can you teach in south korea without a degree?

Can You Teach English In South Korea Without a Degree?

If you have a desire to live and work abroad, teaching English in Korea may have crossed your mind. However, you might wonder whether a degree is necessary to teach English in Korea.

The answer is, technically, yes. Korea does require a degree to teach English legally. But don’t worry; alternative options can help you fulfill your dream of living in Korea; we just don’t recommend teaching as one of them.

Key Takeaways

  • A degree is required for legal teaching in South Korea.
  • The TaLK program was the only alternative option without a degree but was ended due to the pandemic in 2021.
  • Teaching without a degree can lead to deportation/legal consequences.
  • Online teaching and working holiday program are alternative options to consider.

Legal Requirements

There are three main basic requirements for teaching legally in Korea:

  • a bachelor’s degree,
  • a valid work visa,
  • English proficiency.

If you want to teach English in Korea legally, you must have a degree according to the legal requirements.

Visa restrictions in Korea require that foreign teachers have a valid work visa, which can only be obtained with a degree. Additionally, English proficiency (or being a native speaker) is a requirement for obtaining a work visa, and a degree is seen as evidence of this proficiency.

While finding teaching jobs in Korea without a degree may be possible, these jobs are often illegal and can result in deportation or other legal consequences. Following the legal requirements is essential to ensure a safe and secure teaching experience in Korea.

Alternative Options

Looking for alternative options to work in Korea without a degree legally?

There are a few possibilities available for you.

The TaLK Program (Closed 2021)

The TaLK program was a viable option for those without a degree, as it provided a legal pathway to teaching in Korea and offered benefits and support. Unfortunately, it was suspended in 2021 due to the pandemic. 

a screenshot from the TALK program (closed 2021)

There’s no word from the Korean government that the program will be continued in the future. The website is down, and we couldn’t find any further information. 

Online Teaching

You can consider teaching online. Teaching English online is becoming increasingly popular, and many companies hire teachers without degrees. This option allows you to gain valuable teaching experience and build up your resume while working from your home.

Working Holiday Program (but no teaching English!)

Another option is the working holiday program. This program allows you to travel and work in Korea for up to one year. However, there are specific requirements you must meet to be eligible, such as being a citizen of certain countries and meeting the age limit.

Breaking the Law (Not Recommended!)

It’s important to reiterate the risks associated with bending the rules – in other words, teaching English without a degree. Not only is this practice illegal, but it also drifts into murky ethical waters.

Like many countries, South Korea requires a specific visa to teach English. Working without this visa, typically obtained by people without a degree, is a breach of the law and can result in severe consequences. If caught teaching without an E-2 visa, you risk facing deportation and being fined, tarnishing your record and hampering any future aspirations to work or travel abroad.

Teaching English without a degree can lead to a substandard education for your students. In many cases, a degree ensures that an individual possesses the necessary foundational knowledge and training to instruct effectively. The lack of such qualifications can negatively impact the quality of education provided to students.

We strongly recommend you acquire a degree before seeking English teaching positions in South Korea! 

Teaching Jobs In Korea

Finding Teaching Jobs in Korea

To find teaching jobs in Korea, you should start by researching various job boards and networking with other expats in the country. Some popular job boards include Dave’s ESL Cafe, Koreabridge, and Craigslist. You may also want to check with recruiting agencies, such as Korvia and Adventure Teaching, who can help you find positions and guide you through the application process. Networking with other expats can also be helpful, as they may have insider information on job openings or be able to connect you with potential employers.

Salary and benefits 

The remuneration for teaching English in South Korea varies, often based on your qualifications, the type of school, and geographical location.

Salaries for legal English teachers with degrees or people on the EPIK program in Korea generally commence at 2.1 million Korean Won ($1,800) per month and can escalate to as high as 2.8 million Korean Won ($2,400). However, these figures fluctuate based on the teaching institution; for example, whether you’re employed by a public or a private school.

The importance of holding a degree in this context is undeniable and can significantly influence earning potential.

As per data from, certain private schools are prepared to offer remunerations as high as 3.5 million KRW ($3,000) per month for teachers with both a degree and relevant experience. This is a marked contrast to the potential earnings for teachers without degrees, who may earn as low as 1.5 million KRW ($1,300) per month.

Remember that teaching English without a degree in South Korea is illegal and therefore voids any legal protection you may otherwise have in the event of job-related disputes. Essentially, without a degree, teachers earn less and sacrifice the safeguards that come with legal employment.

 With DegreeWithout Degree
Average Salary (EPIK)$1,450 – $2,180Impossible to be accepted
Average Salary (General)$1,800 – $2,400Illegal & salary but could be as low as $1,300
Maximum Salary (Private Schools)Up to $3,000Illegal
Legal Protection & BenefitsYesNo
Job OpportunitiesPublic & Private Schools, EPIK ProgramUnderground opportunities in low-quality hagwons

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you teach English in Korea if you have a degree in a field other than Education or English?

Yes, you can teach English in Korea with a degree in a field other than education or English. However, you will need teaching experience and language proficiency. Consider taking a TEFL course and researching job opportunities in Korea.

What is the cost of living in Korea for English teachers?

Living costs in Korea on a TaLK program salary can be affordable with budgeting. Teaching English without a degree is illegal, but TaLK requires two years of BA or associate degree. Online teaching and working holiday programs are alternative options.

Is it possible to find teaching jobs in Korea without going through a recruitment agency?

Yes, it is possible to find teaching jobs in Korea without going through a recruitment agency. Freelance teaching opportunities are available online or by directly networking with schools. However, be aware of visa requirements and legal issues.

What is the process for obtaining a work visa for teaching in Korea, and how long does it usually take?

To obtain a work visa for teaching in Korea, you must have a job offer from a registered school. It can take up to 4-6 weeks for processing.