How much can I earn teaching English in Korea?
How much can you earn teaching English in Korea? Well…. the typical salary teaching English in Korea at a private or public school in your first one to two years is between 2.2 – 2.6 M KRW per month.
If you’re at the lower end or 2.2 M KRW per month you can expect to get other benefits such as airfare, a single furnished apartment, pension, severance or 1 month contract completion bonus equal to one month’s salary. You’ll receive your severance after you complete a 12 month teaching contract with your school (AKA – Hagwon) as required by Korean law.
Teaching jobs that pay in the upper salary bracket of 2.6 M KRW per month usually include all of the above benefits except housing. So, if you are drawn to a job paying 2.6, check where you’ll be living and how much you’ll need to pay for a studio apartment in Seoul, or whatever city you’re planning to teach in.
A single apartment rental fee in Seoul could run between 500,000 to 1,000,000 KRW per month depending on the neighbourhood, if it’s a villa (4 floor walk up), apartment, or officetel (hybrid of an office building and apartment).
There is also a “key deposit required by the landlord of 5-15 million Korean won in which you’ll need to give to him/her before you move in to any of the three residency types. This money will be refunded to you of course once your apartment lease is up and you decide to move out. So, while a higher paying salary teaching in Korea may be tempting, make sure you have the key money and can afford the rent. Having your apartment not tied to your school is also desirable for teachers after their first year teaching in Korea.
Also, note that higher paying jobs (2.6 M KRW) MAY NOT include a one month severance bonus in their contract verbiage, but SEVERANCE IS enforceable by Korean labour law if you complete your 12 month contract.
Public school teaching programs such as EPIK or GEPIK pay 2.2 M KRW per month or slightly higher (100,000 KRW more per month) and public schools often provide 20 days of paid vacation compared to 10 days a hagwons. But the one caveat is that you’ll need a TEFL certificate to teach at a public school through EPIK or GEPIK in Korea. Not hard to obtain, but it means studying, and will cost your for this piece of paper. It’s a good introduction to prepare you for teaching English in Korea or whatever country you choose.
If you’ve got a Master’s degree in TESOL you can land a university job that may pay 2.6 or north of it and include or not include housing. But the majority of English teachers in Korea just have BA degrees and can’t expect to earn more than 2.2 M KRW in their first year. Once you get one or two years teaching experience in Korea under your belt you can look for the higher paying hagwon jobs teaching in adult institutes with business people, and working some overtime on Saturdays at your school, for example, which could bump you up to the 2.6 M KRW per month range.
And then there are private English lessons between 35,000 – 55,000 KRW per hour (illegal of course), which could double your salary, if you’re willing to risk fines, jail and/or deportation if you’re caught by Korean immigration. Foreign teachers still do it. Be warned!
Some corporations pay 3.5 -4.0 M KRW per month if you teach at their employee training centres in Korea. Mostly in the bigger cities like Seoul, Yongin, Bundang, Suwon and Busan. Of course you’ll need some Business English teaching experience, and to have at least a couple of business suites, and be presentable and professional since you’ll be instructing business people in large Korean companies. A good teaching gig if you enjoy working with adults as opposed to children. You’ll make a lot of connections with often some very influential business people like vice presidents and CEOS of Korean companies (if you know your stuff).
To summarize, the salary range teaching English in Korea is between 2.2 – 4.0 M KRW per month. Even if you earn 2.2 M KRW per month with free housing you should be able to save between 500,000 KRW or more each month in your first year in Korea. That is… if you can stay out of the bars, avoid buying toys and designer clothes, and limit your weekend trips around Korea.