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Types of Teaching Positions in Korea


Options for Teachers in Korea
Here is a rundown of the major types of teaching gigs available in Korea:
1. Private Students (private tutoring)
2. Private English Schools (= Private Language Institutes = hogwon)
3. Public Elementary ~ Middle school
4. University

1.Private Students (Private Tutoring)
As you know, a lot of teachers do want to teach one by one and get a tutoring job but, we can say, it’s not allowed to do under the law. All English teachers have to get each sponsor for each institute where you’ll work and have to get E2 visa (one year valid, English teacher’s visa). And under this E2 visa, you’re only allowed to teach in that designated institute (or school). Therefore, it’s not allowed to do have double jobs at the same time without any certain exception. If you do have one certain job under E2 visa and want to get a language exchanger one by one, it’ll be fine. Though. But. Just make sure that it’s not recommended or reliable chance to tutor students in Korea. If you break the law, of course, you can’t get a proper help under Labor Law boundary in Korea even though you don’t get paid and have a problem.

2. Private English Schools (= Private Language Institutes = hogwon)
English education is really booming in Korea like other Asian countries and public schools do provide English lessons to students but it’s not sufficient. Some of Korean English teachers can’t communicate English very well and can’t express the same pronunciation and tone since they’re all Koreans, too. For this problem, a lot of English private schools (hereinafter, it’s called ‘hogwon’) build up and now about 10,000~15,000 English native speakers come to Korea to teach English all over Korea per year. Hogwon is like ‘ after-school program’. All students do have to attend public schools and in the afternoon, they go to English hogwon to learn English from Korean, Western English teachers.

The point of hiring native speakers of English is that they are able to provide a context for genuine communication in English. Knowledge of Korean is unnecessary and, if you do speak any Korean, you shouldn't let your students know this. Students do go to Hogwon 2/3/5 times per week and they’re divided by level. Hogwon is educational business and currently, about 70~80% jobs in this English Education Job Market are all hogwons. Since it’s not the organization under the board of Education, you should be careful to find a proper, reliable hogwon. Hogwon provides these benefits to teachers like below in average benefits!

- Round trip ticket
- 50% medical insurance support
- Decent salary (about USD 2,000 / month for the first comers)
- Rent-free housing
- One year completion bonus (equal to one-month salary)

Layouts and Facilities

Layouts and Facilities

Hogwon’s facility is quite various up to each one’s size. Smaller language schools in Korea have just one or two foreign teachers and perhaps a few Korean teachers. Some of the bigger hogwons have more than 10~20 foreign teachers and sometimes even more Korean teachers. These hogwons might have twenty classrooms, an auditorium, and a large teachers' preparation room. An average-sized children's English school in Korea has between five and ten foreign teachers with a roughly equal number of Korean teachers. A medium or large sized language school usually has a "gym" or play area for the children (which often doubles as an auditorium), and a computer room. Most schools have a teachers' room as well as a meeting room. Meetings are usually held one a week, or twice monthly, to discuss enrolment outcomes, teaching methods, practical problems, upcoming events, etc. The classrooms are generally quite small since the class sizes are small. (about 8~12 per one classroom)

A lot of Hogwon is under franchised business. There’s ECC, SLP, LCI Kids club, Poly, ILS, CDI and BCM, etc. The vast majority of language institutes in Korea belong to a chain or franchise system. Individual franchised schools are typically established by a Korean (or a Korean couple) who decides to open a language school and then look at the various franchise options that are available in Korea. The franchise head office provides the curricula, marketing materials, and often a trained Academic Supervisor. The school owners pay a monthly franchise fee to the franchise head office. So, if you’re working in Franchised hogwon in Korea, you could see all the same materials and curriculum under that certain name but you have to expect all different managers, directors and current teachers for each branch.

When you look up the job and search for more information about certain hogwon, you should make sure what’s the name of it and where it is. Also, if you know that branch’s director’s name, it’ll be more than better since there’re more than 100 ECC or SLP schools in Korea.

A minimum will be a University Bachelor’s Degree. This is not necessarily for scholastic reasons, rather that you need one to qualify for a visa. Some of reputable hogwons in Seoul do want to hire BEd. Holders only. But, if you have Bachelor’s degree, you could get the proper visa.
NOTE: You should have your Bachelor’s degree + official SEALED transcript in your hand. (Graduation Verification Letter’s not accepted by Immigration Office in Korea)

Related Links
- Visa Procedure:

- Various Visas in Korea

3. Public Elementary and Middle School
As you might notice, there’re tons of Hogwon jobs all over Korea (especially, in major cities). Almost family send their children to English hogwon and has to pay a lot of tuition fee every month, too. This phenomenon bring in ‘Engilsh Education discrimination’ Which means that children who has poor parents doesn’t have any chance to learn English from Native English Speakers and Children who has rich parents are exposed to real English education system or eve go abroad to learn English.
As this problem is getting worse, Korean Government (Board of Education) started to hire a Native English Speaker Teacher in public school system as well. And Currently, about 50~60% public schools in Seoul and Seoul area do have Native English Speaker Teacher in each campus.
Teaching in the public educational system will likely be much better remunerated than at a private English school (hogwon). However, be prepared for large classes of 30 - 40 students often forced into studying a language that they don't want to learn. The official teaching method doesn't necessarily work wonders for student motivation either, often forcing them to memorize phrases and words with little communicative meaning in order to pass university entrance exams. That said, a good teacher would do them a load of good! If you are able to land one of these jobs, hit it hard and with determination and it may well be a very rewarding experience.

Differences between jobs in hogwon and public schools

  Private Institute (hogwon) Public School
Class Size Max. 8~10 Max. 30~35  
Salary 2.1 - 2.5m 2.0 – 2.5 million won
Teaching Schedule 30 hours per week. Teachers can be required to teach in the morning, afternoon, and/or evening. 22 hours per week.
9:00 am~5.00 pm
40 min classes
Vacation Max. 10 days 20days
No. of current foreign teachers 1 - 10 1
Ownership Private (Individual or Corporation) Public (Ministry of Education)
Reliability If business is bad, the school may close. Will not close or reduce staff unexpectedly.

Public schools do prefer a BEd., Med. and TESOL certification holders. If a teacher doesn’t have any experience before, it’ll be very hard to adjust this public school environment. In the public school, there’ll be no foreign teachers near around and more than 30 students in one classroom. Therefore, English Kong highly recommends a reliable, big-sized hogwon for first comer teachers and public school offers will be better for experienced teachers in Korea.

How to get a job at an elementary/high school
A common path of entry is through the EPIK (English Program in Korea) or GEPIK Program (Gyeonggi English Program in Korea) program sponsored through the Korean Board of Education. For more information on this program, please visit the EPIK / GEPIK official website.

4. University
This is really the top of the ladder. Perks vary, but professors generally enjoy enormous pay increases vs. other teaching positions, lighter workloads, lots of benefits, and long paid vacations. When the University posts an ad. to look for proper staff, number of hit goes up to more than 1000 (almost 3~4 times of hogwon job postings). So, we could say it’s very ‘competitive’ for sure.

How to get a university job
As these jobs are so cushy, they tend to often move through contacts/introductions and not be advertised. Since there’re a lot of candidates, they are tend to find a proper teacher who’s in Korea now after face-to-face interview. However, if you are quite recognized in your field with lots of publications you would probably have a good chance to land a job by sending your resume directly to the departments of the Korean universities. Sometimes, Universities do post an ad. here( link), too.

Generally a Masters degree or equivalent and a minimum of 2 academic publications is required for full-time work. If you’ve worked for other hogwons or public schools in Korea before, ‘Good References’ is a MUST, of course.


Time Line

Most education boards in Korea hire teachers twice a year. Below is a Time line for applying to public school jobs.

Starting Date 1st March 1st September
Orientation and Training Last week of February Last week of August
Application starts End of October End of April
Application closes When the positions are filled When the positions are filled
Visa application Must be submitted by the end
of January for the latest
Must be submitted by the end of July for the latest
Flight reservation Must be booked and confirmed
by the 15th February
Must be booked and confirmed by the 15th August

Note: After-school program and language center positions are open throughout the year

Documents that you have to prepare in advance

Once you have decided to teach in Korea, We suggest you start your job search by gathering the documents below. (check out the visa process)

Documents Comment
Original degree You will need to send your original diploma or a notarized copy with an apostille.
You cannot apply for a visa without one.
Transcript Apply for 2 sealed transcripts
Criminal Record Get "Nation wide" criminal background check with an apostille
Passport If you do not already have a valid passport, a passport agency can obtain one for you faster than applying at a post office.

What is an apostille?

A french word for "certification" which commonly refers to the legalization of a document for international use. Similar to notarization on an international scale.

Important things to consider before searching for a job:

In Korea, teaching positions are mainly divided between public schools and private institutes. While neither is better than the other, both positions have their own sets of pros and cons. Before you search for a position, consider your own teaching and living preferences.

- Location: Do you prefer an urban, suburban, or rural area?

- Student Age: Most teaching positions in Korea teach at the kindergarten, elementary, and middle school level. You should decide which age group you would rather teach.

- Working Hours : most jobs start at 9am. However, if you are a night owl, tell your recruiter and search for an afternoon position. Many private institutes have positions that start in the afternoon and work into the evening.

- School Type : Private schools VS Private Institutes

Generally public schools and private institute’s salary and benefit are similar. (check out salary and benefit) the difference of the positions are as below..

  Public School Private Institue
Salary 1.8 m ~ 2.3 m won 2.0~2.7 m won
Working hours 9:00 am ~ 5 pm 9 am ~ 6 pm ( teaching young kids)
2pm ~10 pm ( teaching the older)
Class size 30~35 students 10~12 students
Vacations days 14~21 days yearly 10 days yearly
Pros More social life (Finish early and enjoy the evening)
You are a celebrity ( everone knows you)
Secure position( government job)
Best way to learn how to teach
(strict curriculum and more professional teaching)
Make friends instantly
( join the group of foreign teachers who are there
Cons You are the only foreigner on the premises. because of the
big class it might be hard.
Your life will change drastically depending on
your co teacher
Work load is heavier than in pubic schools.
Position insecurity
(some extremely unlucky teachers lose their
employment over night: but don’t worry, but we do not work with schools who do that.)?

* if you are a little bit more brave about big classes and being alone, we suggest a public school for its decreased work load and secure positions. Unfortunately, public schools hire in season. Should you wish to apply at a different time, or should you wish to work with other foreigners, we would suggest a position at a private institute.

You might not get a job through us. If you are to contact other agencies or apply to a private institute, be careful of the following things:

Things to Look Out for:

Recruitment agency

Q. Do agencies charge you a sevice fee?
A. Agencies should not charge you anything. Do not work with an agency that demands payment of any kind from you.

Q. Do agencies ask you to send the visa documents ( especially your degree) before you interview with the school?
A. No, do not work with any agency that requests this information before a position has been accepted.

Q. Can an agency offer me a dream job? (2.7 m won/ 2 bed room apartment/ signed contract/ no quaflification necessary)
A. That is abnormal. Make sure to check if the position is reliable.

Some unprofessional agencies and schools damage the reputation that good hard working recruiting agencies have built. Make sure you do some research about the agency you are dealing with.

We don’t charge you a service fee.
We don’t ask you to send out documents before your job is confirmed.
We offer you a reasonable job based upon your preferences.
Our recruiters don’t earn a commission. Our reputation and the satisfaction of our customers is our highest priority.

Public Schools
Only agencies which are certified by the board of education can hire for public school positions. Regardless of your agency, all public school positions will be accepted on the same conditions (the schools themselves have no control over these). Therefore, it is most important for you to choose the agency that will follow up the visa processing professionally. Don’t spread your resume to a bunch of agencies. If you have applied for the same position through different agencies, the education board will drop your application.

Private Institutes
you have to be careful when searching for a private institute position. In Korea, all private institutes are run by tutition fee. If the institute does not have enough students, they may close down. For this reason, you should apply for newly opened schools if possible. However, the management and curriculum may not yet be set. Be sure to check the following:

- Is the offered salary too good to be true? ? If they offer too much money, there is always a reason (i.e. working on Saturdays, required 2 hours of preparation for a one hour class, etc.)
- Check the number of foreign teachers ? if the school has less than 2 foreign teachers, the school is probably too small and it has a better chance of going bankrupt.
- Ask for the email address of a current foreign teacher. Before you sign a contract, be sure to get the contact information of a foreign teacher currently working at the school. Verify the information advertised by the school with the teacher when you speak to them.


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