Teach English in South Korea (2023)

Types of teaching jobs in South Korea

There are many different types of ESL teaching jobs in South Korea, all with varying application requirements, work schedules, benefits, and pay. Regardless of the type of English teaching job you're interested in, it is required, or at least highly recommended, that you're TEFL certified.

Read on to find the option that best fits your skill level and ideal teaching environment.

Government-sponsored programs

Benefits such as higher job security, furnished housing, and paid vacation makes working in a public school an ideal teaching opportunity for many first-time ESL teachers. While these positions tend to be more competitive with slightly lower pay, your application will be made stronger by having a teaching certificate like your TEFL or TESOL.

You’ll work alongside a co-teacher, coordinating classroom instruction times, and even create lesson plans. Public schools hire about six months before their start dates; the beginning of March and September. Pay starts at $1,350-$2,700 USD. The various government-sponsored programs are: SMOE, GEPIK and EPIK.

EPIK program, which stands for English Program in Korea is organized by the Korean ministry of education and places teachers in elementary and middle schools all throughout South Korea. In recent years, the other major government-sponsored programs SMOE and GEPIK merged with the EPIK program and now all share the same application.

The SMOE program, renamed to EPIK-Seoul, places teachers into public schools throughout Seoul, the capital city of South Korea. GEPIK is located in the Gyeonggi Province—the rural area surrounding Seoul.

Read more: Guide to EPIK Program: Teaching English in South Korea

(Video) Teaching English in South Korea as a Non Native Speaker

Recruitment companies

In South Korea, applying to teaching programs through a recruitment company, like Korvia Consulting or The Fewer Things is encouraged to secure your placement. Once you register, they will send you information about job openings, ensure you have the proper certifications, and walk you through the application and interview process.


Most people begin teaching at universities once they've taught in South Korea for at least a year and have made contacts. However, if you have a master’s degree, you qualify for teaching at the university level. Extremely low working hours and equal pay make working at universities very appealing. You can earn between $2,050-$3,100 USD per month.

However, unlike starting work at a public or private school, at a university level job, you will need to find your own apartment. You'll also have to provide the key deposit for your apartment, a deposit on average of about $5,000 USD that'll be returned to you at the end of your lease -- a potentially huge expense for teachers who are relocating from abroad.

Private schools

Private schools can be a great option if high pay, easy application process, pre-planned lesson plans, and shorter work days are a high priority for you. Private schools, called hagwons, are an excellent option for teachers looking to spend a year abroad and save as much money as possible.

Starting pay at hagwons is usually about $2,000 - $2,200 USD/month with a workweek of about 35 hours. In addition to shorter working hours, most hagwons have pre-prepared lesson plans for teachers and start later in the day, typically after 1pm.

Hagwons typically hire year-round, usually through recruiters.

Average salary and benefits

On average, an English teacher's monthly salary in South Korea is between $1,350 - $4,400 per month, which is among the highest salaries for ESL teachers in the world! The salaries typically vary by teaching institution, location, and teaching experience.

(Video) Why You SHOULDN'T Teach English in South Korea ...

Common teacher benefits

Below are some of the benefits you can expect while teaching English in South Korea:

  • Housing
  • Flight reimbursement
  • Health insurance
  • Contract renewal bonus
  • Paid vacation

Read more: How Much Money Can You Save Teaching Abroad?

Cost of living in South Korea

Overall, the cost of living in South Korea is affordable, but if you live in a bigger city, the cost can get a bit more expensive. However, since most teaching jobs cover your apartment's cost and all you have to take care of is your utilities and cell-phone bill, it’s safe to say that 80% of your paycheck can be used for living or traveling expenses. The most enticing part of the deal comes when you finish your English teaching contract, as most contracts provide an extra month’s bonus upon completion. This means that the last time you get paid, you actually get paid twice!

Depending on how much you want to work and how frugal you are with your money, you can travel and save during your time teaching in South Korea.

  • Food: $80 - $100 (depends on how much you eat out or spend on groceries)
  • Transportation: $43.28 for a monthly public transportation pass
  • Entertainment (movies, bars/clubs, etc): $68 - $80
  • Housing: ~$810 one bedroom apartment in the city center

Source: Numbeo

Where to teach English in South Korea

Seoul and Busan provide the most popular settings for English teachers in South Korea. With its vibrant nightlife, trendy restaurants, and stunning palaces, the capital city, Seoul, offers the most eclectic mix of options in South Korea. A quieter city bordering the Sea of Japan, Busan—home to the popular vacation spot, Haeundae beach—is a bit more low-key and provides a nice compromise between busy and relaxed.

If you’re taking this year to reflect in peace and quiet, consider Gyeongju, a small city with a big lotus pond and a rich historical heritage. No matter your taste, there is a multitude of jobs to teach in cities across South Korea. Public schools typically hire at the start of their semester, March 1st and September 1st, and accept applications six months prior. Private institutes hire year-round.

(Video) How Much Do We Get Paid As ESL Teachers in Korea

Read More: The 7 Best Cities to Teach English in South Korea

How to get a teaching job in South Korea

It is highly encouraged to find and apply for teaching jobs through a recruitment company, which you can find right here at Go Overseas! Our international teaching job board is also a great place to start finding jobs if you have your certifications and/or prior experience teaching abroad.

When to apply

Public schools typically hire at the start of their semester, March 1st and September 1st, and accept applications six months prior. Private institutes hire year-round.

Common qualifications

The qualifications for ESL jobs in South Korea may vary depending on which institution you apply for. Below are the basic, common qualifications for becoming an English teacher in South Korea:

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited university
  • Teaching experience and training – TEFL, TESOL, CELTA (not required, but highly recommended)
  • Be a native English speaker
  • Clear criminal record

Read more: What are the Requirements to Teach English Abroad?

Working Visas in Korea:

Most foreigners working at public or private schools qualify for the school-sponsored E-2 visa. The E-2 visa will permit you to teach in South Korea for a year with a single entry. For a fee, you can get your single entry status changed to multiple entries, allowing you the option to travel in and out of the country.

Once all of your documents are completed and you receive your visa confirmation number, you will need to either mail or deliver your passport to your local Korean consulate so it can be stamped with your visa. When you've been cleared, your school will help you obtain a residency permit within 90 days. To learn more about Korean visas, visit VISA HQ.

(Video) Reliable Recruiters, Agencies & Teaching Programs in South Korea||English Teacher

Classroom culture in South Korea

As an ESL teacher abroad, it’s essential that you take the time to research the country’s etiquette and classroom culture, as it can be vastly different from what you’re used to at home! ESL teachers should be respectful and understanding while adapting to a new classroom environment.

Here are a few important tips to know before teaching English in South Korea:

  • Dress professionally and appropriately! Even if you’re working with children, it’s a good idea to dress modestly. In addition, make sure to cover up any tattoos you have.
  • It's common to nod your head in a slight bow to your superiors to show respect.
  • Expect a lot of questions from your students – it’s not a bad thing! Though they may seem like “personal” questions, it’s out of curiosity and respect; they just want to get to know you more!

When in your new surroundings, observe how others behave to learn about appropriate etiquette. Overall, the importance of respect will make the inevitable learning process more enjoyable. And after a few months, you'll become more accustomed to things you learned upon arrival. In the end, you will come away having learned a great deal from this beautiful country and its people!

Ready to find your dream teaching program in South Korea?

Start researching and comparing teaching programs here at Go Overseas, in the Teaching Programs in South Korea section below.

Want to read more? Get started with these articles:

  • How to Get a Job Teaching English in South Korea
  • What It's Like Teaching in South Korea
  • The Best Opportunities to Teach Abroad in South Korea


Is it easy to become an English teacher in South Korea? ›

To get hired to teach English in Korea, you will need a TEFL certificate and a 4-year college degree. You must acquire an E-2 teaching visa and be a native English speaker as well. Finally, you must have a clean national-level criminal record, and a clean health check and drug test.

Is there a demand for English teachers in South Korea? ›

Teaching English in Korea has become increasingly popular over the years, and not only for fresh graduates looking to pay off student loans. It's an amazing way to experience a new country whilst still earning a great salary to support yourself.

Is it worth teaching English in South Korea? ›

South Korea is often regarded as one of the best places to teach English abroad. English teachers in Korea enjoy relatively high salaries, great benefits, and a high quality of life, especially those who teach with EPIK.

How many hours of TEFL do I need to teach in Korea? ›

Teaching Qualification: You must have one of the following: A 100-hour TEFL, TESOL, or CELTA certificate from an accredited provider. A bachelor's or master's degree in education with a major in teaching, education, TESOL, or second language studies.

Is teaching English in Korea hard? ›

At times, it's challenging and depends on your co-teachers or boss. Get to know your kids and you'll eventually learn what they like, even if their English level is very low. There are going to be a lot of awkward moments when you're questioning whether or not the students will ever get what you're teaching.

Do English teachers get paid well in Korea? ›

First-time English teachers in South Korea working in public schools through programs like EPIK typically earn monthly salaries between 1.5 to 3 million won ($1,150 - $2,650 USD). English teachers at private schools (Hagwons) earn from 1.9 to 2.4 million won ($1,600 - $2,000 USD) monthly.

Is it hard to get a teaching job in Korea? ›

Generally only elementary public school positions are available so teaching middle school or high school isn't available. Getting a public school job in Seoul is difficult unless you already have experience but there are plenty of jobs in the suburbs of the capital and the countryside of Korea.

How much money do I need to teach English in Korea? ›

Teach English in Korea with International TEFL Academy

International TEFL Academy can help, with teaching opportunities year round. A typical teach ESL Korea salary includes around $1800 to $2000 a month and the job includes benefits like free or subsidized housing, paid vacation time, free return flights, and bonuses.

Which profession is most respected in South Korea? ›

This indicates that doctors have a good job status and are well-respected in Korea.

Is EPIK hard to get into? ›

It is a competitive program to get into so here are some tips to help guide you through EPIK's application process.

Can I teach English in Korea forever? ›

Can you teach English in Korea forever? While one could technically teach English in Korea forever, it isn't something many people do for more than a few years. A lot of people who stay in Korea for more than 3-5 years tend to move up in their schools to higher positions.

Which country pays teachers the most? ›

Luxembourg. According to an OECD report, Luxembourg (a European country) has the highest-paid teachers in the world. Another source indicates that a bachelor's degree holder is entitled to an initial salary of €67,000 (US $70,323.20) per annum at the start of their teaching career.

Is 120 hour TEFL enough? ›

When searching for a TEFL course, many students ask 'is a 120-hour TEFL certificate enough to teach in a classroom or online?' . It may not feel like enough time to become a qualified teacher, but we can assure you that it is. 120 hours is the bare minimum that most ESL employers will ask you to complete.

What is the age limit to teach in Korea? ›

Some countries, like South Korea for example, tend to prefer teachers in their 20s and 30s in the private sector. Public schools, however, will hire into the mid-50s (especially those with teaching experience). Teachers older than 50 will find it much more difficult to find jobs.

Which TEFL course is best for South Korea? ›

The most recommended course is the 120 hour Master Certificate that schools in Korea deem as one of the top TEFL courses for teaching Korean students. The entire course is done online, so you are able to work around your schedule.

How many hours do English teachers work in Korea? ›

The schools with the largest amount of teaching English in Korea hours are Hagwons, however hagwons also vary a lot from school to school. Generally, you'll be teaching around 30 hours or more depending on which Hagwon job you get. As you can imagine, this is quite a bit more than a public school job.

Can I work in Korea without a degree? ›

Working in South Korea without a degree

It will be very difficult to find a job in South Korea without having a higher education qualification. It is necessary to have at least a bachelor with a few years of experience. However, you can try your luck with a working holiday visa (H-1).

At what grade is English taught in Korea? ›

Primary School (Elementary School)

Students are taught basic skills and subjects (listed above) throughout all six years. In a government-sponsored effort to improve the country's foreign language proficiency, students start learning English in Grade 3.

Which country pays the highest for English teachers? ›

Which country pays the highest salary to English teachers?
  • South Korea ($1,150-$2,650 USD a month)
  • China ($1,200-$2,600 USD a month)
  • Japan ($1,700-$2,600 USD a month)
  • Taiwan ($2,000-$3,000 USD a month)
  • Gulf Arab States ($2,000-$5,000 USD a month)
  • Honorable Mention: Vietnam ($1,500-$2,000 USD a month)
31 Oct 2022

Which country pays foreign English teachers the most? ›

Generally speaking, the highest-paid ESL teaching salaries globally are found in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, the two biggest cities in the UAE. Salary packages for teachers in the United Arab Emirates can range between $3,500-$5,500 (12,300-22,000 AED) per month, depending on experience.

How many hours do teachers work in Korea? ›

Typically hagwons run after public schools let out, so they will be open late into the evening with most teachers working from 2 P.M. to 10 P.M. You will work longer than those scheduled hours, and at least 30 of your weekly hours will be in-class teaching hours. At my hagwon, I typically worked 52 hours per week!

What is the lowest paying job in South Korea? ›

Low-Income Jobs In Korea: 31 - 40
ProfessionAverage Salary
Cashier Staff22.30 million won
Kitchen Assistant22.46 million won
Delivery Staff22.56 million won
Housekeeper22.60 million won
6 more rows

Are Korean teachers paid well? ›

2: Great Salary

Most Korean schools offer contracts in the range of 2.2-2.5 million KRW per month (depending on your experience), which works out to $1900-$2200 USD per month (and as much as $2900 CAD or $3,000 AUD).

Are teachers well respected in Korea? ›

Teachers are held in very high esteem in South Korea. They are generally treated with more respect than their American counterparts by their students and society and are addressed with the honorific term.

How much salary is enough in South Korea? ›

The average salary in South Korea is around 3,890,000 KRW (South Korean Won) or USD 3257.33 per month (as per the exchange rate in February 2022, 1 KRW = 0.00083 USD).

What is a good salary in Korea per month? ›

The national average salary in South Korea (2022)

The salaries in the country range from 983,000 KRW (819.46 USD), which is the lowest average, to 17,400,000 KRW (14,505.21 USD), the highest average.

How much is rent in South Korea? ›

Minimum monthly house rent in South Korea is around 300,000 KRW (250 USD) for a small officetel studio (5–8 pyeong). On average, however, expect to pay about 500,000 KRW (425 USD) per month for this type of accommodation in big cities.

What is the most wanted job in Korea? ›

10 Most Popular Jobs For Expats in Korea
  • Sales and marketing. ...
  • English Teacher. ...
  • Software Developers/Programmers. ...
  • Security Analysts. ...
  • Stockbroker. ...
  • Public Relations. ...
  • Translator. Korea, as you know, is a non-English-speaking country. ...
  • Modeling. Korea is one country popular for its prowess in modeling.
27 Mar 2022

Which job is easy in Korea? ›

A teacher is the most accessible and great job to land for a foreigner. In particular, if you are teaching English in South Korea as a second language (ESL).

Which degree is most valuable in Korea? ›

  • BS in Accounting. Read More. ...
  • SGCS (School of Global Convergence Studies) Read More. ...
  • Bachelor of Nursing. Read More. ...
  • Bachelor in Philosophy. Read More. ...
  • Archaeology and Art History Major. ...
  • Bachelor in Computer Science. ...
  • Bachelor of Business Administration. ...
  • Bachelor of Business Administration Dual Degree - Handong Global University.

Is there an age limit for EPIK? ›

Key requirements:

TEFL certification (note: If you have a Bachelor's or Master's Degree in Education, a TEFL course is not officially required). Native English speaker with citizenship from one of the Big 7 English-speaking countries. Be in good physical/mental health. Must be under the age of 62.

How many times can you apply for EPIK? ›

EPIK application is processed Online

You must be precise since you can submit only one application per term (Multiple submissions will not be considered).

Does EPIK have an age limit? ›

Under the Age of 62.

Which country has shortage of teachers? ›

The top 10 teacher shortage countries showing the overly imbalanced ratio of the teacher to students are shown in the table above.
What Countries Need More Teachers and How Much Can You Make?
RankCountryTeacher:Pupil Ratio (1:)
2Solomon Islands101.03
3Sierra Leone66.65
4Cabo Verde61.27
6 more rows
17 Aug 2022

Who is the richest teacher in the world? ›

Dan Jewett Just Became the World's Richest Teacher (and We're Only a Little Jealous) One of the world's richest women just married a science teacher.

Which foreign country is best for teachers? ›

If you are planning on being a full-time teacher abroad, here you have the best countries to work:
  • Luxembourg. You don't have to travel far to find a good job. ...
  • Switzerland. This country occupies second place on our list. ...
  • South Korea. ...
  • Japan. ...
  • Arab Emirates.

Can you fail a TEFL course? ›

It is possible to fail a TEFL course. If you have a degree already and are a native English speaker, you will absolutely be able to handle the course load.

Are TEFL exams hard? ›

You might find a TEFL easy or difficult, depending on your current level of English. If you still struggle with English, maybe because it is not your first language, you might find that the course material is more difficult for you than someone who speaks English fluently.

Can I finish TEFL in a week? ›

Getting a basic grasp of TEFL can take as little as 20 hours (in the case of a short classroom course), but getting qualified enough to confidently and effectively teach abroad can take much longer depending on the depth of learning you want to achieve.

Is 30 too old to teach English abroad? ›

Are there any age restrictions for teaching English overseas? In general, there isn't an age limit for teacher job opportunities abroad. Even if you've never been in a classroom since your college days, that doesn't mean you can't consider teaching English abroad in your thirties.

Is there a TEFL exam? ›

Only the OISE TEFL course has a final exam, while many of the others have written tasks throughout or at the end. Depending on the course you choose, some have practical teaching modules. These are typically assessed by a qualified instructor, who will give you helpful feedback.

Can I teach English in Korea if I'm not a native speaker? ›

Indian citizens are also eligible to teach English in Korea with proof of high English ability and a teaching license. Some private academies may hire teachers who have a high TOEFL score if you're a non-native English speaker. But you will not be eligible for the standard E2 teaching visa.

Can I teach in South Korea with just TEFL? ›

Teaching certification -- While not all English teaching jobs in Korea require a teaching certificate, most do. A TEFL, TESOL, or CELTA certificate with 100 or more course hours are all equally acceptable.

Can I teach English in Korea with just a TEFL? ›

To get hired to teach English in Korea, you will need a TEFL certificate and a 4-year college degree. You must acquire an E-2 teaching visa and be a native English speaker as well. Finally, you must have a clean national-level criminal record, and a clean health check and drug test.

Is being an English teacher in Korea a good job? ›

Teaching English in Korea has become increasingly popular over the years, and not only for fresh graduates looking to pay off student loans. It's an amazing way to experience a new country whilst still earning a great salary to support yourself.

Can a foreigner be an English teacher in Korea? ›

Most foreigners working at public or private schools qualify for the school-sponsored E-2 visa. The E-2 visa will permit you to teach in South Korea for a year with a single entry.

How long can you be an English teacher in South Korea? ›

While one could technically teach English in Korea forever, it isn't something many people do for more than a few years. A lot of people who stay in Korea for more than 3-5 years tend to move up in their schools to higher positions.

Is there an age limit to teach English in Korea? ›

Cons: Age restrictions for teaching English overseas in South Korea begin at 65. Because this is the national retirement age, schools don't interview candidates after 65.

Which occupation has highest salary in Korea? ›

The highest-paid job in 2021 is a corporate leader (CEO) who will make an average of about 140 million won(110,000 USD) per year.

What is the most demanding job in South Korea? ›

(i) Teaching English in Korea

Teaching English in Korea is the most popular job for foreigners. Because of the high demand, the requirement for ESL (English as a second language) teachers is immense.


1. *EASY* HOW I BECAME A TEACHER IN SOUTH KOREA | timeline, cost, visa + more
(Adrienne Hill)
2. What it’s ACTUALLY like to teach English in Korea 🇰🇷📚✨ an *emotional* daily vlog 🤍
3. 8 Things No One Tells You About Korea | Teaching English in South Korea | Felicia Joy #lifeinkorea
(Felicia Joy)
4. A DAY IN THE LIFE // English teacher in South Korea (Hagwon)
5. Benefits & Salary|Teaching English in South Korea|South African
(Tukiso Malatshi)
6. The TRUTH about being an English Teacher in Korea | A Week in My Life in Seoul, South Korea Vlog
(Maurie Proffit)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Lilliana Bartoletti

Last Updated: 24/12/2022

Views: 5680

Rating: 4.2 / 5 (73 voted)

Reviews: 88% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Lilliana Bartoletti

Birthday: 1999-11-18

Address: 58866 Tricia Spurs, North Melvinberg, HI 91346-3774

Phone: +50616620367928

Job: Real-Estate Liaison

Hobby: Graffiti, Astronomy, Handball, Magic, Origami, Fashion, Foreign language learning

Introduction: My name is Lilliana Bartoletti, I am a adventurous, pleasant, shiny, beautiful, handsome, zealous, tasty person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.