epik korea

EPIK South Korea: The Best Teaching English Program in Asia?

Are you feeling stuck in your current job and yearning for a change? Do you have a passion for teaching and a desire to explore new cultures? The English Program in Korea (EPIK) may be the perfect opportunity for you.

As a sponsored program by the Korean Ministry of Education, EPIK hires over 600 native English speakers yearly to work as assistant English teachers in public K-12 schools throughout South Korea.

In this guide to the EPIK program, we will provide you with all the information you need to know to make an informed decision about teaching in Korea. From the program requirements to the benefits and career opportunities, we will cover everything you need to know to embark on this life-changing adventure.

Key Takeaways

  • EPIK is a teaching recruitment program sponsored by the Korean Ministry of Education
  • Typically, teachers earn $1,800 to $2,400 USD per month.
  • EPIK teachers receive benefits, including a furnished apartment, health insurance, a settlement payment, and flight reimbursement.
  • EPIK participants often go on to continue teaching in Korea in higher-paid jobs or into education in their home countries.

Overview and Requirements

So, you’re interested in teaching with EPIK? Well, let’s start with the program’s overview and requirements.

EPIK is a teaching recruitment program sponsored by the Korean Ministry of Education that hires over 600 native English speakers yearly during their spring and fall recruitment periods.

As an assistant English teacher, you’ll be working in public K-12 schools, so requirements for EPIK include a Bachelor’s degree in any subject, citizenship of certain countries, and a TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certificate. Without a degree, you’ll need to consider other options. And if you’re not a native speaker it’s still possible to teach in South Korea, just not on the EPIK program.

EPIK Requirements at a  Glance

  • Bachelor’s degree in any subject
  • TEFL/TESOL/CELTA Certificate, a BA or MA in Education, or a teaching license
  • Native English speaker
  • Citizenship from Canada, USA, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, UK, or Ireland
  • Clean Criminal Background Check (CRC)
  • Meet all visa requirements for an E-2 or F-4 visa

Source: https://www.epik.go.kr/contents.do?contentsNo=48&menuNo=275

The EPIK application process can be fairly long and competitive, but don’t worry, interview tips are available to help you prepare.

During the application process, you can specify a preferred location, but keep in mind that EPIK can’t guarantee that you’ll be placed near your partner or friend.

If you’re up for the challenge of teaching in Korea and acting as a language and cultural ambassador in the classroom, then EPIK is worth it. Just make sure you have some money in the bank to cover start-up costs and you’ll be on your way to an exciting new adventure abroad.

A Day in the Life of an EPIK Teacher

An EPIK teacher in South Korea typically begins their day around 7:00-7:30 AM, getting ready for school.

7:00 – 7:30 AMWake up and prepare for the day
8:00 AMDepart from home
8:30 AMArrival at school; preparation for the day’s lessons; morning announcements
9:00 – 12:10 PMTeach four 40-minute lessons, each separated by a 10-minute break
12:10 – 1:10 PMLunch break in the school cafeteria
1:10 – 2:40 PMConduct the last two classes of the day
2:40 – 4:30 PMLesson planning for the next day, creating presentations, designing worksheets, and preparing materials
4:30 PMEnd of the school day


Depending on their distance from school, they usually depart around 8:00 AM to reach by the start time at 8:30 AM. This is when students assemble for morning announcements, and teachers prepare for the day in a dedicated English office with other English teachers.

The first of four 40-minute lessons, separated by 10-minute breaks, starts at 9:00 AM. The exact schedule can differ slightly based on the school and principal’s guidelines, with teachers of older students potentially having longer lessons and extended schedules.


Lunchtime, from 12:10 to 1:10 PM, is typically spent in the school cafeteria. Teachers prefer the school lunch for its convenience and affordability, but cannot leave the premises during this period as it’s part of their workday. The day concludes at 4:30 PM due to this integrated lunch break.

After lunch, the final two classes run from 1:10 to 2:40 PM. The EPIK teacher’s role includes planning and conducting activities that complement the curriculum, managing time, and maintaining student focus. A Korean co-teacher assists with half the lesson and provides translation when needed.

Despite students leaving at 2:40 PM, the teacher’s day continues until 4:30 PM, spent planning for the next day, crafting presentations, designing worksheets, and preparing required materials.

EPIK Salary

The EPIK program offers competitive salaries that reflect teachers’ qualifications and experience. Typically, teachers can earn between 2 and 2.7 million South Korean Won (KRW) per month, equivalent to approximately $1,800 to $2,400 USD. This salary package in Korea is considered one of the best in Asia, and teachers in the EPIK program receive a pay rise each subsequent year of teaching.

In public schools, such as those where the EPIK program places teachers, monthly earnings can range from 1.5 to 3 million won ($1,150 to $2,650 USD). Notably, the EPIK program frequently covers housing and flight costs, allowing teachers to save more.

The pay scale level within the EPIK program depends on qualifications and documented teaching experience. For instance, teachers with proof of employment from each of their EFL jobs qualify for Level 1, while those who can only provide proof from one job are categorized as Level 2+. Without accepted proof of employment, teachers fall under Level 3.

Below is a breakdown of monthly salaries per level:

LevelMonthly Salary
12.7 million KRW
22.5 million KRW
32.3 million KRW
42.0 million KRW
51.8 million KRW

The pay scale can also be influenced by the specific location in Korea where the teacher is placed with larger cities receiving a higher salary. The annual pay rise continues to be a hallmark of the EPIK program, serving to increase teachers’ earnings year over year.

EPIK Benefits

As an assistant English teacher in public K-12 schools in South Korea through the EPIK program, you’ll have the responsibility of being a language and cultural ambassador in the classroom. You’ll also receive several fantastic benefits.

These benefits include a furnished apartment, health insurance, settlement payment, and flight reimbursement. With these benefits, you’ll have a comfortable and stable life in Korea as you gain teaching experience and cultural immersion.

EPIK’s Benefits for Teachers

  • furnished apartment
  • health benefits
  • settlement payment
  • flight reimbursement
  • severance pay
  • renewal bonus

To truly take advantage of the cultural immersion aspect of the program, you should take the time to explore the country and engage with its people. There’s always something new to discover with Korea’s rich history, vibrant culture, and delicious food. You can also participate in local events, festivals, or sports to fully immerse yourself in the Korean culture.

By embracing the country and its people, you’ll have an unforgettable experience with the EPIK program.

Career Opportunities

If you participate in the English Program in Korea, you can open doors to various career opportunities. Teaching with EPIK can be a great way to gain experience and build your resume.

Many past EPIK participants have gone on to continue teaching in Korea in a high-paying private school or Korean university, another country, attended graduate school or got a job in education or another field in their home country.

Teaching with EPIK can help pay off student loans, buy a house or car, or pay for graduate school. The program can provide financial freedom and set you up for your next adventure. It’s a chance for a brand new career abroad.

However, there are also challenges to teaching with EPIK. It can be a highly competitive program and the application process is fairly long. Although you can specify a preferred location in your application, EPIK can’t guarantee that you’ll be placed near your partner or friend.

It’s also wise to start EPIK with some money in the bank to cover start-up costs. Despite these challenges, the advantages of teaching with EPIK outweigh the challenges and can lead to exciting career opportunities.

Great starting salaryHighly competitive program
Fantastic benefits (furnished apartment, health insurance, settlement payment, flight reimbursement)Long application process
No time limit to participateCan’t guarantee placement near partner or friend
Chance for a brand new career abroadWise to start with money in the bank

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the average cost of living in Korea for EPIK teachers?

As an EPIK teacher, you can expect to spend around $800-$1200 per month on living expenses. Budgeting tips include cooking at home, using public transportation, and shopping at local markets. Enjoy cultural experiences without breaking the bank.

Are there any opportunities for EPIK teachers to teach subjects other than English?

Teaching opportunities outside of English are limited in the EPIK program. However, some schools may offer elective classes in areas such as science or art. It’s important to clarify subject preferences during the application process.

Can EPIK teachers bring their pets with them to Korea?

Unfortunately, bringing pets is not allowed under EPIK’s pet policies. However, housing options provided by EPIK are usually pet-free. Keep in mind, it may be difficult to find pet-friendly housing in Korea.

Is it possible to participate in EPIK with a criminal record?

If you have a criminal record, EPIK may not be an option due to strict background checks. However, alternative programs may be available. Contact recruitment agencies or research other countries with less strict requirements.

How does the EPIK program handle medical emergencies for its participants?

In case of a medical emergency, EPIK provides emergency procedures and medical insurance for its participants. Rest assured that you’ll receive the necessary medical attention and expenses will be covered.