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What is the average English teacher salary in South Korea?



Teaching English in South Korea is not just a job, it's an opportunity to immerse yourself in a vibrant culture while making a significant impact on students' lives. As one of the most sought-after destinations for teaching English abroad, South Korea offers a compelling package of competitive salaries and comprehensive benefits. This makes it an attractive option for individuals from various professional backgrounds seeking a substantial and rewarding experience abroad.

For many, the idea of moving to another country to teach can seem daunting, especially when considering the financial aspects. However, South Korea stands out for its ability to provide English teachers with a stable income that not only covers living expenses but also allows for savings—thanks in part to additional benefits like free housing and flight reimbursements provided by many teaching programs. This financial stability is a key factor that draws teachers to South Korea from all around the globe.

Whether you're a recent graduate looking to start your career, a seasoned educator seeking a change of scenery, or someone from a completely different professional background interested in exploring new opportunities, teaching English in South Korea might be the perfect next step. The country offers a variety of teaching environments, from bustling urban centers like Seoul and Busan to quieter, rural towns, each presenting its own unique set of experiences and rewards.

As you consider this exciting opportunity, it's important to understand what to expect in terms of earnings. The salary for an English teacher in South Korea can vary based on several factors including your educational background, experience, and the type of institution where you teach. In the following sections, we'll explore the different teaching options available and the typical salaries associated with each, helping you make an informed decision about your journey into teaching English in South Korea.

Factors Influencing Salary

The salary of English teachers in South Korea can vary significantly based on several key factors. Understanding these variables can help prospective teachers set realistic expectations about their potential earnings and choose positions that align with their career goals and lifestyle preferences.


The location where one teaches in South Korea plays a critical role in determining salary. Major metropolitan areas like Seoul and Busan often offer higher salaries due to the higher cost of living and greater demand for English education. However, these areas also come with higher living expenses, which can offset the increased income. Conversely, teaching in rural or smaller towns might come with lower salaries, but the cost of living is significantly reduced, often resulting in more disposable income or savings potential. Additionally, some programs may offer additional incentives for teachers willing to work in more remote or less desirable locations to attract quality educators.


A teacher’s qualifications are another crucial factor affecting salary levels. Generally, teachers with higher educational qualifications (such as a Master’s degree or a PhD) and specialized certifications (like TEFL, TESOL, or CELTA) command higher salaries. Additionally, teachers who have previous teaching experience, particularly in ESL or in a formal school setting, can often negotiate higher wages compared to those entering the field for the first time. Some schools and programs explicitly scale their pay grades based on years of experience and the level of education a teacher has attained.

Type of Institution

The type of institution also significantly impacts salary. For instance:

  • Public Schools: These generally offer a set salary range that is quite competitive, with additional benefits like housing, which can make the overall compensation package more attractive. Salaries in public schools are usually standardized according to government scales.

  • Private Academies (Hagwons): Salaries can vary more widely in hagwons and are often influenced by the hours worked and the responsibilities undertaken. While some hagwons might offer salaries comparable to public schools, others may pay less but provide more opportunities for additional tutoring or overtime hours.

  • International Schools: These institutions often offer the highest salaries, reflecting the higher qualifications and experience required. International schools typically provide salaries comparable to Western education standards and include substantial benefits packages, which can include housing, annual flights home, and tuition for children.

  • Universities: Like international schools, universities in South Korea offer competitive salaries, especially for those with advanced degrees and substantial teaching experience. However, these positions are less frequently available and require higher qualifications.

  • Private Tutoring: While technically not an institution, private tutoring can sometimes supplement a teacher's income substantially. Rates per hour are significantly higher than typical school wages, but legal restrictions apply, and teachers need to manage this aspect carefully to stay compliant with visa regulations.

Understanding these factors can help prospective English teachers in South Korea navigate their options and negotiate the best possible terms for their employment. Being aware of how each element affects salary will also assist teachers in making informed decisions about where and how they choose to teach English in South Korea.

Public School Teaching Jobs and Salaries

Teaching in public schools in South Korea is a popular choice for many foreign English teachers due to the structured programs and comprehensive benefits offered. These positions are typically filled through government-sponsored programs such as the English Program in Korea (EPIK), Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education (SMOE), and Gyeonggi English Program in Korea (GEPIK).


Salaries in public schools can vary depending on the teacher's qualifications and experience but generally range from 1.5 to 3 million Won per month. First-time teachers can expect to start at the lower end of this scale, while more experienced teachers or those with advanced qualifications may earn towards the higher end.


In addition to competitive salaries, public school positions come with several significant benefits, including:

  • Housing: Teachers are either provided with free furnished housing or given a housing allowance. This significant benefit helps reduce the cost of living and allows teachers more financial freedom to save or explore South Korea.
  • Flight Reimbursement: Most programs offer reimbursement for one round-trip airfare from your home country to South Korea, further reducing the financial burden of moving abroad.
  • Settlement Allowance: Programs like EPIK provide a one-time settlement allowance to help cover the initial costs of living expenses when teachers first arrive.
  • Health Insurance: Teachers are provided with health insurance, half of which is typically paid for by the employer, ensuring comprehensive medical coverage during their stay.
  • Paid Vacation: Public school teachers usually enjoy generous vacation time, which includes both scheduled school breaks and a number of personal days, allowing ample opportunity to travel and explore.

Application Process

The application process for teaching in public schools is thorough and requires planning and preparation:

  1. Application Submission: Candidates must submit a detailed application form along with their resume, photos, and a personal essay or teaching philosophy. Early application is recommended as positions are competitive and filled on a first-come, first-served basis.
  2. Documentation: Applicants need to provide notarized and apostilled copies of their diplomas and criminal background checks. These documents are essential for the visa application and hiring process.
  3. Interview: After reviewing applications, selected candidates are interviewed. This interview may be conducted online or by telephone and focuses on the applicant’s teaching philosophy, understanding of Korean culture, and adaptability to living abroad.
  4. Visa Process: Once hired, teachers must obtain an E-2 visa, which involves submitting various documents to the nearest Korean consulate or embassy.
  5. Orientation: Upon arrival in South Korea, teachers typically undergo a comprehensive orientation program, which includes training on teaching methods, language and cultural immersion, and administrative procedures.

Teaching in a public school in South Korea through one of these government-sponsored programs offers a secure and well-supported way to explore teaching abroad. With solid salaries and benefits, teachers can enjoy a comfortable lifestyle while experiencing the rich culture and dynamic landscape of South Korea.

Private Academy (Hagwon) Teaching Jobs and Salaries

Private academies, known as Hagwons in South Korea, are prevalent throughout the country and offer distinct experiences from public school positions. These institutions are privately owned and operate with the primary goal of providing extra educational services to students of all ages, from young children to adults preparing for university entrance exams.

Work Environment and Hours

The work environment in hagwons can vary significantly from one academy to another, but there are common characteristics that many share. Typically, hagwons have smaller class sizes, which allows for more personalized attention to students but can also demand high energy and adaptability from teachers to meet diverse educational needs.

Hagwon hours differ considerably from the typical daytime schedule of public schools. Many hagwons operate in the afternoons and evenings to accommodate students attending public school during the day. Teachers might expect to start their day in the late afternoon and finish in the evening, although specific hours can vary. Some hagwons also offer morning classes for younger children or adults, adding to the variety of schedules available.


Salaries in hagwons are competitive, and in some cases, can be higher than those offered in public schools, especially when factoring in overtime or additional classes. The typical salary range is between 2.1 to 2.5 million Won per month, with variations depending on the teacher’s experience, qualifications, and the specific hagwon’s location and prestige.

In addition to the salary, many hagwons offer similar benefits to public schools, including housing or a housing allowance, health insurance, and severance pay equivalent to one month's salary upon completion of a contract. However, vacation days in hagwons are generally fewer than in public schools, typically ranging from 7 to 10 days per year, plus national holidays.

Other Considerations

While working in a hagwon can be financially rewarding and provide flexible scheduling, potential teachers should be diligent in researching potential employers. The reputation and reliability of hagwons can vary, and it is crucial to secure a position with a reputable academy. Teachers are advised to read contract details carefully, seek feedback from current or former employees, and ensure that the hagwon is compliant with South Korean labor laws to avoid any legal or financial issues.

Teaching in a hagwon can offer a dynamic and engaging experience, allowing teachers to develop close relationships with their students and adapt their teaching styles to meet individual needs. For many educators, hagwons provide an exciting opportunity to influence their students' educational journeys profoundly while living and working in vibrant South Korean communities.

International School Teaching Jobs and Salaries

International schools in South Korea offer a unique teaching experience, as these institutions typically follow an international curriculum such as that of the IB (International Baccalaureate), American, or British systems. Teaching at an international school often mirrors the experience of teaching in a similar institution in the West, both in terms of educational standards and cultural diversity within the student body.

Qualifications Required

The qualifications required for teaching at international schools in South Korea are generally higher than those needed for public schools or hagwons. Most international schools seek teachers who have:

  • A bachelor’s degree in education or a subject relevant to what they will be teaching.
  • A teaching license or certification from their home country.
  • Several years of teaching experience, preferably within an international or culturally diverse environment.
  • Often, a master’s degree in education or a related field is preferred or required, especially for higher-level or specialized positions.

Job Responsibilities

Teachers at international schools are expected to engage deeply with their subject matter and often have responsibilities that go beyond classroom teaching, including:

  • Developing and implementing a curriculum that meets international standards.
  • Assessing student progress and adapting educational approaches to meet the needs of diverse learners.
  • Participating in a wide range of school activities, including extracurricular activities, parent-teacher meetings, and professional development sessions.
  • Collaborating with other teachers to plan, coordinate, and evaluate instructional methods and goals.

Salary Ranges

Salaries at international schools in South Korea are typically among the highest available for teaching positions, reflecting the higher qualifications required and the responsibilities involved. Salaries can range from approximately 2.5 million Won to over 3 million Won per month. In addition to salary, international schools often offer comprehensive benefits packages that can include:

  • Housing allowance or provided housing.
  • Annual flights to and from the teacher’s home country.
  • Health insurance and pension contributions.
  • Tuition waivers or significant discounts for children of teachers.
  • Generous vacation time, often aligning with the school’s international calendar.

These benefits make teaching at international schools an attractive option for qualified educators looking to move abroad with their families or those seeking a stable, long-term international teaching career. The professional environment at these schools is typically very supportive, with strong emphasis on continuous professional development and educational excellence.

Overall, teaching at an international school in South Korea offers a rewarding professional experience, with competitive compensation and the opportunity to work in a dynamic, multicultural educational setting. For teachers with the requisite qualifications and a desire to engage in a high-level educational practice, international schools provide an excellent career opportunity.

University Teaching Jobs and Salaries

Teaching at the university level in South Korea is highly coveted due to the prestige, relatively light teaching load, and attractive compensation packages. University positions are generally more challenging to secure than jobs in public schools or hagwons due to stricter requirements and higher competition.

Requirements for University Teaching Positions

University teaching positions in South Korea typically require:

  • A Master’s degree as a minimum educational requirement, often in a field relevant to the subject being taught. For more prestigious or senior positions, a Doctoral degree may be necessary.
  • Extensive teaching experience, preferably at the collegiate or university level.
  • Demonstrable research capabilities, including publications in academic journals, are highly valued and often required, particularly for tenure-track positions.
  • Fluency in English is a must, and while not always required, some knowledge of Korean can be advantageous, particularly for administrative tasks or roles that require more significant interaction with staff or local students.

Typical Workload

The workload for university instructors in South Korea can vary significantly between institutions but generally involves:

  • Teaching: University teachers typically have a lighter teaching load compared to their counterparts in primary and secondary education. A standard load can be around 12 to 16 hours of classroom teaching per week.
  • Research: In addition to teaching, faculty members are often expected to conduct research, publish papers, attend conferences, and contribute to the academic community.
  • Service: This can include mentoring students, serving on committees, and participating in faculty governance.

Potential Earnings

Salaries for university teaching jobs in South Korea are competitive and can vary based on factors like the teacher’s academic qualifications, experience, the prestige of the institution, and the specific terms of the contract. Generally, salaries range from:

  • 2.3 million Won to 3.5 million Won per month.

In addition to salary, university positions often include:

  • Subsidized housing or a housing allowance.
  • Health insurance and pension contributions.
  • Severance pay equivalent to one month's salary per year of service, paid at the end of the contract.
  • Reimbursement for relocation expenses and possibly annual travel allowances to the teacher’s home country.

While these positions offer fewer of the structured benefits seen in public school or hagwon positions, such as set vacation times and organized extracurricular activities, they compensate by offering greater academic freedom, opportunities for professional development, and a more relaxed daily schedule.

University positions are ideal for individuals seeking a career in academia or those looking to transition from teaching younger learners to adult students. They provide a respected platform for personal and professional growth and offer a chance to live comfortably while experiencing the rich cultural tapestry of South Korea.

Private Tutoring: Opportunities and Earnings

Private tutoring in South Korea presents a lucrative opportunity for English teachers to supplement their income. However, this sector comes with its specific set of legalities, challenges, and potential financial benefits that educators must navigate carefully.

Legal Considerations

The legality of private tutoring in South Korea is tightly regulated. Foreign teachers' work visas typically bind them to their sponsoring employer—usually a school or university. Engaging in private tutoring outside of this arrangement can sometimes violate visa conditions unless the teacher secures the appropriate permissions. Before pursuing private tutoring opportunities, teachers should:

  • Consult with their employer and the immigration office to understand the regulations and secure necessary permissions.
  • Consider obtaining an F-visa, which allows for more work flexibility, including private tutoring, without being tied to a single employer.

Challenges of Private Tutoring

Private tutoring, while potentially profitable, poses several challenges:

  • Scheduling: Balancing private tutoring sessions with a full-time teaching job requires careful time management, especially since tutoring often takes place during after-school hours, evenings, or weekends.
  • Location and logistics: Organizing suitable venues for tutoring sessions—whether in cafes, students' homes, or online—can add logistical complexities and costs.
  • Market saturation: In cities, the market for private tutoring can be highly competitive, with many qualified teachers offering their services. Standing out in such a crowded market may require special skills, flexible pricing, or a unique teaching style.

Financial Benefits

Despite these challenges, private tutoring can be highly rewarding financially. Rates for private tutoring in South Korea vary widely based on the teacher’s qualifications, experience, and the tutoring setting, but typical rates are:

  • 25,000 to 50,000 Won per hour, with experienced teachers or those offering specialized skills or preparation for tests like TOEFL or IELTS potentially charging more.

Additional Considerations

To maximize the benefits and minimize the risks of private tutoring, teachers should:

  • Maintain a high standard of professionalism and quality in their tutoring services to build a good reputation and secure repeat clients or referrals.
  • Keep accurate records of earnings and work hours, as this additional income may need to be reported for tax purposes.
  • Use legal and reliable platforms for advertising services and securing clients, ensuring that all interactions are above board and that financial transactions are secure.

Private tutoring in South Korea can significantly enhance a teacher's earnings and provide a more personalized teaching experience. However, it requires careful consideration of legal restrictions and thoughtful management of the associated challenges. For those able to navigate these complexities, private tutoring offers a flexible and rewarding extension to their teaching career in South Korea.

Benefits Beyond Salary

While the salary for teaching English in South Korea is certainly attractive, the non-salary benefits that come with most teaching positions can significantly enhance the overall compensation package. These benefits not only provide financial relief but also add convenience and security to life abroad. They play a crucial role in making teaching in South Korea a highly sought-after opportunity for many international educators.

Housing Benefits

One of the most significant benefits offered to English teachers in South Korea is housing or a housing allowance. Most schools, whether public, private academies (hagwons), or even some universities, provide either furnished apartments for their teachers or a stipend that covers the cost of rent. This benefit removes the burden of finding and financing accommodation from the teacher, which can be particularly daunting in a foreign country. Not having to pay rent or only covering a portion of it can free up a significant amount of money that can be saved or spent on exploring South Korea and its culture.

Flight Reimbursements

Many teaching contracts include the reimbursement of airfare to and from South Korea. This typically covers a round-trip ticket for the teacher at the beginning and end of the contract. Some schools even offer annual flights home, which is particularly appealing for those who plan to stay for more than one year. This benefit not only eases the financial burden associated with international travel but also encourages teachers to commit to longer tenures.

Health Insurance

Health insurance is another critical benefit provided to teachers. The South Korean healthcare system is known for its efficiency and affordability, and teachers typically receive health insurance that covers both medical and dental care. The cost of this insurance is usually split between the employer and the employee, making it highly affordable. This coverage ensures that teachers have access to excellent healthcare services without incurring significant out-of-pocket expenses.

Severance Pay and Pension Contributions

In addition to these benefits, teachers in South Korea typically receive severance pay equivalent to one month's salary at the end of their contract. This serves as a bonus for completing the contract term and can significantly boost savings. Furthermore, contributions to a pension scheme are often made by both the employer and the teacher, which can be claimed back when leaving the country, depending on the teacher’s home country’s agreement with South Korea.

Additional Perks

Other perks can include bonuses for contract renewal, professional development opportunities, and cultural excursions that enhance the teachers’ understanding and appreciation of Korean culture. Schools often organize or sponsor these events to help foreign teachers feel more at home and integrated into their community.

These comprehensive benefits packages not only make teaching in South Korea financially rewarding but also provide a safety net and added incentives that make the experience more comfortable and enriching. For many teachers, these benefits are a significant draw, often outweighing the initial challenges of moving and adapting to a new country.


Teaching English in South Korea offers an array of financial and professional benefits that extend far beyond a simple paycheck. The competitive salaries combined with substantial non-salary benefits such as free housing, flight reimbursements, comprehensive health insurance, and severance pay make South Korea one of the most attractive destinations for English teachers globally. Additionally, these benefits contribute to a high standard of living and provide significant savings potential, making the opportunity to teach in South Korea not only a career-enhancing move but also a financially prudent one.

Beyond the monetary and practical advantages, teaching in South Korea allows educators to immerse themselves in a vibrant culture, develop valuable teaching and interpersonal skills, and build lasting relationships both locally and with fellow international teachers. Whether you are a new educator looking to start your career or an experienced teacher seeking a new adventure, the comprehensive benefits package offered in South Korea supports an enriching professional and personal experience that can have lasting impacts on your life and career. With these attractive incentives, it's clear why so many choose to embark on the rewarding journey of teaching English in South Korea.

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