Teach Abroad

What are the Requirements to Teach Abroad in South Korea?

Learn what it takes to teach abroad in South Korea including the qualifications you need and how to snag that perfect position.

South Korea, one of the top destinations for English teachers, has a lot to offer enthusiastic educators and adventure seekers. Korea’s tasty cuisine and dynamic pop culture have been garnering international attention and drawing more and more people to study, travel, teach, and live in the country.

Read on to learn about the requirements and see if you qualify for an exciting new career teaching English in South Korea.

Minimum requirements to teach English in South Korea

An open passport with a lot of stamps.

Regardless of where in Korea you’d like to teach, there are a few minimum requirements for teaching in South Korean schools. Hopeful teachers will need the following:

  • Bachelor’s degree in any subject
  • Be a native speaker from the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, or South Africa
  • Be under the age of 62, which is the Korean age of retirement
  • Clean background check including no misdemeanors

A TEFL certificate is not required for all jobs but it is generally highly recommended to have one.

Qualifications for EPIK

If you’re interested in working as a teaching assistant through the Korean government’s English Program in Korea (EPIK), there are several requirements specific to the program.

Aspiring EPIK teachers will need:

  • Bachelor’s degree in any subject
  • Be a native speaker from the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, or India (if you have a teaching license in English)
  • Be under the age of 62, which is the Korean age of retirement
  • TEFL certificate for those who majored in any subject other than education or teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL)
  • Clean background check including no misdemeanors
  • Good physical and mental health as evidenced by a doctor’s note

EPIK is a very competitive program so meeting the minimum requirements doesn’t guarantee you’ll receive a placement. If you aren’t successful through your EPIK application, you can usually find a job working in a private academy (hagwon).

Read more: Should You Teach with EPIK? Guide to the English Program in Korea

Qualifications for private schools (hagwons)

Two recruiters pose at a table with pens on it.

Hagwons are private academies where students can get extra study time in a variety of subjects, including English. The Korean education system is very competitive so oftentimes students attend classes after regular school hours to improve their English and gain an edge over their classmates.

Hagwons require the following qualifications from English teachers:

  • Bachelor’s degree in any subject
  • Be a native speaker from the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, or South Africa
  • Be under the age of 62, which is the Korean age of retirement
  • Clean background check including no misdemeanors

Hagwons may or may not require a year or more of teaching experience. If you haven’t taught before though, there are many academies that will accept new teachers.

How can I get a teaching job in South Korea?

Luckily, getting a job in South Korea is usually straightforward if you meet the requirements. Generally, English teachers find jobs through these avenues:

  • Recruitment agencies: recruiters work with you free of charge to find you a teaching position
  • EPIK: the government’s teaching assistant program is a popular option for first-time teachers but anyone can apply.
  • Online job listings: GO’s job board and sites like Dave’s ESL Cafe help you find positions that are advertised directly by the schools looking for teachers.

To teach English in Korea, you will need to apply for an E-2 visa. E-2 visas are a specific class of visa for English teachers that are sponsored by educational institutions.

Read more: How to Get a Job Teaching English in South Korea

Start your teaching career in Korea

A bridge leading to a Korean pagoda.

Whether you already meet the requirements or are working toward finishing your qualifications, loads of great jobs await you as an English teacher in South Korea. If living and teaching in Korea have been a dream of yours, you can definitely make it come true! Start your research today and prepare for a life-changing adventure.

New Teaching Jobs in South Korea