If you’re looking for an excellent salary and lifestyle while teaching English overseas, South Korea can offer precisely that. Although teaching salaries in Korea vary, a first-time English teacher working in public school programmes can earn between 1.5 and 3 million won monthly ($1,150 to $2,650).
In addition, English teachers at private schools in South Korea—referred to as Hagwons by the locals—earn between 1.9 to 2.4 million won monthly ($1,600 to $2,000). Better still, public and private schools often provide free flights and free housing, enabling you to save even more cash!
South Korea isn’t as affordable as other Asian destinations—such as Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam. However, despite its large economy, it’s still more affordable than many Western countries. An English teaching salary provides you with enough cash to live in all Korean major cities and still have an incredible time. You can even save some money for travel, paying off student loans, and further education.
The amount of money you earn largely depends on your location in the nation. Typically, you’ll earn more in Seoul and Busan, but there are excellent salaries in rural areas of South Korea too.
Teach English in Korea Salary
Teachers who work in public schools—typically through teaching placements in South Korea like the EPIK programme—can earn anywhere between 1.5 to 3 million won monthly (between $1150 to $2650.)
The EPIK programme often provides you with housing and flight costs, which will bring your costs down and enable you to save more cash.
English teachers who work in South Korean private schools, locally known as Hagwons, can earn between 1.9 to 2.4 million won (between $1,600 to $2,000). Private schools often provide housing and flight reimbursements too. As a result, you can save plenty of cash.
Teachers with prior experience can earn closer to 2.4 million won ($1950.) Remember, private schools are less regulated than public schools, so you’ll witness significant variations in pay.
As you might expect, university teaching roles are highly sought after in South Korea. Therefore, there’s plenty of competition. University teaching roles offer salaries between 2.3 to 5 million won ($2050 to $4400.)
If you’re earning close to 5 million won, you’re living very comfortably in Korea, regardless of where you reside. In addition, universities offer longer vacations, fewer working hours, and will also provide flights and accommodation.
How Much Money Can You Save Teaching English in South Korea?
Several prospective teachers have wondered how much money TEFL instructors can actually save in South Korea as they weigh the financial advantages of working abroad to teach English.
South Korea has a powerful economy, and living costs are higher than many other Asian nations. However, despite Korea’s remarkable economic growth since the Korean War, teaching English provides a comfortable salary, whether you work in the public or private sector.
If you’re living in rural South Korea, you’ll save money on rent and bills when teaching English. Seoul, one of the world’s most vibrant cities, is a financial hub. Subsequently, apartments cost a lot more and living costs in general are higher.
Thankfully, most teaching jobs in South Korea will cover your accommodation costs, which could otherwise eat away your savings. Food, drink, and entertainment costs aren’t as affordable as other Asian nations, but you can save lots of cash if you eat street food and visit affordable shops.
- An English teacher can save upwards of 50% of their salary a month (often between $600 to $1200.)
- An English teacher who completes a 12-month contract often receives a bonus equivalent to a month’s pay
- English teachers can earn financial superb benefits from Korean public and private schools due to the nature of the economy
- Exchange rates may vary, but schools typically pay an English teacher in South Korean Won. Although it’s not as powerful as Western currencies, the won is still a strong currency that gives you a respectable conversion to USD, GBP, or the Euro.
- One of the best ways to save money is through private tutoring in your spare time. If you’re a native-level speaker, you can start at 50,000 won per hour ($40.)
Living Costs in South Korea
South Korea, although not the cheapest nation, is more affordable than many people may think. The average cost of living in Seoul per month for one individual is around 1.6 million won ($1,400). Of course, a nice apartment in Seoul may cost you upwards of $1,000. However, with most employers covering your housing costs, you don’t have to worry about this.
Busan, however, is cheaper than Seoul. The average cost of living for someone in Busan is around 1 million won per month. The average cost of rent in Busan is around 500,000 South Korean Won ($442). Incheon—another popular destination for English teachers—has an average cost of living of 1.2 million won ($1082) and 450,000 won ($400) for a small apartment.
The cost of utilities varies depending on the season in Korea. For example, gas fees work out at around 10,000 won ($8.85) most months, apart from the cold winter months. During the winter, most Korean buildings use gas-powered underfloor heating. Therefore, gas bills are often over 100,000 won ($88) per month.
- Internet and TV packages: 30,000 to 50,000 won per month ($27 to $45.)
- Smartphone packages: 30,000 to 40,000 won per month ($26.50 to $35.40)
- Apartment maintenance fees: 100,000 won per month ($88)
Can You Save a Lot of Money Teaching English in South Korea?
It’s entirely possible to save a lot of money while teaching English in South Korea, but it depends on your lifestyle. South Korean people love to eat out in restaurants and party in nightclubs. Of course, if you’re teaching English in South Korea, you’ll eat out and party with the locals. However, these activities will eat into your savings.
Most programmes and schools will offer teachers their own apartments. Sure, these are often nice apartments, but they’re usually not luxurious. Some teachers, depending on their salary, will get their own apartment. However, this will severely eat into your savings.
Still, if you’re smart with your money, it’s possible to save over $1,000 per month, sometimes more depending on your salary. The key is to budget your money, buy food in local supermarkets, live in the accommodation provided by the schools, and avoid partying too much.
Is it Hard to Get an English Teaching Job in South Korea?
How hard it is to find an English teaching job in South Korea depends on where you are, and what your expectations are. University teaching jobs—due to the high wages, superb benefits, and added holidays—are highly sought after. You’ll have to compete against many highly qualified people for these roles. If you have a master’s degree and some teaching experience, you’re likely qualified enough. If you don’t have relevant qualifications and experience, you’ll struggle to land these jobs.
However, getting a job in Korean public or private schools isn’t particularly hard. There’s a large demand for English teachers in South Korea—especially as the pandemic ends. Therefore, many teachers can find roles in public or private schools, but the salary and the perks aren’t as good as university teaching roles.
Private tutoring remains one of the best options for teachers. The rate for native-level speakers often starts at 50,000 won per hour ($40). It’s an excellent way to boost your salary outside of your normal English teacher salary, but make sure your contract allows you to do this. You can even work at multiple schools and undergo private tutoring in your spare time.
What are the Requirements for Teaching English in South Korea?
To teach English in Korea, you’ll require a bachelor’s degree and a TEFL, TESOL, or CELTA qualification. South Korean schools have high standards for the teachers they employ. So, unlike some countries, you will need to provide evidence of your qualifications.
In addition, Korean schools often require:
- Citizenship from a native-speaking English nation, such as the U.S., U.K., Canada, Ireland, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand.
- A background check that shows you’ve got a clean national-level criminal record with zero convictions or charges
- A clean health and drug test
- Passport photos
- An original passport that’s valid for one year
- Proof of full-time teaching experience in your home country or elsewhere
Remember, these are the requirements for obtaining an E-2 teaching visa from the South Korean government. Individual employers often have their own additional requirements. What’s more, the requirements to teach in private schools can be different from public schools. Universities also often require a master’s degree.
Where Can I Find ESL Jobs in Korea?
There are many teaching jobs in South Korea. However, to secure a job, you can follow various routes: external job sites, a private recruiter, or the government-sponsored EPIK program. You can also find teaching jobs in public and private K-12 schools, language academies, and universities.
Are English teachers in Demand in Korea?
Yes, English teachers are in high demand in South Korea. The nation is highly developed and strives for educational excellence. Many parents want their children to study in Western universities, so they’ll require strong English skills. English in South Korea still isn’t widely spoken nationwide, but there’s a strong demand to learn it.
In addition, the South Korean government—like many Asian governments—is prioritising the English language as South Korea grows in the international community. As a result, English teachers like you are in high demand in South Korea.
The nation aims to attract the best foreign teachers with competitive salaries and excellent perks.
Can you Teach English in Korea Without a Degree?
Although it’s possible to find some teaching jobs where you don’t require a degree, it’s challenging. Most English teaching jobs in an international school require a Bachelor’s or master’s degree on top of a TEFL, TESOL, or CELTA.
A popular program for teachers without a bachelor’s degree was the Teach and Learn in Korea AKA TaLK program. They accepted applicants without bachelor’s degrees, but unfortunately the programme came to a close in 2022.
Start Your Teaching Abroad Dream Today
If you want to teach English in Korea, you should obtain a TEFL certificate. It will make you stand out from the crowd, and it can give you excellent prior experience before starting the job.
There are so many TEFL jobs in South Korea, and the opportunity is waiting for you right now.