Teach English in Korea

How to teach English in Korea

So, you want to teach English in Korea, or maybe you are already doing so and want to learn more?

To teach English in Korea, you will need a BA, a TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certificate, and a minimum of two years of experience.

This is just a general outline of what you need, though. Full disclosure… I have never taught in Korea, though I have taught many Korean students online. So, I researched and reached out to my Korean students to ask them for some pro tips.

Together, we came up with this detailed step-by-step guide on how to teach English in Korea:

  • Obtain a Bachelor’s Degree: Most teaching positions in Korea require a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree in any field.
  • Complete a TEFL/TESOL Certification: While not always mandatory, having a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) or Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) certification can only help you get hired in Korea. There are cheap online FullCircle programs up to completing an in-depth expensive CELTA. Regardless, attaining certification can provide you with valuable teaching skills and knowledge.
  • Gain Experience: Prior teaching experience, especially in ESL or related fields, is vital to landing a job in Korea. You can start by teaching ESL online through Cambly. They have a very low barrier to entry. Then, volunteer to teach at a reputable school in your area that can write you a letter of recommendation.
  • Research Opportunities: Start exploring available teaching positions in Korea. Check out online job portals with pages dedicated to teaching English in Korea. For example, search through Dave’s ESL Cafe, or Teachaway, or ESL Job Boards.
  • Apply for the job: Prepare your application documents, which usually include your resume (but make it follow Korean standards)/CV, a cover letter, a recent photo, copies of your degree and TEFL/TESOL certificate, and any other relevant certifications or teaching credentials. Follow the application instructions each employer provides and submit your application documents accordingly.

How to legally teach in Korea

To legally teach in Korea, you will need a valid passport, an apostilled copy of your Bachelor’s degree, and an apostilled national-level criminal background check.

If you get hired at a hogwan, the school will handle this. Don’t be afraid to ask them for help.

In addition, always follow the specific requirements of the Korean immigration authorities. If you aren’t going through a school, this is what you need:

  • 1. Work Visa– First, you must apply for a Work Visa: Apply for an E-2 or E-1 visa (depending on the type of institution) at the Korean embassy or consulate in your home country. Provide the necessary documents, such as the job offer letter and your legal documentation, to support your visa application.
  • 2. Travel arrangements – Once your visa is approved, make the necessary travel arrangements and prepare to move to Korea. Arrange accommodations, gather necessary documents, and familiarize yourself with Korean culture and customs.
  • 3. ARC card– Finally, upon arrival in Korea, you will have to complete the necessary administrative processes. Ask your employer for help with this. They have experience guiding new teachers through the procedures. You will need to obtain an Alien Registration Card (ARC), and health insurance and set up a local bank account.

Don’t feel overwhelmed. Just ask for help and attend any of your employer’s orientations or training.

How much can I earn teaching English in Korea?

You can earn about $2000 a month teaching English in Korea.

However, the amount you can earn teaching English in Korea can vary. This is true teaching in any country. Besides the obvious factors, such as your qualifications and experience, your pay will also depend on your location in Korea and the school you work for.

Here are some typical salary ranges:

  1. Public Schools: If you teach in a public school through programs like EPIK (English Program in Korea) or GOE (Gyeongsangnam-do Office of Education), the salary range is usually between 2.0 to 2.7 million Korean Won (KRW) per month. This is roughly equivalent to $1,700 to $2,300 per month.
  2. Private Language Institutes (Hagwons): These are privately owned language schools commonly called “hagwons.” Reach out to the top Hagwons, such as Yoon’s English Academy, Pagoda Academy, English Culture Centre, or Chungdahm Learning. Ask for their salaries. Generally, the monthly salary for hagwon teachers ranges from 2.1 to 2.8 million KRW ($1,800 to $2,400) or more.
  3. Universities: Teaching English at a university typically offers higher salaries and benefits. Salaries for university positions can range from 2.2 to 3.5 million KRW ($1,900 to $3,000 USD) or higher, depending on your qualifications and experience.
  4. Apart from the base salary, many teaching positions in Korea offer additional benefits such as furnished housing or housing allowances, flight reimbursements, severance pay, health insurance, and paid vacation.

If you want to earn more, consider targeting schools in areas of Korea with high cost of living, such as Gangnam-gu (yes, like the song), Seocho-gu, or Jongno-gu in Seoul. Generally, English teachers in Korea can expect a competitive salary. It should be just enough to fund a comfortable lifestyle in Korea.

If you want to read some related articles I wrote, check these posts out.

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Ingrid Maria Pimsner, MA, BA, TEFL
Ingrid Maria Pimsner, MA, BA, TEFL

Ingrid Maria Pimsner has been teaching for over a decade in various universities, nonprofits, and private academies. She has taught English as a Second Language for Lutheran Children & Family Service, Nationalities Service Center, Lernstudio Barbarossa Berlin-Tegel, and more. In addition to her Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) Certification, she holds a BA from the University of Pennsylvania and a MA from Maryland Institute College of Art.