as it can be vastly different from what you’re used to at home! ESL teachers should be respectful and understanding while adapting to a new classroom environment.

Here are a few important tips to know before teaching English in South Korea:

  • Dress professionally and appropriately! Even if you’re working with children, it’s a good idea to dress modestly. In addition, make sure to cover up any tattoos you have.
  • It's common to nod your head in a slight bow to your superiors to show respect.
  • Expect a lot of questions from your students – it’s not a bad thing! Though they may seem like “personal” questions, it’s out of curiosity and respect; they just want to get to know you more!

When in your new surroundings, observe how others behave to learn about appropriate etiquette. Overall, the importance of respect will make the inevitable learning process more enjoyable. And after a few months, you'll become more accustomed to things you learned upon arrival. In the end, you will come away having learned a great deal from this beautiful country and its people!

Ready to find your dream teaching program in South Korea?

Start researching and comparing teaching programs here at Go Overseas, in the Teaching Programs in South Korea section below.

Want to read more? Get started with these articles:

  • How to Get a Job Teaching English in South Korea
  • What It's Like Teaching in South Korea
  • The Best Opportunities to Teach Abroad in South Korea

FAQs

How much do you get paid to teach English in South Korea? ›

First-time English teachers in South Korea working in public schools through programs like EPIK typically earn monthly salaries between 1.5 to 3 million won ($1,150 - $2,650 USD). English teachers at private schools (Hagwons) earn from 1.9 to 2.4 million won ($1,600 - $2,000 USD) monthly.

Is there a demand for English teachers in South Korea? ›

Because there is a high demand for English teachers in Korea, jobs are competitive and pay well. Many jobs also come with extra perks like free or subsidized accommodation, completion bonuses, free flights to/from Korea, and other allowances.

What qualifications do I need to teach English in South Korea? ›

To get hired to teach English in Korea, you will need a TEFL certificate and a 4-year college degree. You must acquire an E-2 teaching visa and be a native English speaker as well. Finally, you must have a clean national-level criminal record, and a clean health check and drug test.

Can a foreigner be an English teacher in Korea? ›

Most foreigners working at public or private schools qualify for the school-sponsored E-2 visa. The E-2 visa will permit you to teach in South Korea for a year with a single entry. For a fee, you can get your single entry status changed to multiple entries, allowing you the option to travel in and out of the country.

Is teaching English in Korea worth it? ›

South Korea is often regarded as one of the best places to teach English abroad. English teachers in Korea enjoy relatively high salaries, great benefits, and a high quality of life, especially those who teach with EPIK.

What jobs are in demand in South Korea for foreigners? ›

Teaching English in Korea is the most popular job for foreigners. Because of the high demand, the requirement for ESL (English as a second language) teachers is immense. You can work for government public schools like EPIK, SMOE, GOE, GEPIK, TaLK, private centers (Hagwon), or even universities.

How hard is it to teach English in Korea? ›

At times, it's challenging and depends on your co-teachers or boss. Get to know your kids and you'll eventually learn what they like, even if their English level is very low. There are going to be a lot of awkward moments when you're questioning whether or not the students will ever get what you're teaching.

Can I teach English in Korea without knowing Korean? ›

So, do you have to speak Korean to teach in Korea? You don't have to be fluent in Korean to teach there, but you will definitely need it for a lot of aspects of daily life outside of the classroom.

What country pays teachers the most? ›

Luxembourg. According to an OECD report, Luxembourg (a European country) has the highest-paid teachers in the world. Another source indicates that a bachelor's degree holder is entitled to an initial salary of €67,000 (US $70,323.20) per annum at the start of their teaching career.

Is there an age limit to teach English in Korea? ›

Pros: If you choose to teach in South Korea, you'll likely be provided with free housing with furniture included. Cons: Age restrictions for teaching English overseas in South Korea begin at 65. Because this is the national retirement age, schools don't interview candidates after 65.

Is there an age limit for EPIK? ›

Key requirements:

TEFL certification (note: If you have a Bachelor's or Master's Degree in Education, a TEFL course is not officially required). Native English speaker with citizenship from one of the Big 7 English-speaking countries. Be in good physical/mental health. Must be under the age of 62.

How much is rent in Korea? ›

Minimum monthly house rent in South Korea is around 300,000 KRW (250 USD) for a small officetel studio (5–8 pyeong). On average, however, expect to pay about 500,000 KRW (425 USD) per month for this type of accommodation in big cities.

Can I work in Korea without a degree? ›

Working in South Korea without a degree

It will be very difficult to find a job in South Korea without having a higher education qualification. It is necessary to have at least a bachelor with a few years of experience. However, you can try your luck with a working holiday visa (H-1).

How long does it take to get TEFL certified? ›

Typically, a fully accredited TEFL certification course will last anywhere from 4 weeks to 6 months. Shorter, 4-week long courses will generally run full-time (30-40 hours per week) and are very demanding.

Are teachers respected in Korea? ›

Teachers are held in very high esteem in South Korea. They are generally treated with more respect than their American counterparts by their students and society and are addressed with the honorific term.

How many hours do English teachers in Korea work? ›

The most popular and preferred type of teaching job in South Korea is in a public school. You'll have a regular 9-to-5 schedule where your actual teaching hours usually won't exceed 22 per week. Pay scales and qualifications do vary, however, depending on the local office of education.

Where is the best place to teach English abroad? ›

Article Contents:
  • Best for job availability: China.
  • Best for job benefits: South Korea.
  • Best for professional development: Japan.
  • Best for teaching and traveling: Vietnam.
  • Best for non-native English teachers: Thailand.
  • Best for country infrastructure: Taiwan.
  • Best for work-life balance: Spain.
5 Oct 2022

How much does living in South Korea cost? ›

On a national level, a family of four can expect to spend an average of 2,300,000 KRW per month (2,000 USD) in living expenses (excluding rent). A single expat can expect to pay 652,000 KRW (560 USD) per month (excluding rent).

What are the highest paying jobs in Korea for foreigners? ›

Top 10 Ranks, What are the highest paying jobs in South Korea in 2022?
  • No.1 Corporate Executive.
  • Real No.1 South Korea Lawmakers.
  • No.2 Psychiatrist.
  • No.3 Plastic Surgeon.
  • No.4 Surgeon.
  • Tied For No.4 Obstetrician-Gynecologist.
  • No.6 Urologist.
  • No.7 Ophthalmologist.
6 Aug 2022

Can I move to Korea without a job? ›

How to move to South Korea without a job? The best way is to get an F visa such as the F-4 (overseas Korean) Visa or the F-6 (marriage visa). Or you can try to get an investment visa if you have 100 million (90,000 USD) to 300 million KRW (270,000 USD) to invest.

Is it easy to get a job in South Korea as a foreigner? ›

It's difficult for graduates to find work experience or short-term opportunities in South Korea, other than teaching English or voluntary work. You might find internship vacancies with multinational companies operating in South Korea.

How much do teachers get paid in Korea? ›

2: Great Salary

Most Korean schools offer contracts in the range of 2.2-2.5 million KRW per month (depending on your experience), which works out to $1900-$2200 USD per month (and as much as $2900 CAD or $3,000 AUD).

How much do foreign teachers make in Korea? ›

The salary for English teachers in Korea starts at 2.1 million Korean Won ($1 800) per month and can go up to 2.8 million Korean Won ($2 400). This salary will differ depending on whether you teach at a public or private school (more on that later).

What is considered rich in Korea? ›

According to a survey conducted in South Korea in 2021, around 34.5 percent of millionaires surveyed stated that households with a minimum annual income of 500 million South Korean won or more can be perceived as rich. The threshold to be considered wealthy increased with the level of wealth of the respondents.

What country pays teachers the most? ›

Luxembourg. According to an OECD report, Luxembourg (a European country) has the highest-paid teachers in the world. Another source indicates that a bachelor's degree holder is entitled to an initial salary of €67,000 (US $70,323.20) per annum at the start of their teaching career.

How long can you teach English in Korea? ›

While one could technically teach English in Korea forever, it isn't something many people do for more than a few years. A lot of people who stay in Korea for more than 3-5 years tend to move up in their schools to higher positions.

Can I work in Korea without a degree? ›

Working in South Korea without a degree

It will be very difficult to find a job in South Korea without having a higher education qualification. It is necessary to have at least a bachelor with a few years of experience. However, you can try your luck with a working holiday visa (H-1).

How much is rent in South Korea? ›

Minimum monthly house rent in South Korea is around 300,000 KRW (250 USD) for a small officetel studio (5–8 pyeong). On average, however, expect to pay about 500,000 KRW (425 USD) per month for this type of accommodation in big cities.

How much does living in South Korea cost? ›

On a national level, a family of four can expect to spend an average of 2,300,000 KRW per month (2,000 USD) in living expenses (excluding rent). A single expat can expect to pay 652,000 KRW (560 USD) per month (excluding rent).

When can I apply to teach English in Korea? ›

The Best Time To Apply For Public School Jobs

Almost all public schools in Korea hire their new teaching staff at the start of each semester, March 1st and September 1st (commonly referred to as the spring and fall hiring sessions).

What is minimum wage in Seoul? ›

The minimum salary in Seoul, South Korea in 2023 is of 9620 Won per hour, or approximately USD 6.73. Per month, considering a full time job, the sum is approximately 1.7 million KRW or slightly less than 1250 USD. This salary is effective as of 2020. More info available here.

How much money do you need to be rich in Korea? ›

According to a survey conducted among male and female adults in South Korea in 2021, the net wealth required to be considered wealthy was about 4.9 trillion South Korean won, a slight increase from the previous year. The threshold above which someone is considered wealthy has risen steadily in recent years.

Can I drink tap water in Seoul? ›

The simple answer is yes, the water is potable. Tap water in Korea is safe to drink.

Which country has shortage of teachers? ›

The top 10 teacher shortage countries showing the overly imbalanced ratio of the teacher to students are shown in the table above.
...
What Countries Need More Teachers and How Much Can You Make?
RankCountryTeacher:Pupil Ratio (1:)
1Tanzania218.78
2Solomon Islands101.03
3Sierra Leone66.65
4Cabo Verde61.27
6 more rows
17 Aug 2022

What countries need teachers? ›

Our list of the countries that need English teachers might surprise you! There are many countries with high demand for English teachers.
...
Finding meaningful, profitable work as an ESL teacher abroad.
  • Brazil. ...
  • Cambodia. ...
  • China. ...
  • Colombia. ...
  • Mexico. ...
  • Morocco. ...
  • Russia. ...
  • South Korea.
3 Mar 2021

Is teaching English abroad worth it? ›

If you seek to get paid to live overseas in a foreign country while making a difference in the lives of others, then teaching English abroad is definitely worth it. You will challenge yourself, and grow as a person, while seeing and doings thing you never would have experienced otherwise.

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