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

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.

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.

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.

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


How much do you get paid to teach English in South 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 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.

What qualifications do I need to teach English 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 South Korea a good place to teach English? ›

South Korea is a much-loved destination for English teachers. Learn about the seven best cities to teach English to decide where you'll call home in this popular country. Went I first moved to Seoul to start my career teaching English abroad in South Korea, I was living in a small machinery district called Guro.

Is teaching English in South 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.

Which country pays highest salary to 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

What jobs can foreigners get in Korea? ›

Job Opportunities in South Korea for Foreigners

In addition to teaching English, other sectors where expats will find a lot of opportunities are in IT, general office administration jobs, manufacturing, and careers related to health, science, research, and technology.

Can I teach English in Korea without knowing Korean? ›

So, do you have to speak Korean to teach in Korea? You don't have to be fluent in Korean to teach there, but you will definitely need it for a lot of aspects of daily life outside of the classroom.

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.

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.

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.

Which English test is required for Korea? ›

Study in Korea

IELTS is accepted by more than 100 institutions in Korea. Your IELTS test score can help you to achieve your goals of getting a place at a college or university in Korea, participating in a student exchange programme, following continuing studies, or getting job.

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.

How much is a nice apartment in Seoul? ›

In general, you should expect to pay around 1.5–2.5 million KRW (130,000–215,000 USD) for a small apartment or a studio in Korea. Prices for bigger accommodation start at about 4 million KRW (340,000 USD).

How many hours do English teachers in South Korea work? ›

Work hours are typically 30-35 hours a week and teachers earn a salary of 2 to 2.4 million Won per month and can earn more depending on experience. One thing to note, is that as English teacher at a hagwon you will get about 7-10 days vacation a year, which is less than public school jobs.

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.

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).

How do I prepare to teach English in Korea? ›

Here are the 9 steps you need to follow to know how teach English in Korea:
  1. Complete Application Form.
  2. Interview With Placement Coordinator.
  3. Collect Documents For E2 Working Visa.
  4. Profile Submitted to Our Schools.
  5. Interview with School in Korea.
  6. Receive a Job Offer and Contract.
  7. Complete the Work Visa.
19 Sept 2019

Which country is best for teaching English? ›

The Best Countries To Teach English Abroad
  • South Korea. South Korea has one of the largest English teaching markets in the world. ...
  • Japan. Japan has one of the longest traditions when it comes to hiring English teachers. ...
  • China. China's English teaching market is also flourishing. ...
  • Thailand. ...
  • Czech Republic. ...
  • Saudi Arabia. ...
  • Mexico.

Which TEFL country pays the most? ›

Generally speaking, the highest paid TEFL jobs can be found in these countries:
  • UAE. Average salaries: US$3,500 – 5,000 per month. ...
  • Japan. Average salaries: US$2,000 – 4,000 per month. ...
  • Saudi Arabia. Average salaries: US$3,000 – 4,000 per month. ...
  • Hong Kong. ...
  • Kuwait. ...
  • Oman. ...
  • South Korea. ...
  • Taiwan.

Which foreign language is highly paid? ›

Of all the foreign lingos making headway in the industry, Chinese (Mandarin) is the highest-paid language. A person who speaks Chinese receives as much as an Rs. Million-plus yearly.

What is the most demanded job in Korea? ›

Teaching English in Korea is the most popular job for foreigners.

Is it hard to live in Korea as a foreigner? ›

In general, moving to South Korea is easy as long as you are prepared before your arrival. Although the country has a long history of not preferring foreign migration, those sentiments have changed as Korea has started to welcome more and more international companies through its borders.

For which career South Korea is best? ›

Top 10 Ranks, What are the highest paying jobs in South Korea in 2022?
  • No.1 Corporate Executive.
  • Real No.1 South Korea Lawmakers.
  • No.2 Psychiatrist.
  • No.3 Plastic Surgeon.
  • No.4 Surgeon.
  • Tied For No.4 Obstetrician-Gynecologist.
  • No.6 Urologist.
  • No.7 Ophthalmologist.
6 Aug 2022

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.

What is the cost of living in Korea? ›

Cost of Seoul housing

The average cost of living in Seoul for one person is 1,600,000 won ($1411), with around 743,000 won ($657) of it falls under the Rent & Utility category. Seoul is included in the top 30% of the most expensive cities in the world, ranked 2788th out of 9294 on Livingcost.

Which countries can teach English in Korea? ›

EPIK teachers must be citizens of one of the following countries: Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, United Kingdom, United States, or South Africa.

Do English teachers pay tax in Korea? ›

Income Tax (3% ~ 5%)

All teachers working in Korea on an E-2 Visa pays Korean taxes. It is your employer's responsibility to file your taxes on your behalf, and it will be automatically deducted from you monthly pay check.

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 45 too old to teach English abroad? ›

Yes, you can teach English abroad in your forties, fifties and beyond. Having a TEFL certification and years of career and life experience can be a major asset. You don't need a teaching qualification or even a degree to teach English abroad as an older adult.

Is TEFL a good career? ›

TEFL is not just for gap years and young people, it can be a legitimate way to change your career at any point, learning a plethora of new skills while taking your life in a new direction. Teaching is a thoroughly rewarding career, offering ways to develop yourself professionally as you progress.

Is South Korea a good place to teach? ›

Korea is a popular destination for teachers due to its high salaries, great benefits, and fascinating culture.

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.

How much does IELTS cost in Korea? ›

IELTS Test Fees
Test TypeFees (KRW)
IELTS OnlineUS$ 227.87 (USD only, including VAT) Book now
IELTS Paper-based or Computer-delivered273,000 Book now
IELTS for UKVI Paper-based291,100 Book now
IELTS for UKVI Computer-delivered304,000 Book now
1 more row

How do I get Korean certified? ›

Certificate in Korean Language & Culture (CKLC)
  1. Minimum Duration: 6 Months.
  2. Maximum Duration: 2 Years.
  3. Course Fee: Rs. 2,500.
  4. Minimum Age: 18 Years.
  5. Maximum Age: No bar.
17 Sept 2019

What is the most important exam in Korea? ›

The Suneung (수능) or CSAT-College Scholastic Ability Test (대학 수 학 능 력시험) is the exam that defines, according to Koreans, success or failure, living in wealth or poverty, basically, life itself is put in its results.

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).

How much is the salary of teacher in Korea? ›

Teacher in Seoul, South Korea Area Salaries
Job TitleLocationSalary
YBM Education Teacher salaries - 6 salaries reportedSeoul, South Korea Area₩2,569,671/mo
Yongsan International School of Seoul Teacher salaries - 6 salaries reportedSeoul, South Korea Area₩42,348,102/yr
18 more rows
3 days ago

Which country pays teacher 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.

Do I need a degree to teach English in Korea? ›

If you do have a bachelor's degree or graduate degree, you have plenty of more options. You qualify to teach at hagwons or after-school academies. You can also teach public elementary, middle, and high school through English Program in Korea, or EPIK.

How long can you teach English in Korea for? ›

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.

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 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.

Is teaching a good job in Korea? ›

South Korea is always looking for good English teachers and educators. The demand for passionate, dedicated, and experienced teachers is higher in South Korea than in other parts of the world. Since the demand is high and the opportunities vast, people can easily find good jobs there.

How long is a work day in Korea? ›

The statutory working hours in Korea are eight hours per day and 40 hours per week, unlike the US and the UK, which regulate only weekly working hours. Germany only regulates daily working hours, not weekly. As for overtime work, Korean law strictly limits the hours per week.

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