How Much Can You Make Teaching English in Korea?

Moving to South Korea to teach English provides teachers with an opportunity to learn about a new culture, travel to exciting international destinations, make new friends, and even learn a new language. But what about the money? Well, that’s an opportunity in and of itself as the teaching English in Korea salary is among the highest in the world for university graduates that do not have any teaching experience or diplomas in Education.

In this post, we will discuss the following points:

teaching english in Korea salary

Before reading on, check out this video where Niko will explain further about the teaching English in Korea salary that you can expect according to the qualifications you hold. He also talks about how far this pay will take you while living in Korea, including costs of things like meals and inexpensive transportation around Korea.

While there are many industry standards across schools in Korea, not all salaries are identical. There is a lower point on the scale for those with no teaching experience, but salaries for teachers in Korea vary based on each teacher’s previous experience and credentials. So in short, if  you have no teaching experience, you’ll make more than you would in other countries where ESL is taught; but if you do, you will be compensated accordingly.

Teaching English in Korea Salary for First Time Teachers

Finding a position in Korea is difficult if you don’t have any teaching/tutoring experience or a even a TEFL certification, as the competition for teaching jobs in Korea has steadily been on the rise for years. However, it is definitely possible for you to get a position if you have even some basic experience relating to children or to teaching/tutoring. Some examples are babysitting, volunteering or working as a camp counselor.

PRO TIP
If you don’t have any of the experience mentioned above, you can find somewhere to do some short term volunteer work that you can add to your resume. This will make you look motivated to any school that you are applying to!

The breakdown of pay for first time teachers in Korea with no experience is as follows:

  • Monthly pay: 2.1-2.2 million won (range of pay will depend on the number of hours at the school).
  • Plane tickets: One way or round trip provided, depending on the specific school.
  • Apartment: Provided and paid for by the school.
  • Monthly health insurance: 50,000 won (50% paid by school, 50% paid by teacher).
  • Severance: 2.1 – 2.2 million won upon completion of 12 month contract.
  • Pension: Around 100,000 won per month, matched by the school (you collect 2.4 million won upon contract completion).

Salaries in Korea for Teachers with Some Relevant Experience

The next level of qualifications is teaching experience at a school, whether it is teaching a subject in your home country or teaching English abroad. These salaries typically range depending on the number of years of actual teaching experience.

The breakdown of pay for teachers in Korea with some teaching experience is as follows:

  • Monthly pay: 2.2-2.4 million won (range of pay will depend on the number of hours at the school).
  • Plane tickets: One way or round trip provided, depending on the specific school.
  • Apartment: Provided and paid for by the school.
  • Monthly health insurance: 50,000 won (50% paid by school, 50% paid by teacher).
  • Severance: 2.2 – 2.4 million won upon completion of 12 month contract.
  • Pension: Around 100,000 won per month, matched by the school (you collect 2.4 million won upon contract completion).

Salaries in Korea for Teachers with Education Majors and Teaching Licenses

teaching english in korea salaries

The most qualified applicants are those who have Education majors and/or official teaching licenses from their home countries. Most schools want to hire these applicants because they have been officially trained to teach so they are able to get through the school’s training period quickly and get right into teaching soon after they arrive in Korea. They also tend to be better teachers overall as they have been trained specifically for this work.

The breakdown of pay for teachers in Korea with Education majors and teaching licences is as follows:

  • Monthly pay: 2.4-2.8 million won (range of pay will depend on the number of hours at the school).
  • Plane tickets: One way or round trip provided, depending on the specific school.
  • Apartment: Provided and paid for by the school.
  • Monthly health insurance: 50,000 won (50% paid by school, 50% paid by teacher).
  • Severance: 2.4 – 2.8 million won upon completion of 12 month contract.
  • Pension: Around 100,000 won per month, matched by the school (you collect 2.4 million won upon contract completion).

There are other issues that impact salaries besides experience. The current supply and demand of qualified teachers affect the salaries greatly. Salaries in the most popular destinations like Seoul or Busan are often lower, as these schools are frequently flooded with applicants so they don’t have to pay as much to entice teachers to come to their schools. Nonetheless, if you have excellent qualifications, you can get a high paying job anywhere in Korea.

Teaching Private Lessons in Korea

teaching private lessons korea

So this is certainly one hot topic! If you have thought about teaching English in Korea, you have likely heard that there are ways to make money teaching outside of the school that you are contracted to work for. These come in the form of private lessons.  While we as a placement agency do not suggest teaching private lessons, it does still happen so we want you to be informed of all that comes with teaching on the side.

What are Private Lessons in Korea and How Do You Find Them? 

If you are offered to teach private lessons, it will likely either be to younger students or to businessmen. There are many parents who want – and who will spend the money – for one on one English lessons. And then there are businessmen who want to sit with you and just talk, usually over food and drinks.

You won’t see ads online, so you can’t ‘just find’ this extra work if you are interested in doing it.  You also certainly cannot advertise yourself! Instead, teachers are usually approached and offered these kinds of gigs through a parent at their school or possibly through a co-teacher who is ending their contract, where you would take over their spot.

The Risks of Teaching Private English Lessons in Korea

Make no mistake about it: teaching private lessons in Korea is illegal under the rules of your teaching visa. If you get caught, you will face a fine and your visa will be terminated. You will then be sent home at your own cost. Pretty scary, right?

For some teachers in Korea, the risk is outweighed by two things: 1) the extra (easy) money and the 2) unlikely chance of being caught.

To explain further, ‘getting caught’ teaching private lessons would mean that a police officer or an immigration officer would need to catch you in the act of accepting money from someone for teaching them English. As most private lessons are taught in someone’s apartment, this is not a likely scenario.

How Much Can You Make Teaching Private Lessons in Korea? 

These lessons really can range depending on how many students you are teaching at one time and who you are teaching. The average rate is around 40-50,000 won per hour and lessons are usually one hour in length.

For businessmen, lessons are normally one on one and held at restaurants where your student will pay you the hourly fee on top of buying you dinner and drinks.

So this all sounds like a lot of extra money for little work! And it can be, but you also have to factor in travel time, the fact that you will be teaching at night and again, the risk factor in being caught. Sure, it’s unlikely but you never know who is watching!

A Breakdown of Costs to Live and Teach English in Korea

costs of living and teaching in korea

Apartment costs:

  • Internet: 40,000 won/month
  • Gas: 10,000 won/month (depending on usage)
  • Electricity: 20-35,000/month (depending on usage of A/C & heat)

Visit this post to find out all about the apartments provided by schools in Korea for their teachers.

Groceries: Around *100-150,000 won/month

*Most teachers in Korea do not cook for themselves as local take out restaurants offer excellent food at really low prices, so this cost may be lower.

Dining out: A take out lunch or dinner is around 5-8,000 won. Proper restaurants i.e Korean BBQ, will be closer to 15-20,000 for a full meal (not including alcohol). As a popular activity for teachers, expect to dine out 3-4+ times per month. Budget for around 200-300,000 won/month.

Beers/drinks at the bar: 3-6,000 won (depending on size of the city you’re in).

Public transportation (subway, buses): 1,000 won.

Visit this post to find out more about transportation in Korea.

Taxis: 3-10,000 won is the usual cost of a trip.

How much you save in your time teaching English in Korea will really range from one person to the next. Some teachers in Korea scrimp and save all of the money they earn so that they will go home with as much cash in their pocket as possible; others go out all the time and spend what they make, enjoying their time in Korea to the absolute fullest.

How you spend your money is up to you but if you are interested in teaching English in Korea to save money and to live a great lifestyle, then you will certainly accomplish both! Many teachers are able to tackle all of the adventures living in Korea offers while bringing home enough money to pay down student loans or to put towards further travel.

PRO TIP
To make sure you are saving the minimum amount of money that you desire each month, it is best to go directly to the bank after being paid. There you can send home your desired portion of your pay and live off of the rest.

If you want to get started on your journey to teach English in Korea, you can complete our application form here.

If you have any questions, you can reach one of our Placement Coordinators here or leave a comment below!

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Video Transcript

Hey this is Niko from Travel and Teach Recruiting.  In this video I’m going to talk to you about teaching English and career salaries. Just as a little bit of background on me – I taught in Korea for a year and a half and I currently work as a placement coordinator of helps teachers get there.

Average Teaching English in Korea Salary

So as a placement coordinator one of the most common questions I get is what is the average teaching English in Korea salary.  So for the average salary you’re looking at around 2.1 million Korean Won and that’s industry-wide.

Currently that converts to about nineteen hundred US dollars per month however it’s not exactly fair just to look at it like that as that’s in addition for the salary the school will pay for a plane ticket to Korea which cost about thousand dollars.  And on top of that all the schools will provide you with free accommodation so you don’t have to pay any money for rent and I know for most people usually rent it’s one of the biggest if not the biggest expenses they have each month.

Costs of Living and Teaching English in Korea

So the fact you don’t have to worry about that is HUGE lastly cost of living in Korea is very cheap especially if you eat Korean food which you should because Korean food is delicious.  A meal out it’s not gonna cost you very much and transportation is really cheap. You know buses and subways are very convenient cheap and taxis are inexpensive as well.

So if you do have more qualifications it is actually possible to earn a teaching English in Korea salary if higher then to what 2.1 million won. So the big qualifications that schools are looking for are having an English major from University having an official teaching license in your home country.

And lastly having actual ESL in the classroom teaching experience whether it’s in your home country or even better would be in in an Asian country.

So if you have any of these these things or hope with all these things then it’ll be much more possible for you to get a higher salary in between 2.2 million Korean won – maybe 2.5 and even 2.6 million Korean Won per month.

So hopefully after watching this video you know a little bit more about teaching English in Korea salaries. If you enjoyed this video be sure to hit the subscribe button below for more information and if you’re interested in teaching English in Korea be sure to check out the links below to get started.

No matter your experience, apply now! There are thousands of schools in Korea and each has a different preference for teaching levels. Accordingly, we will find a position that matches your skill level. Finally, even the lowest salaries still provide you with lots of money! No matter what salary you earn, you will be able to save thousands and thousands of dollars throughout your year.

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