FAQs About Teaching English in South Korea

I get asked an awful lot of questions about teaching English in South Korea and on this page, I have tried to compile my answers into a coherent list so that it helps people to get the job they want in South Korea. All of the advice from my How to Teach English Abroad is still applicable to South Korea and I highly recommend reading that post before you go into the specifics of applying for a job in South Korea. If any of my answers are incorrect, please contact me and I will amend this page accordingly. If there is anything missing, please feel free to ask new questions in the comments section and I will respond to them so that others can have the benefit of seeing the answers. At the end of this page, you will find a list of other pages that I have written about teaching English in South Korea that may be useful to you. I hope that you find this information useful.

What Is Your Background Of Living And Teaching in South Korea?

I spent a year teaching at a hagwon in Daegu and all of my advice is based upon my experiences. I got the job by applying directly to the school though an advertisement that I saw online. A couple of years later I came back to live in Seogwipo for six months, on the beautiful island of Jeju, where my girlfriend was teaching English. I was not teaching there full time, but I did do a few weeks teaching to cover teachers who were away.

What Is It Like To Teach English In South Korea?

I had great experiences teaching in South Korea. I had the most money I have ever had, a comfortable life, and my job was often fun. Here is a video showing some of my weekends and one off classes whilst teaching English in Daegu. I didn’t have a camera until the end of my year, and I used it rarely, but this is a mish-mash of random video clips that was made for my friends as a memory of our experiences.

What Are The Minimum Requirements To Teach English in South Korea?

Due to current visa requirements, in order to teach in South Korea you need to meet the following criteria:

  • Citizenship (have a passport) from a native English speaking country. At this time, South Korea only considers the U.S., U.K., Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, or South Africa to be native English speaking.
  • Hold a bachelor’s degree (or equivalent / higher) from an accredited college or university.
  • Be able to obtain a clean, national level criminal record check.
  • Pass a health and drug test upon arrival in Korea.

If you do not meet all of these criteria, unfortunately you cannot teach in South Korea at this time. There are many other countries where you might be able to teach English however, so please take a look at my ever growing page of English teacher jobs.

Do I Need a CELTA / TEFL / TESOL / Teaching Certificate to Teach English in South Korea?

If you want to work for a government school, yes, you need the minimum of a 120 hour TEFL / TESOL certificate. I know teachers who did not have their government jobs renewed when the rules were changed because they didn’t have any teaching qualifications. If you wish to work for a private school, you do not need any form of teaching qualification. However, obtaining a TEFL or some other form of teaching qualification will definitely increase your chances of landing a good job and might result in a higher salary. Take a look at the ‘Get Qualified to Teach English’ infographic to see which teaching qualification, if any, would be best suited to your needs. When I taught English in Daegu, I didn’t have a teaching qualification, however the market was less competitive at that time and I had experience teaching in England and Uganda (which my boss later told me secured my interview).

How Can I Get a Job Teaching English in South Korea?

There are two main ways you can apply for a job as an English teacher in South Korea:

Where Else Online Can I Find a Job Teaching English in South Korea?

Aside from the two options I just mention, you can:

  • Apply through agencies by Googling ‘Teach English in Korea (Agency)’ and various combinations thereof.
  • Apply directly through TEFL / ESL sites (such as TEFL.com and Dave’s ESL Cafe).

Is it Better to Apply for a Job Directly or Use an Agency?

Is ketchup or mayonnaise better? Both have their benefits. If you apply for a job directly, you may be able to negotiate working conditions with the employer, while if you apply through an agency, they do most of the hard work for you, but are less flexible. Try both, see which works out. I did both and then compared the different job offers I received.

How Much Should I Hope to Get Paid Teaching English in South Korea?

As a first time teacher, try to aim for 2.1 million won a month (or more). In 2011, I got 2.2 million a month with some teaching experience and no teaching qualifications. If you get an English teaching qualification such as a TEFL, you should be able to aim for a higher salary – maybe 2.3 million a month.

Is There an Agency That You Would Recommend?

I am currently working with this agency to help place potential teachers in Korean schools and thus far the feedback has been positive. You can apply directly through my site and my recruiter contact will get back to you to help you out, or feel free to look elsewhere on the web. I don’t have great familiarity with any other recruiters so don’t recommend anyone else at this time.

Do I need to speak Korea to teach English in Korea?

No, not at all. In fact Korean is normally banned in the English classrooms. However, to improve your day-to-day life and become better integrated into the local culture, learning Korean will be hugely helpful. Despite being hugely different from English you can pick up the basics easily enough. Here is a Korean language course to help kick start your learning if you so choose. 행운! (Good luck!)

How Do I Avoid Being Scammed by a School / Know That it is Reputable?

Search through forums online and see what other people say about it. Also ask if you can have the email addresses of previous teachers so that you can email them and ask about the school. If you can’t find any information online, it may be a dodgy deal. If it’s a chain, it will have a reputation to keep up and is likely to be reputable.

Is South Korea Dangerous?

South Korea is one of the safest countries I have ever been to (I don’t keep a list, but I move about a lot). Although I had two bikes stolen, I never felt threatened and as far as I am aware, South Korea has a very low rate of violent crime.

How Much Money Can You Save in South Korea as an English Teacher?

This depends completely on your lifestyle and whether or not you teach extra, private (illegal) classes. See my .pdf detailing pay for English teachers across the world and how much they can save. In summary, Korea is one of the best places to go to save money (THE best in my opinion if you don’t have teaching certificates and years of experience). Here’s a rough estimate: You get paid 2.2M a month, plus a bonus of 2.2M upon completion of contract and your tax is super low (assuming you cancel your medical insurance and pension payments which you can read more about here – note: get travel insurance to cover your medical expenses and you will save money / be safe). Your apartment is free, as are your flights. That means you will earn around 27.6 M won in a year (over £18,500 as of January 2017). You will save as much as you don’t spend on eating, drinking, and going places. How much beer and soju are you going to drink?

Will I get a Free Apartment?

Yes, you should. I wouldn’t take a job that doesn’t offer either a free apartment or a housing allowance (you may have to pay a large deposit if you sort the apartment out yourself).

Will the School Pay for My Airfare?

Normally, yes, although some companies now only offer one way flights as the industry is booming and there are lots of teachers available. You may have to pay for your flight in advance and they will refund you as you reach the 6 and 12 month marks. This stops people turning up for a week, deciding that they don’t like Korea, and then disappearing again.

Where is the Best Place to Live in South Korea?

Do you want chocolate or cheese with that?

Are There Many Other Foreign Teachers In South Korea?

Hundreds. Maybe thousands. In most towns they are very easy to find (easier outside of Seoul which is MASSIVE).

I’m a Non-Native Speaker: Can I Get a Job Teaching English in South Korea?

Not legally at this time. The problem lies with the visa issuing office. Contact agencies and see what they say incase things change. This is a silly pre-requisite and I hope that it changes soon, but there are many other places in the world where you can teach English.

Can I Get a Job Teaching English in South Korea Without a Degree?

Not legally. However, I know of one person who turned up at the age of nineteen, without a degree, and found work for a couple of months. This was not legal.

Will My Job Be Safe?

Do research about your company online. If you do this properly, you can find a safe company. Most people keep their jobs for the duration of their contracts although I had a few friends who were screwed over by their schools. As with everything in life, nothing is definite, and even big school go under sometimes. Just do your best and be prepared to adapt.

As I’m Only Signing a 12-Month Contract, Will I lose My Job in One Year?

If business is going well, they will (hopefully) offer you a new contract. However, a lot of people choose to change schools every year for better working conditions or for variety. Being offered a twelve month teaching contract in Korea isn’t really a concern, it’s just normal practice.

Should I Get a Job in Advance or Just Turn Up in Korea and Find One?

If you have the money, just turning up (while applying online) might offer you the best pay opportunities and working conditions as you will be in the country and can meet schools in person, so they will take you seriously… however it may take time to do and you may end up running out of money if you don’t have a good grounding. You will also have to leave the country in order to be granted the E2 visa and you will have already paid for your flights to Korea, thus it will probably end up being much more expensive in the long run and I definitely think that applying in advance is the safer way to do it. If I had the cash and wanted to go back again, there is a possibility that I could turn up and use my friend network to find out about new potential jobs, but I would still prefer to have a job sorted in advance. Teacher community pages in SK on FB have some awesome people who might be willing to help you out.

When Is the Best Time to Apply for Teaching Jobs in South Korea?

If you want a government job (lower pay, but stable job), you have to apply through EPIK or GEPIK at the right time of the year. If you go for a hagwon (my preference), you can apply anytime as they take teachers on year round, depending on when the previous teachers leave.

Do Potential Employers Prioritise Younger Applicants Over Experience?

As far as I am aware, no, but most of the people teaching in Korea range from early twenties to forties. The demographic may simply be due to the lifestyle choice of moving half-way across the world to teach English suiting younger, ‘more adventurous’ people. Or maybe I felt like there was a younger demographic because I was younger and I spent time with other young people.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Job Teaching in South Korea?

It depends how lucky and picky you are. You could have a job within days if you’re flexible and meet all the requirements. Don’t forget that you will have to collect all of your documents and the criminal background check can take some time to process (particularly if you are American) so I would try to this in advance.

How Long does it Take to Get a Korean Visa?

When I had all the documentation (criminal checks, notorised degree, invitation from the school, etc), it took less than a week. These times may vary, so check with the Korean embassy in your part of the world.

I’m Vegetarian / Vegan: Will it be Difficult to Live in South Korea?

Yes. However, I am also a vegetarian and lived in Korea for a year without giving it up. Check out this really useful page about how to be vegetarian / vegan in South Korea.

Is There Anything That You Would Recommend Doing in South Korea?

Yes. Here are some things you should try in South Korea. If you go to Daegu, here are my favourite five things to do for free. If you go to Jeju, cycle, climb, walk, swim, do everything outside! I could go on, but in short, Korea is a pretty cool country filled with pretty cool stuff to do.

What Are the Benefits of Teaching English in South Korea?

They are so numerous that I wrote a whole separate article about them. Here is my selection of ten benefits of teaching English in South Korea.

Would You Go Back to Teach There Again?

No because my life has changed and I am pursing a different path. However, I loved my time in South Korea and I am grateful for the experiences. I wrote an article after I left Korea that was titled Why I Will Never Go Back to Teach English in South Korea (which I later changed to Why I Stopped Teaching in South Korea)… and then I went back to live in South Korea after all! On the second occasion I wasn’t an English teacher, but my main reasoning for not teaching English now is that, ‘I don’t want a regular, stable job’. I am pursuing interests concerned with self-employment and not having a boss / schedule. Will it work out? I don’t know, but I can always go back and teach if it doesn’t!

Will I Get Taxed by Korea or My Home Country?

As you are granted a work visa, you are treated the same as everyone else in Korea so you pay Korean taxes. The taxes you will pay in South Korea are typically:

  • Income Tax: 3-4% of salary
  • Resident Tax: 10% of the income tax
  • National Pension-Plan Contributions: 4.5% of salary
  • National Health Insurance Premiums: 2% of salary

I cancelled my pension plan and health insurance (as I couldn’t cancel the pension only) which saved me over 1.7 million won and then purchased travel insurance for the year instead which cost about 0.7 million won. This meant that I was medically covered for the year and I saved myself a million won. If you want to do the same, I advise you read this page about travel insurance and this page about why I did it.

Can I Choose Which Currency I Get Paid In?

You are paid in South Korea won, direct to your Korean bank account (which your school will help you set up when you arrive). To transfer it out of the country, you simply go to the bank and pay the transfer fee. With the bank I chose, I got charged about 30,000 Won each time I made a transfer and the money would take a few days to reach the UK.

Can you get me a job teaching English in South Korea?

Kind of – apply here. If you get a job, you’re welcome.

Should I go to South Korea to teach?

Only you can decide.

Can You Get Me A Job Teaching Anywhere Else?

Possibly – Take a look at this page, Apply For a Job As An English Teacher.


I hope that this page has been of some use to you. Once again, if you feel that any of the above information is inaccurate or that there is something missing, please comment below. I am only one person who has lived in two places in South Korea, so I have done the best to answer the questions to the best of my abilities using a combination of experience based knowledge and research. Below are some more pages that might be useful to you:


  • Hello! I was wondering if I could teach with my Bachelor’s of Science in nursing? I’ve been considering going abroad and teaching, but I’m not sure if I qualify v with a BSN. Please help!

  • Hello,

    In addition to having a bachelor degree, I know it must be from an English-speaking country to get the E2 visa.
    Thing is my bachelor is Thai and my masters will be American.
    Oh and I hold an Irish passport.
    I would like to know if my American masters will be accepted for the E2?

    • Interesting question – as a higher qualification, I would guess yes, but I don’t know for sure. If you fill out the application form and post the questions in the comment field, my recruiter should be able to help you out.

  • Hello Jamie,
    I’m sorry if this is a repeated question (I tried reading through most of the comments), but how old do you have to be to start teaching? I am currently enrolled in the running start program which means I will be graduating high school with my AA degree. I was hoping to take this teaching opportunity as means to save up for my 4 year college, I am struggling with funds and don’t want to take thousands of dollars out for student loans. However I would probably be heading over when I’m 18 (almost 19), if I got my TEFL degree would I still have a chance at getting a good job there? I am going to be taking Korean in my last year and will probably get to advanced before I graduate (I am an american citizen as well). would they take me seriously enough at my age? Or is it not even worth the trouble for my situation. Most importantly would it be safe for me to go down? (I am female), I am a bit worried about being treated poorly by my employers. I would really like to kill two birds with one stone by working and getting to travel at the same time, do you think this is a good option for me?

    • Hello Ava, you need to have a Bachelor degree or equivalent to get the E2 visa to teach legally in South Korea. There are other places in the world where you can teach without this, thus you could teach at 18 elsewhere.

    • If you will have at least a two-year college degree, I strongly recommend that you look into the TALK Program (Teach And Learn In Korea). It is a Korean government program intended to place native English speakers in communities which don’t typically get a lot of contact with native English speakers. The areas people are placed in tend to be more rural, but my older sister did the program and was placed in Chuncheon (not so rural at all), so it can vary. The requirements for the program are at least a two-year college degree, and unless they have changed it in the last year or so you can apply for 6-month or yearlong contracts, and renew for up to two years. The semesters start in March and September, so orientations will start in-country in Jan/Feb and July/Aug. I strongly encourage you to look into that program if you are interested in teaching, plus you will be in a public school which offers greater protections than teaching at a hagwon. Good luck!

  • Hello, I’m a non-native English speaker and I really wish to teach English abroad. Sadly, my first preference is South Korea. I have lived in the UK for the past 5 years and I have got my bachelor and masters degree from there.
    I was thinking, if I got a TELF accreditation and applied for a UK citizenship, and received it, wouldn’t that solve the visa problems? It’s so confusing how they mention you need to be a native speaker however they require you to be from one of those listed countries. I could get a UK citizenship since I have lived in the U.K. for the past 5 years, do you think that would change anything for me?

    Thank youuu!!

    • If you could get a UK passport, that would solve all issues as that is how they assess a native speaker – it’s a silly rule, but it is what it is.

  • Hi There;
    I am a Tunisian and I have been teaching English for more than 17 years now (with a TESOL certificate)
    I have got a PhD admission to KAIST in Daejeon. I’d like to know if it would be possible to have a tutoring job there. After all, I do think that I am academically qualified with Bachelor’s, Master’s degrees, and above all my 7-Year Teaching experience in my current Company; but the story of holding a passport of certain country really worries me.

    • You would not be eligible for the E2 teaching visa, but you might be able to get something else as linked with the PhD. Unfortunately I don’t know about this topic, so try asking KAIST about the legality of working.

  • Hi!
    I’m currently 17 so I have awhile to prepare for this. The information here is helpful!

    With proper education I’ll be qualified to teach in South Korea, however my mother is white and my father is black. I’m quite light skinned but my hair is textured and mamy strangers that see me say I appear Hispanic or black. I hear that even though black English teachers exist in South Korea, black people don’t have the best experiences there… Do you think I’ll be okay as long as I find the right school?

    • You’ll be fine in the right place. Korea was a very closed country until recently, so they have less exposure to non-white people and will find you interesting (they find non-Koreans interesting in general), but several of my best friends in Korea were non-white and they got on fine.

  • Hi. I’m just very confused with what it means to be a native speaker in the context of applying teaching jobs in korea. I am a citizen of Australia but I am not a native English speaker. I’ve only been in aussie for 4 years!

    • It is somewhat ambiguous – they define a native speaker as someone who holds a passport from an English speaking country. Thus if you have an Australian passport, you are eligible for the E2 visa.

  • Hi! I’m looking into teaching English in SK (my korean friend also suggested teaching Math in English), but I don’t have a teaching related degree. The only teaching experience I have is tutoring while I was in college. Will it be easy to find a job in SK? Or do I have a chance at all? I’m not from any of the English speaking countries that are listed by the law. Thank you!

    • Hi Christie, unfortunately to get the E2 visa to teach English you need a passport from the list of seven countries. As for maths, I never encountered a foreigner teaching anything other than English, so I don’t know about that sorry. If you can’t get the documents for Korea, there are always many other options around the world where you will be able to teach. Good luck and I hope you find something.

  • HI I was just wondering, would I still be eligible to get a Korea work visa if I have not yet received my degree certificate? I would be able to present a certified letter of degree completion, but I have no idea whether this is acceptable or not. This was a major problem trying to get a work visa in China, I’m hoping South Korea is much more understanding

    • That’s beyond my knowledge, sorry. I think if you start applying and ask whoever handles your application, then they will be able to help.

    • You may be able to get a job offer, but until you have the actual diploma in your hands you will not be able to get an E-2 visa. As part of the visa application process you have to submit your job contract/offer letter to prove visa sponsorship, and to prove you meet Korean government requirements for E-2 eligibility you have to submit a clean, federally-apostilled, federal-level background check (done by the FBI or an approved third-party if you’re from the US) and a state-level apostilled notarized copy of your diploma. You submit these along with your passport to the nearest Korean embassy/consulate and if everything checks out they will put the visa into your passport. A letter that certifies you completed the degree will not be enough to get a visa – you will need the degree itself in order to meet Korean government requirements.

      On another note, South Korea is not very understanding about anything immigration-related or having to do with non-Koreans…It can be difficult to do basic things there even if you have a valid resident permit. I can’t speak to China but if you end up in Korea don’t expect things to be easy in this regard.

  • Hey there, thanks for the information, i have one question that i haven’t seen in the list though. Could i teach english in Korea if although i am from Canada, i studied in a non-native english country to get my bachelor degree ( program is in english ).

    • That is something I’m not sure of. I think you need to have studied in an English speaking country, but I might be wrong. Try posting this on ESL Cafe forums and someone will have the answer for you.

  • Hi Jamie,

    Thank you so much for this information! I am ethnically Korean but I was born and raised in the States so I am a full native speaker but weird question, is it true that employers and parents prefer their teacher to be, “white” or “American looking” per say? I have heard once (just once) that a class was very disappointed that a teacher looked too Korean even though she was a Korean American like me and was raised in the states so they treated her a bit poorly compared to her “American looking” co-teachers. Have you seen or heard of an experience like this? I am planning to visit my parents in Korea and hoping to obtain a visa to teach there in a couple of months.

    • Hi Rebecca. It will never be advertised publicly, but there are many schools in Korea that have an expectation about what an English teacher should look like. Maybe I shouldn’t say this, but in my experience, young, North American, attractive, caucasian females are the most in demand. However, there are many more progressive schools that will take any teacher based upon their merit as an English teacher. My school, for example, had many male teachers, non North Americans, and non caucasians – they were great people and they hired fairly. If you get a good school, like the one I worked at, you will have no problems and you will be treated the same as everyone else. Just to let you know, if you want the E2 visa, you will have to go out of the country to obtain it, thus you can apply for a job in advance or find a job when you arrive, then pop over to Japan or China for the day. However, if you are entitled to a visa through your heritage (which I presume you are) or you hold dual citizenship (I have no idea if that is allowed or not as it varies by country), things work slightly differently. I don’t know the ins and outs, but you are welcome to ask a question to my contacts in Korea if you think it would be helpful. Good luck to you.

  • Hi Jamie,

    First of all congrats for this beautiful blog, it’s a shining beacon of hope & joy. Also your European van road-trip looks like a hell of a lot of fun. But questions, questions: if I’m looking for a teaching job in Korea for September, when should I apply for it? I’m graduating this year and therefore don’t have my degree yet (or my TEFL, which I’m planning on getting) but I’ll definitely have both by mid June, at the latest. Should I contact your recruiter now & tell him that, or is it better to wait til I actually have the physical documents? Will I have the time to go through all the job & immigration process through July & August, or is two and a half months too short of a timeframe to get everything sorted out, from step A to Z?

    Thanks for your time, passion, and energy,


    • Thank you for your kind words, Tom – they are appreciated. And yes, the van was fun – I want to get back on the road in it. Just some plumbing to do first…

      Your questions:
      Q: If I’m looking for a teaching job in Korea for September, when should I apply for it?
      A: Unless you go public school (which isn’t anywhere near as good as it used to be in my opinion) you don’t need to apply until (max) six months or so before. Some people apply for jobs and start within a month if they have their documents ready.
      Q: I’m graduating this year and therefore don’t have my degree yet (or my TEFL, which I’m planning on getting) but I’ll definitely have both by mid June, at the latest. Should I contact your recruiter now & tell him that, or is it better to wait til I actually have the physical documents?
      A: Apply now, stating your requirements, and they will advise you about what you need to do in advance. They won’t be able to give you specific jobs this early, but they will ensure that you will be ready to accept a job by September. Good luck!
      Q: Will I have the time to go through all the job & immigration process through July & August, or is two and a half months too short of a timeframe to get everything sorted out, from step A to Z?
      A: If you have the relevant documents ready, you should be absolutely fine. The main one that holds people up is the criminal background check. They are normally valid for around 6 months, but can take 3 months or so to arrive in America. In the UK I got mine in about four weeks. Wait times vary constantly depending upon demand and backlog.

      I hope this helps a little.

  • Hi there ! I am curious about the degree aspect of the teaching requirements. If I want to teach English in S. Korea is there a specific teaching major I should get into or will they take you in no matter the degree?

    • In Korea they don’t mind what subject the degree is in. It is normally only countries in the Middle East that ask for English or teaching related degrees as far as I am aware. My degree is in mathematics and I taught in Korea.

  • Hi Jamie,

    I saw the post about not having a Degree etc, my situation is a little different…I am married to a South Korean Citizen and we currently live in New Zealand and have decided to move to Korea to be closer to her side of the family – I have no University Education however I have a certificate with CELTA.

    Am I basically doomed to fail in obtaining a job in South Korea without a Degree?

    Or am I still able to land a job in South Korea being that I am married to a Citizen and plan on living in the country for at least 3 years and having a CELTA Certificate.

    I apologize for you having to answer basically the same question over and over – I just need this to put my mind at ease for as much as I am excited about the move I am also completely terrified it maybe a financial mistake.

    • Hi Dan, I wish I could help you out here, but this is beyond my knowledge. I saw you the question through my application form and I will allow Joseph to give you an accurate answer. The degree is required for the E2 visa, but if you already have a visa, maybe things will be different, but I don’t know for sure. Apologies that I cannot be of more help. Good luck.

    • If you are married to a Korean citizen, you would be able to qualify for a Korean F-6 visa (spousal visa). Once issued this visa, you are free to work – or not work – in Korea as you please. In order to qualify for the E-2, you need a university degree, but a degree is not a requirement for the F-6. So, in theory, your only limitation is whether or not the school would hire you with your current qualifications and not whether or not the government will give you legal status to work (which is most of the battle, in my experience). You will always find job opportunities as an English speaker and since the school will not have to sponsor your visa it will likely be a big boon to them.

  • Hi
    I’m a non-native speaker. Am I eligible for applying English tutor posts in south Korea? I don’t have any teaching degree but I’ve done my schooling and colleges with English as the medium of instruction.

    • Unfortunately to get the E2 visa you need to be a native speaker at this time which they judge by the passport that you hold. Sorry I can’t be of more help.

      • Hi Jamie,

        I am in a similar situation. I did my 9th grade in USA and before then all my education was in English medium. Does that still effect E2 visa requirement ? I am a US citizen and holds American passport.

        Thank you !

        • If your education was in America and you hold a degree from an American university, you can get the visa, no problem.

  • I hold a marriage visa in SK but I am not from a Native English Speaking country. I am pretty sure that I would not be able to teach in Public Schools however I am now wondering if it would be possible to send some resumes to private schools or do they follow the same rules from the government schools, related to employment.

    Thank You.

  • Hi Jamie,

    I just wanted to ask a quick question about being eligible to work as an English teacher in South Korea. I’m only 17 and have yet to get a degree, so this is well ahead of time haha 🙂 But what I wanted to know is that; is it required for me to have been in English education from year 7 until university to be eligible? Some programmes like EPIK require that my education from grade/year 7 is in English, but I’m not entirely sure what they mean by that. I moved to England in 2013, and I joined year 8, so before that, I hadn’t been in an English speaking school since I moved from Finland.(I did grow up speaking English with my dad, and I learned English at school as well)
    I’m hopefully going to obtain a British passport next year when I’ve lived here for 5 years so that I am able to get a visa to teach in S. Korea when I’m ready to.

    Teaching in South Korea would honestly be a dream and I sort of jealous of you right now 😀
    Anyway, thank you for all the information you have provided me with so far.

    • Hi Lorraine,

      That is some forward planning! I’m not sure about EPIK, but for the government schools I think the UK passport and UK degree are enough – that’s all they checked with me. My friend moved to the UK from Congo when he was a teenager and was able to teach in South Korea with his UK passport and UK degree. I hope this helps.

      • Hi Jamie,
        Thank you so much for your reply! This did help me as it put my mind at ease 🙂 Thank you once again.

      • Hi Luke,

        Yes, thank you! I’ve done a lot of research about teaching in South Korea so I am aware, but I will definitely check out your website! Thank you so much 🙂

  • Hi Jamie,

    I have my official letter of acceptance from my uni in Canada where I will be doing my Master’s in Educational Leadership online as of January 02/2017. The letter has been apostilled and verified by the Korean Consulate here;however, It seems like it’s not going to help me find a full time teaching job (Mm BA papers are lost. No luck getting a replacement copy. Pretty complicated). I have over 14 years of teaching experience teaching English in Europe and Canada. My Korean wife is homesick and wants us to move to Korea. I have an F6 visa. I have also bought our air tickets. With all that, I am still having a hard time landing a full time job. Now, I have decided to find a part-time job. Some say that I won’t need to have papers to work part time. Some say I do. An agent said that I wouldn’t need to have papers, another said I would. What is your take on that? A Korean friend of mine said I could make enough money doing part-time work and can do some tutoring as well. It would be fairly easy because I have an F6 visa. I just want to do this till I finish my master’s in two years. BTW, I contacted Joseph about my situation a couple of times, but he never got back to me. Thank you so much for such a fantastic blog. Looking forward to your reply.

    • Hello Jorgen, sorry to hear that. And sorry that Joseph didn’t get back to you. I will drop him a message now. I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I will share my experiences and thoughts based upon the little I do know – these are just my thoughts and I might be wrong. As I understand it, the F6 visa allows you to do any work you want, thus it is very desirable, so you should not have a problem getting employed from a legal point of view. Schools want teachers with degrees to satisfy visa requirements – as you already have a visa, hopefully you should be able to find something. You might be best off asking around when you arrive – when I was in Korea for the second time, I found work relatively easily by simply by asking other teacher friends. Doing private tutoring can be a good option too – when I was there an hour class typically offered between 30k and 100k won. In Korea I found that there are ‘ways of doing things’ meaning that they do not like anything not exactly as it should be (such as a teacher not applying through typical routes), but when you are actually in the country and face to face, hopefully I should be easier for you. I hope. Where in Korea are you going to?

  • Hey Jamie,

    I am an Assistant Professor in Civil Engineering here in a University in India. I hold a Master’s Degree in Engineering. I was wondering if there would be any kind of teaching positions I could take up in Korea as I have been wanting to work in Korea for sometime now. Will this be difficult as I am from a non-native English speaker?

    Please please let me know.

    Thanks in advance! 🙂

    • Unfortunately the Korea government doesn’t currently grant visas for English teaching jobs to non-natives. One day I hope to see this rule changed as people should be assessed on their level of English, not on their nationality.

  • Hi Jamie,

    I’m really impressed by all the traveling you’ve done. My wife and I are currently in the UK, and hope to make South Korea our next stop. Quick technical question, and this one’s a bit tricky but I’m hoping you may be able to lend a hand.

    I’m a US citizen, my bachelor’s degree is from Taiwan, so I know I don’t fill the legal requirement to get my work visa, as my degree in Business Admin is from a non-native English speaking country. However I am currently doing my Master’s in International Management here in London.

    So my question is, with a non-native English speaking country as my under-grad, but with the UK as my post grad, will I fill the legal requirements to find employment teaching in South Korea?

    Thanks for your assistance, if we end up finding work in South Korea, we’d love to meet up sometime and hear of your many experiences.


      • Dear Jamie,

        Sorry for the late reply. I had some meetings for my current job over the past weekend and had no time to check my emails. I’ll be sure to send Joseph a message now. Thanks for your help. Your blog is awesome and I wish you safe travels my friend.

        Best Regards,

        • Good luck – I hope it all works out. I just made an agreement with a new recruitment company so will soon be posting a link for jobs in China, Indonesia, and Russia if Korea doesn’t happen.

  • Hi Jamie

    As I mentioned in an earlier message, I lost my BA papers and transcripts. unfortunately, to make matters worse, my university in the UK cannot issue a replacement copy, as they cannot find my records. I graduated in the early 1990s before records were digitized. Now, I have finally managed to enroll for an MA program in education at a reputable online university. I also hold an F6 visa. Now, would I be able to find a teaching job in Korea using my letter of admissions and my F6 visa? I have nearly 12 years of teaching experience teaching ESL/IELTS/TOEFL at a reputable language school in Canada. Thanks Jorgen

    • Yes, that is most unfortunate. It seems ridiculous that a university can lose an individual’s records, but I suppose things were harder before we went digital. Unfortunately I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I saw you applied through the application form on my website – Joseph will be able to answer all your questions and hopefully help you out. Good luck!

  • Hi Jamie, thank you for all the information you have provided. I was wondering if i would be able to teach English in Korea legally if I am a US citizen with a 2 year associates degree, TEFL certificate, fluent in Korean and English, and holding a f4 visa? It is my understanding for a work visa you could need to have a BA, which I do not have. Thank you again!

  • Hi Jamie. Your blog is very informative. I am an Indian housewife living in busan. Can I have a chance to get a job. Please reply me.

    • Unfortunately for the visa you need to hold a passport from an English speaking country. If you already have entitlement to live and work in Korea, you may be able to find work however.

  • Hi Jamie,

    I want an adventure and I have the necessary degrees, but I only want to be abroad 6-8 months. Are one year contracts the only option for future teachers?

    • One year contracts are the norm. I met only one person in Korea who was on a six month contract compared to hundreds who were on twelve month contracts. If you are willing to look at other countries, you might find something. Good luck.

  • Excellent Blog Jamie !!! I have been searching for answers to a few questions: do I bring a laptop to teach English – will it make lesson planning easier?
    I am US passport, 40yo male, masters degree (in Chinese Medicine – and have taught at several universities in the US), and vegetarian – which is how I came upon your blog. I want to travel, and teach to stretch out my small bank account. the hurdle I am trying to get over is how to do the visa thing best. first is a few months in India – I will get this visa from USA. then, I wanted to visit and hope to teach in Taiwan, which I hear can be difficult, and requires a visa from abroad, as in I cannot get one while in country. I was thinking of going to South Korea for the ease of startup. and Japan is on the list too.

    This is just to keep options open, as I know plans can change when traveling. If I want to see a few places before committing to a job offer unseen, do I need to get all these visas from home? is it possible to get them from there? I know these questions are answered on the internet with some persistence, but we share some values, and I want your take. Do I spend hundreds of dollars (most of it waiting for visas in the US), or just go and hope that it will pan out? I don’t want to have to fly back to the US for a visa, but want to have open options in case political climates become less than favorable. any advice? thanks!

    • Hello, Andy. In my experience, you don’t need a laptop, although you can bring one if you wish. My school provided me with a laptop to use at school. I mostly used it for filling time and downloading the odd material to use in class – I did most of my lesson planning on paper.

      In terms of finance, South Korea is a great option – you can get a job lined up and when you arrive you have an apartment and job all set up for you. My knowledge of teaching in Japan or Taiwan is non-existent, so I can’t help there, sorry.

      As I understand it (and I might be wrong), you can get a Korean visa from any Korean embassy outside of Korea. However, you will need to make sure that you have all appropriate documentation (background checks, notorised degrees, transcripts, etc). For the correct answer please get in contact with Joseph here and he will be able to help you out as it is his job and he is very knowledgable.

      I hope it all works out and the best of luck with both your teaching and travelling.

    • Just found this: “In general, all new applicants must submit the E2 visa application to the Korean embassy/ consulate in their home country.” Once again though, please get in contact with Joseph using the previous link and he will be able to answer your question.

  • Hi
    I’m a highly experienced teacher from Canada. I’ve been teaching English in Europe and Canada for nearly 14 years. I taught IELTS/TOEFL as well as ESL at a highly reputable school in Toronto for over 8 years. Now, unfortunately, I have lost my university papers (BA) and my workplace also seems to have lost their copy during their office relocation. I contacted my university in the UK, but they say they do not have access to my records, as I graduated back in the early 90s. I need to add that my teaching qualifications are excellent (Based on my students’ feedback and my personal and professional evaluations). My classes have had a very high success rate. My wife, who is Korean, and I are planning on moving to South Korea, so I will hold an F6 visa. Now, I was wondering, considering my degree problem, would I be able to land a teaching job? Thanks.

  • Hi. I’m from America but I’m currently enrolled at Seoul National University. I heard that to teach English you have to have a degree from a country like America, England, and Australia, to teach English here. Is that true? Or can I teach with a degree from a Korean university?

    • For standard jobs I believe that you are correct with needing a degree from an English speaking country. There might be other ways to find employment in Korea with a degree from a Korean university – get in touch with Joseph here and hopefully he can help you out.

  • Hi Jamie, not sure if this has already been asked but I don’t have a 4 year degree. I dropped out a couple years ago to travel, but I do have my TEFL cert. I have heard conflicting information on whether i HAVE to have a degree to teach in South Korea or not. Can you help with the confusion?


    • As far as I am aware, you need a degree equivalent to a Bachelor degree in order to be granted a work visa in South Korea. You can find jobs in China without one however. This apply for jobs page might help. Best of luck to you.

  • Hi Jamie,

    After reading your blog, it really got me excited at the prospect of moving overseas to teach in Korea. However, I do have some doubts that you may help to clarify. I am a Portuguese citizen who is finishing his’ masters from the university of Southampton and has been living in the UK since the age of 14, therefore I am eligible to ask for the British citizenship.Do you reckon that I would need to ask for the British citizenship to teach in Korea or that it would be fine considering my circumstances?

    kind regards,

    Joao Roque

    • Unfortunately I believe that you need a passport from an English speaking country in order to be granted a visa to work in South Korea. I do not know if there is a way around this, but you can apply through my contact, Joseph, by clicking here and he may be more helpful than I am because he knows more. Good luck.

  • I have an F4 visa and im a graduate student at Seoul University. If I am doing private lessons do I have to pay taxes on that? Is doing private lessons illegal? I make a lot of money doing it and the parents transfer the funds to my bank electronically. I was told if you are a student status private lessons do not have to be reported and not taxed.

    • I think every country requires that you declare an income, so I would presume that this is illegal. It is possible that you do not meet the minimum tax threshold, meaning you don’t have to pay tax, but I would believe (and I don’t know) that all income should be declared. Pretty much every teacher in Korea teaches illegally at some point though, so it isn’t a new thing. Just don’t tell the wrong people about it!

      • Hi Jamie,Hope you are well 🙂 I would like to try teach in Korea but I will only be available from August.I have already started applying though and did indicate that on my applications. Am I applying way too early?

        • Often schools don’t recruit too far in advance (whereas government jobs through EPIK do), but you can always get in contact with recruiters and see if there is anything currently on offer – they will also be able to advise you on when is best to apply. I see you have already applied through my application form – Joseph will get in contact with you soon and advise you. Good luck.

  • Hi Jamie,

    Thank you for taking the time to create this excellent source of information about moving to Korea, its incredibly helpful and informative.

    I just had one question that I can’t seem to find an answer for, and I appreciate that you aren’t the Korean government, so not to worry if you aren’t sure.

    My question is; I have a foundation degree, but decided to get into work instead of turning that into a bachelors degree, do you know if a foundation degree is an acceptable certificate to be accepted for teaching in Korea?

    I apologise if this has already been asked this.

    • I’m glad you find the information useful Pete. Unfortunately I don’t know about the degree, but if you go to this page and submit the application / contact form with your question, Joseph ( a recruiter) will get back to you with an answer.

    • hey pete I am in the same situation as you regarding the whole foundation degree thing. Did you ever find an answer for this question ?

  • Hi Jamie!

    Thank you for the helpful FAQ!
    As a quick self-introduction, I am a Korean American who plans to have a dual citizenship in the US and South Korea. I speak Korean as fluently as English and plan to have a Master’s Degree as well as a Secondary Teacher Certification specifically in Spanish (a bit random). My question to you is, would any of this help me get a permanent job as an English (possibly Spanish??) teacher in Korea? Would I have a better chance in getting a permanent job in a university setting or a international school setting? Will my salary be higher so that I can sustain my own living arrangements?

    • Read this post about how to get a job teaching English in Korea. Essentially all you need is a passport from an English speaking country and a degree. As a Korean passport holder and speaker, you might be able to get the dual-language jobs that seem quite good. It is easiest to get jobs in hagwons or public schools (if you have a teaching qualification). I am not sure about salaries for teachers who also speak Korean, but contact some agencies and see which jobs are most lucrative. Best of luck.

  • Hi Jamie! Thank you for writing your experience as a teacher in Korea.
    I, as well would like to teach in Korea for a few years, specially in hakwons. Although, I have a doubt that hopefully you could help me out. My passport is chilean, however, I´m a fluent english speaker. From my understanding, in my circumstance, it would be better considered to take an exam to prove that my english is well enough to teach in Korea. As you have mentioned before, there are a lot of english test-options to take. Apart from the Tefl, which one would you recommend me to take? I was debating in taking the Toefl, but my doubt in this is that because its purpose is for entering college (and each college has their score requirements), I don´t know what score would be considered good to teach in hakwons. The other one that I heard is Teps. Just writing you to see if you have any advice for me within my nationality situation. Thanks, hope to hear from you.

    • As I understand it, you can only get a job teaching English in Korea if you are a native speaker. It is a silly rule based upon which passport you hold, but there are many other countries that do not require you to be a native in order to teach. I hope you find something yo enjoy.

  • Hello Jamie !

    I’m actually from a non-native speaking country. I will soon be a holder of a bachelor in engineering and after completion of my degree, we receive a teaching licence but it’s kinda for my country. Will I be able to get a teaching job ? Also, does religion matter ?

    • Religion doesn’t matter, but unfortunately you need to be a passport holder of a country that speaks English to get the visa. It is a ridiculous rule, but sadly I don’t think that there is a way around it.

  • Hello! I have been reading your comments and you say, “being an English speaker and holding a degree are two key points.”. I am from the USA and a future undergraduate student. I plan to major in Nursing with a minor in Italian, however, I am really interested in staying Korea for a decent amount time. Can I get a job teaching English even though I don’t have a major or a minor in English? I have experience teaching, but as a swim teacher, haha. I know you’ve said in big cities you don’t have to know Korean, which is nice.
    If I can’t, do you know if I could get a job as a nurse there? That’d be really amazing, actually I would do that over teaching. I’m studying Italian and Croatian (actually spending a year in Croatia right now) and I’ve recently set my mind on learning Korean at some point. I think this would be a perfect opportunity!

    • The subject doesn’t matter for teaching English so you will be fine. As for nursing, I have no idea, but I would be extremely surprised if they offer a job to a nurse who is not totally fluent in Korean. I went into a couple of Korean hospitals and every member of staff I saw was Korean. You would have to pass the visa process of proving why they need you over Korean nurses, so if you have a specialisation of some sort, that might help, but it will be much easier to teach. [This is what I believe to be true, but I might be wrong]. Best of luck.

  • Dear sir!

    This is Yasir. I have done master in English language and literature. Now I am in South Korea from last 1 and half years. I am from Pakistan, but I want to teach here with full zeal and zest. Could it possible for you to give me your kind consideration in this regard.

  • Hi!
    My name Sara I’m from Pakistan I want to ask that is it necessary to be a citizen of an English speaking country?? I want to teach in Korea will it be difficult?? Please answer me

  • Hello Jamie!
    I read many of your articles and you have actually helped me a lot on the desicion I am about to make. I am 22 years old, I have been in the UK for 2 years now, I am from Greece and I have been studying English Language and Linguistics, although I haven’t finished my degree yet as I am not sure I am university material. I have taken a year off uni and I want to use this year to travel and teach either it’s volunteering or paid work. I have passed examinations during the years such us Cambridge Profficiency Degree and IELTS, and I have been working for a Linguistics company doing face to face interpreting and translation of legal documents. I was wondering if you still believe that since I am not a native English speaker I might face difficulties getting a teaching placement even with the experience I have?

    • Unfortunately Korea only grants visas to holders of passports from UK and other English speaking countries. There are many other places in the world that you can teach however.

  • Hey there,

    I’m getting my BA in English. To teach in Korea, do I also need a BA in Education, or is it enough to have a BA in English with a teaching certificate? Thanks.

    • You only need a BA in any subject and a passport showing that you are a native English speaker. No teaching qualifications are required unless you want to work for a government school.

      • Would it be better for me to go to college in America or Korea? My tuition is all covered it’s just a matter of where I should go to college for it to look better for me.
        Also I am half Korean, my mother is Korean. Would it be easier to get a dual citizenship and if you know how?

  • Hi Jamie… Thanks a lot for your post.

    I was wondering if you’d be able to answer my question. I’m currently studying at university in the UK and I’m about to go into my final year of study – so I’ll be starting that in September 2015 and graduating in June 2016. Do you think it would be possible for me to start teaching in Korea in September 2016? I’ve heard I would need to apply around February to start in September, and at that point I wouldn’t have my degree yet. Thanks again for the post 🙂

    • If you are going through a private school / language academy such as I did, the whole process can be very quick and from applying to getting a job can be almost instant – however, you will need your documentation to speed things through as quickly as possible, as upon receiving a job offer, you must then wait for your visa to be granted. This might be the stumbling block for you as a visa cannot be granted without a notarised copy of the degree, so you might have to apply as soon as you get your certificate. If you were to get your certificate in June and you had everything else ready (police check etc) you should be ready to go in September. Best of luck to you.

    • Hi Jamie.. Thanks for your post!
      I will be graduating from High school on May 2016, and going directly to college. What classes do you recommend me to take! I would like to start teaching in Korea asap! 🙂

      • Hello Cindy,

        It doesn’t matter what you study with regards to teaching in Korea. All they care about is your passport and that you hold a BA / BSc (minimum).

  • Hi Jamie,

    I just want to find out if it would be at all possible for myself to study, while teaching English in South Korea? My current plan is to get a Language related Degree in my home country, then go teach English in South Korea. If I could then study for another Degree, which my heart is really set on – Animation – it would actually save a lot of time, in terms of years. I’m from South Africa, if that changes anything.

    Looking forward to your reply!

    • Once you have a degree, you can get a job and what you do in your spare time is up to you. I had a South African friend who studied for a second degree while teaching in Korea, so yes, it must be possible. Good luck, Jamie

  • Hey Jamie,..
    thanks a lot for ur post…i am not a native english speaker..im from India, i hold a bachelor degree..and i WANT TO TEACH ENGLISH IN SKOREA… Can it work out?

    • Unfortunately I think not. Silly Korean laws only grant visas to native English speakers despite the fact that there are many non natives who speak excellent English. There are many other countries that you can teach in however.

  • Hi Jamie,

    I am very interested in teaching abroad in South Korea as an avenue to gain experience before I move to another country with stricter requirements for experienced teachers. I am very interested in the CIEE teach abroad program, as I studied abroad with them during my undergrad years. Did you meet anyone or hear of anyone who participated in the CIEE program? Would you recommend it? (FYI- CIEE stands for Center for International Education Exchange). I look forward to your reply. Thank you!

    • I have never heard to CIEE, but I just looked them up and they charge $1,300 to get a job in Korea (and for the ‘support’). That, to me, seems outrageous – paying money to get a job. I would recommend reading this post about getting a job in Korea – I hope that you find it useful. Looking at the ‘Program Highlights’ on the CIEE website, pretty much everything they list is standard with the exception of the weekend orientation in Seoul, travel insurance, and ‘support.’ If you want the security of CIEE’s support, go for it, but I think it would be better to apply in a different way. When you apply through an agency, the agency gets paid by the school for successfully recruiting a teacher – it seems CIEE are charging the teacher instead of the school although I suspect they will also get paid by the school which seems a bit fishy.

  • If I have a Canadian or UK passport does it matter where in the world my degree is from? Like could it be from Germany or New Zealand. Or does the degree have to be from an English as a first language country only?

    • That is a very interesting question. I hope someone who knows can provide a decent answer. Maybe also try posting in the forum to see if anyone will respond.

  • James if you don’t have a job lined up when you arrive I suggest looking up Guest houses and trading a few hours (usually about 15hrs) a week of ‘work’ (maning the front desk, light house keeping type stuff) for free lodging(they are like hostal/B&B/hotel). This will save your budget hundreds in renting a place! Food is pretty cheap even of you eat out so personally I found that rent was my greatest expense. I wish I had known these tips (and this website!) for my impromptu month long visit to Seoul this pass March 2015. Also there are free learn korean language classes available around Seoul. A good hing about a guesthouse is they can help you out in english with local information. I don’t speak korean but it wasn’t a problem at all. People are very helpful and you pick up what you need easu enough. I’d suggest learning to read hangeul before hand if possible. I youtube’d some lessons while I was there. I’m Canadian/f/black btw. Sorry if that was a jumble of stuff, but hopefully it helps.

  • Hi Jamie,

    I am 54 years old/young and from South Africa and have lots of business and training experience. I have traveled a lot in Europe and Africa. I do not have a degree however lots of experience. Would my age be a disqualifying factor or perhaps an advantage? SK would be a nice challenge. Thank you for this informative blog. One of my challenges was cycling solo from Cape Town through 12 African countries to Israel in 2011(15 000 km-I was 50 years old)

    • What an incredible ride, wow! You are make me conjure up images of Africa and bicycles and now my feet are itching. As for Korea, I don’t think your age is a problem, but not having a degree is. As far as I am aware (when I was there, several years ago), Korean immigration requires a degree to issue a work visa. Try contacting agencies and see if this is still the case. Best of luck to you.

  • Hi Jamie, I am looking to teach English in South Korea over the next year but I am hoping to do a Masters degree in England next september so won’t be able to stay in Korea for a whole year, do you know if it is possible to teach English in South Korea on a 6 month contract rather than 12?

    • Six month contracts exist, but they are MUCH harder to find. I did meet one person (out of hundreds) on a six month contract when I was there. Try asking agencies or searching job forums. Good luck.

  • Hi Jamie,

    Your post was really informative! I am moving to Korea for a working holiday visa in 3 weeks time. Originally my job (I work in hotels, I’m currently studying a Bachelor of Business Commerce but decided to take a break) was going to transfer me, but I only just have been told due to my limited Korean ability, no property in our chain will offer me a role. My question is this, I know teaching English in an elementary or high school is a breach of the working holiday visa laws, but could I still teach at a language academy or tutoring? If not, do you know any other job agencies or websites I could start looking at for alternative jobs? I’m starting to get cold feet a little bit now haha, even though it’s too late to change my mind as I’ve committed all my resources to the move. Any advice or information would really help!

    • I’m sorry, but I don’t know the answer to this and I don’t want to offer bad advice. All teachers I met were on the E2 or F2 visas. Try asking agencies and see what they come up with. I hope you find something. Failing that, you can always do private classes, one on one tutoring and such.

  • Thank you so much for your blog, Jamie. I can’t even begin to describe how helpful it is!

    When you first arrived in Korea, you didn’t have much teaching experience so how did you know how to get started? Did the school give you a syllabus to follow? And what methods did you use to teach?

    • You mostly just get thrown into the classroom and pick it up along the way. Each school is different, so in public schools you have a set teaching program to follow, but in my school I was given free reign to teach what I liked, as long as we did a few pages of the book each day. It was a little daunting at first, but after a few weeks, I appreciated the freedom and feel that my teaching helped the kids in a positive way.

  • Your blog is so informative!
    I think I speak for many people when I say thanks for the information.
    Quick question:
    What are the opportunities like to teach in South Korea permanently?
    I plan to try it out no matter what, but if I find I love it there, I’d like to know if there is a way to stay.
    Is there any kind of upward mobility or job security for a foreign teacher?
    I am from the US, with a BA and some teaching experience.


    • Contracts in Korea only last for one year, so you have to keep signing a new contract each year. If demand continues, this should be easy. Also, if you work for the government (EPIK / GEPIK), this shouldn’t be a problem. As for upward mobility, you might become the head of foreign teachers if you teach in a large private school, but this is rare and brings few extra benefits. You can get better job with higher wages (especially university jobs), but most the jobs are pretty even.

  • Hi Jamie, a very informative blog. My son now teaches in Cheong-ju and is very happy, plays rugby all over Korea and meets lots of new friends. However it did not start all well, about ten months ago he left South Africa with a contract at a school in Iksan, with the group Avalon. In short he had to struggle each month for his salary, with all kind of excuses and lies. After seven months they said they can no longer afford him, he must look for another job. He lost his air fare, 13th pay and still short on salary. The Iksan school is only an agency of Avalon and is privately owned. I would not advise anybody to even consider dealing with them.

    • I am sorry to hear that, it sounds like he got very unlucky. There are some bad organisations around, but I am happy to hear that everything is better for your son now and I hope that it continues this way.

  • HI Jamie…Really appreciate your blog…it is really informative!……Quick question..I hold a Bachelor of Arts degree in Community Youth Work which I obtained last summer after 3 years of study in college…My concern is that I am unsure weather it is Internationally reconigsed!…
    .Is this a must to teach in S.Korea for visa purposes etc??..or will the fact that I have a Bachelor degree be sufficient enough?
    Thanks in advance (:

  • Hi Jamie,

    Nice website. Looks of useful information!

    I happen to have arrived in South Korea now, after going through South East Asia from Australia. I am from the UK, have a degree and obtained a TEFL certificate whilst I was in Australia.

    I have experience mentoring design students & interns in an old design job back in the UK, but no formal teaching English experience. Would this be an issue? Teaching would be a new adventure here in South Korea for a year or so.

    Being from the UK, did you find that South Korean schools/academies preferred North American teachers? (was being from the UK ever a problem with an accent that South Korean students aren’t as used to?).

    Also, how did you find the Hagwon route? I have heard of some great and some horror experiences through Hagwons. I do think I’m more suited to Hagwons like yourself, and am interested to hear what your thoughts are on finding a good Hagwon? Is getting a job around Seoul too competitive?

    Apologies for the many questions ha. Thanks in advance!

    • Hello Rich,

      A UK passport and a degree allow you to teach in Korea – no experience is necessary. Your TEFL will also enable you to get a government job if you want one. I chose to work privately for a hagwon and if I was to go back, I would do the same again – it suited me. Koreans love America, but I didn’t find being from the UK was a problem with my teaching – I have quite a neutral British accent, so that might have helped too.

      As for the hagwons, they are so very varied. I recommend researching online using forums like ESL Cafe and TEFL dot com. Also, ask to speak to past teachers via email and ask about their experiences. It is a bit of a game of chance, but the vast majority of teachers have no problems. Try asking around, other teachers will know what’s good and what’s not. There are lots of jobs in Seoul, although lots of people want to go there – I’m out of the loop now though, so you’ll just have to apply and see what you can find. If I was to choose somewhere in Korea to live, I would say Jeju is the best place.

      Good luck.

  • Most research I do says you need a bachelors degree just to get your work visa. I know there must be a way around that or you wouldn’t be able to teach without a degree which you said was possible, though difficult. I have an associates and am looking to start teaching at the end of the summer. How or where should I apply for my work visa? Or should I just apply for jobs and they’ll take care of it?

    • I don’t think we have associates degrees in the UK, so I’m not entirely sure what one is, but try applying for jobs or contacting recruiters and see what they say. You sort the visa with the company that you will work for after you get the job. It is very difficult to get a visa without a job (I think). Good luck.

  • Hello,

    I’m a degree holder, a BS Mathematics graduate here at the Philippines is it possible that I can apply for a work directly at South Korea?
    Because for I know, they require you to take and pass the EPS-Topic Exam.

    Thank you

    • I don’t know what the exam is that you talked about. Try applying for jobs and see what the recruiters say, although it might not be possible to get a visa with the silly laws. Good luck.

  • Hello again! 😀

    Would you recommend any certain British BA/BSc degrees to study in order to get the best teaching salaries in SK? I know that any Bachelors degree is fine to teach English there, but I want to know what the higher end jobs require please.
    I’m lost between taking a languages degree or a natural sciences degree.

    Thank you again!

    • If you are thinking of teaching around the world permanently, do some sort of teaching degree. There are qualifications specific to teaching English as a second language. However, if you just want to do it for a few years, do whatever you want, because as far as I can tell, it doesn’t make much difference for most jobs – ESPECIALLY in South Korea. If I was to go back, I would choose to do a degree for which I had a passion, something that excited me when I had to study it. Good luck.

  • Hi Jamie. I’m living in Canada and I just got accepted into College for Early Childhood Education for 2 years. My dream is to go to Korea to teach English. After my 2 years, I’m planning on going to university so I’ll be able to have my diploma and degree. Would that be okay to still be able to teach English? I heard that they want you to be in university for 4 years, is that true?

    • As far as I am aware, you simply need something that is considered a full time degree. In England, that is only three years. After you have your degree, I am sure that you will be able to teach there, but I don’t know if you can teach in Korea with the diploma alone. Try contacting Korean recruitment agencies and see what they say. Good luck.

      • Thanks for the information Jamie,
        Since I know that I won’t be prepared to go and teach in Korea in just 2 more years, I decided that doing both College and University would be a better so I will obtain both a Diploma and a Degree.
        I also now found out that my second cousin actually lives in Busan with his Korean wife teaching English still. Would having these connections make any difference when schools are looking for English teachers?

        • I doubt it would make any difference. Finding a job shouldn’t be a problem though if you get your qualification and security check. It’s simply a matter of sending out applications to roles you like, then waiting for the response. Good luck.

  • Hi
    I am a Korean teacher living near Seoul. (I’m not sure if I may write this here…..;;) I’m currently working as a teacher in Korean high school. I’d like to meet some native english teachers who would like to share teaching experience or teaching methods. I can learn English language from them while they can learn cultural knoweldge of Korea or some tips to understand and teach Korean students. It will be meaningful conversation. Where can I meet such people?

    • Try connecting with local teachers through groups and forums on Couch Surfing, Dave’s ESL Cafe, and TEFL.com. There are also some good groups on Facebook full of English teachers in different cities. Just search for ‘English teachers Seoul’ or something similar. Good luck.

  • Hi Jamie

    Because of the competition that is increasing for the jobs, as well as the cutting of the number of foreign teachers in SK, would you say that maybe after 5 years it will become more difficult to land a good teaching job there?
    I am worried that when I finally graduate, it’ll be too late to try XD

    Also, what was the visa process like? I’m also from the UK and most of the info I find online is either for Canadians or Americans.

    Thanks a lot!

    • As is the same with all industries, as supply meets demand, it becomes harder to find a job, however, there is still a good level of demand at the moment. In five years, it may be that little bit more difficult, but if you want it enough, I am sure you will find work in Korea. The visa process is super easy – when you get offered a job, your employer will help you sort everything and do all the hard work. You just have to visit the embassy (or post the documents) with your passport, police check, and notorised university transcripts.

  • Hi Jaime,
    I’ll start with a thank you because your blog is one of the most informative onI have visited. I do have a question I was planning to apply for a teaching position in South Korea but I am not a what you call native speaker but I do have a US passport and been leaving in the US for about 15 year, is possible to still get a teaching job there.

    Thank you

    • Thank you Patty, I am glad you have found the site useful. As far as I am aware, Korea classify someone as native if they hold a passport from an English speaking country (such as the US), so you will be just fine. Good luck.

  • Hey
    I already have a place to work and a apartment that goes with that, but I do not have a degree yet as I am still studying through correspondence. For what visa do I apply and what are the requirements?

    Thank you!

    • You place of work should help you with that. If they haven’t, check it out immediately because it might be a con.

  • Hi Jamie, I thank you for the informative blogs you’ve posted here. I have a few questions for you: I’m been seriously considering applying to the TaLK program to teach English part-time in SK, do you know about it? I don’t have a degree, but I do have a Higher National Diploma in Computing. (AFAIK, it’s equivalent to 2 years completed of a Bachelor’s degree). Do you think I would have problems being accepted with this?

    As far as financing goes, I started saving in September 2014, and so far I’ve saved £2k. I plan to arrive in Korea August 2015 and I’ll hopefully have close to £5k then. Of course depending on the kind of visa I get, how long do you think I could survive in SK (outside of Seoul) with £5k? My ultimate goal is to get my Korean skills up to a professional standard so I can become a freelance translator/interpreter. Hopefully after a few years living in Korea I’ll be able to start my own business with the savings. Even if I can’t find a job teaching in Korea, I might just do a 3-month holiday stint and just practice Korean all day everyday. What do you think?

    • I don’t know that program James, so the best people to speak to would be the ones who offer it. They will be able to help you with what you need. The general need of a degree is for Korean visa immigration and I know little of the specifics, sorry. When I went out to Korea, I went with a couple of hundred pounds. My apartment was free and living is cheap. Heading out there without a job to teach privates is possible and I met several people who did so, but all of them did it illegally. Check out Numbeo for some pretty good estimates on the cost of living. Good luck!

  • I am a 21 year old currently living in Japan on a Working-Holiday Visa, with no degree. I want to stay in Japan but it is impossible with no degree or no experience. Recently I was told that it is possible to work in South Korea with no degree or experience at all.

    After reading this I came up with a plan to go to Korea for 3-4 years, and gather some teaching experience, and then perhaps doors would open up to me in Japan (assuming I didn’t want to leave Korea by this point).

    I have been talking to a Korean friend of mine that says it is illegal to teach without a degree, but schools will still hire you and pay you much less.. is this true? Obviously the experience gained while working an illegal job would be irrelevant and best left unmentioned at all.

    So, two questions, firstly: have you ever heard of someone playing this crazy game to get into another country? And two: Is it true that it is illegal? Thanks!

    • As far as I am aware, you need a degree to legally work in Korea as a requirement of immigration. I did meet a couple of people who taught illegally in Korea, but if you get caught, you will be deported or fined. Saying that however, almost every teacher I have ever met in Korea teaches private classes illegally.

  • Hi Jamie,

    I am Canadian and have a Pharmacy Technician certificate (it is only a 1 yr course) and no TEFL or whatever these things are..

    I realized I was good and really enjoyed teaching English to kids when I was Au Pairing in Germany and Sweden the last two years.

    I don’t know if a certificate is as good as a degree.. I did not go to University, simply College for the one year. Does it look optimistic in my hands to being able to teach in South Korea?

    Thanks in advance!

    • I’d love to help, but you are best to contact some Korean job agencies as they will know much more than I do. Good luck.

  • Hi. I found the information very useful but I do have an issue. I live in the UK and possess a British Passport. I’ve always wanted to teach but I also don’t want to stay in London. I was planning on teaching English in South Korea in my university gap year but I saw that you said it’s near impossible without a degree. What if my qualifications are A*AA at A-Levels? Is it still highly unlikely? Is it worth a try?

    • Unfortunately I believe that Korean immigration require a degree to grant an E-2 work visa. I might be wrong, so it is worth contacting agencies, but that is how it was when I was in Korea. There might however, be some part time student-teaching programmes that you can find online. Best of luck.

  • Hi Jamie,

    I’ve just graduated this year and after months of of unsuccessful job hunting here in the UK, I’m seriously contemplating teaching english over in South Korea, it’s by no means a last resort as its something I’ve always contemplated and i’ve looked into it before, particularly in Japan but after reading some of your other posts South Korea is a more financially viable option, plus theres still every opportunity to travel elsewhere in Asia through cheap travel…. Anyways my question is about money, how much do you need to initially take over there with you to get set up and live before you start receiving an income from teaching? this includes flights, visa, food, travel everything haha, did you go over with fair amount before the first pay check?

    On a side note your blog has been so unbelievably useful, and you’ve given me a bit of a kick up the arse to stop dreaming about it and start living it, so thanks for that!

    Cheers, Callum.

    • Thanks Callum, I’m glad you like it. I went to Korea with hardly anything. I actually borrowed money for my flight and had to wait for a month until I got my first paycheck so that I could afford to do more things – and pay back some of the money I owed! Life is cheap in Korea and you could survive on a couple of pounds a day if needed (especially with a free house), but if you go out with a couple of hundred pounds, that will be useful. Some companies pay your flights in advance, but I got mine refunded at 6 and 12 months through my contract. If you go, I hope you like it. Check out Jeju, it’s a good place – especially to live.

  • Hey, thanks for this very useful blog.

    I am very eager and determined to teach English in South Korea in the near future.
    It will be my first time to hunt a job abroad.
    In this case, can I look for a teaching job in Korea using only tourist visa and once employed, can they just process my working visa?

    thanks in advance! 🙂

    • If you do this, I believe that upon finding a job, you will have to leave the country and reenter to get your work visa. Someone once mentioned a ‘looking for work visa’ that lasts six months, but I never looked into it myself. Best of luck to you.

      • How about in your case Jamie, who processed your work visa to teach English there?

        On the other hand, how many percentage is the chance to succeed if I will consider to apply as private tutor or a teacher in a tutorial center in Korea?

        Hope to hear from u.

        Thanks much and More Power !!

        • My school did all the visa work on the Korea side – I had to give stuff to the Korean embassy in the UK before I went though – I think this is standard practice. I think (although I might be wrong) that trying to teach privates in Korea is almost impossible to do legally as a first timer because you won’t be granted a visa. The people I met who did that had been in Korea a long time – and the privates were still illegal. The easiest way to start is to go with a school. I hope you find something that works for you.

  • Hi, Jamie. Thank you for the invaluable insight. I am a black South African male teacher with vast teaching experience and numerous university degrees(including an English major degree) and would like to teach in South Korea for a short stint – probably a year or two. I have read numerous testimonies( all of them positive) concerning teaching in Korea. However, none of those testimonials is by a black Africa/South African person. In your experience in Korea, have you ever come across an African(blacks), not African-Americans?

    • One of my best friends in Korea was from the Congo and he got on fine (he did have a British passport because he moved to England when he was a teenager). As far as I am aware, you shouldn’t have any difficulties. Be aware however, Koreans sometimes react differently to people who are not Korean, but generally the response is of interest and is not negative at all – I did find it curious at first when I was walking down the street, that people would come and say hello for no reason other than that I was foreign. One funny flashback – my Congolese / British friend and I were sitting at a bar, drinking a quiet beer during the IAAF World Championships in Daegu, when a guy came over and asked to interview him because he thought that he was Usain Bolt.

      • Hello,

        I am a Mexican citizen and a resident in the United States. English was my first language because I was brought here at 2 years old. Would I be able to teach english in Korea? I have 2 years left until I receive my masters in business.

  • Hi! I do really want to be a teacher of English in Korea in the near future. But the thing is I’m not a native speaker. I’m from Philippines and of course I’m a Filipina. For me it’s so irony that Koreans want a native speakers for infact there are many Koreans here in our country, who are studying English. I somehow feel degraded coz of it. My question is, is there any possibility of me teaching english in Korea by 2017 or 2018? I am looking forward to your great response! Thank you!

    • As far as I am aware, you need a passport from US, UK, Ir, Oz, NZ, SA, or Ca. It’s a silly visa rule and I hope it changes in the future. Try contacting some agencies and see if they can help you get around this.

  • Hey Jamie, I was just curious about the degree situation. Im working on my Associates degree currently and would like to start working in Korea once I get my AA. I read that you dont have to have a degree at all so im curious if that is true? Im having a hard time with college and I hope to be finished once i get my AA. So basically, would any school in Korea hire me if i have an AA and can speak fluent Korean? Oh and im a native English speaker also. Another question i had was if i go directly to the school to get hired, will they offer me paid housing?

    • As a student in the UK, I don’t know what an AA is – sorry. However, I do know that for Korean immigration you need a degree (check with agencies to see if an AA counts as I don’t know) and a passport from an English speaking country. Most jobs don’t require any Korean (unless you get a Korean citizen visa) and every job I ever came across offers you free housing or a sum of money to cover your housing. Best of luck finding something.

  • I get the understanding that you need to be native speaker of English before you get a job as English teacher; is that the case? I am a certified teacher with four years of teaching experience from Ghana. What are my chances of geting job as English teacher? Aside teaching, what other jobs are open to foreigners? Finally, is it possible to convert a tourist visa to resident visa without leaving the country?

  • Jamie, I’m wondering if you can give me some advice on the prosepct of actually staying on Jeju for a year teaching English. I applied through EPIK for Seoul. Originally it was me and my ex-girlfriend who were to go out there. We broke up almost 3 months ago and she has since already moved to Taiwan to teach English. It has been absolutely traumatic for me and still is, but I know that I need escape and foreign surroundings. Our breakup was one of those experiences which makes you doubt your entire existence. We were best friends in uni, and it wasn’t until we made our own hitchhiking/couchsurfing adventure in Central Europe last Summer that we realised how much we loved each other. Our relationship was born from the very same exciting situation which you experienced in your ebook. Anyway, since our break-up I was not successful in being placed in Seoul due to application delays, so, what I want to know is if there is a decent chance of building a network of friends in Jeju, I mean expats as I understand it is very difficult to make Korean friends. EPIK have given me two options: Jeju or Gangwon province. The problem with Gangwon is that they could place me anywhere after I have already flown out there: anything from a decent sized place with other expats, to a tiny village with no immediate contact with expats. As much as I would prefer to be in a large city, I do see the appeal of living in the countryside. Good opportunity to clear my head. But I can’t stand loneliness and don’t want to take the risk of finding myself on my own for a year. Although my plan is actually to save money so as to seek ESL jobs in other parts of Asia after my year in Korea, I don’t want to be completely alone, and so I’m in two minds regarding taking a gig in Jeju or Gangwon. So, from your point of view, and based on your experience of teaching in Korea, do you think that Jeju is large enough to find a decent enough English speaking community? I guess that the beauty of the place attracts me, but I am essentially deciding to shut myself from travel opportunities if I choose Jeju, as it’s unrealistic to fly out to the mainland too often if my goal is to save money. In that respect, do you feel that you would be restricted living there for a year? Exploration would be easy enough from Gangwondo, but EPIK could place me in a tiny village where I would find it very difficult to communicate with people during the week as I might be the only English teacher there. It’s a bit of a quandary, but I need to make a decision fast. Any advice you could give on Jeju would be much appreciated at this stage.

    • I am sorry to hear of you and your girlfriend. As for Jeju, I just left there a few weeks ago after being there for six months. Before I lived in Daegu for a year. Jeju was wonderful and I can’t recommend it enough. There are loads of foreigners (the main city has over 400,000 people – not where I lived fortunately) and there is so much to do outdoors. I was very happy not living in the main city, but being able to travel to it to meet my friends – there are so many very good people and events on that island, it is a different world from mainland Korea. Best of luck.

      • Brilliant, that’s just the kind of inside info I was looking for. I have extensively researched both but am so glad to actually hear from someone who has lived there for a significant period of time. It looks awesome! Scuba diving, hiking, learning Korean, making new friends…yep, just what I need. Thanks Jamie!

  • Thanks for the info. Am a Nigerian,I just finished high school. I would love to school and teach in Seoul, but I don’t have a degree, is that possible?

    • Unfortunately to teach English, the Korean embassy normally requires a degree from a university and a passport from a limited list of seven countries.

  • Hey guys, I want to teach english in korea, but I don’t want a year contract?
    If i decided to look for a job my myself and I’m already in korea, where do I look?

  • Heyyy thanks for the info! I was wondering about how easy it is to make friends or meet new people as an English teacher in South Korea. I don’t speak Korean (yet, fingers crossed!) and I am familiar with how language barriers can be quite the…barrier to blossoming friendships. So would it be rather difficult to make connections with people or find a solid group of buddies to explore Korea with? Is there any comradery or get-togethers between the English teachers in a particular school or company? Also, I’ve heard that Korea is a good place for introverts. Would you agree from your experience that those people who need alone time to recharge or can handle going a week without socialization would fare well in Korea? If this is accurate, it’s looking more and more like a good place for me, as I need my introvert bubble sometimes. Thanks! 🙂

    • As with any place, it depends how involved you are with meeting people. In big cities, there are generally large foreigner communities and many teachers never leave these. With the effort and time to learn Korean language and customs, you can also make Korean friends, but without either, it is a little tricky. As for being introverted, you can find time to spend alone, but Korean cities are generally big and busy. I have spent several months on Jeju (not the main city) and quite like the peace that I can find here when I want it.

  • I’m a non-native speaker. BUT I have lived in the USA for about 20 years now. Shouldn’t that be okay?

  • Hi,

    Thanks for this post, very useful! I do have a quick question, I’m guessing when you moved you didn’t know Korean, as in the language, how was it living with that for a year?

    • In the cities there are so many foreigners that you don’t need the language. In rural places, most foreigners learn Korean.

  • Dear Sir,

    Please send me list of schools and collages in South Korea for direct invitation to teach in korea

  • Does the school do some kind of on boarding? Without ever having taught English to kids, do they provide some kind of teaching agenda to follow?

    • Schools offer a free apartment or a monthly stipend that is enough to rent a house. As for teaching, each school is different. Some have very rigorous lesson plans in place, others offer you freedom.

  • Hey Jamie, awesome blog! I’d like to teach in Korea and I think I’ll apply through EPIK. As someone who has spent a lot of time in Korea, which cities/provinces would you recommend for someone who enjoys the great outdoors (scenic views, going on hikes, etc.) and wants to experience what the country has to offer?

    • Thanks. Hard to say, but EPIK have a lot of rural places, so maybe ask to be in a village. The only downside is that you might feel quite isolated if you don’t speak Korean. You could also try Jeju or Gyeongju: probably my favourite town in Korea due to it being easy to cycle out, pretty, and fairly tranquil.

  • Very helpful page brotha. I am hoping to go to S Korea to teach, can I expect to get them to pay my flight there?

    • Yes, they normally do. However, most companies reimburse your flights after 6 and 12 months, although some schools pay for the flights up-front.

  • Hey!

    So I’m currently teaching in Thailand. I enjoy it but I know that when my contract ends in Sept ’14 that I’ll be ready to go. Should I start applying to language schools and universities now?

    • It is possible to get a job very quickly (although there is still visa application time), however it doesn’t hurt to apply early, particularly if you want a government job (secure job, but longer hours and lower pay).

  • Thank you for the information! 🙂 Just to clarify; so, you don’t have to have a teaching degree or prior experience to land a job? It sounds relatively quick to find a job, would you say that’s true?

    • No teaching degree, but I had about a months experience teaching although this isn’t necessary. Being a native speaker and holding a degree are the two key points. If you’re flexible, finding a job shouldn’t take too long.

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