WE'VE DONE IT, AND WE LOVED IT!
Teach ESL Korea has been one of the premier recruitment agencies for Korea for the last 10 years, and we like to think this is because we do our best in providing the most personal care and support to our incoming teachers. Part of this, of course, is giving honest and unfiltered feedback about what’s available in the job market, not just in Korea, but in other emerging Asian ESL markets as well.
Korea continues to be a prime destination for ESL teachers in Asia and things haven't changed that much over the last decade. Salaries and contracts remain similar and the biggest change has come in public schools being moved under the EPIK umbrella.
Salary: Salaries have continued to remain the same over the last decade and a first year teacher can expect to earn between 2,000,000 - 2,100,000 KRW per month, which roughly equals to $1750-$1850 USD. While the cost of living has increased over the years, teachers can still expect to live comfortably and still save some money each month.
Benefits: One of the main benefits of working in Korea is the easy transition for newly arriving teachers. All schools provide a free apartment, which is ready for teachers when they arrive. EPIK teachers also receive a settlement allowance to help with start up costs. Unlike China, where teachers are responsible for their own housing, Korea makes it easy for new teachers to make the transition to living in a new country.
Workload: Teachers in private schools (hagwans) can expect to teach 30 hours per week, which may not include additional time for grading and student evaluation. EPIK has slightly lower hours at 22 per week, but teachers are required to stay at school during office hours. The most common work hours for afternoon private schools are either 1:00pm - 9:00pm and 2:00pm - 10:00 pm. Kindergartens have shifts between 10:00-6:00 pm. For EPIK positions, the hours are from 8:30am - 4:30pm, but most classes are finished by 2:00pm.
Vacation: Most hagwons provide around 10 days of paid vacation, while EPIK teachers get 18 days.
Travel opportunities: Due to Korea's relatively small size and a wonderful transportation network, it is very easy for teachers to get out and explore the country on weekends and holidays. Weekend camping and hiking trips are a well-loved Korean activity and are relatively inexpensive. If you don't live in Seoul, but love the exiting nightlife, you can travel to the city by bus or train under 3 hours from the furthest destination. Teachers in Korea also travel outside the country whenever they can, especially EPIK teachers who have a more generous vacation allowance.
HOW TO QUALIFY
In order to teach legally under an E2 visa, you need to meet all of the following requirements:
A Bachelor degree or higher is a strict requirement. College degrees and incomplete degrees are not sufficient.
Applicants must be a native English speaker and hold a passport from the US, Canada, UK, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand or Ireland.
Applicants must provide a "clean" nation-wide criminal record check. (ie. FBI, RCMP)
ESL courses are not a strict requirement for private schools, but they are for public schools. However, most schools prefer to hire teachers with a TEFL/CELTA.