Are you interested in teaching in South Korea? First, you’ll need to know what requirements you need to get a teaching position in South Korea including the visa, citizenship, education, and more.
What Requirements Do You Need to Be an English Teacher in South Korea?
In this post, I’ll be covering the qualifications you’ll need to get a Teaching English as a Foreign Language Teacher in South Korea. Beyond the formal educational qualifications, you’ll also be required to undergo a series of tests to secure a teaching position.
5 Requirements to Teach in South Korea
You will need to hold citizenship from a recognised English-speaking country (South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Ireland, U.K., U.S.).
You will have to possess a Bachelor’s Degree from an accredited university or college (4 years in the U.S. or 3 years in Australia or the United Kingdom). When applying for a working visa (E2 Visa) in South Korea you will need to provide a copy of your university degree that must be first notarised and then apostilled. Once your copy of your degree is notarised it needs to be apostilled from your state. Apostilles are usually obtained at the Secretary of State’s office in your local state. However, you can check with your local Korean Consulate if they accept a photocopy of your degree or if they require the original.
Criminal Background Check
You must possess a clean criminal background check to gain a teaching position in South Korea. This document is also required for your E2 Working Visa. In order to apply for an E2 Visa you’ll need certain documents (see below) and can apply at your local Korean consulate. Note that any DWIs, DUIs, and any other misdemeanors or felonies will disqualify a potential teacher from receiving an E-2 Visa required to teach English in South Korea.
Health Exam & Drug Test
You must pass a clean health exam and drug test once you arrive in South Korea. The test will include testing for narcotics, HIV, TB, and other communicable diseases. Note that it will involve getting blood drawn to perform the tests. If you do not pass the health exam in South Korea you will likely have your E2 Visa revoked and you can lose your job.
These above qualifications are needed to E-2 Teaching Visa stated by the Korean government. Note that individual employers will require their own unique requirements. For example, you will need to decide if you want to teach in a Korean public school or a private school (“hagwon”). These educational institutions require different qualifications from a potential teaching employee. It is important that your TEFL Certification involves in-person practicum hours.
What Visa Do I Need to Teach in South Korea?
If you’re planning to teach in South Korea it’s essential to familiarise yourself with the process of applying for a Teaching Work Visa. You must do this independently or your TEFL provider may be able to help you with the work visa details with you.
How Can I Apply for an E2 Visa?
- Gather and submit all the required E2 Visa Documents. Check your local Korean Consulate for the required documents.
- Send the required documents to your Education Employer in South Korea.
Documents Needed for an E-2 Visa
Below are the most common documents required by Korean Consulates for an E-2 Visa, which is required to teach English in South Korea. Note that each consulate will not need all of these documents. It is important that YOU check with your local Korean consulate on their E-2 Visa Requirements.
Note: The information below is for Australian & American Citizens; other nationalities will follow different processes.
- Passport Photos (4 Copies). Standard Passport Photo you would need for a new passport.
- 2 Letters of Recommendation
- Resume. A printed copy of your resume (CV).
- A Passport Copy. Photocopy the information page of your passport (the page with your picture on it and the joint page with your signature). Also, make sure you have a minimum of six months left on your passport before it expires and your passport has at least 1 completely empty page in your passport. Some consulates will staple your E2 Visa in your passport.
- Criminal Background Check (2 Copies). Korean consulates no longer accept local or state background checks.
- Sealed University Transcripts (3 Copies). University transcripts are often required for public school positions however some hagwons may ask you to provide them. Make sure you contact your university and ask you to mail your transcripts in a sealed envelope with a stamp and/or signature over the seal. DO NOT open your transcripts.
- University Bachelor Degree (Notarised & Apostille Authenticated)
- Teaching Contract. Your work contract will be provided via email by your employer once you agree to the contract (signed) and the school accepts you as a teacher.
Requirements for Teaching English in Korean Public Schools
Teaching English in Korean public schools lies under the EPIK (English Program in Korea) sponsored by the Korean Ministry of Education. If you are accepted into the program, you will be placed in a teaching position throughout the country. For a teaching position in universities and public schools, most English teachers in Korea are quired to have access to the following.
1. Proof of Full-Time Teaching Experience
If you don’t have any previous teaching experience, selecting a TEFL provider that involves live teaching hours (practicum hours) is a great chance for you to gain teaching experience. Having real-life teaching experience on your resume will also help you in the long run for future jobs in and outside the education industry.
2. TEFL Certificate
A TEFL certificate is an internationally recognised professional credential that certifies that its holder is qualified to teach English as a foreign language. This certificate enables a person to teach English to non-native speakers online or abroad.
Hagwons are Korea’s for-profit private educational schools. They differ from Korea’s public educational system and represent a large proportion of English teaching jobs in South Korea. Note that there are usually more positions available at hagwons than public schools because it is somewhat easier to get a position at one of these schools than at a public school. When researching a potential hagwon it is important o look at the specific requirements of that hagwon.
Additional Documents Required to Teach English in South Korea
All English teachers wishing to work in South Korea must apply and successfully pass an interview. This can be done in a variety of ways either through government programs, recruiters, or directly through language schools or education institutes.
In order to legally teach in South Korea you must meet certain qualifications and provide the required documentation. Most often this involves your documentation receiving an international notarisation (Apostille).
2. Proof of Documentation
During the process of applying and interviewing for English teaching jobs and getting your E-2 Visa approved. You will need to prepare the following documents for your employer and/or local Korean embassy. This includes the following documents:
- Original Passport which is valid for at least one year.
- Original Work Contract. Your teaching contract will be provided by your employer in order to apply for and process your E-2 Visa at the Korean embassy.
- Passport Photos.
- Original National-Level Criminal Background Check that is free of any convictions or charges. Order at least two copies as some hagwons require two authenticated copies. One to process the visa in the country and one to register you as a teacher when you arrive in South Korea.
- Important: Criminal Background Checks (CBC) can take up to 3 months to obtain so plan ahead! The record check must be less than 6 months old.
- Applying: When you apply for your CBC you must request it to be authenticated, meaning you must have your fingerprints included. For each country, the CRC requirements may differ depending on your citizenship. Please contact your local Korean consulate in your country.
- American Citizens: FBI Check.
- Australian Citizens: Police Clearance or Check
- Sealed University or College Transcripts.
- Bachelor’s and/or Master’s Degree or Diploma (Apostilled)
Background to Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL)
Can I Teach English Abroad Without Any Teaching Experience?
You don’t need teaching credentials to teach English abroad. For many educational institutions a degree in education, prior work or teaching experience, or a degree is not required. Often having a TEFL certification is often only what is required to work as an English teacher in schools.
When Can I Apply for a Teaching Job in South Korea?
You can find professional teaching jobs year-round in South Korea. However, you’ll need to consider the time it will take in order to become qualified to teach and the process of applying for a job. Applying for a teaching job at a public school or private school (hagwon) will involve different timelines.
How Much Do You Earn as an English Teacher in South Korea?
The average English teacher teaches 25 to 30 hours per week (this is not including additional work outside teaching hours) and has the ability to save between $1,200 to $1,600 USD per month. For your move to South Korea, it is recommended you bring about $1,000 to $2,000 with you to South Korea to comfortably get settled before earning your first paycheck.
How Long is the Work Contract for an English Teacher in South Korea?
The typical teaching contract in Korea is one year long with the ability to extend your contract. Whether your contract is extended depends on multiple factors. For example, if your employer wishes to extend your working contract and you decide you want to stay longer. Note that you will only be sponsored for a one-year work visa by your Korean employer. You will be responsible for renewing your E-2 Visa if you plan on staying longer than one year.
What is TEFL?
TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language, or English language instruction for non-native speakers. It is also commonly known as teaching ESL (English as a Second Language), English Language Teaching (ELT), and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL).
Is TEFL a reputable industry?
TEFL is a field of study and certification that allows people to teach English as a foreign language online or abroad. TESOL/TEFL represents one of the fastest-growing educational sectors globally. There are many working opportunities for teaching English abroad to both fluent and native English speakers who earn their TESOL/TEFL certification.
What is a TEFL certification?
A TEFL certification is an internationally recognised professional credential that certifies a person is qualified to teach English as a foreign language. A TEFL certification is usually required to secure a job teaching English abroad or online to non-native English language students. This is because language institutes and schools want to hire individuals who have received proper training.
What TEFL Course is Best For Teaching English in South Korea?
It is essential to choose a reputable TEFL course provider that is accredited by a recognised organisation, and offers comprehensive training and job search guidance. Most people make the mistake of choosing the most affordable option online. It is important to ensure that the TEFL course you select meets the standards and requirements of reputable employers and schools. You must make sure the TEFL certification course meets international standards and includes the following elements.
TEFL International Standards
- Instruction is provided by experienced university-level instructors;
- The curriculum is accredited by a recognised, independent accrediting body;
- 6 to 20 hours of live practice teaching with ESL (English Second Language) students;
- A minimum of 100 hours of academic coursework.
Which TEFL Course do you recommend?
A TEFL certification course can either be undertaken full-time for 4 weeks, or part-time (11 weeks) in an online TEFL course setting. I chose the part-time course with International TEFL Academy (ITA).
Why did you choose ITA’s TEFL Course?
Lifetime Job Search Guidance
Not all TEFL provides offer lifetime job search assistance with access to resources, guidance, and expertise for finding and interviewing for jobs to teach abroad. Many people don’t realise how much time, planning, and research go into landing a good quality teaching job placement. With International TEFL Academy you’ll get expert assistance in applying for jobs, reviewing your contracts, and more.
Beyond just getting access to job boards and helpful information for applying for jobs. ITA has full-time Student Affairs Advisors to assist TEFL graduates in finding paid work teaching English online or overseas. In fact, every ITA graduate is assigned a Student Affairs advisor that will work with you one-on-one throughout your job search. For example, the job search advisor can help you with everything from assisting you with your cover letter, and resume, to coaching you on the interview process and helping you evaluate job offers and contracts. If you’re planning on working at a hagwon in South Korea it is important to thoroughly review your work contract before accepting it. You’ll need to look for red flags in your work contract and ITA can help review this for you.
Other Highlights of ITA’s Lifetime Job Search Guidance:
- Job Search Guidance For Life. ITA offers lifetime job search guidance which is helpful if you plan on teaching English for longer than one year. Maybe you want to country-hop from different countries?
- ESL Worldwide School Directory. ITA sends a directory of over thousands of schools globally categorised by country and city so you can directly contact them for employment opportunities. ITA also highlights preferred employers who have been employed by previous ITA graduates. This is great because you won’t be responsible for independently researching jobs online. You can trust that the recommended employers are reputable and there’s less research involved for you!
- Job Search Guidance Manual. You’ll get a 500+ page manual that includes all the relevant information for job markets globally. It’s broken down by different countries so you can find information about visa procedures, international job boards, and more!
TEFL or TESOL Accreditation
This TEFL course meets international standards and has been externally monitored and approved for accreditation by TQUK. TQUK is an officially Awarding Organisation that is recognised and regulated by Ofqual, the British Government organisation responsible for monitoring and maintaining educational standards for professional certifications in the United Kingdom.
Alumni Community, Networking, and Support
When you join with ITA you’ll have access to resources for networking to meet other ITA students and graduates. This is a great way to connect with other people interested in working in the same country as you or if you want any insider tips or recommendations from previous or current TEFL teachers from ITA. For example, one of the resources includes ITA’s Country-Specific Facebook Groups. Joining these Facebook groups will allow you to connect with ITA and current TEFL teachers. These groups are often used for connecting with TEFL teachers, sharing travel tips, asking questions, finding roommates, and more.
Includes Hands-On Live Practice Teaching (Practicum)
To complete a TEFL certification course, International TEFL Academy offers you to complete 20 hours of practicum. These practicum hours allow you to gain first-hand experience working with real ESL students, from an actual classroom setting, or tutoring a non-native speaker privately. International TEFL Academy also helped me organise my practicum hours online during the COVID pandemic. Having teaching experience will benefit you in the long run by giving you an advantage over other applicants in TEFL jobs. In South Korea, this is very beneficial as you will have better odds in your success in securing a position with a preferred location as well as negotiating your salary (for hagwons).
Is Teaching English in South Korea Worth It?
This will ultimately depend on whether you are up for the task of the challenges and joys that teaching abroad will offer. Check out this post on why I choose to teach in South Korea.
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