There’s a lot to enjoy about South Korea. Certainly, as one of the four Asian Tigers, the country’s economy has rapidly become one of the most advanced in the world. Yet, despite this exponential expansion, it remains a land of mystery, unique culture and an epicentre of emerging world trends, especially in fashion and music.
Little wonder that teaching English in South Korea is an extremely popular pursuit, with fierce competition for jobs in major populaces, like Seoul, Busan and Daegu. Even in more rural areas, South Korea is full of intrepid educators, who are desperate to discover what the country offers. English teaching jobs in South Korea are often as diverse and exciting as the country itself.
With high summer temperatures, fabulous palaces, and diverse, buzzing metropolises to explore, TEFL teachers in South Korea will never be stuck for something to do in their spare time.
Demand for ESL teachers is extraordinary, with thousands of students looking to learn English to help them get a job, move or expand the horizons of their existing career. There are often positions teaching students of all ages available in the country, but where are they, how well do they pay, and what do you need to get a piece of the action?
Where to find TEFL jobs in South Korea
Many schools and educational institutes use recruiters to fill positions rather than hiring directly, so don’t be surprised if you find this is the best way to get hired – we’ve listed several recruiters on this page. Government-run programmes like EPIK are a great resource for finding work.
You’ll need to be outside of Korea while applying for a visa, so the best practice is to find work before you head over. Your visa application costs might be covered by an employer and that employer can provide a reference and documentation.
There’s plenty of variety when it comes to English teaching jobs in schools and learning institutions. We’ll cover the breadth of the schooling landscape shortly, but in short, there are public schools, hagwons (private language schools), international schools, universities and colleges, and online teaching companies that all hire English teachers on a regular basis. Some schools prefer North American accents, but if you are a native English speaker then it shouldn’t be hard to find work. Most jobs are only open to native applicants from Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, UK and USA.
Types of English teaching jobs in South Korea
What kind of work can an English teacher find in South Korea? Let’s explore the vast and exciting options on offer to intrepid TEFL explorer
Public Schools (EPIK)
If you’re looking to work in the public sector, South Korean teaching jobs are largely controlled by EPIK, an arm of the Korean Ministry of Education. With a dedicated office designed to bring in top-tier TEFL talent from around the world, South Korean public education is a hospitable and friendly environment for teachers both experienced and new alike.
For a job in a public school, you’ll need to be a citizen of and have a degree from Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, United Kingdom, United States, or South Africa. If you’re not a native English speaker, you’ll have to provide evidence that you’ve been learning English since 7th Grade/Junior High/Year 7. Finally, you’ll need at least 100 hours of TEFL certification, and a TEFL certificate to match, from a highly-accredited, reputable provider.
In terms of salary, teachers in public schools earn 1.5 to 3 million won monthly (between £900-£1,800/$1,150-$2,650), depending on experience, qualifications and the number of years a teacher spends with a particular school.
Teach English in South Korea summer programmes
Summer and winter programmes for TEFL teachers in South Korea remain popular! These programmes allow teachers a taste of what it’s like to teach in South Korea, as well as add to their CV, make amazing contacts, and make a difference in the lives of Korean pupils.
SeoulESL has partnered with a number of top universities and institutions since 2007, offering a range of summer camp options. Applicants need a bachelor’s degree or higher, a clean criminal record and pass mental and physical health checks, as well as being from any of Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, UK or the USA.
EF also provide a range of summer trips to South Korea, for those aged 18-25, lasting from 2 to 24 weeks in duration.
Employers in South Korea
So now we know how to find English teaching jobs, which employers should you be seeking out to live your teach abroad dreams in South Korea?
Adventure Teaching is a recruitment agency, for positions teaching pre-school to high school.
Canadian Connection offers 1-year contracts, paying 1.8 to 2.8 million won per month. You need a degree in an English field, a TEFL certificate, teaching experience, and listed nationality.
Chung Dahm has 180 campuses and employs around 1,000 teachers. Graduates from English-speaking countries can apply, experience with children is ideal.
Flying Cows is a UK-based recruitment company, offering 12-month contracts for teaching positions in Korea.
Gyeonggi English Program in Korea (GEPIK) employs around 1,000 teachers for public schools in the Gyeonggi-do province. You’ll be the only native teacher in your school, teaching 22 classes of 45 minutes per week, with optional overtime classes. You can apply as a couple/friendship group as well as on your own.
Gone2Korea is a recruitment agency looking for both newbie and seasoned TEFL teachers. You need to be a native speaker of the listed nationality, have a degree, and criminal record check.
The Teach and Learn in Korea (TaLK) Program looks for graduates to teach English to elementary kids living in rural areas, 15 hours per week. You need a degree and to be from one of the approved countries.
TEFL Job Korea recruits teachers mostly in Daegu Metropolitan City. Native speakers (with a degree and criminal records check) from participating countries can apply.
As ever, you can visit The TEFL Org Jobs Centre to see our latest listings of jobs in South Korea.
Common teacher benefits
Depending on the role and institution, you can expect a range of benefits from teaching jobs in South Korea.
Beyond competitive salaries, employers in South Korea commonly provide accommodation, or at least an accommodation allowance, to those coming over to teach English. This can range from rent assistance for a flat to shared accommodation with other teachers, depending on the employer and the role. If you’re keen to find independent accommodation, some employers will offer an additional stipend to assist with this.
You can’t get there, of course, without a visa. Typically, South Korean employers will help with securing your E2 working visa, including references and necessary documents, as well as a financial contribution.
Depending on the length of your contract in South Korea, paid holidays ought to be included. Typically, you’re looking at between 10 and 20 days in your first year of teaching, which is topped up annually if you have a permanent contract with an employer. If you’re on a temporary contract, severance pay is extremely common – this will help enormously when you’re between teaching jobs and it is a normal part of South Korean employment law.
Airfare is often covered by employers who recruit from overseas. This should be advertised within the job listing, and again, it’s common practice for South Korean TEFL employers. Not only this, but your employer should be making regular payments into your pension plan, as South Korean employers are obligated to do.
Beyond monetary and material benefits, South Korean TEFL employers should be looking to provide some professional development, including lessons in Korean, help with administrative tasks and more. This way, you’ll come back from South Korea twice the teacher you were before!
What you need to know about teaching English in South Korea
Finally, let’s get you up to speed with Korean culture, so you know what to expect when you move for a job teaching English in South Korea!
From a teaching point of view, preparation and professionalism are everything. Like in Japan, hierarchies and respect are important. Students are very determined and driven, and expect the same from their teachers. Institutions will expect smart-dressed, insightful and dynamic teachers, who respect authority and won’t cause trouble.
Language is vital, of course, and while you’ll be there to teach English, it’s imperative that you nail down some basic Korean before you head over. Most people will offer a polite “hello”, which is annyeong haseyo, “nice to meet you” is joeun achimieyo, while eotteoke jinaeseyo? means “how are you?”. If you’re looking for a formal greeting (especially for job interviews, or greeting a class for the first time), you want to say annyeong hasimnikka.
The currency in South Korea is the Korean Won (KRW), and you can use your Won on Korea’s incredible transport infrastructure, which rates as one of the best worldwide. This means you shouldn’t be afraid to explore the outer reaches of South Korea if you’re working in the city, and commuting is remarkably easy. Once your travel is complete, checking out Korean cuisine is a must, with dishes like bibimbap and kimchi already famous across the world.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Are English teachers in demand in South Korea?
Yes! From public schools to Hagwons via universities and private companies, highly-qualified English teachers are very much in demand in South Korea.
Q. How hard is it to get a job teaching English in South Korea?
If you have a bachelor’s degree or above and a TEFL certificate with at least 120 hours of training, finding work in South Korea as a TEFL teacher shouldn’t be too hard.
Q. How much does Korea pay ESL teachers?
A starting salary in a South Korean public school usually ranges between £1,280-1,600/$1,600-$2,000. At universities or international schools, wages can rise to around double that!
Find out more about How Much Can You Earn Teaching English in South Korea.