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The Requirements for Teaching English in Korea

The Requirements for Teaching English in Korea
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Whether you are an experienced ESL teacher, or a someone who just recently got TEFL certified, 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.

Let’s take a look at those requirements in more detail, starting with the mandatory E-2 teaching visa that’s needed to be able to teach English in Korea.

To Teach English in South Korea You Must Meet the Following Baseline Requirements:

  • Citizenship from a recognized English-speaking nation: U.S., U.K., Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand or South Africa.
  • Bachelor’s degree/diploma from an accredited college or university (4 years in US/3 years in UK).
  • A background check showing a clean national-level criminal record that is free of any charges or convictions.
  • Clean health check and drug test.

Remember that these are just the requirements for acquiring an E-2 teaching visa set by the Korean government - individual employers will have their own unique requirements, and the requirements for teaching English in Korean public schools can be different from what's expected for teaching in a private school (or “hagwon”).



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 consulate)
  • Original passport that is valid for at least one year

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 that individual hagwons may have their own requirements (if any specific examples of this can be provided, include them).

Read more: What is a Hagwon for Teaching English in South Korea?

Read more: Teaching in South Korean Private Schools (Hagwons) vs Public Schools


For more information on teaching English in South Korea, including job markets and finances, check out our South Korea Country Profile.


Posted In: Teach English in South Korea, Teach English in Asia, Teach English Abroad Visas

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