Everything you need to know about TEFL Jobs in Korea
I have been teaching in South Korea on and off for over 7 years. I first started teaching here in a private school (referred to as Hagwons) in 2009, and since then I have developed my TESOL teaching career and worked in a number of different teaching jobs. Now, I work primarily with adults and most recently have moved into the more administrative side of English language teaching as an Academic Manager. I am dedicated to helping others get the best teaching job abroad so I wanted to share my knowledge and experience about TEFL jobs in South Korea. This way, you have a better understanding of what is available to you if you are thinking of teaching here.
Before we get started let me give you a breakdown of what is to come:
- The basic requirements for being eligible for TEFL jobs in South Korea
- The Standard Contract offer for TEFL jobs in South Korea
- The Different types of TEFL jobs in South Korea (with some additional options for teachers)
- Job searching tips and recommendations
The basic requirements for being eligible for TEFL jobs in South Korea:
- A passport from a recognized English speaking Country: UK, Canada, US, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa.
- A Bachelor’s degree from an accredited College or University in your country (any area of study is applicable to apply for teaching jobs it does not have to be education, language or English related).
- A national level criminal background check from your country with no previous convictions.
- Clean Health Check and drug test.
If you are able to meet all these basic requirements you are able to apply for a TEFL job in South Korea. These basic credentials will allow you to apply for jobs in private schools or at a Kindergarten or Public school position.
Additional educational requirements (that will make you eligible for different kinds of positions):
- A certified teaching degree
- A Bachelor’s degree in education or Language teaching
- A TEFL/TESOL certification
- Previous experience teaching English
- A Master’s degree in Education, Language development, or TESOL
- A Ph.D. (in any subject but specifically Language or education or TESOL)
The Standard Contract offer for TEFL jobs in South Korea
- 1-year teaching contract
- Round trip or 1-way airfare
- Single or double housing (schools offer single and couple positions)
- 10 days’ vacation not including national holidays
- 50% Pension contribution and Health insurance
- Salary: 2.1-2.5 million a month (which is about $2,000 – 2,300, obviously check the exchange)
- Severance pay: One-month payment upon completion of your contract.
That’s it, folks! That is the standard offer you will see for TEFL jobs in South Korea. Of course, this will vary based on school and position requirements, but this gives you an idea of what you can expect. When I say “standard package”….this is what I’m talking about!
The Different types of TEFL jobs in South Korea
Private School or Hagwon
This is the most common job offer you will see on for TEFL jobs in South Korea on job posting websites. They require the basic qualifications and offer the standard package contract. The hours for this job are a little different because they offer lessons to students after school, varying from 1pm – 10pm, (2-8pm, 1-8pm, 3-10pm, 2-10pm….you get the picture). You will teach students from elementary (earlier in the day) to middle school (evening classes)
I worked in a Hagwon for the first 2 years while I was in Korea.The hours were great for going out and enjoying my time in Korea or for supplementing my income with part-time positions or private classes. The school itself was a little crazy. The students were not disciplined and they sort of had a “do what you want as long as there are no complaints” style of management.
These jobs are great if you are looking to travel and make money and don’t want as much time commitment or require a lot of professionalism/professional development opportunities. (However, this can also depend on the school and owners). The school functions as a business so it will primarily be about keeping the students and parents happy, which can sometimes affect the quality and programs of the school. Not to mention the constant pressure and assessment of teachers based on the feedback from students and parents
THE BREAKDOWN: Good for travel and fun, great hours (especially if you’re a night owl), and the quality of the job really depends on the school. If you like kids it is a great opportunity to teach and enjoy your time abroad.
These jobs are advertised as Kindergarten jobs but often require you to teach kids of different ages throughout the day. In the morning you have the kindergarten/pre-school students, and in the afternoon you have the elementary school students (who usually come after their public school is finished). These jobs have a more regular work schedule from Monday-Friday ranging in hours from 8-5, 9-6, or 9-5.
These school and positions offer and run much the same as a Hagwon, the only difference being the time and age group of students (a bit younger). You will also have more outings and activities scheduled with the kids as they run a little more like an actual school than a Hagwon does. I worked at a kindergarten as a part-time job and it was a really fun atmosphere. The kids were great and there was a lot of school activities and collaboration.
THE BREAKDOWN: More professional than a hagwon with same standard offer and requirements, 9-5 position, younger age group. Good for early risers and those interested in teaching younger kids.
Public School Positions
These teaching positions are also quite common for TEFL jobs in South Korea with a bit of a difference to private institutions as far as job roles go. The age group is Elementary to Middle school students. You work in an actual Korean Public school and usually have a co-teacher who assists you in classes. They usually help with language barriers and classroom management. The public school jobs have the same requirements and contracts as a Hagwon position.
I have never actually worked in a Public School, but it seems to have a more professional atmosphere (being in an actual school and all) with more support from staff. There is also more vacation time and as well desk-warming duties which require teachers to be at the school when students are on vacation (catch up on your Netflix anyone??)
The most well-known program for Korean Public school placements is known as EPIK (English Program in Korea). Although the number of hires has decreased drastically due to cuts in Korean education funding. The program is still up and running. Check it out HERE.
THE BREAKDOWN: Good if you like the usual 9-5 hours, more professional atmosphere and support, more vacation time. The jobs offer the same incentives as Hagwons and Kindy’s and have the basic requirements for teachers.
Adult Private Language Institutions
These jobs are less common than the jobs listed above (which are everywhere!!). For a lot of teachers, these are the holy grail of jobs. Especially if you don’t want to teach kids (like me!). These Language Institutions offer the same basic provisions for foreign teachers although the rate of pay varies a little more depending on hours and job requirements.
In general, for these kinds of TEFL jobs, the hours are usually split up throughout the day as students book their classes based on their work and life schedules. So your schedule will fluctuate and be a little longer with breaks and chunks of classes over the day. For example, I worked as a Business English teacher for a company last year and my hours would vary every day usually between 10am – 8pm sometimes starting later and finishing earlier. The job itself is great because you are teaching adults who are interesting, fun and inspired to learn English, but the hours can be long and tiring with a lot of waiting time in between.
The main companies I’ve come across for adults are the SPEP program (the company I am currently working at – CONTACT ME for job details and information) and YBM (INCLUDE CONTACT AND INFO). I have seen and almost applied for jobs at YBM. They are a legitimate school with good job opportunities (including management positions!)
FOr these jobs, teachers usually need a bit more experience including a TEFL certification and 1-2 years’ experience teaching adults.
THE BREAKDOWN: more experience and qualifications needed, great students, professional setting, good pay, varying positions available, tend to have longer days and erratic hours, the basic working package offered (additional pay with additional hours and responsibilities).
These seem to be the most difficult positions to find in Korea! You need to be extremely qualified (at least a Masters in Education or TESOL) and most positions are offered to teachers already in Korea. However, this does not mean that you can’t apply, especially if you have a relevant Masters or Ph.D.
There are a few different kinds of University jobs:
- The first is working in the English department where you are teaching English as a Second Language to first-year students. **I had this job with a Masters in TESOL, the hours and job itself was great! But it is sort of like working in a Hagwon with University students who are NOT very motivated and often have a low level of English.**
- The second is working in the English Department, where you are teaching more professional, university-level classes to future English Language teachers in Korea.
- The final position is actually working as a Professor related to your field. This is a standard Professor position that you would get in any country if you have a Ph.D. and experience.
Working at a University has much fewer hours with more pay and more vacation time. Again, it is a professional setting, with your own office with office hours and administrative duties as well.
THE BREAKDOWN: Hard job to get, you need a lot of experience and qualifications, professional, great hours, great pay, great vacation time!
Job searching tips and Recommendations
- The more credentials you have the better jobs and salary you will get (At least get TEFL certified – link to TEFL page)
- Make sure to take your time and find the best job with the best hours (there are a lot of them!!)
- The school, staff, and owners are very important to make your job fun and interesting. Make sure to check into the school and talk to other teachers there before accepting a job. See more information about the job application process in my post Apply for TEFL Jobs Abroad
- Check out the city listed on the job to see if you would like to live there (rural vs. city), population, weather etc.
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If you need any help getting a job abroad please reach out to me I would be happy to help you with the process! I want you to have as great a time as I did teaching abroad for the first time!
What kind of TEFL job are you interested in? What kind of experience have you had teaching English abroad?