Chances of getting a good teaching job in Korea?

Teacher taking photo for Korean resume

Chances of getting a good teaching job in Korea?

Question asked – 

I’m a Canadian college graduate with an online TESL certificate. I’ve applied several times in Seoul, but haven’t gotten a job yet. I’ve been dealing with many recruiters but gotten no offers. Will I have to wait until the spring to find a good job. If I’m offered a job right now, I’m wondering how solid it is, because what teachers are quitting in the middle of the school year?

ESL teacher taking photo for job application

Read 12 Answers

“If you want to teach in Seoul (where almost everyone does) then you may have to wait until the new year. Hiring for 2017 starts in February or March.”

“A teacher may quit mid contract, for whatever reason. Bad hagwon, had enough of Korea, health, family issues, career choices. Then a recruiter may come to you and say they need a job filled ultra fast. You can ask why, but it shouldn’t surprise you that someone is leaving. Just know the truthful reason why they’re leaving and ask to speak to the teacher who is leaving.”

“If you’re open to teaching English anywhere in Korea, then you could get a job fast. If it’s Seoul or BUST, then you could find yourself waiting a while.”

“Would you consider teaching in China? There are so many jobs over there. They might snap you up right away for a larger city like Beijing of Shanghai.”

“I’d stay away from China. At least the large urban centres. The pollution will knock you out flat.” Lunch cancer when you’re older. Gross!

“Seoul isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. Just because you’re in Seoul, there are still ghettos. If you move out to Bundang, which has everything you need, you could hop the bus into Gangnam for some weekend night life. It’s only 30 minutes.”

“I’m a clubber and like the Hongdae scene. But I’m sure that’s pretty competitive area for teachers. Maybe going west towards Songdo new city would be a smart choice. They are opening up hagwons out there and it’s supposed to be the technological city of the future.”

“Yes, Songdo is nice, clean, and new. I’d go there. Closer to the airport too.”

“I’m not sure about the clean part. If you’re referring to the air quality. Well… it is part of Incheon and Incheon has a lot of factories. Bad air to boot!”

“Hagwon school years run from March until September. You could be waiting a while for Seoul, realistically. Recruiters will tell you they can find you a job in Seoul, then tell you it’s been filled, and then offer you something outside of the city. Classic bait and switch. They also always want to fill these out of town roles first, because they get bigger finder’s fees.”

You’ll get more job offers in Ansan and Incheon, but these cities are far from Seoul. Yes, you can bus in to Itaewon from Incheon, but it will take you 2 hours on the weekend to commute there one way.”

If you’ve got the money, why don’t you fly to Korea and look for a job in person in Seoul? Stay at a goshiwon and have your recruiter drag you out to the schools. Koreans want to meet you face to face. If you’re presentable then it’s much easier to get hired in Seoul. If they hire you, you just go to Japan for your E2 visa run for a couple of days, paid by the school.”


Hired at a hagwon. Will the nose piercing be an issue?

Question asked

I signed a contract to teach at a hagwon in Gangnam. I’m heading over there in a couple of weeks. I’ve heard that some schools don’t like tattoos, (which I don’t have), but I’m wondering about body piercings. I have a stud in my nose, that has never been removed. Do you think the school will freak out when they see it?

Read 5 Answers

“It depends on how conservative the school is. If you ask them, now, before coming, they’ll most certainly tell you to remove it permanently. But if you show up with the nose piercing, they’ll be forced to deal with he situation in person. And choose to avoid confrontation. That is, unless you’re teaching ESL at a Christian school, that is stricter and will most definitely object.”

“What’s the big deal in removing your piercing when you go to class. If there are no infection issues and it’s permanent, then just pop it out for class. It won’t close up during 8 hours of teaching will it?”

“I’ve had it for 8 months. Shouldn’t be a problem, but I’d rather just leave it in 24/7. One less thing to worry about in preparation for class.

“I’d advise you to take it out. But if you leave it in during your teaching hours, then just tell the Korean school faculty that these days a lot of people have tattoos and body piercings. Now… lip rings, I doubt you’ll get away with wearing one of those in your hagwons.”

“Hey, Koreans want to learn western culture. What better way then to see a tatted up foreigner with body piercings and a funky hair style? Tell your school it’s all part of a “global education” for the kiddies.”


My hagwon keeps increasing my hours. What are my options?

Question asked

I’ve been teaching 8 hours a day with only 1 15 minute break. I started teaching 7 hours a day, but the hagwon offered me an extra hour each day in overtime pay. Problem is, this is a gruelling schedule. It’s exhausting me. Shouldn’t I be getting at least a half hour lunch to grab lunch or put my feet up somewhere for a rest?

Read 12 Answers

“For every 4 hours you work, you should be getting a 30 minute break. Have you asked your hagwon manager about the Korean labour law?”

Yes, I did, and he said the school was well aware of the Korean Labour law since they have been in business for 8 years.

“Sorry, to say, but he’s lying to you. Check out the Korean labour law online. And you can do whatever you want during your 30 minute break. Even leave the hagwon and go out and have a nice Korean lunch. Don’t let him tell you that you have to stay at the school.”

“If you argue with your owner about it and ask for a 30 minute break instead of 15, this may throw a monkey wrench into their class schedule. Maybe, you could suck it up and ask for a bit more pay for the extra 15 minute you’re working a day?”

“I don’t care about getting paid extra. I’m already working overtime as it is, and just want the extra 15 minutes off. It’s only fair, now that I’ve learned it’s Korean labour law. Am I being too demanding though. I don’t want to mess with their class schedule. It sounds a bit selfish, no?”

If I had to teach 8 hours a day with only a 15 minute break I’d lose it. That’s a gruelling schedule. I can understand teaching 6 hours a day and then 2 hours of office hours to help kids one on one, or prepping an hour for class, but 8 hours is slave-crazy. Run!”

Tell your manager, that not getting a proper rest is impacting your ability to teach English well. Koreans understand this. After all, they want your classes to be fun and educational, and if they aren’t, they start losing students who end up going to another school.”

Good luck with that one. It’s al about cramming as many kids in a class with the token foreigner and counting their profits. I’d say look for another job. 8 hours of classes a day is exhausting and by the time you get home each day, you probably don’t have the energy to even lift the remote control…. Did you come to Korea to work this hard?”

“You must get some breaks between teaching classes. 10 minutes?”

“I get a 5 minute break between classes, but I’m not a robot and not always keeping my eyes glued to the time on my iPhone either. Some classes run a bit over since, we’re doing an assignment or I’m talking to students.”

“Understandable, but you should get at least 30 minutes for a relaxing lunch.”

“I agree, you’re getting overworked. But, before quitting, ask the manager for the extra time. Maybe it’s just a temporary thing where they have extra classes, or they are in the process of hiring another teacher to do some of the heavy lifting. You never know, unless you have a sit down with the manager. Don’t jump to conclusions or do anything extreme like threatening the labour board or even quitting your teaching job”


Will an online TEFL do for EPIK?

Question asked

I’m applying for the EPIK program and hoping to get hired for the March, 2017 intake. It seems pretty competitive so I’ve been thinking about just using a recruiter to get a hagwon job. I’ve been reading that many teachers have TEFL certificates and if I don’t have one it’ll be tougher to get a good job. My question is: would an online TEFL certificate be good enough to teach at a hagwon in Korea? If I can get away with an online TEFL course, this would save me a bunch of money. I don’t have much cash and have already spent so much getting through 4 years of university, already. Could I just grab a $99 TEFL online course?

Read 8 Answers

“If you’re trying to get into EPIK, you’ll definitely need TEFL. Hagwons really don’t care and it’s not a requirement. Of course, if you’re competing with another teacher for a job the teacher a TEFL is more desirable  especially in Seoul locations like Gangnam. You’ll probably get overlooked for the job because you don’t have TEFL while if another teacher has one he/she’s in. As for an online TEFL certificate, just get a certificate that says TEFL on it would do, I think.”

“EPIK, GEPIK and SMOE are the public school, government-funded English programs in Korea. They all require a TEFL certificate for new English teachers. If you have an education degree you might not need a TEFL. Or even an English degree. Not 100% certain on that though.”

Groupon has some great deals on online TEFL. (Chuckle).”

“You’ll get paid a little more and have more vacation time if you get hired through EPIK, but if you’re only coming for a year to Korea to teach and you have to drop $1,000 or more on a TEFL course. If a TEFL course includes both online and offline TEFL classes which meet the application requirements of EPIK, then you really have to consider is it worth the investment?  EPIK also hs more hoops to jump through than Mr. Kim’s Happy Hagwon. If you just want a year or two in Korea to pay off some student loans, travel and experience the culture, food, people, and of course K-Pop then just get a hagwon job. There are plenty of good hagwons equally as good as the EPIK program, except for the vacations. You can make up the pay difference by working overtime or teaching privately (at your own risk). You just have to do your research and talk to teachers who already work at these better hagwons.”

“If you decide to go the EPIK route, go direct. No need to use a recruiter. I’ve heard if you apply directly you’ll get a response faster. Avoid the middle man recruiter. They are birth control.”

“In some cases using a recruiter for EPIK can be worthwhile. They will advise you on how to write your application, what to say, and what not to say, prepare you for the interview. I’ve heard good things about Korvia recruiting company.”

“True enough. But many teaches go direct through EPIK, so why not? EPIK has a website in English where you can apply direct. Plenty of advice from actual teachers on the entire EPIK process, questions asked, dos and don’ts online though. As for getting a hagwon job, you’ll definitely need a recruiter.  No way around that, unless your already in-country and can visit the schools yourself.” Even still you’ll need a Korean to English interpreter. That’s where the recruiter comes in.

“Hagwons focus on attracting students while recruiters recruit teachers. It’s always been that way and don’t see it changing.”

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