Are you thinking about teaching English in Korea?
Korea has long-been a popular choice for English teachers living abroad. The small country boasts a beautiful climate, excellent public infrastructure, and world-famous cuisine and culture industry.
Before you hop on a plane, it’s important to know what is needed to teach English in Korea. Some of the requirements are universal, while others depend on the employer.
In this article, you’ll learn about the English language proficiency, nationality, and education requirements, visa requirements, and other conditions some employers might expect. If you’re considering higher education, such as teaching in a South Korean university, be prepared to provide more credentials.
You’ll also learn that having a TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certification is not always mandatory.
English Language Proficiency & Nationality Requirements
You must be a native English speaker from one of seven designated countries to be eligible for an E-2 (Long Term Visa To Teach a Foreign Language) visa. You need to provide a copy of your passport as proof of your citizenship and native English-language proficiency.
The seven recognized English-speaking countries are the US, Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. If you don’t come from one of these countries or don’t meet the English language proficiency requirements, you are ineligible for an E-2 visa.
In order to teach English in Korea, you must possess native-level English language proficiency. This means that you must have a good command of the language, able to read, write, and speak English fluently and accurately.
It’s important to note that teachers from other countries may not be able to teach legally in Korea or may face difficulties finding employment. Even if you are a fluent English speaker, you still cannot acquire an E2 visa if you are not from an English-speaking country.
If you’re looking to teach English in Korea, you’ll need to meet certain education requirements. To be eligible, you should possess a Bachelor’s degree or higher.
The TaLK program used to employ English teachers in South Korea without a Bachelor’s degree; however, it was cancelled in 2021 amidst the pandemic. From then on, all teaching positions in South Korea require at least an undergraduate degree.
Bachelor’s Degree (or Higher)
Earning a bachelor’s degree or higher is essential for teaching English in Korea, so don’t miss out on this exciting opportunity!
To teach English in South Korea, you must have at least a bachelor’s degree in any field from an accredited university. Many employers may prefer or require a degree in education, linguistics, or a related field, so it’s important to research the specific requirements of the job you’re applying for.
A bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement for teaching English in Korea, so make sure you meet this requirement before applying for any positions.
How to Get Your Degree Verified & Apostilled
Once you’ve earned your degree, you’ll need to have it verified and apostilled for teaching ESL in Korea. An apostille is a document verification that is recognized internationally.
Here are the steps you’ll need to take:
- Make a high-quality color copy of your diploma on card stock paper.
- Take the original and the copy of your diploma to a notary. Make sure to have the notary include your signature, the date, the notary’s name and signature, the notary’s seal, and the notary’s license expiration.
- Apply for an apostille in your country of residence. Procedures vary slightly by country, but most can be done through mail or in-person.
- Wait for the apostille to be processed and returned.
Following these steps will ensure that all the necessary documents are verified and apostilled for teaching ESL in Korea. Doing so will open many exciting opportunities for you.
Before you can teach English in Korea, you’ll need to secure a visa. The type of visa you’ll need depends on your nationality and employer.
For language instructors, you’ll need an E-2 visa; for university professors, an E-1 visa; and for permanent residents or spouses of Koreans, an F-series visa.
You’ll also need to get a health check and drug test before starting your visa application.
E-2 visa (for language instructors)
You may be eligible to teach English in Korea with an E-2 visa, so make sure you have all the necessary documents to make the process as smooth as possible.
- A valid passport and a visa application form.
- A contract or a confirmation letter from the employer in Korea.
- A bachelor’s degree or higher and an apostille or verification certificate.
- A national criminal background check and an apostille or verification certificate.
In addition to the documents listed above, you’ll also need a health certificate, a drug test result, and a passport photo. It’s important to have all the necessary documents in order to get your E-2 visa approved and be able to teach English in Korea.
E-1 visa (for university professors)
For those looking to pursue a professorship in Korea, the E-1 visa provides the necessary authorization. Again, it’s essential to have the appropriate documentation. This includes a valid passport, a confirmation letter from the employer, a bachelor’s degree or higher with an apostille or verification certificate, a criminal background check with an apostille or verification certificate, a health certificate, a drug test result, and a passport photo.
In addition, the application process for the E-1 visa may take up to four months, so it’s important to plan accordingly. With the right documentation and patience, the E-1 visa will provide teachers the opportunity to explore a career in teaching in Korea.
F-5 Visa (for permanent residents or spouses of Koreans)
If you’re a permanent resident or a spouse of a Korean citizen, you may be eligible for a F-5 Visa, which allows you to teach English in Korea.
To apply for this visa, you’ll need to provide the same documents as you would for an E-1 Visa, along with additional documents. These include a permanent residency card or a confirmation letter from the immigration office, a national criminal background check with an apostille or verification certificate, a health certificate and a drug test result, and a passport photo.
Spouses of Korean nationals will need to verify their marriage through the respective Korean agencies. Permanent Korean residents (of five years or more) will need to verify their status as well.
Once you’ve gathered all of the required documents, you’ll need to submit them to the Korean embassy or consulate in your country. Once your application is approved, you’ll receive your visa and can begin teaching in Korea.
Pro Tip: How to Get Your Health Check & Drug Test
Getting your health check and drug test can be a bit of a hassle, but it’s essential for living and working in Korea. Here’s what you need to do:
- Find a government-approved hospital or clinic.
- Ask your employer, the immigration office, or the Korean Disease Control Agency (KDCA) for recommendations.
- Make an appointment and prepare the documents.
- Have your passport, visa, alien registration card, health declaration form, and fee ready.
- Take the health check.
- This may involve a chest x-ray, blood test, urine test, drug test, and physical examination.
- Receive your health certificate.
- Submit it to your employer or the immigration office within 90 days of your arrival.
TEFL/TESOL/CELTA Is Not Mandatory
Having a TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certificate may not be mandatory, but it could be the difference between landing a great job and missing out.
A TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certificate is highly recommended for teaching English in Korea and is often required by employers. It should be at least 100 hours long and include some practical teaching experience or observation.
With a TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certificate, you’ll be better prepared for the job, improve your teaching skills, and qualify for higher salaries or bonuses.
There are plenty of reputable online and in-person TEFL/TESOL/CELTA courses that can help you get the certificate you need to succeed in teaching English in Korea.
Investing in one of these courses is a great way to improve your chances of getting hired and get the career you’ve always wanted.
Requirements of Some Employers
Some employers may demand certain criteria, such as being a native speaker from one of seven designated countries (USA, Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa).
Along with this, they may require or prefer teachers with previous teaching experience or relevant qualifications, such as a master’s degree, a teaching license, etc.
To stand out in the job interview, it’s important to showcase one’s skills and qualifications in a resume and in the interview. This includes highlighting any relevant teaching experience, any certifications, and any other qualifications that make you a great candidate.
Additionally, it’s important to come prepared with questions about the job, the school, and the Korean culture. Doing research beforehand and being prepared will show that you’re serious and qualified for the job.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best way to find a job teaching English in Korea?
The best way to find a job teaching English in Korea is to research online job postings, networking with other English teachers, and applying to language schools in the area. There are many online resources to help you find the right job.
What are the average salaries for teaching English in Korea?
On average, teaching English in Korea pays around $2,000 – $3,900 per month. Salaries vary based on experience and qualifications.
What are the housing options for teachers in Korea?
You have a few options for housing in Korea as a teacher. You can rent an apartment, look for a homestay, shared house, or consider a housing allowance. Research your options to find what works best for you.
Are there any cultural differences I should be aware of when teaching in Korea?
Yes, there are cultural differences to be aware of when teaching in Korea. Koreans have a strong sense of hierarchy and respect for authority figures. They expect politeness and formality in the classroom. You may also encounter different attitudes towards punctuality and group dynamics.
Your dream of teaching English in Korea can be a reality! All you need to do is meet certain requirements.
You need to demonstrate English language proficiency, have a college degree, and obtain a valid visa. E-2 visas for English teaching are only available to native English speaking citizens. While having a TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certification is highly advised, it’s not mandatory.
Some employers may have additional requirements, so be sure to research those before applying. Official documents are usually much easier to obtain in your home country, so make sure you do all of this before leaving!
Overall, with the right qualifications, you can make your dream of teaching English in Korea come true!