South Korea is one of the most popular destinations for teaching English abroad. There's much more to South Korea than its attractive English teaching market and great teaching salaries. Its capital city, Seoul, is one of the largest metropolises in the world, and the country boasts a vibrant culture, food scene, and reasonable visa requirements.
What Requirements Do You Need to Meet to Be an English Teacher in Korea?
To get hired to teach English in Korea, you will need a TEFL certificate and a 4-year college degree. You must acquire an E-2 teaching visa and be a native English speaker as well. Finally, you must have a clean national-level criminal record, and a clean health check and drug test.
Qualifications to teach English in Korea
Now let's look at the following requirements for how to teach English in Korea in detail, starting with the mandatory E-2 teaching visa that’s needed to teach English in South Korea.
Hold citizenship from a recognized English-speaking country ( U.S., U.K., Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand or South Africa)
Have a Bachelor's Degree from an accredited college or university (4 years in the U.S./3 years in the U.K.)
Pass a clean health exam & drug test
Hold a TEFL certification (highly recommended)
Now, remember, these above qualifications are the requirements needed for acquiring an E-2 teaching visa set by the Korean government. Individual employers will have their own unique requirements. For instance, the requirements for teaching English in Korean public schools can be different from what's expected for teaching in a private school (or “hagwon”). Let's dive into this below.
Requirements for Teaching English in Korean Public Schools
For some positions, particularly those in public schools and universities, English teachers in Korea may be required to provide the following:
Teaching English in Korean public schools falls under the EPIK program. EPIK stands for English Program In Korea and is sponsored by the Korean Ministry of Education. Upon being accepted in the program, you will be placed in public school positions throughout the country.
Read more: What is the EPIK Program for Teaching English in South Korea?
Requirements for Teaching English in a Hagwon (Private Korean School)
Hagwons are Korea's for-profit private educational schools. They are distinct from the South Korean public school system and represent the majority of English teaching jobs in the country.
Because there are generally more jobs available at Hagwons than at public schools, it is somewhat easier to get a job at one of these for-profit schools than at a public school.
Note that the basic requirements are similar to public schools, but individual hagwons may have their own requirements.
Additional Documentation Required to Teach English in Korea
All English teachers in Korea must apply and interview for positions – this can be done through a variety of recruiters and government programs, as well as directly through language schools and institutes.
To legally teach English in Korea you must meet certain standards and be able to provide certain documentation. In many cases, documents must receive an international notarization known as an Apostille.
During the process of applying and interviewing for English teaching positions, and getting a visa processed at the consulate after signing a contract, prospective teachers should expect to be able to produce the following documents:
- Bachelor’s and/or Master’s degree/diploma
- Sealed college or university transcript
- Original national-level criminal background check (FBI in the U.S.)
- Passport photos
- Original contract (to be provided by your employer for visa processing at the consulate)
- Original passport that is valid for at least one year
For more information on teaching English in South Korea, including job markets and finances, check out our South Korea Country Profile.