Wages for teaching English in Korea: Serious Stagnation

English teacher wages
Wages for English Teachers

Wages for English Teachers in Korea: Grim

Wages for teaching English in Korea (I’m not really sure about the situation for the locals) have been stagnating for the past 10 years or so and things are just getting more and more expensive, especially in Seoul and the other majors cities. Out in the countryside, you can find cheaper housing but things like food and transportation prices are virtually the same everywhere you go.

Back in the Olden Days…

When I first came to Korea in 2003, the average starting wage for a public school or hagwon teacher was around 2 million won. Today, it’s basically the same and some public school teachers are working for as little as 1.8 million, while the average hagwon starting wage has increased a bit to around 2.2 million. That said, my starting hagwon wage back in 2003 was 2.2!

You Can Still Save Money Today

The potential for saving a considerable amount of money is still there, especially with the free airfare and housing, but it’s much harder to live comfortably on 500,000 or 600,000 than it was 10 years ago. Today, the average expat in Korea would be lucky to spend less than 600,000 in a month. Most spend around a million.

University Jobs in Korea: Huge Money Saving Potential

Universities in Korea are a whole different thing entirely because there are so many more factors to consider beyond the base pay. Airfare and housing are often not included in the package, although places may offer key (deposit) money or a monthly housing allowance.

The wage per hour has to be considered because the base hours can range from 9-18+ per week and vacation can range from 4 weeks to 20 weeks per year. Overtime opportunities are what can actually increase pay significantly and this actually matters a lot more than the actual base salary.

For example, if you have a job like mine that has 9 teaching hours per week and 20 weeks of vacation, it doesn’t really matter what the base pay is. You’ll have an abundance of free time and if there are plenty of OT opportunities at your university, well, the path ahead of you is indeed paved in gold.

Sounds great, huh? How to Get a University Job in South Korea: The English Teaching Job of Your Dreams

Korea, Not the Land of Milk and Honey? Where to Then?

If you’re looking for serious money-saving potential, then the Middle East is the obvious choice. However, with serious money comes serious qualifications required so get that studying on. Some up and coming destinations are China and Vietnam. Salaries are getting significantly better than in the past and there are plenty of jobs available.

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