Is It Easy To Get a Job Teaching English In South Korea?

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I recently wrote an article for The Planet D where we shared how we saved thirty-thousand dollars by moving to Korea and traveling. The goal was to inspire people looking for a way to save money for travel to realize that there are many opportunities out there, you just need to hunt them down.

After writing the article, Deb asked me two very good questions that I never thought of addressing. She asked if it was easy for Megan (who came three months after me) to find a job making $2,800 a month. And did we have any special skills or a niche to help us? The reason why I never thought of these questions is because yes for us, it was easy. So easy in fact, I never even thought it would be worth mentioning. So after reading Deb’s e-mail I thought it would be a good idea to answer if it really is easy to get a job teaching english in South Korea. For us it was and here’s why.

The Basics

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In order to get a job teaching english in South Korea there are two major requirements. You need to be able to speak english, if english is a native language, than you are the cream of the crop and you are a shoe in. If english is your second language than it can be tougher, but the better you speak english, the better your chances. In addition to that, the other thing you need in order to be considered for an english teacher in South Korea is a college degree. The awesome part is, it the degree can be in ANYTHING. Megan studied Fashion Merchandising, while I studied Broadcast Journalism. We had no teaching experience, no ESL (english as a second language) training, absolutely nothing!

How We Got Started

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I got my job by applying through a third party. The process is super simple. First they ask you for an interview via skype where they just chew the fat with you. Ask you simple questions like would you like living in Korea? Why do you want to do it? Have you ever worked with kids? The process was extremely conversational. Unfortunately, they won’t come out and say this but in my opinion, they basically want to know if you have a serious speech impediment, tattoos on your face or something else that they might consider extremely distracting to the kids. If you don’t, you’re on to the most time consuming part of the process, an FBI background check.

In order to get a job teaching kids in a foreign country you need to provide a FBI background check. Understandably when working with kids, Korea wants to know if you have an arrest record. If you do, you can pretty much count yourself out. If you have never been arrested, which you should already know, the FBI check is simply a formality that will take three months to get the papers sorted and you are accepted. Based on these two things alone, you basically know if you are a candidate to get a job or not by asking yourself, have you ever been convicted of a felony and have you graduated from college. After that the process is extremely simple.

Who We Worked For

Just like teaching jobs anywhere in the world, not all jobs are equal. However, the company we worked for, Chungdahm, has the minimum pay of $28 an hour with a minimum of 24 hours a week. Those are the exact rates and hours we worked a week, with no experience, no training, no ESL background, absolutely nothing. Just a desire to immerse ourselves in another culture and see what else was out there. If you have a teaching degree, a masters in teaching, or basically any experience in teaching, you can make up to $45 an hour teaching english for the company (although we wouldn’t recommend that because there are much better paying and flexible professor jobs for people with masters at ProfsAbroad.com) We got paid the lowest possible rate because we had no experience!

Since the success of Chungdahm many schools have been popping up hoping to replicate Chungdahm’s model. We cannot vouch for them, and don’t know as much about all the opportunities out there. But we do know there are tons!

Megan Getting Accepted

Scott-and-Megan-in-Hanbok

So if you haven’t been arrested, and have graduated college it’s pretty easy to get an english teaching job. Demand is through the roof, and supply is low. If you happen have a friend who is already teaching/ or has already taught english, it’s even easier to get a job. This is how Megan got her job teaching english. The original plan was that she wasn’t coming to Korea. Our relationship would go through the ultimate test and we would see what happened. After a few months of Megan’s new job and me having a great time in Korea I asked my recruiter who helped me get started in Korea and within two weeks Megan was setup with a job, but just had to wait three months for the background check . Again, with no experience! She was situated a 30 minute commute from where I worked, we moved into a new apartment that was $20 more than what I was paying before and just lived off of one paycheck easily!

Overall

We personally believe it is rather easy to not only get a teaching job in South Korea, but to be able to make around $2,800 a month while doing so. We base this off of both of our experiences getting jobs with absolutely no experience, or any idea of what to do. The main ingredient is actually trying. Ultimately the whole process may take about three or so months, but most of that is waiting on your FBI background check and how quickly you can get them all the information you need.

The next step is making sure you get the amount of money you want for your own personal savings goals. The fact that Chungdahms starting pay was $28 an hour was a huge incentive for us. But after living in Korea for a year and learning more about a different schools, academies, and opportunities we learned that there are definitely better paying jobs, and way worse paying jobs. But can you easily land a job paying $28 an hour? That depends on if you have a criminal history, a college degree, and are a native english speaker. If so, the job is yours if you try. For non-native english speakers, it’s still possible, but may be a bit more difficult.

Interested in Starting Teaching?

If you have more questions about teaching english in Korea please feel free to ask us in the comments below or send us an e-mail using the contact page here.

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