how to become an English Teacher in South Korea

Hundreds if not thousands of people come to South Korea on sponsored E2 Visas as English Language Teachers. Because of this there are pages and pages of information most of which is correct and useful, but on the other hand some of it is wrong, dated and bad. Like most of our articles this post is a mix of hard and true facts as well as opinion based advice.

E2 Visa Requirements

It’s also useful to note that South Korean Immigration rules and laws change often and therefore in a few months time a new requirement maybe added, changed or removed. However these are the current requirements for becoming an English Teacher in South Korea:

  • A National of one of these seven countries: USA, Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand or South Africa.
  • A full Bachelors Degree (from a reputable and accredited University)
  • A Clean National Criminal Record Check (CRB) (Americans – FBI check, Brits – Disclosure Scotland, Other countries are similar)

That is it, if you match this requirements you can get an Sponsored English Teaching Job in South Korea.

These are the required documents you’ll need to submit in your E2 visa application:

  • Both your Original Degree Certificate & Criminal Record Check (they both need to be legalized and apostilled.)
  • Color Copy of your Passport (the page with your picture)
  • Health Check Statement
  • Copy of Your Resume
  • Signed copy of your work Contract
  • two passport-sized photos
  • one set of sealed university transcripts (these were required, then weren’t and then were again. I’m unsure if they are still)

Normally you send these documents to your future school, once they’ve been submitted to Immigration it takes about 3 to 6 weeks to process (longer for South Africans), therefore it should take less than 2 months.

Five Things to Consider

Before even looking for an English Teaching Job in South Korea you need to at least think about and consider the following questions, as they are very important:

  1. Linking back to a couple of other previous posts, WHY? 10 Good Reasons to become a Teacher in South Korea & Secondly 10 Bad Reasons to become a Teacher in South Korea. If your taking a teaching job in South Korea for the right reasons then great but if you have reasons other then the job itself you should think careful before taking a life changing step.
  2. WHEN? Planing a realistic start date is important as you’ll need to find the right role and shouldn’t rush into the first thing that comes along.
  3. WHERE? Location is so important when taking any job, but in a new country being in a comfortable location is very important. You need to be realistic, you won’t find a good job in central Seoul (or maybe Seoul in general) without experience but neighboring cities such as Incheon, Suwon and Seongnam are all good. *Hint* Don’t trust a recruiter that says it’s only an hour away from Seoul, do your research before.
  4. WHAT Age? The most common options are Kindergarten + Elementary (3 to 12) or Elementary + Middle (6 to 15). There are also High School and Adult teaching roles but they are limited.
  5. Public or Private? We’re not going to debate the pros and cons of either option, however Public School jobs are harder to find but have more vacation and often have less teaching hours. However Private Schools (Hagwons) are easier to find and often better located.

Finding a Job

If you’ve matched the E2 requirements and at least considered the our 5 points (above) you can start looking for a job. Firstly you should make sure you have a well written and presented resume with any and all experience related to teaching, working with kids and languages included. Also have a few nice pictures (photos) ready, Korean schools and businesses in general like to know what you look like.

Secondly, if you know someone already in Korea, or even a friend of a friend contact them for advice and leads on good jobs. Bypassing recruiters can give you an advantage when looking for any job as it will save your employer money. *However* some schools will avoid recruiters because they don’t have any money and you may find yourself in a horror story situation, once again research is key.

Next, contact some recommended recruiters as well as applying for roles that interest you. *Hint* some recruiters will list fake or old jobs in order to resume store, or because they have a similar role. The quote “that role as been filled but maybe this one will interest you” is heard a lot. Fake Job: Great Job in Central Seoul…Real Job: Average Job in Yongin (although there is nothing wrong with Yongin it’s just an hour or more away from Seoul and therefore not the same).
*Hint* Never send personal information such as DOB or copies of degrees etc in your first email, and if you do black out some of the information.

Here are some good sites that lists ESL jobs in South Korea:

The next part is an interview, this will either happen over the phone or over Skype. Most schools just want to speak to you and listen to your accent and pronunciation.

Finally the contact, they are always a little different but try and find someone (a 3rd party) to check it over. *Hint* Some people post their contacts on forums and this is a good idea but remember to remove any personal information about yourself or the school. *Hint2* Research the school and ask to speak to a current teacher.

Application & Final Steps

OK now you’ve found a job you like and agreed a contact. You’ve send all of your documents to Korea and they’ve been submitted to Immigration. What’s next?
Once your visa application has been accepted you’ll be given an Visa Issuance Number. Take this number along with your Passport, Fee and completed visa form to your local South Korean embassy or Consulate. Normally around a week later return and pick up your passport with the E2 visa inside.

example Korean e2 visa

Contact your recruiter or school and they should arrange your flights and you can start your South Korean English Teaching Adventure. *Please Note* Every Recruiter and school works differently and so flights maybe only from your closest international airport, and so internal flights may not be included. Also do not agree to fly out BEFORE you have a visa.

In Conclusion

The whole process takes at least 2 months but most of the time around 4. The best advice is not to rush, plan and research everything. Good luck.

If you have any questions, or if you have any hints and tips for others please feel free to let us know.

Thank you for your time.

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