Teaching English in Seoul is a wonderful way to experience one of Asia’s greatest metropolitan cities. Gone2Korea works with many great schools throughout Seoul and the surrounding Capital Region ~ also referred to as the Seoul Metropolitan Area ~ with new and exciting full-time positions available all year long. When you’re ready to get started just head over to our online application form and enter your details to begin the process 🙂
Seoul, the capital city of Korea, is a sprawling mega-metropolis where colorful streets, modern skyscrapers, world class public transportation and a crazed pop culture intersect with historic palaces, Buddhist temples, and traditional street markets. It’s an amazing place to teach English for a year…or three!
Before we begin; We realize Seoul isn’t an ideal working location for everyone! Luckily, South Korea has lots of beautiful cities with exciting teaching opportunities you can pursue. To learn more about Gone2Korea teaching options in alternative cities and locations, other than Seoul, please visit our Job Board or check our Popular Teaching Destinations page for some useful recommendations.
Alright…let’s dig in!
There are two kinds of teaching jobs in Seoul that we can assist you with: public school jobs with the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education (SMOE) and private school jobs which are sometimes referred to as hagwon’s or language schools. The latter (private schools) constitute the vast majority of opportunities, we’ll explain.
Private schools in Seoul hire numerous foreign teaching staff, many of them employ 5 – 10 westerners each. In contrast, the public schools only employ 1 foreign teacher per school. Additionally, the Seoul Office of Education has been slowly phasing out foreign teachers for the past 4 years because of budget cuts and a renewed emphasis on hiring native Korean English teachers. As a result almost all public high schools in Seoul no longer employ western teachers, most middle schools have also stopped employing foreigners. Today, the only public school jobs in Seoul which are available regularly are found at the elementary school level.
The SMOE merged with EPIK a number of years ago. This means people can no longer apply directly for public school jobs with the Seoul Office of Education. Applicants can ‘request’ Seoul as their preferred working location during the EPIK application process, however, there are no guarantees of landing a job in Seoul due to the programs applicant selection & approval process; which is responsible for allocating teachers to every education office throughout the country. If you’re comfortable getting placed somewhere else, even though you requested Seoul, and you don’t mind being the only western teacher at the school, then pursuing the public school route is worthwhile. If you’re keen on being ‘in’ Seoul, or being in a work environment with other Americans, Canadians and Brits, then taking the private school route is the way to go.
Although schools in Seoul hire 1000’s of new western English teachers every year, one of the top English teaching destinations in the world by total job count, opportunities in this city are still competitive compared to other locations across South Korea. Why? Because the majority of people searching for teaching opportunities in Korea tend to favor Seoul as a working location. Ultimately, schools/employers in Seoul have more candidates to consider for each job vacancy which allows them to be more ‘selective’ with their hiring practices. As a result this makes the job market a little more competitive for applicants.
If you’ve taught in Seoul before you likely noticed the high percentage of young (20 – 35 years of age) American and Canadian graduates working at the schools. In comparison, you will find a larger diversity of nationalities (more Brits, Aussies, etc.) and age ranges in Korea’s other metropolitan cities.
There are new full-time positions available all year long. However, February/March and August/September are the two peak hiring periods, commonly described as the spring and fall hiring sessions. As you’ve probably guessed, these hiring periods are aligned with the school semesters.
There isn’t a yes or no answer to this question, what you do or don’t need really depends on the job you want to pursue (public or private) and your other teaching credentials or lack thereof. Having a TEFL certification that consists of 120 course hours or greater, is mandatory for all public school jobs; unless you have an education major or valid teaching license. Being TEFL certified is not mandatory for private school jobs although it’s definitely worth having on your resume because Korean schools obviously look at it when their considering an applicants candidacy. In short, having a TEFL certification will make your application more competitive. If you’re thinking about get your TEFL then we recommend TEFL Source – it’s a comparison site where you can find lots of accredited courses with competitive enrollment prices.
Because of Korean laws which cap public school teacher salaries, and place restrictions on private school tuition fees, salaries for teachers in Seoul are comparable to the salaries in other parts of the country. Teachers working in Seoul with no ESL or teaching experience can expect to make somewhere between 2.0 – 2.2 million KRW a month for 110 – 120 hours of classroom teaching. Education majors and licensed teachers can expect to make a little more, typically in the 2.3 – 2.7 million KRW a month range.
Seoul is the center of the Seoul Metropolitan area, which is also known as the Capital Region, represents Seoul city proper. The Metropolitan area constitutes all the satellite cities surrounding Seoul such as Suwon, Ansan, Anyang, Bucheon, Bundang, Ilsan, Suji, and Yongin. The Seoul Metropolitan area has an astounding population of more than 25 million people making it one of largest and most densely populated cities on the planet.
This obviously depends on your preferences, both options have their positives and negatives. Seoul is definitely more entertaining although it’s also more expensive, more polluted and extremely crowded.
If you speak to people who live downtown then they will likely tell you it’s the place to be. Likewise, if you speak to people living in the surrounding area they will likely tell you it’s better to live where they are and travel downtown by subway when needed. Either way, both locations offer an exciting teaching experience in one of the world’s most amazing urban areas. It’s worth noting that the entire Seoul Metropolitan Area is connected by the Seoul Metro Subway System and traveling between districts is simple and painless.
Competition in the greater Seoul region is less competitive than the central area. If you request central Seoul, but we’re unable to help, then considering options in the metropolitan area is a wise alternative. Many of these cities are very wealthy and offer an amazing quality of life for English teachers.
Apply now and secure your job in one of the worlds top English teaching destinations, Seoul!