TEFL in South Korea: The Quick Guide
Ask around and you’ll probably find someone who knows someone who is teaching English abroad in South Korea—and loving it! South Korea has a lot to offer TEFL teachers, whether they are freshly TEFLed newbies or seasoned pros. Economically prosperous, technologically advanced and brimming with cultural sites and natural beauty, South Korea has something for everyone, and teaching salaries make it possible to take advantage of it all.
To teach in South Korea, most employers will require:
- A TEFL certificate of at least 100 hours, either earned online or in the classroom.
- A bachelor’s degree in any subject
- Citizenship from a country where English is the first language
- A clean criminal background check (an FBI check)
There are basically two types of teaching positions in South Korea: at public (or private) K-12 schools or at language institutes (called hagwans).
If you teach at a public school, expect a set, 40-hour workweek, with some obligations outside of school hours possible. Positions at public schools are available all throughout the country, making this a good choice if you want an off-the-beaten path location.
If you teach at a hagwan, you’ll make a bit more money, but hours are less predictable, and you may work mornings, afternoons, evenings and some weekends. Most of your students will be young kids who come to the institute after their regular school hours, but they can also be teenagers and business people. Positions are concentrated in Seoul and other major cities.
The majority of teachers line their position up in advance, since the work visa must be obtained in your home country. Tons of jobs are posted on public TEFL job boards, like www.eslcafe.com, and teachers can apply to these directly. Another option is to go through a recruiter. Recruiters do not charge a fee, and can walk teachers through the process.
South Korean teaching salaries are pretty good (around 2,000 USD/month), and contracts include furnished housing. Your employer might even reimburse airfare to and from your home country. Those benefits, in combination with a low cost of living, means you can save major money while teaching in South Korea, and also fund your awesome beach holidays in Bali or weekend excursions to Tokyo!
Ready to get started? Check out our country guide for even more info on teaching English in South Korea!