Now is a great time to teach English abroad. English teachers are in demand in South Korea, making it a top destination for aspiring educators. As a TEFL teacher in Korea, you can expect a great salary, a range of fantastic benefits, and a fulfilling job where you feel respected.
We break down the process of how to get a job teaching English in South Korea and answer some of your top questions. Let’s get started!
Types of schools where English teachers work in Korea
English teachers in South Korea can work at a variety of institutions for students in K-12 through adult professional learners.
- Public schools: programs such as EPIK place teachers in public K-12 settings.
- Hagwons: private language academies that provide after-school classes for children and teens as well as morning and evening lessons for adults.
- Universities: these positions can be hard to come by and generally require a master’s degree.
Every option has its pros and cons, so do your research to determine which type of school is the best fit for you.
Read more: What It's Like Teaching in South Korea
Steps to follow to get a job in South Korea
To make the process of getting a teaching job in South Korea feel more manageable, let’s break down the steps.
1. Meet the minimum requirements
In terms of requirements for prospective English teachers, South Korea is not as demanding as some Middle Eastern countries but does ask for a few key qualifications.
To teach in South Korea, you will need to meet the following requirements:
- Bachelor’s degree in any subject (or master’s for university-level)
- TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certificate
- Be a citizen of the US, Canada, the UK, Ireland, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, or India (if you have a teaching license in English)
- Be under the age of 62
- Have a clean criminal background check
If you have tattoos or piercings, you will still be eligible to teach in South Korea but as a general rule, tattoos must be covered in the classroom and piercings should be removed during working hours.
2. Get TEFL certified
Prospective English teachers in South Korea will need a TEFL certificate. This should be at least 120 hours, although programs that are 160+ hours could give you an edge in the application process.
TEFL/TESOL certificate programs can be done in person or online and ideally, will have teaching observation and practice included.
3. Craft a winning teaching resume
Before you start your job search, you’ll want to have a polished and up-to-date resume. In South Korea, you’ll need to include a headshot-style photo.
If you don’t yet have any teaching experience, be sure to put your TEFL certificate front and center and emphasize transferable skills gained through other jobs. Things like leadership, creativity, and organizational skills can show potential employers that you have what it takes to succeed as a teacher.
4. Prepare your documents
The process for getting a job in South Korea can be long, usually because it takes a bit of time to gather all of the documents. For that reason, it’s important to get started early.
If you’re committed to teaching in South Korea, you can start doing the following ahead of time:
- Apply for a passport if you don’t already have one
- Get your bachelor’s degree notarized and apostilled
- Request sealed transcripts from your university
- Apply for an FBI background check and get the results apostilled
- Write a cover letter to submit with job applications
Having these important documents ahead of time will mean you can get abroad quicker after receiving a job offer and signing your contract.
5. Start your job search
Things are starting to get real! You can find and apply for jobs through several different avenues. The most popular ways to find jobs in Korea are:
- Use a recruiter. Recruiters offer a free service for job seekers. They help secure you a position and assist you through the visa process.
- Search a jobs board. The Go Overseas job board is a great place to get started. You can also find positions through independent websites like Dave’s ESL Cafe.
- Apply for the government teaching program. EPIK is a competitive program that places assistant teachers in public schools across Korea.
- Work with your TEFL provider. Reputable TEFL providers will help alum with job placement after they complete their certificate.
Be mindful of application deadlines. EPIK recruitment starts in August for the spring term and February for the fall term. Hagwons usually recruit year-round with start dates based on need.
6. Ace your interview
Whether you apply to EPIK or hagwons, you will need to pass an interview to land the job. Here are some top tips for acing your English teaching interview:
- Dress professionally. You will likely be interviewing via video call but you will still need to look professional (blouse/shirt and suit jacket) and well-groomed (clean-shaven for men, natural-looking makeup for women).
- Read your resume and cover letter again. If you’re asked questions about yourself from your cover letter or CV, you’ll want to make sure you know what you wrote!
- Practice common interview questions. Why do you want to teach in Korea? How would you manage an unruly classroom? Interview questions help your future employer get a better sense of you and how you will respond to students.
- Smile! It’s important to come across as a warm and friendly person – who wants a stiff and intimidating teacher? Even if you’re nervous, smiling and head nodding show you’re engaged with the interviewer.
Practicing with a friend or family member will make you feel less anxious and more prepared for the real deal!
7. Sign a contract
Your contract is a legally-binding document that outlines your salary, benefits, and job responsibilities. Don’t just sign it without reading it and understanding it fully!
Pay attention to the fine print, especially when it comes to these topics:
- What happens if you need to break your contract
- Benefits you receive (housing, flight reimbursement, contract completion)
- Sick leave, vacation, and holiday pay
- Schedule you’re expected to work (teaching hours vs. office hours)
If you apply through a recruiter, they can provide guidance on your contract. If you’re handling the process independently, don’t be afraid to ask your future employer questions. You’re your own best advocate!
8. Apply for your visa
English teachers in Korea will need to apply for an E-2 visa. This is a long-term visa especially for people teaching a foreign language.
You will need to submit the following documents:
- A recent passport photo
- Completed application form
- Official job offer
- National criminal background check with apostille
- Up-to-date resume/CV
- Notarized copy of bachelor’s degree with apostille
This application package should be submitted to your local Korean consulate.
How much do you get paid to teach English in South Korea?
The salary and benefits package English teachers receive in South Korea is a pull factor for a lot of people deciding where to teach abroad. Pay for English teachers is high enough to provide a good standard of living while allowing you to build up some savings in the process.
As an English teacher in South Korea, you can expect the following salaries:
- EPIK program: starting at around $1,680 per month
- Hagwon (private school): ranges from $1,600 to $2,000 a month
- University: ranges from $1,800 to $2,800 a month
While you may be thinking that those salaries don’t seem particularly high, once you factor in the great benefits you’ll see that the money goes a long way. Most public and private school jobs offer:
- Free furnished single apartment (though you pay utilities!)
- Flight reimbursement
- Contract completion bonus (can be equal to up to a month’s pay)
- Fully or partially paid health insurance
In South Korea, you can live comfortably as an English teacher while saving for your next big adventure!
How many hours do English teachers work in Korea?
The number of hours you work per week depends on the kind of job you end up taking. As a general rule, here’s what you can expect to work in the following institutions:
- Public schools (EPIK): up to 22 teaching hours a week
- Hagwons: 30 teaching hours a week
- Universities: as few as 10 teaching hours a week
Teaching hours refers to the hours you will be actively delivering lessons in the classroom. For example, EPIK teachers are required to be present at their schools 40 hours a week although not all of this time is spent teaching. Jobs may or may not include time designated as paid planning periods.
Is teaching English in Korea worth it?
If you’re open to and excited about living and working in a country with a culture and language very different from your own, then you will likely love the challenge of teaching English in Korea. Current and former teachers have enjoyed the high salary and comprehensive benefits and have been able to save money for travel, paying off loans, or planning their next step in life.
Because Korea is a top teaching destination, many resources are available to you that help simplify the process. That combined with the relative ease of obtaining a visa means that you’ll face fewer headaches than you would in less traveled countries.
Here at GO, we think that teaching English abroad in South Korea is seriously worth it for the right people!
Get an English teaching job in South Korea
Armed with the above steps and information, you should have no trouble landing your dream job as an English teacher in South Korea. Preparation, organization, and knowing the deadlines you need to meet are key. Whether you choose to consult with a recruiter, apply for EPIK, or search for positions through a job board, there are tons of great opportunities out there for aspiring teachers like you!