PhD in another Subject- Teaching English in Korea?

Teaching ESL in South Korea
PhD in science- teaching English in Korea?

Reader Question: PhD in Science, Teaching in a Korean University?

“I have a PhD in environmental science and am in my late thirties with one year of experience teaching English.Could you please advise me what are my chances for finding employment teaching English in Korea, and more specifically in a university. Should I look into doing the CELTA course?  I’m also interested in what the age limits are for English instructors in Korean universities.”
My short answer: Possible, but not Easy

Your chances of finding employment at a Korean university are quite high, but as I’ve said before, it’s pretty hard to find university jobs in Korea from outside the country.  Difficult, but not impossible though and your PhD will definitely be attractive enough to some that they’d be willing to do a Skype interview from overseas.  You could look elsewhere in Korea for a job to get your foot in the door, but working at a hagwon or public school for a year could be a long, long year for someone like yourself.

CELTA: Not so Useful

Not much more to say about this, the CELTA just isn’t that useful in Korea.

Retirement Age in Korea

The accepted retirement age in Korea is 60, so you’ll be fine and are actually the perfect age for getting a university job teaching English in Korea.

The Takeaway: Science of Engineering Students?
I think it really is possible for you to get a university job in Korea, but a tough question that you’ll probably be asked over and over again is why you have a degree in science but want to teach ESL. I can’t say that I really understand it myself and Koreans probably won’t either. You’ll for sure have to prepare something that makes sense in response to this.

That said, there are some university jobs in Korea that involve teaching technical English to science or engineering students.  And there are also editing jobs that require a science or engineering background, which you could probably also do, assuming your English skills are up to par. I’d definitely try to look for some of those jobs instead of just the general English ones and you’ll probably do better.

University Jobs in South Korea

If you’re just starting out on your job search, check out this book How to Get a University Job in South Korea. It’ll get you started off on the right foot and save you lots of time searching around for information all over the Internet. If you’re the type that likes to try before you buy, here’s the book’s website, University Jobs Korea with plenty of excerpts and other useful information for job-seekers.

One Comment

  1. Kristianne Bernard

    I guess teaching English in Korea is very bankable these days. There are a lot of jobs for an ESL teacher everywhere in Korea. The good thing though is that you don’t have to ACTUALLY be in Korea for that. There are online sites for that. My sister is employed at ( ) and it pays more than her old job at the local university here. She meets with her Korean students via Skype so it’s really very convenient for both parties.

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