How to Get a Job Teaching English in Korea 2019 Guide


    Korea has a thriving market for English teachers. The country recognizes the importance of the language at a global scale and the role it can play in national progress.

    For this matter, the Korean government has welcomed native speaking teachers into their country by making friendly teaching policies. With the high salaries, low cost of livings and multiple sectors providing teaching positions, it has created a favorable and huge potential market for native speakers.

    Importance of English Language in Korea

    If truth be told, Koreans do not want to learn to “speak” English they just want to “know” the language. It is considered an important skill for professional growth as the Koreans believe that it will help their younger generations secure leadership positions at both national and international level.

    Here are a few other reasons that have created a good market for English teachers in Korea.

    • English as a second language – English being the international language enables countries around the world to expand their business market and also provides great job opportunities throughout the world. It is the main language being used in the global corporate, education and even entrainment sectors.
    • English necessary for University entrance exams – Koreans want to learn English because taking standardized English tests are an extremely important factor to get good college, university and job placements in native-English speaking countries. That is why Koreans encourage their children to learn the English language from a very early age.
    • Job market requirements – Many reputed international business companies, in the recent past, have set up their businesses in Korea. And in order to hire the cream of the market, businesses have set some requirements for job applicants. They require their candidates to submit their English proficiency test scores, which includes Test of TOEFL, TOEIC, IELTS or OPIC. The better their scores, the better the chances of getting the job. English is not only required to get the job, it also plays a major role in communication and future promotions within the organization.
    • Government role in inculcating English in the education system – Korean government has taken several major steps to introduce English into their education system. In 1997, their Ministry of Education and Human Resource Department shifted the introduction of English language courses from the first year of junior high school to third grade of elementary school. Since 2009, the Korean government has spent a fortune on strengthening English language programs in the country.

    What are the requirements for teaching English in Korea?

    Koreans issue a special visa to English teachers, which allows them to secure jobs within the country. The visas are of different types and serve different purposes. Here are a few general requirements to get a teaching visa:

    • Complete visa application form.
    • 1 passport size colored photo
    • Passport needs to be valid for at least six months on entry with one blank visa page.
    • Photocopy of the passport bio page.
    • Photocopy of all OCED (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) visas (if you have them).
    • Bank statement or enough cash to prove sufficient fund for the stay.
    • Return airline ticket.
    • Documents proving the purpose of your visit to Korea.
    • Holding a visa for your next destination, if required.

    Types of visa you can get to teach English in Korea – In order to teach in Korea, one has to be a native speaker from the US, Canada, UK, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, and Australia. Candidates from India can also apply if they hold an English teaching license. And if you are from Quebec then you must provide proof of your fluency in the language. If you fulfill this requirement you can apply for the following types of visas:

    • E1 – This type of visa is also known as professor visa and it allows you to teach in colleges and recognized universities. You are eligible to apply for an E1 visa if you meet the following requirements.
      • English is your first language.
      • Have a 3-4-year bachelor’s degree from a college or university located in any of the native-English speaking countries.
      • Have a valid passport from any of the above mention countries.
      • Have previously worked or currently working as a lecturer or a full-time research professor in a university.
    • F4 – Following are the people who are eligible to apply for an F4 visa:
      • Koreans who are settled overseas.
      • Koreans who have changed their nationality.
      • Koreans who migrated to their present country of citizenship before1948.
      • Koreans who were born outside Korea and has that country citizenship.
      • All the foreign nationals.
    • E2 – Eligibility criteria for E2 are almost similar to E1 visa. However, with E2 visa, ESL teachers can only apply for jobs in private schools, public schools, and language institutions. Whereas colleges and universities are not included in this category. For this visa you need to possess:
      • English is your first language.
      • Have a 3 or 4-year bachelor’s degree from a college or university located in Canada, US, UK, Ireland, South Africa, New Zealand or Australia.
      • Have a valid passport from any of the only above mention countries.
    • Employment letter – You can only apply for an E1 or E2 visa after they sign a contract with the employer. This employment letter has to be submitted to the Korean Department of Immigration and the Korean Department of Consular Affairs. However, for F4 visa, no such form is required. One can stay in Korea even if he/she quits the job. Whereas teachers staying on E1 or E2 visas have to leave the country once their contract expires. For mainly such reasons, F4 visas have strict acceptance policies and therefore are given to a very limited number of people.
    • Excellent knowledge of English – In order to teach English in Korea you need to have an excellent knowledge of English.
    • Bachelor’s degree – Most of the teaching jobs in Korea require at least a bachelor degree in any subject from a reputed university. However, if you have an excellent academic record and want to apply for teaching job in Korea during your bachelor’s (only third year or senior students are eligible) then, through the teach AND learn IN Korea Program (TaLK), you may be able to get to teach the elementary level students of rural area only.
    • Pass health and drug test – As per the Korean visa requirement, you will have pass strict health and drug test. These will include: checking of blood pressure, height, weight, hearing test, vision test, drug testing (Korea has barbarous punishments for drugs which may be legal in other countries), blood tests (it includes glucose/insulin level, CBC and a test for anti-HIV antibody), EKG, chest x-ray, dental exam. The medical Centre processes the tests and sends the results directly to the Korean Department of Immigration and the Korean Department of Consular Affairs.
    • No criminal record – Apart from traffic violations record, all other criminal records are taken very seriously in Korea and may result in your disqualification.
    • TEFL certification – If you have a degree in English language and some experience in teaching then TEFL certification is not mandatory. However, a few institutions may require you to have this certification. Moreover, a TEFL certificate can also help you get more and better-paid job opportunities.

    How can you get a teaching job in Korea?

    Korea offers various teaching options to native speaking teachers. These include:

    • Public schools – Teachers are recruited in public schools through the following three government-run programs:
      • English Program in Korea (EPIK).
      • Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education (SMOE).
      • Gyeonggi English program in Korea (GEPIK)
    • EPIK – This program is sponsored by the Korean Ministry of education.
      • How does the program work? The purpose of this program is to hire native-English teachers to improve reading, writing and speaking skills of public school students. It recruits candidates for all cities of Korea except Seoul (Korea’s capital).
      • The application process – You can apply for this program through either a recruiter or by contacting them directly through their site. If you do not know the Korean language then it is best to carry out the process through a recruiter so that there is no miscommunication.

    Your application and all the required document can only be sent by express mail services such as FEDEX or DHL.

      • When to apply – Hiring is done on first come first serve basis. If you get selected, you can select the city where you want to work and live. The application can take a long time to be processed, therefore, you must submit all your documents well before the session starts. For example, if you want to start teaching in the September session you must apply between February and July. Similarly, if you plan to take up the March session the application must be submitted between August and January.
        • Requirements to apply – To apply to EPIK, it is necessary that the interested candidate must be a citizen of US, UK, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, Ireland or Australia. He/she must have a BA or higher degree. If you do not have a degree or the necessary experience, then you should be TEFL or TESOL certified.
        • You must have an E2 or F4 visa to qualify for this program.
    • Benefits of teaching through EPIK
      • Fixed working hours (8 a.m.- 5 p.m).
      • Five working days in a week (Monday- Friday).
      • Five weeks of paid leave
      • Health insurance with 50% of the cost to be paid by the program.
      • Teachers are entitled to a fully furnished house.
      • A stable and reliable job with at least one-year contract.
      • You get to pick the city where you want to teach.
      • Exemption from income tax (except for Canadians)
    • EPIK salary package – EPIK salary packages are quite good especially considering the benefits the program offers. They pay you for your first flight to Korea and also for your flight back to your country when your contract expires. EPIK pays for any relocation and also bears the expenses of furnishing your house; this gives you an additional $268, which is around 300,000 KRW. Moreover, they pay the monthly salary if you have a teaching certificate or an English major degree. And that’s not all; they have the policy to pay $5000 to native speaking teachers when he/she leaves the job, which includes severance pay, flight allowance, and pension refund.
    • Getting hired through SMOE (Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education) – This program hires teachers for more than 2000 schools within Korea’s capital, Seoul.
    • Benefits
        • Apart from a fixed salary, additional salary is paid for having any teaching license or certification.
        • Employees get to work in Seoul, which is a very modern and dynamic city.
        • Fully furnished house
        • Hosts an orientation and training program before the start of the session.
        • Pays 50% of medical expenses.
        • Gives relocation allowance of 300,000 KRW or $268.
        • Pays for the first-time flight ticket to Korea and also for last flight to employee’s respective country after their contract expires.
        • Gives a bonus on the completion of a contract.
        • Pays for 18 days of vacation.
    • GEPIK Jobs – This program only does hiring for public schools located within the Gyeonggi province. However, requirements and benefits for GEPIK jobs are very similar to EPIK and SMOE programs.  
    • Private schools or Hagwon – Private schools unlike public schools are owned by individuals and offer flexible working hours and attractive salary and benefits package. In Korea, private school program is more popularly known as Hagwon.
    • How does Hagwon work? Korean parents are very passionate about getting their children to the best universities in the world. Therefore, they pay special attention to their schooling and this is the reason why Hagwons in Korea is extremely popular and the number one choice of all the parents.

    Majority of Hagwons teachers are native speakers as they don’t have any limit on hiring international teachers. This provides a great opportunity to native English teachers who want to travel to Korea for teaching.

    All Hagwon schools are individually and privately owned, therefore, they work independently. You can visit the websites for each of the schools and apply online. Your interview can also be conducted online. Hagwans hiring remains open throughout the year, which means you can apply whenever you are ready. They also have a fast hiring process as compared to public schools. The application is processed within 2-3 months after the submission of forms.

    These schools have flexible timings, which gives the students the opportunity of getting extra English lessons after their school hours.

    • Benefits
      • They offer morning and evening classes.
      • If your English is impeccable the chances of getting hired are very high.
      • They pay a full Housing allowance.
      • Airfare for first-time entry in Korea and also for leaving after the contract expires.
      • Teachers get to decide which age group of students they want to teach.
    • Requirements to apply – As private schools are not governed by any one particular organization, therefore, each school has its own requirements. Apart from that, applicants have to fulfill all E2 visa requirements and have a bachelor’s degree or diploma from a recognized institute. Along with that, applicants need to pass health and drug test. And in the end, one needs to have a clean criminal record.

    Private schools pay higher salaries to the applicants holding different teaching certificates.

    • University jobs – Korean University jobs are the most difficult ones to get as they require candidates with both master’s degree and 2 years of teaching experience or a graduate degree with 4 years of teaching experience.
      • Where to find them – Most of the universities post jobs on their websites. However, there are multiple other good sites which enlist all available university jobs, thus providing a single platform to the interested candidates. Names of some of those sites are as follows:
        • Dave’s ESL
        • Hi Expat
        • Worknplay
        • koreabridge
        • Some of the universities include:
        • There are 43 national and 180 private universities in Korea.

    Following are the names of the top ranking universities in terms of their English programs:

        • KAIST college of business (Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology)
        • Seoul National University: college of business administration
        • Sogang University: Sogang Business School
        • Hankuk University of Foreign Studies: Graduate School of International and Area Studies
        • Sungkyunkwan University: Global School of Business
        • Yonsei University: School of Business
        • SolBridge University: International School of Business
        • Ajou University: Graduate School of Internal Studies
    • Teach English in Korea through CIEE (Council on International Educational Exchange) – It’s a non-profit organization working since 1947. The objective of CIEE is to provide its users with all the information they need to work or take courses anywhere in the world.
      • How does it work – Anyone from anywhere in the world can visit this site and look for various options available regarding teaching opportunities in Korea. CIEE provides you with information regarding the education sectors in Korea, their requirements, salary and benefits along with Korea’s statistics and comparison among its cities.
      • Level of assistance – CIEE not only gives information but also provides you with ground assistance for a fixed fee. It has offices in many cities of Korea and if you sign up for its assistance then they can help you in the following categories:
        • Gives guidance in the visa process.
        • Provides transportation from the airport to your final destination.
        • Arranges for temporary accommodation along with meals.
        • Provides basic teacher training.
        • Recruits get 15 hours of TEFL certification course.
        • Teaches basics of the local language.
        • Holds workshops to help you adjust better to the Korean’s culture.
        • Serves as a communicator between you and your selected school.
        • Hosts seminars on professional development.
        • Available 24/7 for any emergency purposes.
    • What is CELTA? CELTA stands for Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults. It is a 120-hour course, which is equivalent to TEFL/TESOL courses.

    With the increase in ESL popularity in Korea, teachers with CELTA certification are given preference. Korea CELTA center is located in Seoul and provides part time, full time and online courses. In Korea, the CELTA certificate is accepted by public schools and all the institutions that require TEFL/TESOL certificates.

      • Requirements – For applying to the CELTA program in Korea, you have to be above 18 years of age. Along with that, proficiency in written and spoken English is required. You are not required to pass any specific English tests, however, you are required to have a level of C1 or higher. CELTA program is more about practical work than theoretical knowledge.
      • Where to register? Registration for CELTA course in Korea is just a click away. You just need to visit their website and fill in the application form. You can also contact any of the following CELTA teaching training centers:
        • IGSE (International Graduate School of English).
        • British counsel, Seoul.
        • LTTC (Lexis TESOL Training Centers).
        • CELTA in Korea offers flexible timings to its candidates. This year courses will start from October 14 till November 8 and its fee is around $2,144.
    • Benefits – This course gives you an extra edge in your professional career and increases your chances of getting hired by reputable schools at a higher pay scale. The trainees of this course also get to sign up for free TEFL jobs website ( This site opens doors to higher end teaching jobs.

    Private schools vs. public schools- which is the better option?

      • Salaries – There is not much to choose between the salary packages of both private and public schools. Even when you factor in additional benefits the difference isn’t that grand. In fact, it is generally believed that public schools are a safer bet as they do not give you any worries when it comes to paying extra bonus money or reimburse additional expenses. Moreover, public schools also have better and more flexible working hours as compared to private schools. You can expect to earn $1,608 to $2,400 per month in public schools and $1,966 to $2,680 per month in private schools.
    • Benefits


    • Bonuses – Both public and private schools provide the settlement bonus of around $268 and one-month bonus at the end of the contract. However, public schools give an additional $178 as a renewal bonus.
    • Taxes – All salaries of public schools are tax-free, except for Canadian nationals (3-5% of salary). Whereas in private school, teachers from all nationals are charged with 3-5% of income tax.
    • Working hours – Public schools have 40 working hours per week, however, because of the morning and evening shifts working hours in private school can be more.
    • Class size – Public schools have around 28-45 students in each class whereas, private schools may not have more than 8-16 students.
    • Airfare – Public schools reimburse the airfare whereas most of the private schools pay it in advance.
    • Medical insurance – Both sectors pay the 50% cost of medical expenses.
    • Vacation policies – Public schools offer a 5 week paid holiday. Hagwans, on the other hand, give native English teachers around 8-10 days of paid vacations.

    How much can you earn by teaching English in Korea?

    English teachers in Korea are in demand, therefore, the education institutions are willing to pay a higher salary to native English teachers. Korea is among the top 10 countries with best paid English teaching jobs for native speakers.

    The salary you make as an English teacher depends on your experience, qualifications, and certifications but, on average, you can make $1,800 – $2000 per month. Here is a detailed breakdown of salaries:

    • Public schools – $1,600 to $2,400 per month
    • Private schools – $1,600 to $2,000 per month
    • Universities – $2,000 to $3,000 per month

    All the above-mentioned salary packages have additional benefits and perks.

    Do you need to know the Korean language to teach English in Korea?

    It is not mandatory at all to learn the Korean language to teach English to Korean people. But having the basic listening and speaking knowledge of the language can give you an extra edge and more comfort. You will not only be able to communicate well with your students but it will also make your daily dealings with the locals easier.

    What are the working hours for a teacher in Korea?

    Working hours in Korea depend on the type of school you work in. Public schools have 40 working hours, 5 days a week, with a fixed schedule. Private schools have more working hours because of their morning and evening shifts. Universities become even more flexible, on average, you have to teach around 14 hours a week.

    Do I need teaching experience to teach in Korea?

    Public schools do not require any previous experience and it will not impact your salary that much either. Private schools also do not require any experience but they will, however, offer more money if you have some. As for the universities, you will need to have at least 2 years of experience.

    What is the cost of living in Korea?

    In Korea, the cost of living is the same in most parts of the country except for Seoul as it is a bit more expensive.

    The average salary of a first-year teacher in Korea is $1800 per month, which means per week they can earn $450 or you can say $64 per day. According to Korean law, all education institutions have to provide their native teachers free furnished accommodation. This saves their rent cost.

    According to the last year’s survey, groceries cost up to $600 per month, electricity and water bill costs up to $70 per month, phone along with internet service cost $100 per month. And one can add around $200 for other fixed costs. This all adds up to $970 cost per month which means native speaking teachers can easily save half of their salary at the year-end.

    Apart from these costs, ESL teachers also get benefits such as free airfare tickets, relocation allowances, one-month bonus salary at the end of year contract and pension too. Therefore, if you are unable to save on a monthly basis, you will still get some extra money at the end of the year and your contract.

    Korea’s climate conditions

    The weather in Korea is very pleasant and not too extreme. The country gets four seasons every year, which makes it an ideal place for native English teachers.

    Is Korea a safe place to live?

    Korea is a safe country to live, with low crime and homicidal rates. However, it is always advised that foreigners should be extra careful in crowded spaces as thieves and pickpockets may take advantage of your situation. Moreover, you must be extra careful when traveling through public transports as it is an ideal spot for bag snatchers.

    Benefits of teaching English in Korea

    Native speaking teachers can gain a lot of benefits while teaching in Korea.

    English teaching is a booming industry in Korea. Native English teachers get to select from a huge teaching market including the public and private sector, universities, tuition centers, and online institutes.

    Teachers are paid highly in Korea. Apart from salary, they get a lot of additional benefits from their companies too. Moreover, the cost of living is not too high, which allows you to save a lot.

    You get international teaching experience, which is a great thing for your career and may help you get higher paid jobs elsewhere.

    How can I become an ESL teacher if I cannot travel to Korea?

    One of the easiest ways to becoming an ESL teacher is to get hired by VIPKID. With over 500,000 students and more than 60,000 teachers, VIPKID is the largest online language school that caters to Chinese students. VIPKID requirements for hiring teachers are:

    • You should either be a native English speaker or must have fluency in the English language.
    • A bachelor’s degree.
    • One year teaching or mentoring experience.

    Benefits of being hired by VIPKID

    • It makes things easier – The applications procedure is all done online and is quite easy. You do not need any documentation or visa for traveling abroad. You can get your international teaching experience from the comfort of your home.
    • Preapproved teaching material – Teaching material is provided by VIPKID, which means you do not have to spend any time searching for authentic and relevant material. You can spend your time to prepare for lessons and make them more creative and interesting.
    • Getting paid instantly – At the end of a teaching lesson, teachers are paid instantly through online money transfer.
    • Flexible schedule – You are not bound to follow any fixed schedule. You can select your own working hours, which is a great option for teachers who have regular day jobs.
    • A good side career – VIPKID is a great way to earn some extra money. It can help you save well and plan your monthly budget more comfortably.


    Korea is a great place for native English teachers who wish to get some international experience and save money. The country pays its teachers extremely well and offers great additional benefits. However, you must be very careful in making your decision if you chose to teach in the private sector. You must weight all your options and read the contract terms and conditions very carefully. If you are not ready to go through the hassle of traveling to another country, then you can get valuable international experience just by signing up with VIPKID.