First of all, CONGRATS! If you are here it is because you have made the bold choice to teach English in South Korea.
Now, how do you actually go about finding and obtaining the IDEAL teaching job?
This post is your complete guide to doing just that.
WARNING: This guide is for AMERICAN CITIZENS. As you may be aware, the documents and process for obtaining a teaching job in Korea vary country to country.
After you read this post you may feel overwhelmed. But don't worry- I GOT YOU. At the bottom you will find the link to download my FREE Teach in Korea Roadmap Checklist. The best way to use this document is to print it out, slap it on a cork board/refrigerator etc. and check-off as you go down the road to Korea!
Now let's DO THIS! 👊🏿👊🏾👊🏽👊🏼👊🏻
Roadmap to Teaching in Korea 🚗
Do you qualify?🤷♀️
Before you start strutting down the road to teaching in Korea, make sure you are eligible to teach English in Korea.
Requirements to teach in Korea:
- Citizenship from one of these English-speaking countries: U.S., U.K., Ireland, Canada, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand
- Bachelor’s degree/diploma from an accredited college or university
- Clean National level criminal record check
- Clean health check and drug test
Eligible? Yaass! Now let's learn about your options so that you can get clear on what type of teaching environment will best suit you.
Public or Private?
- English Program in Korea (EPIK)- Korean government sponsored program for teaching in public schools. Average hours are M-F 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Since it is a government program you get government holidays off, secure pay and benefits.
- Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education (SMOE)- This is the EPIK program for Seoul.
- Gyeonggi English Program in Korea (GEPIK)- This is the EPIK for the Gyeonggi Province(area surrounding Seoul).
- Teach and Learn Korea (TaLK)- This government program requires the least amount of working hours but also the lowest pay. From my experience, it is a great transition program because of its long orientation and frequent cultural trips throughout the contract. Again, because it is a government sponsored program you get government holidays off, secure pay and benefits.
- Hagwons (Private School)– These are private academies or cram schools. Work hours vary, it is possible to teach Kindergartners in the morning and then the after-school crowd of elementary and up. Hours can go 8am to as late as 9pm. These are for-profit schools so they are very much ran like a business.
- English Villages- These are camp style facilities where students come and go for a few days up to a month! As an English teacher at camp you will live in the teacher dorms on the campus (College 2.0). Work hours range, but have a typical 9-5/6PM schedule.
- University – If you can score a university job in Korea all other expat teachers will drool over you with envy! Friends of mine who work as university professors have long vacations and comfortable pay.
Recruiter or Nah?
There are tons of recruiters out there. Some are good and others not so much. Everyone has a personal preference on whether or not they want to use a recruiter or do the job search and application solo. I personally have done both and prefer going solo. If it is your first time applying, a recruiter might help you keep everything organized and streamlined.
TOP RECRUITERS- See Roadmap to Korea
TOP JOB BOARD SITES- See Roadmap to Korea
City or Countryside?
Getting clear on your preferred living standards will help with this decision. Are you a big city girl or a low-key countryside kind of gal? There are also suburban areas in Korea, my experience of them has been in the Gyeonggi area (area surrounding Seoul). Countryside/rural areas usually have lots of farmland but all the major necessities are there (markets, small boutiques, coffee shops, restaurants, banks, pharmacy, etc). Of course the BIG city life is in Seoul and Busan, but other popular smaller cities are Incheon, Daegu, Daejeon, Gwangju, Suwon, Ulsan, Gangneug, Mokpo...
Ultimately the best way to learn about an area is to do your research (Hello Google) and contact current/previous teachers located in the area.
If you go the public school route, you'll need to take a 120-hour TEFL course. Having an in-class portion is ideal. If you are going the private school/English village route, getting a TEFL isn't necessary but it can't hurt! You can start this before you begin the whole application process so that you can list your TEFL certification on your application. If not, you can note on the application that you are in the process of obtaining the certification and list approximate completion date.
When you are ready to fill out the application you will need to prepare the following:
- Basic personal information
- Qualifications (certifications, degree, teaching experience)
- Sample lesson plan
**If you are freaking out about creating a lesson plan or writing your essays and would like my help, click here.
And now the journey begins...
*time to put 👏🏽 in 👏🏽that👏🏽 WORK*
Getting your Documents🗃️📃
This is when the tedious part of the process begin because it involves you running around and gathering a bunch of documents and waiting, and waiting some more. For fees, waiting times and extra tips be sure to download my printable Roadmap to Korea Checklist!
1. Get your notarized copy of diploma with an apostille
- To do this, Google "notary near me" and follow directions to have your diploma notarized
- To obtain an apostille, you will need to Google "apostille service [state name]"
2. Get your Apostilled FBI background check
Getting the Background Check
- Option 1: Electronic submission (NEW!)
- Go to https://www.edo.cjis.gov
- Follow directions under the “Obtaining Your Identity History Summary”
- Option 2: Submit directly to FBI via Mail
- Option 3: Use a FBI-Approved Channeler
- For an additional fee (most expensive and fastest), a channeler will submit your request and expedite the process. Here is the list of approved channelers.
Getting the Apostille for the Background Check
- Option 1: Use a channeler. Simply Google "apostille channelers" and follow their directions (most expensive and fastest)
- Option 2: Mail it to the State Department. Follow directions on what to submit.
- Option 3: Go in person t o the offices in D.C by appointment or walk-in.
3. Additional documents you'll gather
2 letters of recommendation
Sealed college transcripts
Photocopy of Passport Information
E-2 Health Statement
- Your recruiter/point of contact should send you a copy or you can download it here.
4 Official Passport Photos
👸🏽✨Shine Queen, Shine!✨👸🏽
1. Phone Interview
To get the job, you'll probably have a phone interview. Time to shine! Like any interview you want to represent yourself in the best light, be professional, friendly and show off your personality. They want to check to make sure you are someone who can adapt to new environments and foreign culture- not someone who will be overwhelmed by teaching or culture shock.
2. Introduction Video
This video is a perfect time to shine and give them a sneak peak of what you are like as a teacher. Be yourself, smile, have good lighting, keep the background simple, dress appropriately and introduce yourself. In other words..SLAY💁🏽.
🥂🍾🎉Say What?! You got the job??!!!🥂🍾🎉
Getting your Visa 💳😉
1. Google your Korean Consulate
Google " [your state] Korean Consulate".
2. Get Documents
Contact the Korean Consulate to get an official list of what to bring. Here are some general items you'll need:
- Notice of appointment
- E-2 visa application
- Passport sized photo
- Fee (check consulate website for approved payment types- ie cash, check, etc.)
3. Yay. Visa!
Inform your recruiter/point of contact that you've got your visa.
✈️ Pre-Departure Prep 🛄
1. Book Your Flight
I will always recommend Korean Air (literally THE best airline I've been on). Their flights can be on the pricey side, however, you are going to be in the air for a LONG time, might as well make your first trip to Korea as comfortable as possible.
2. Ask your recruiter/ point of contact about your arrival plan
Get as many details as possible. A lot of their answers will be "It depends", however, they should be able to tell you how you should get from the airport to you living quarters.
3. Prepare yourself for life in and out of the classroom. Find out how here.
In my program you can find a full list of things to bring. Your recruiter/point of contact should also inform you of the basics to bring. One key thing I'll mention is to bring a little bit of home. Korea has everything! All the essentials you'll find there (plus a lot of little luxuries you never knew you needed LOL). However, to ease your homesickness and aid towards a smooth transition, I recommend packing things like your favorite snacks and photographs. It is also a good idea to think about little things you can bring your classroom/school, such as stickers, decorations, and gifts for the Principal/VP.
5. Tie up any loose ends
You are leaving the country, you should-- let your bank know, turn off your cellphone plan (unless its free internationally), stop any subscriptions, put things in storage, sell things you don't need, and of course have your last brunches, dinner dates with family and friends!
6. GO TO KOREA AND LET THE ADVENTURE BEGIN!!!
That's a lot of steps, no? Luckily I've created a FREE Roadmap to Korea Checklist that you can print out and track your progress. Follow the link below and let's get this party started!🎈🎉
This download also has extra information not listed in this post like the costs of these steps, waiting times, and extra tips!