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What Is The Average Salary For English Teachers In South Korea?

Have you ever dreamed of living in South Korea? Imagine yourself strolling down the neon-lit streets of Seoul, indulging in steaming bowls of kimchi jjigae (spicy stew), and exploring the serenity of ancient temples nestled amidst breathtaking mountains. Now, what if you could combine this dream adventure with a fulfilling career that offers a competitive salary?

Teaching English in South Korea has become a highly sought-after opportunity for aspiring educators from around the world. It’s no wonder! South Korea boasts a vibrant culture, a booming economy, and a genuine appreciation for foreign languages. But let’s face it, along with the excitement comes the practical side of things: how much can you realistically earn?

The good news? South Korea offers some of the most attractive salaries for English teachers globally. Statistics show you can expect to earn anywhere between $20,400 and a whopping $52,800 annually. That translates to roughly 1.35 million to a staggering 4.4 million Korean Won every month. That’s impressive, right?

Public vs. Private Schools

South Korea’s English teaching landscape offers two main avenues for educators: public schools and private academies (Hagwons). Each path boasts distinct advantages and disadvantages, impacting your overall experience and, of course, your salary. 

Here’s a breakdown to help you decide which route best suits your goals:

Public Schools: Stability and Support

  • Salary: Expect a monthly range of 1.5 million to 3 million Won ($1,850 – $2,650). This can vary slightly depending on your experience and location.
  • Benefits: Many public schools offer a comprehensive benefits package, including:
    • Furnished Apartment: Schools often provide housing, eliminating a significant living expense.
    • Flight Reimbursements: Some schools offer partial or full reimbursement for your initial flight to Korea.
    • Pension Plan: Public school positions contribute to a national pension, offering long-term financial security.
  • Work Schedule: Public schools typically follow a standard schedule, with working hours from morning to mid-afternoon, allowing for a good work-life balance.
  • Work Environment: Public schools provide a more structured environment with a set curriculum and a Korean co-teacher present in most classes.
  • Student Age: You’ll primarily teach elementary, middle, or high school students in a public school setting.
  • Downsides: The application process for public schools can be competitive, and salaries might be slightly lower compared to private Hagwons.

Private Academies (Hagwons): Higher Pay, Different Ball Game

  • Salary: Hagwons can offer slightly higher salaries than public schools, ranging from 1.9 million to 2.4 million Won ($1,600 – $2,000) per month. This figure can depend on experience, location, and negotiation skills.
  • Benefits: Benefits at Hagwons can vary significantly. Some may offer housing or flight support, while others might not. It’s crucial to carefully review the contract before accepting a position.
  • Work Schedule: Hagwons typically operate in the afternoons and evenings, catering to students after their regular school hours. This can lead to longer working hours.
  • Work Environment: Hagwons can offer more flexibility in teaching styles, but the curriculum might be more focused on test preparation. You’ll usually be the sole foreign teacher in the classroom.
  • Student Age: Hagwons cater to a wider range of ages, from young children to adults.
  • Downsides: Hagwons are often less regulated than public schools, and work environments can vary greatly. Be sure to research the specific academy before signing a contract.

Ultimately, the decision between public schools and Hagwons boils down to your priorities.  Do you crave stability and a structured work environment? Public schools might be your ideal fit. Do you prioritize higher earning potential and flexibility? Hagwons could be the answer. Carefully consider your needs and research both sectors before making your choice.

Factors Affecting Your Salary

Now that you have a roadmap of the salary landscape in South Korea, let’s delve deeper into the specific factors that can influence your earning potential as an English teacher:


As with most professions, experience reigns supreme. The more years you’ve spent teaching English, especially in a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) environment, the higher your salary is likely to be. 

Schools value educators who can demonstrate proven teaching skills, classroom management expertise, and the ability to connect with students. Recent graduates can expect a lower starting salary, but this will increase as they gain experience.


Having a TEFL certificate is a fundamental requirement for teaching English in South Korea. This internationally recognized qualification equips you with the necessary skills and knowledge to effectively teach English to non-native speakers. However, possessing additional qualifications can significantly boost your earning potential.  

A Master’s degree in education, a specialization in a particular age group (children or adults), or a certification in English can make you a more attractive candidate and command a higher salary.


Salaries tend to be higher in bustling metropolitan areas like Seoul, Busan, and Daegu. These cities have a higher cost of living, and schools often compete more aggressively for qualified teachers, leading to more attractive salary packages.  

However, don’t discount the charm of teaching in smaller towns or rural areas. While the salaries might be slightly lower, the cost of living is likely to be more affordable, offering a different kind of financial advantage.

School Reputation:  

The prestige of the institution you work for can also play a role in your salary. Reputable schools and universities often have larger budgets and are willing to offer competitive packages to attract top-tier teaching talent.

Negotiation Skills:  

Don’t underestimate the power of negotiation, especially when it comes to private Hagwons. These academies are less regulated, and starting salary offers might not reflect your true worth. 

Research average salaries in your area and come prepared to negotiate for a salary that aligns with your experience and qualifications. Remember, a confident and professional approach can go a long way toward securing a competitive salary.

By understanding these factors and strategically leveraging your strengths, you can position yourself to earn a competitive salary as an English teacher in South Korea.

Level Up Your Skills with AmazingTalker

While a good salary is important, remember that teaching is a rewarding career that allows you to make a real difference in students’ lives. 

Are you looking to brush up on your English teaching skills before your Korean adventure? Consider online platforms like AmazingTalker, which connect you with students worldwide for personalized virtual lessons.  화상 영어 or “online English” in Korean, is a booming industry, and honing your skills on AmazingTalker can give you an edge in the competitive job market.

AmazingTalker connects you with students worldwide, including those in Korea. This allows you to practice your teaching skills remotely and gain valuable experience in an online environment, which is becoming popular in South Korea.


Remember, teaching English in South Korea is an exciting opportunity to explore a new culture, develop your skills, and earn a competitive salary. While the cost of living can vary depending on location, South Korea offers a great financial opportunity for many teachers.  The job market can be competitive, especially for recent graduates, but with the right qualifications and a strategic approach, you can find your ideal position.

Beyond public schools and Hagwons, there are also teaching opportunities at universities and on online platforms. Researching visa requirements (like the E2 visa for English teachers) is an important step in planning your move.

So, weigh your options, highlight your strengths, and get ready for an unforgettable Korean adventure!

Oleksandra Mamchii

Working as a academic lead at Best Diplomats.

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