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Salary and Benefits

While English teacher salaries and benefits vary according to school and position, industry standards remain similar throughout Korea. Most jobs in Korea should include the following:

Salary

Salaries for EFL teachers in Korea generally fall between 1.8 – 2.7 million won per month, depending on position and experience. Starting salaries in public schools are usually lower than in private institutes, though a teacher who remains at the same board of education for several years can expect substantial pay raises. In addition to teaching experience, credentials such as a teaching license, graduate degree, or TEFL/TESOL certification will also help you find a higher paying job.

Overtime Pay

Teachers will be paid about 18,000-30,000 won per hour for teaching over the 120 hours per month outlined in the contract.

Airfare

Round-trip economy airfare between your home country and Korea is provided by the employer, who will either purchase it for you before you depart or reimburse you after you arrive in Korea. In cases where you will be responsible for getting the ticket yourself, approval from your employer will be required before purchase. Most employers prefer teachers to get two one-way tickets.

Many teachers like to travel after completing their contract in Korea and one of the most common questions about the return ticket is if the employer will pay for a ticket to a location other than the teacher's home country. This is solely at the discretion of the employer and should be made clear prior to making travel arrangements for departing Korea.

However, it should be noted that almost most contracts specifically state that round-trip airfare will be provided from your home country and some employers are only willing to pay for a ticket back to the originating airport.

Housing

Most jobs provide either free housing or a housing allowance. Free housing will be in a single or shared double apartment equipped with a bed, refrigerator, stove, pots, pans, utensils, and other basic furnishings. Housing allowances are in the range of 300,000 won per month and will be enough to cover the cost of a basic apartment.

Housing can be a source of dispute between EFL teachers and employers, and all details should be worked out prior to signing a contract and coming to Korea. Many employers now require a housing deposit, which is used to cover any unpaid bills and damage to the apartment. If all bills are paid and there is no damage to the apartment, the deposit will be returned in full to the teacher.

Severance Pay

According to Korean law, all employers must provide workers with severance pay equal to one month's salary upon completion of a one-year contract. In other words, you will be paid a total of 13 paychecks per year. This severance pay is sometimes called a “completion bonus” in contracts.

Vacation

All teachers will have off on the 10-14 days of national Korean holidays each year.

Private Institutes

An additional 10-14 days of paid vacation will be provided. Vacation days are usually set by the employer to fall when the school closes for one week in the winter and one in the summer.

Public Schools

Teachers at public schools will get around 21-25 days of paid vacation per year, with about half during the summer vacation and the rest during the winter vacation. Some public school are quite flexible about when teachers can use their vacation time as long as enough advanced notice is given.

Sick Days

The amount of sick days vary for jobs at private institutes and public schools.

Institutes

Most employers offer 3-5 days or of paid sick leave per year. You will need to ask permission to use sick days in advance and submit a doctor's note.

Public School

Public school teachers are entitles to 11 days of sick leave per year. More than 7 consecutive sick days will require a note from a physician.

Taxes

With the exception of Canada, all official English-speaking countries have a tax treaty with Korea that exempts teachers form paying Korean taxes for their first two years in Korea. Taxes for Canadians and extended EFL teachers in Korea are low and will amount to about 4-7% of your salary, depending on what you make.

National Health Insurance

Most EFL teachers in Korea will be required to enroll in a health plan. The rate is just under 5%, half of which will be paid by your employer and half by you. The national health insurance plan will cover 70% of all medical bills, excluding eye and dental care, prescriptions, and cosmetic treatments. Some schools use a type of travel insurance that has greater restrictions, but is less expensive for the teacher and school.

Note that your medical coverage will not start until you have obtained your alien registration card. Therefore, we highly recommend purchasing 1-1.5 months of travel insurance to cover you until your alien registration card has been processed.

National Pension Plan

All employers are required to pay into the Korean National Pension plan according to Korea law. Pension payments come to about 9% of your salary, half of which is paid by you (4.5%) and half by your employer (4.5%). For Americans and Canadians, paperwork is filled in at the local pension office near the end of your contract and the money is sent to your bank account in your home country.

While public schools pay into the pension system, some private institutes do not and may offer slightly higher salaries instead.