So you want to teach English in Korea


I’ve been living in Korea for over a year, and have gone deep diving into the job search world twice. Now I might need to add that I did not start this journey totally blind.

A few of my former classmates and friends have taught English in Korea, so I was able to get nuggets of information from each of them. I got a little glimpse into what life in Korea would be like until….well…the thing that “shall not be named” started in 2020. So comparing my experience to any prior tales and legends of Korea was now nonsensical.

However, I was still determined to make it over to this country and find the right place to teach. I also wanted to enjoy my time here, despite the quite aggressive restrictions.

Let’s get to the point now, shall we? Below are the 5 phases of finding the perfect English teaching job (at a private academy, aka hagwon).


This time is very critical, and it’s a mistake that I made. I hadn’t prepared any documents before diving into the job search world. Learn from me and have them ready before you start looking for jobs.

So, at the four month mark, send the documents in to the appropriate processor.

The most important documents are…

  1. Copy of University Diploma (apostilled) – If you don’t have yours anymore, you can request one from your university’s registrar. It cost me $10.
  2. FBI Criminal Background Check (apostilled)  on their website, it’s called an Identity History Summary Check. The processing of this document will be a little different for you, as they now have made it possible to do digitally. Please read all the information on their page in detail to know how to proceed. While you technically have to get fingerprinted by a professional, I didn’t have that ability. I was in Morocco and the police doesn’t do fingerprints unless it’s for an official reason (theirs). So, I had to take matters into my own hands (or fingers) and learn from YouTube how to do the thing!!! And I did. And I mailed in like 8 copies of each document! It worked!
  3. Copy of Driver’s License (apostilled) – Korea has an agreement with some U.S. states that doesn’t require you to take any tests in order to get the Korea license. You can just go into the driver’s office and trade it in, if you plan to drive in Korea, that is.

Other things to have prepared

  1. Education-tailored resume
  2. Cover letter – this is something you will just paste into the email when sending one to a job posting. Just state when you want to start, where, what age group you want to teach, and any education experience you have. Make it super simple. Just a short paragraph will do.
  3. Intro Video – Just a video introducing yourself to the school and why you want to teach /teach in Korea.

**Quick note on eligibility to teach English in Korea. In addition to the former documents, you need to have a clean health check. And, your passport should be from one of the 7 English-speaking countries: USA, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, UK, Ireland, Australia.


So one month goes by after you had sent in your documents for processing. Maybe you had received some back, and maybe you’re still waiting on some. Nevertheless, it is time to start lookin’!

Here are the top websites that recruiters (and, on occasion, schools) use to post jobs.

  1. Dave’s ESL Cafe – tons of jobs on here. Not just for Korea, but also for China and other countries!
  2. Korvia – You can apply for private academies (hagwons) or for the public school program EPIK
  3. Koreabridge – In addition to being a job board, it is also a community for classified ads, and the perfect place to buy or sell something (a lot of the time you can get lots of stuff for free because teachers are always leaving!)
  4. English Teachers in Busan (Facebook group) – if you’re looking to work in Busan
  5. English Teaching Jobs in Korea (Facebook group) – another great place to look for jobs.
  6. EPIK – This is the government public school teaching program. I highly recommend it if you’re not super set on a specific location. You get way more holidays, you teach less hours, and you more likely would have a healthier working environment.


Be prepared to answer the following questions:

  1. What age group do you prefer to teach? ( 3 years old- early elem school, or elem school – middle school)? They usually call the younger group kindy although some of them might be too young for kindergarten.
  2. What time during the day, morning or afternoon, do you want to teach? Usually the kindy group is something like 10 – 6 and the older group is 1 – 9. So this really depends on what’s more important to you, the age or the time of working?
  3. What is your experience in teaching?
  4. What is your desired salary? I recommend 2.4 million starting salary for Busan and other cities (not sure about Seoul).


  1. If they say a school wants to hire you before you even interview with them.
  2. If the recruiter seems to oversell themself, or seem super duper busy.
  3. If they are in any way unprofessional during the initial interview.
  4. Make you compete to lower your salary against other teachers after you interview for a school.


While you may initially think that the interview is for the school to see if you’re the right fit, actually it’s more like the other way around. As long as you are confident and a little charming, there is a high chance that the school will want to hire you.

If you don’t feel confident, well, fake it til ya make it!!

And the best way to do this is to ask THEM the questions so you can see if they’re a good fit for YOU!

Here are some questions you should ask the school:

  1. Can I speak to a current foreign teacher, or the one that I’m replacing? If they say yes, then there is a chance that they are on good standing with the teachers and it might be a somewhat healthy environment. If no, then that’s a red flag.
  2. What is the maximum number of teaching hours per week? This means what is the # of hours that you will actually be teaching students. I would shoot for somewhere around 25 – 28 hours.
  3. What hours is the school open? Some schools are literally open 10 hours a day, so you really want to make sure you know how many of your hours you will be spending there.
  4. What are the ages of the students?
  5. What kinds of classes will I teach? (For me, I teach speaking, debate, reading)
  6. What kinds of teaching materials do you use? Is there room for me to create lessons?
  7. How many teachers are there total?
  8. How many foreign teachers are there? You want to work somewhere that has at least 3 foreign teachers.
  9. How long is the lunch/dinner break?
  10. Will you provide accommodation and food during quarantine? THEY SHOULD!


Here are some important points to look for in a contract.

  1. Salary – Should match what you agreed on.
  2. Pension – School pays half and you pay half. The cool part is that you will get it all back when you go back home.
  3. Severance – You are entitled to a severance when you complete the contract. It is worth one month’s pay.
  4. Health Insurance – School pays half, and you pay half.
  5. Vacation – You should at least get 5 days off in the summer and 5 days off in the winter. Paid, of course.
  6. Housing – Check to make sure they provide the basic essentials like a bed, kitchen appliances, etc.

These are all the basics of landing a teaching job in Korea. Please don’t hesitate to comment and ask questions or add input!



Expat Chick