Question from a reader: Filipino looking for work

A reader named G. writes in:

Dear Chris,
I would like to ask if there are jobs offerec to non-native English speakers. I'm a BSIT graduate and a Filipino. I'm currently in IT field and is planning to look for a job in South Korea. English teaching is one of my options but I'm worried I'm not qualified if I'm not a resident of the 7 countries.
Can you share with me some jobs that I can apply and some of the qualifications?
Can you share what type of visa can I have in order to work in South Korea?
Is learning Korean Language necessary to have more job opportunities in other fields?
I'm planning to take online TEFL certification. Can this help me to be qualified as an applicant for English teaching jobs?
Can you share with me some information on where or what websites can I check about seeking a job (teaching or non-teaching jobs that does not ONLY require Native English speakers)

Thank you in advance and Gob Bless.
Thanks and Regards,
[G.], 21, Philippines
I actually answered a very similar question recently - read that post first. As stated there, jobs in Korea for foreigners are generally limited to the three D's (dangerous, dirty, and/or difficult); for most jobs you'll need a pretty good command of the Korean language. I'll add this website to the list, found after a basic Google search - - no guarantees you'll find anything specific, but this is at least one place to start.

Although there are Filipino English teachers in Korea, they tend to have more difficulty finding jobs than the average white person. Most of the blame can be centered on Korea's homogeneity - in many cases, the locals perceive another Asian-looking face as not being a native English speaker. Those perceptions are backed by law, justified by needing a 'native' command of the English language. The same perception puts African-Americans or those that are above-average weight at a disadvantage. For better or worse, this is one country where the right look definitely puts you at an advantage, and it's not about to change.

A couple additional places to ask about jobs would be the Philippine Embassy and the Philippine-Korean Cultural House. Another place to keep your eyes open is Buhay Korea, an excellent Filipino blogger married to a Korean. A recent post gave some details about a job at an international school, while other posts are all about life in Korea as a Filipino.

As you might expect, your visa will depend on the kind of work you'll do, and your future company will need to sponsor your visa application. Expect to be assisted with that when the time comes, but it's not too difficult to do it on your own. A C-4 visa is for short-term employment, although the E-series visa are more commonly used for employment longer than 90 days. The list of E-series visas is below:

E-1 Professor

E-2 English Conversation Teacher

E-3 Researcher

E-4 Technical Instructor

E-5 Professional Consultant

E-6 Entertainer

E-7 Specially Designated Profession
E-8 Employed Trainee
E-9 Non-professional Employment

For a complete list of all visa types in Korea, visit

Were I you, I would consider whether you're more interested in an English teaching job or something that's closer to your qualifications and interests. Applying and interviewing for two different fields takes a lot more time and energy than you might expect.

Although I can't condone this, a number of people do come to Korea on a tourist visa, teach private lessons with whomever's willing to pay them, live in a hotel or with a friend / roommate, then leave with more money in their pockets than they arrived with. This is definitely not a career, though. That it's illegal means it can't be recommended, and that the price for getting caught can affect your legitimate job prospects for along time to come.

So what to do?

Step 1: try to figure out what you want for the next 2-3 years. According to your e-mail you're 21 - no need to look for a career you'll stay in until you retire. Is there anything you want to be / do / see over the next 2-3 years? It's no fun to waste your energetic twentysomethings doing the dullest work around - and unfortunately there's a lot of that to go around.

Step 2: Network, network, network. You may have some luck finding a Filipino company that does business in Korea or other Asian countries. Talk to your professors, career counselors, and other people you know about your interests.

Step 3: Apply for jobs, even if you're not the ideal fit. Consider countries other than Korea; Taiwan may offer as much money and as good a standard of living as Korea does (do your own due diligence - I'm a blogger, not a paid researcher!).

Step 4: Keep going. Don't forget about jobs in your home country as an alternative to a long delay in finding a job abroad.

Anybody hiring a Filipino IT expert or English teacher? Any advice for a fellow foreigner? Comments are open.

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