Finding an ESL Job

Information on finding a job as an ESL teacher and the different kinds of ESL teaching jobs available...

There are many different kinds of English teaching jobs in Korea. The most common are private schools, hagwon (private), public elementary, middle schools, high schools, and universities.

Salaries range from about 1.5 million KRW to 2.7 million KRW per month. These are liveable wages in South Korea, especially if accommodation and air fare is provided. In general, hagwon is the lowest paid while university is the highest, but this is not always the case.

While working in Korea, a mandatory pension is deducted from the employee’s paycheck, but this will be returned to the employee when he or she finally departs Korea.

Most jobs come with a subscription to the Korean National health plan.

Many foreigners choose an English teacher placement agency to help them find a job.


These are after-school private institutions that tutor children in English. There are a few that hold class during regular school hours. In 2009 it became mandatory for hagwons to close at 22:00 in Seoul and Busan, but this isn’t always strictly adhered to. Teaching hours also vary from 15 to 40 hours. Some hagwons do not give teachers preparation time.

Employment contracts are one to two years. Job security and working conditions vary. Applicants for private schools should do as much research about their schools as possible before signing a contract. Many hagwons provide housing, but not airfares.

Blacklisted Hagwons

There are a few sites dedicated to protecting teachers from abusive businesses. However, these are the experiences of individual teachers and may or may not reflect actual business practices. Do more research and exercise caution when considering a hagwon.

Public Schools

Although funding for public school was severely cut in 2012, there are still a few public schools that can afford their own native English-speaking teacher. Working conditions in a public school are more stable, and preparation hours are almost always guaranteed. Job placement at public schools is competitive, and the applicants with better credentials are almost always chosen over experience. Public schools are more likely to provide housing and a stipend for airfare.


These jobs are reserved for those with a master’s Degree, although there are a few universities that will overlook this for the right candidate. Working hours and preparation time are optimal, and classes can range from English as a second language to subjects taught in English, for example literature, history or design. Since these are some of the most competitive jobs for English teachers in South Korea, it is easier for applicants residing in the country already to procure positions. Universities are less likely to help with housing but some do provide a housing allowance.

Other Teaching Jobs

There are other opportunities to teach English in South Korea. Some corporations provide English tutoring for their employees, and some organisations provide camps for children during the holidays. There are also jobs in the corporate market in providing English support via text books and other media.

Although private tutoring has a large market in South Korea, the correct work visa is necessary, and an E-2 visa is not valid for private tutoring,

Useful Websites