Is there a time limit at Korean universities for Teaching English?

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Korea Pension
Time Limit for Teaching at a Korean University

You may see some jobs ads for university jobs in Korea that mention a time limit. Three (if one year renewals) or four years (for 2-year contracts) is quite common.

Why does this kind of thing happen and is there a way that you can get around it? Keep on reading to find out all the details you need to know!

A Reader Question: Time limit at Korean Universities

“I recently was offered and accepted a full-time English Professor position at *** University in Seoul. However, I found out that the maximum amount of time that non-tenured, foreign faculty such as myself can be employed there is four years.

As a result, I am considering Seoul-area universities in the future that don’t have any limits on length for employment and was wondering if you might know of any universities that would fit this description.”

My Answer: It’s all about the Pension

There are some universities in Korea that have this rule and some that do not (maybe 50/50). It has to do with the amount of pension money your school would have to pay you in your 5th year and beyond being significantly more than the amount required for the first 4 years.

We’re talking here about the Korea Teacher’s Pension and not the Korean National Pension so don’t get confused between the two. Private universities are on the former and public universities on the latter. It’d be very rare to see this kind of rule at any public university.

Maybe 4 Years is Enough?

That said, working for 3 or 4 years at a place is a decent amount of time and it’s probably still worth it to take the job, if it’s a good one. Being stuck in a rut is bad news, so you can just think of it as a mandatory kick in the butt to get yourself moving upwards and forwards in your ESL Teaching career to bigger and better things.

Seriously, once you get a few years under your belt, it’s much easier to find a job in better city. Or, something with fewer hours and better pay. Perhaps more interesting classes, or better students. The sky is the limit here.

I worked at my university out in the Korean countryside for 5 years and was most definitely ready for a change. I’ve been at the new place in Busan for 3 years and love it, but am starting to feel the itch, you know?

Of course, I’m not one to settle in somewhere for decades. If you are, don’t take a job with this time limit and you should be fine!

Some solid advice on factors to consider when deciding which ESL teaching job to take: The Wealthy English Teacher: Teach, Travel, and Secure Your Financial Future. It’s the first and only personal finance for English teachers book on the market.

I’m a Really Good Teacher, Will They Keep Me Anyway?

Okay, so what about if you’re working at a university with a time limit, but you’re one of their top teachers (usually measured by student evaluations). Will they bend the rules and keep you?

In my experience, probably not and I’ve never actually heard of this happening. Unis are big bureaucracies and exceptions to rules are extremely hard to come by. It would likely have to go up the chain of command all the way to the university president. So, the people on the bottom that you’d actually talk to likely wouldn’t even let it get this far.

A rule is a rule and Korean administrations are simply not that flexible. It’s similar to how it would be in many countries with regards to this, so I’m not just picking on Koreans!

What are the Basic Requirements to Get a University Job in Korea?

Find out all the details you need to know if this short video below:

What’s your Experience with Time Limits when Teaching In South Korea?

What has your experience been like teaching in Korean universities? Is there a time limit? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think.

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