Teaching English at a Korean university is one of the best ESL jobs on the planet. With over 350 universities in the country, why aren’t you working at one?
If it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t. So goes the old saying, unless you are talking about teaching at a university in Korea. No, it’s not a lie: you can get over 4 months paid vacation a year, work as little as three days a week or a few hours a day, save thousands of dollars a year, and travel the world in the meantime.
Don’t let your eyes glaze over by all the vacation time. It’s still a job. These positions also require a serious amount of time and commitment during the semester. That said, the students are some of the most respectful in the world. Education is one of the cornerstones of Korean society. More importantly, teaching at a university in Korea can be one of the most rewarding jobs you’ll ever have. Here are seven things you can do to get hired.
Know the right people. The number one key to getting a job at a Korean university is to know someone on the inside. Not only can you learn about a job opening before it's published but, having a reference at the university you are applying to will make it much easier to get hired. Korean culture is all about circles: personal relationships are key.
Improve your skills. You don't have to go back to school to upgrade your skill set. Read books, find a mentor, or join a professional association. One of the largest in Korea is KOTESOL. Find your local chapter. Join it. Go to the meetings and conferences. It's a fantastic resource for your own professional development.
Be a proactive in your job hunt. In addition to applying for openings on Uni Jobs Korea, you should seek out universities you would like to work at. Be a guerilla job hunter. Find universities in the area you want to teach and send them your resume.
Get some experience teaching in Korea. Although it is possible to get a university job before you come to Korea, it’s quite difficult. Most employers want to see that you have at least one year of teaching experience (it doesn’t have to be at a university) in Korea. It can be at a public school or private academy.
Apply at the right time. The Korean school year starts with the spring semester in March. More teachers tend to get hired during the spring semester. The fall semester starts in September. Therefore, there are two main hiring seasons: October-December and April-June. You want your job search going in full swing during those prime hiring months.
Get qualified. Not all jobs require a post-graduate degree, but if you have an MA in any subject (TESOL or Linguistics is best) then you shouldn’t have much trouble finding work. Having a TEFL or CELTA certificate will also help.
Look beyond teaching English. When most people think of teaching abroad they assume they can only teach English. This is not the case in Korea. There is a demand for university professors with Masters degrees that can teach major subjects in English. For instance, if you have an MBA you can teach business courses. The Travel and Tourism or Hospitality Management Departments also hire foreigners. These jobs often pay double or more of what you would make teaching English.