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Types of Jobs

The main types of jobs in Korea for most ESL teachers are public and private. Public school jobs are government regulated and have a fixed contract, while private school terms and conditions can differ from school to school. While public school jobs in Korea tend to be quite popular, private schools make up the majority of the job market. 

See our chart below for a detailed comparison of these two types of positions.

Korea Public

  1. Public school jobs all fall under EPIK (English Program in Korea) and are made up almost exclusively of elementary school positions. The number of public school teachers has been reduced by 50% over the last 3 years.

  2. Monthly salary of $1,700 - $2,000 USD

  3. Number of classes: 22 x 45 minute classes per week

  4. Holidays: 18 days plus national holidays (paid)

  5. Monday-Friday: 8:30 am - 4:30 pm with a 1 hour lunch 

  6. Create your own lesson plans

  7. Teach with a Korean co-teacher

  8. 1 native teacher per school, or 1 teacher may teach at 2-3 different schools

  9. Two start dates per year - March 1st & September 1st

  10. EPIK hires on a 1st come, 1st served basis and has an involved application process

  11. It is advised that applicants apply 4-5 months in advance 

  12. Bachelor Degree + TEFL certificate are required

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Korea Private

  1. High-paced and high pressure environment. Schools are run like businesses.

  2. Monthly salary of $1,700 - 2,000 USD per month

  3. Number of classes: from 30 to 45 classes per week (120 to 160 classes per month)

  4. Holidays: 10 days plus national holidays (paid)

  5. Mostly Monday to Friday, though some weekend possible at some schools

  6. Daytime Positions: 10:00 am - 6/7:00 pm, teaching mostly kindergarten and some elementary school students, with limited breaks

  7. Afternoon Positions: 1:00 pm - 9:00 pm, teaching mostly elementary and some middle school students, with limited breaks

  8. Teach classes alone, using school provided materials

  9. Anywhere from 1-12 native teachers per school

  10. Bachelor Degree is required, while TEFL is optional

  11. Private schools hire year round and the hiring process can be very quick

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Why a public school might be the right choice for you

Public school jobs can be great option for first time teachers, since they offer training and orientation on arrival and all classes are taught with the help of a Korean teacher. There is also less risk of ending up with a school that isn't honouring their contract, though this is not as common as it might seem. Public school teachers get more vacation time and work on a daytime schedule. The additional vacation time makes it possible to travel outside the country during holiday. The pay scale is fixed based on qualification, but that also means that all teachers are treated the same. Teachers' salaries go up with each year they resign, which means that many teachers tend to stick around with their school after their initial contract is completed.

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Why a private school might be the right choice for you

Private school jobs hire year round, so it is not as important that you start in March or September. Class sizes are often smaller and most schools do not require a lot of preparation, since text books and work books are provided in advance. Applicants can chose their desired location (thought flexibility is important), whereas public schools place teachers where they are needed. It is also easier for couples to find positions, since there are often multiple teachers at each school. This can also help teachers make friends and have more fun at work. Private schools sometimes get a bad reputation, but it is important to know that most schools are reliable and that a good working relationship takes effort on both the teacher and the management. 

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How do jobs in Korea compare with those in China?

Make sure to check out our page comparing private and public jobs in China and Korea:

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