Categorized | ESL, Korea

Teaching in South Korea: Job Types

There are different types of ESL teaching jobs in South Korea. They each have pros and cons, so let’s take a look at each of them.

Private Academies (Hagwons)

Private English academies are everywhere in South Korea. This is easily the most common job on the peninsula for expats. There are many different types of jobs however. Students range from kindergarten, to elementary, to middle, to high school, and even adults.

Depending on the age of the students will determine the time of day you will be working. Kindergarten’s are usually in the morning and early afternoon. However, elementary, middle, and high school jobs are after normal school hours and can go to as late as 10pm. Adults will also vary. Sometimes you will teach split shifts working in the morning before they go to work and again in the evening after they are off.

Pay is typically pretty decent with salaries starting out around 2 million won a month with no experience. Vacation time is usually limited to 10 days a year, but this can vary like so many other things.

Hagwons are viewed as a little riskier by many people since there have been many fly by night academies. There are a lot of well established chains as well as independents. Do your due diligence and you should be okay.

Public Schools

Public school jobs are very popular for a few reasons. First, you work typical school hours and not nights like most hagwons. Secondly, there is usually more vacation time. Some schools give up to 8 weeks of vacation compared to the 10 days which is normal for a hagwon.

However, not everything is equal. Pay generally starts off lower at public schools where you can find starting salaries in the 1.8 million won a month range for those with no experience. There will also be a Korean co-teacher in the class with you most of the time which can be viewed as a good or bad thing depending on who the person is.


These are the hardest jobs to come by for first timers. The universities will usually look for someone with either experience or good credentials (master’s degree in ESL or something similar) before hiring someone with no experience. The jobs are usually the ones sought after by those who have been in country for some time and plan on staying.

While the pay isn’t necessarily the best, the vacation time can be better than the other jobs. The teaching time generally is lower as well. While hagwon teachers might teach up to 30 hours a week and public school teachers up to 22, university teachers might teach anywhere from 12-16 hours.

With each of these jobs there are pros and cons. You first need to figure out what you value most (time or money). Then you can better proceed with what type of job to pursue if you decide to come to South Korea to teach.

About Eric Bynum
I taught ESL for three years in South Korea and now I am looking to set out on a new journey after just finishing my teaching certification in the US. I hope to continue teaching and traveling and you can follow his journeys here.

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One Response to “Teaching in South Korea: Job Types”

  1. I’ve read about so many travel bloggers who earn a good living by teaching English in South Korea. Quite trendy nowadays…
    And I read more and more often about the country.


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