With higher than average pay, a relatively low cost of living, and plenty of teaching opportunities, South Korea has become one of the premier locations for ESL teachers to begin their career teaching English overseas. Below are a few things a teacher needs to know to help them transition to their career in Korea and a few tips to help them in their job search.
Things to know
For a foreigner to be able to work legally in Korea they require an E2 visa. This means a degree is a necessity. Depending on the school, a teaching license from the applicants home country and/or teaching experience may also be required. Discrimination
Korea has always been an extremely insular, homogeneous country. Due to this, age and race can make finding a job difficult for retirees and nonwhite applicants. Cost of living
As a general rule, Korea has a much lower cost of living than the country an English teacher will be coming from, and a teacher's salary will be sufficient to live on and save some money also, but there are a few things that need to be considered. Depending on where the teacher lives and works, taxis can become extremely expensive. Gas prices are also high if the teacher chooses to drive in Korea. Koreans don't eat very much meat so it is far more expensive than more common Korean foods. This is especially true of red meat, which is almost all imported. Korea has extremely high tariffs and taxes on imports. Hours
Many schools will expect teachers to spend 30 hours a week actually teaching. While this is slightly higher than average, it isn't that significant. Some schools though, will push teachers to work 40 or more hours. Adding in travel time and prep work, this can quickly become overwhelming. Make sure the amount of teaching hours is clearly spelled out in the contract before agreeing to a position. Benefits
Many schools in Korea will either provide housing or a housing stipend for their teachers. This can be important as housing in certain parts of Korea can be very expensive. Another common benefit is reimbursement for airfare to and from Korea upon completion of a teacher's contract.
Getting a job
Teaching jobs in Korea are generally obtained in one of three ways. 1-Being hired over the internet will usually bring a higher wage and flight reimbursement, but can be difficult. 2-Job placement agencies can help, but many charge high fees and may or may not have the teacher's best interest in mind. 3-Physically going to Korea and searching for jobs has the highest probability of success, but flight reimbursement and visa issues can be a problem with this route.