How Much Money Do English Teachers in Korea Make?

Traditional Korean house in Seoul, South Korea - copyright Johnhunkim, Creative Commons
Traditional Korean house in Seoul, South Korea – copyright Johnhunkim, Creative Commons


Korea is one of the most popular countries for native English speakers who want to teach English overseas. The culture, the people, the history and the experience, of course, are all important factors when people choose Korea as a teaching destination, but one of the most important reasons is the money they can make. Korea is one of the top-paying countries for foreign English teachers who work overseas and, if you are considering it as one of the countries you might like to teach in, you may want to know how much money do English teachers in Korea make?

Several years ago, I interviewed for a teaching position in Korea from my home base in Bangkok, Thailand. Although I was offered the job, I decided to remain in Thailand instead, but I do have to say the salary I was offered in Korea was much higher than most salaries in Bangkok. A few years later, and that definitely hasn’t changed. In fact, salaries in Korea have increased slightly, while those in Thailand have largely stayed the same.

Of course, the salary you will be offered teaching in a school in South Korea is dependent on several factors. Your qualifications, your experience and the school itself. For a good idea of how much money an English teacher can make in Korea, however, these figures should help.

New teachers in Korea without experience – If you have just graduated from university and don’t have any teaching experience yet, don’t worry. You will still be able to get a good job teaching English in Korea and with an excellent salary to boot.

Teachers without experience and in their first year of teaching at a Korean school will earn between $1,800 and $2,100 a month (that’s from just over 1.9 million South Korean won to just over 2.25 million won). Government schools pay on the lower end while private schools pay the higher end or slightly more.

It’s not just the salary you’ll get that will make teaching in Korea so worthwhile, however, as even new teachers get a whole slew of perks. These include airfare to and from Korea, a furnished apartment (you will be expected to pay utilities), a lot of paid holidays (around a month when you consider paid annual leave plus Korean national holidays), and free health care. You should also be given severance pay when you complete your year’s contract, which always equals a month’s salary.

When you factor everything into the equation, you’ll be making the equivalent of at least $3,000 a month and, in many cases, quite a bit more.

Experienced teachers in Korea – If you have experience teaching already, whether that’s in your home country or in another country teaching English (EFL), the salary you will be paid in Korea will increase, although not as much as you might expect. If you have a degree in Education and experience, however, you’ll often find the salaries being offered to you are very nice indeed.

Expect to make $2,200 to $3,000 a month in salary (2.36 million won to 3.2 million won) with several years teaching experience overseas, with the top end usually reserved for those with a degree in Education. You’ll also get all the extra perks a new teacher would be given.

All told, it’s the equivalent of between $3,200 and $4,000 a month when you factor in all the extras.

Many English teaching jobs in Korea are filled by agencies. When I interviewed for a job in Seoul, however, I interviewed directly with the language school that was hiring via telephone. That immediately cut out the ‘middle-man agency fee’ the American agencies take, so the salary I was offered was at the higher end for an experienced teacher. You may want to look for similar job listings if you want to make as much money as possible while teaching in Korea.

If you do go the agency route, make sure you check with several agencies as well, as some pay higher salaries than others, and some have better reputations than others.

For more information about teaching English in Korea, Teach English Korea is an excellent website that should have all the details you need.