Teaching in Korea – pay rate for private lessons? (10 Answers)

private tutors paid less in Korea

Question asked – 

It appears the hourly rate for teaching English in Korea hasn’t gone up much over the past 10 years. Teaching private lessons gets you on average 40,000 won per hour and the rate for English camps is only 15,000 won per hour. When you factor in travel time (at least 30 minutes to your private lesson) and then 30 minutes back, 40,000 won doesn’t’ seem like much, does it? I’ve been teaching in Korea over 5 years. Even the newbie teachers are selling themselves short when there still is such a demand for private English teachers here.

Read 10 Answers

“Can you blame a new ESL teachers for taking 40,000 won per hour? That’s a lot of money for a freshly minted college graduate who has probably never made more than minimum wage back home doing part-time or summer jobs.”

“40,000 won per hour is 25% more for a Canadian or Australian teacher than an American, so someone new to teaching English in Korea from one of those countries, would still be doing a currency comparison versus yourself, who has been here for a while and uses the “won” as your home currency now. We can’t really blame someone for taking 40,000 won per hour because they’re new and it seems like a lot of money or someone from another English-speaking country where there currency isn’t as strong as the US.”

“I think many experienced English teachers in Korea can command 50,000 won per hour if they teach business people. But in reality, very few tutors (in any subject) back home earn that much. And most have much higher academic credentials than just a general bachelor’s degree. Consider yourself lucky for getting paid that much just for having a conversation in English with them.”

“Some teachers will take 30,000 won per hour. I see those jobs advertised all the time. There is no standard which English teachers should all abide by in terms of pay rate. I would teach someone for 30,000 won per hour if it was 5 minutes from my apartment. It’s all about convenience.”

“Why travel an hour (there and back) to teach for 50,000 won per hour when you can teach for 30,000 won per hour if you’re 5 minutes away. I agree. That’s  why I look for students in my own neighbourhood. I value my time and limit my travel on the Korean subways and buses to just my regular teaching job.”

“The pay rate for camp is brutally low. It used to be a lot higher. Maybe they’re hiring English teachers, who live in cheaper countries like Thailand or Vietnam and getting them on the cheap.”

“I have to chuckle when I hear teachers saying they won’t get out of bed for less than 50,000 won per hour. Like they’re so deserving of it. Most of us are just college graduates in the humanities, we’re not engineers, computer scientists or accountants by education. We have hardly any transferable work skills as EFL teachers in Korea.”

“It’s not about how much you earn teaching English per hour, it’s about how much you can save. With all the great restaurants, bars, and travel you can do in Korea or anywhere in Asia, it’s hard to save. Always pay yourself first, wire them money home so you don’t get a chance to spend it and you’ll come out ahead. You can teach all the privates you want in Korea, but if you don’t have savings at then what’s the point?”

“It’s amazing how free economics works. Mostly inexperienced teachers 10 years ago when there were far fewer foreign teachers here made far more. Now, more teachers, less demand ( or to be more accurate, less prestige in having a private native teacher). Too many of us old timers ( I’ve been here for 12 years) complain about these things…but just wont admit that we were VASTLY overpaid for the service provided ( again, most of us were not holding Celta certifications or an MA Tesol, or otherwise umpteen years of experience back then. I almost feel bad about all those years for getting 50/hr for kiddy classes with 3-4 lined up in the same apartment complex one after the other for doing little more than eating fruit served to me, drinking coffee/tea served to me…and playing around with the ” Let’s Go” book.”

“It was kind of the wild west back then. I had friends without degrees who taught for 50,000 won per hour and did their visa runs every few months. They all made a lot of money but didn’t have the discipline to save it though… Is the future of Korea’s English Education still Bright or Sunsetting?


How risky is the “key money” system for English teachers in Korea?

Question asked –

Over the past couple of years my hagwon has given me an apartment rent-free. But, my newest school doesn’t include it in the teaching contract. I’ve managed to save up 10 million won, which I can use towards key money for my new studio apartment. Obviously it’s not a lot of money by key money standards, but it’s my entire life savings and I taught a lot of private lessons to accumulate it.  I’m concerned about losing my key money to a landlord who might disappear or spend it when the time comes, for me to move out. Does that happen often to Koreans or foreigners? What can I do to reduce my financial risk?

Read 4 answers

“10 million won isn’t much to put down on key money. Are you in Seoul??? I’ve never heard of a teacher losing his key money in Korea. If your landlord doesn’t pay you back when you decided to vacate the premises, you squat there, until they do. I assume you’re also paying some amount of monthly rent like 400,000 or more per month. Don’t pay that either until they pay you back your 10 M deposit. Not the most ideal solution, as you might want to leave Korea as well, but it’s a last resort. Anyway, I’ve never heard of anyone losing their key deposit. Don’t worry.”

“Yes, it’s possible to lose your key money. I’ve known people who have. Make sure your apartment lease is registered at your local neighbourhood government office in Korea. That way, if your landlord doesn’t cough up your key money, you can have them demand it from him…. It’s kind of insurance. Don’t forget to register.”

“If you sign a 1 year contract for an apartment but attempt to leave after 9 months your landlord may refuse to give you back your 10 M deposit until your 12 month lease is up. That’s fair. If they agree to pay you back your 10 M after 9 months, then it would most likely hinge upon them finding a new tenant first and then penalizing you for breaking your 1 year lease 3 months early. Not sure how much you’d get deducted from your 10 M key deposit for not fulfilling your rental contract, because I don’t believe there is a standard amount by Korean law. But, just be prepared to pay something for moving out early.”

“Before you sign anything, make sure you know a good English-speaking real estate agent in Korea who can explain your landlord tenant agreement, and what happens if you move out early, or the landlord doesn’t pay back your key money on time. Also register your rental lease with the community government office in Korea.”


I want to teach English in Korea. Where should I take my TEFL course? Home, Korea, or Thailand?

Question asked – 

I only plan to teach English in Korea for a year, but I want to do this right. Is it best to choose the country where TEFL is the cheapest and quickest to obtain? I want to apply to the EPIK program.

Read 7 answers

“There’s always the online TEFL option. It meets your requirements – cheap and fast. But, you might want to check if EPIK will accept just an online TEFL course. They may require an accredited TEFL which includes a real classroom and 6 or more hours of real teaching experience with actual ESL students.This can be done anywhere. Community Centre, College, Church, etc.”

“If you want to teach English in Korea, I’d just get my TEFL back home first. There is always the option to do your TEFL in Thailand or Vietnam, but then you have to apply for a teaching job and get to Korea. As cheap as Southeast Asia may be, you don’t want to have to sit around paying rent. or living in a backpacker’s hostel in Bangkok until you land a hagwon job. It could be month and you’ll run out of money….”

“Going to Korea to do a TEFL before you get a hagwon job is even more difficult and expensive than going to Southeast Asia. To get an apartment in the ROK you’ll need to speak Korean do deal with the realtor, put down at least 10 M in key money and then get yourself set up furniture and appliances. Then, when you do get a job your school will give you a small apartment anyway. You can’t sign a lease less than 1 year in Korea, so once you land a hagwon job, most likely not near your original apartment, you’ll have to move. It’ll cost you at least 1.4 M Korean won per month just to survive in Korea, while you’re looking for a teaching job. Just get the TEFL in your home country while you can live with your parents (if possible) and then get hired from home. Then you’ll get a free plane ticket and have an apartment waiting for you when you arrive, rent free from your school.”

“Teachers don’t usually get a TEFL in Korea. Sure, it’s offered but teachers would rather do their TEFL abroad from a warm beach through TEFL Heaven or something. Not sure if TEFL Heaven offers guaranteed job placements in Korea if you take their TEFL program in Thailand.”

“Do the TEFL back home online and then get the job in Korea. If you really like teaching and want to make a career out of it for 5-20 years, then do a CELTA or Master’s in TESOL at a university in Korea, while you’ve still got your day job in Korea.”

“It’s not necessary to get a TEFL to teach at a hagwon in Korea. You could take that route to make yourself more marketable to hagwons, I guess… EPIK can be tougher to get into and you’ll have to have a TEFL certificate. If you only plan to teach 1 year in Korea, I wouldn’t bother a TEFL certificate or EPIK, for that matter.”

“Get a hagwon job. All you need is a degree, be a native speaker, and don’t show up hung over more than once a month for work.”

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