How Much Money Do You Make?
A common question I get from readers of this blog is what is the average monthly salary for teaching in a Korean university. The answer to this question is more complicated than it would appear at first glance.
Tax Office= Enlightening
This question is particularly relevant to me because in preparation for my move to Canada, I went to the tax office and got statements of my income and taxes for all the years I’ve lived in Korea. It eye opening because while most ESL teachers have seen their salaries stagnate over the past decade in Korea, mine has gone up by 10-15%, year after year, after year for almost 10 years.
I guess it pays to make the connections, get the qualifications, and hussle a bit. While my base salary has definitely increased (from around 2.4 for 15 hours/week at the start to about 2.8 for 9 hours/week now), the most important thing has been overtime opportunities.
It’s Not About Base Pay. Here’s How You Make the Serious Money
Generally, the low-end university jobs in Korea pay about 2.0 million Korean Won/month, while the high-end ones can go up to about 3.0. Then, you’ll either get housing or a housing allowance on top of that. However, where the real money to be made at Korean universities is in the overtime.
If a university has lots of it floating around, you have a low number of base hours and you can pick up 5-10 hour/week of OT, it can really add up. Or, maybe your university has camps during the breaks where you can work a steady 2 or 3 weeks at a time. Finally, they may give you permission to work at outside places like a company or hagwon, which can be the most lucrative part-time gig.
One Example of OT Awesome
Just a quick example that’s happening for me at the time of writing this post. I’m working the last 2 weeks of my summer vacation for this internship preparation program. The pay is 45,000/50 minutes. This week I’m working 22 hours and next week is 14. Some quick math shows that I just made 1.6 million won for that program, plus my regular monthly pay of about 3.0. Almost 5 million won for only 36 hours of work for the month.
Not too shabby! It should be noted that there are definitely better months than others for English teachers in Korean universities. Sometimes overtime has been scarce and I’ve just made my base pay (last month!), while other times I’ve made something wild like 7 or 8 million. Feast or famine basically.
Need some Help With the Money Thing?
Want to know how to set yourself up for financial awesome while you’re teaching abroad? The book you need is: The Wealthy English Teacher.