South Korea's will to compete on the world economic stage has been a driving factor for its ESL industry. In the early years, the market was extremely lucrative for teachers, however, disorganization was rampant and working conditions were unpredictable. More recently, the market has reached some degree of maturation and, as a consequence, compensation packages and working conditions are much more uniform today.
The requirements to become an ESL 18moa teacher in South Korea are uniform. If you are a citizen of an English-speaking country, hold a passport from that country, have a bachelor's degree in any discipline, have a clean criminal history and a clean bill of health, you're qualified!
An entry-level ESL teacher in South Korea can expect to earn 2,000,000 to 2,300,000 KRW as a monthly salary (usually via direct deposit to bank account). Other standard benefits include:
- Roundtrip airfare
- E-2 visa sponsorship
- Paid housing
- 50% national pension contribution
- 50% health insurance (co-pay)
- 5 to 10 paid vacation days (in addition to national holidays)
- Contract completion bonus equal to your monthly salary
- Overtime pay of 18,000+ KRW / hour
Due to a relatively lower cost of living in South Korea, ESL teachers have been able live, travel, save, and pay off debts during their time here. It's not unreasonable to save 1,000,000 KRW per month if you are a conservative spender. You should keep in mind, however, that some things can be more expensive in Korea. Fruits or anything imported comes to mind. Needless to say, your lifestyle will determine how deep your pockets will be.
You should also consider this. You will receive your last month's pay, completion bonus, and housing deposit (if applicable) upon completion of your contract. If you are an American, Canadian, or Australian citizen, you will also be able to collect a pension refund when you leave. All this adds up to a nice windfall of cash (approx. $5,500+), not including any money you might save throughout the year or the airline ticket back home.
Like anywhere else in the world, there will be taxes to pay and other deductions from your paycheck. However, taxes in Korea for foreign ESL teachers are extremely low. You can expect a deduction of about 3.3% of your salary for income tax, about a tenth of that for residence tax, a pension deduction of about 4.5% of your salary, and a deduction for 50% of the cost of your health insurance. Your employer pays the other 50%. In total, your deductions will be roughly 10-12% of your paycheck.
Teaching English in South Korea can be a great way to travel and save money. It's also a great way to spend a gap year before grad school or gain real experience teaching. We hope this article was helpful.