Recruiter In Korea

The Honest Truth About Recruiting in Korea

The absolute ‘minimum’ you should be expecting for a first time gig

with 10 comments

Tom has provided an idea to give info for first-timers applying for a teaching job in Korea:

From the stories I read on other sites (eslcafe) you would think private schools are like a gulag. What would you consider an ideal contract/situation to be for a good private school job? things like total hours a week, $, how much direction they give you, work on Saturdays, etc.. If I see an offer I want to know if it is garbage or too good to be true.

Also, will the recruiter be able to answer things like how long the school has been in business, how many teachers they employ, and how many students the school has?

I wanted to do SMOE, but they are really making it difficult now. They want us to have TEFL cert. now (2grand) on top of everything else. Plus we have to drive to an embassy for the interview now. For me thats an 8 hour drive.

Here is what I think is the minimum you should accept if you are considering teaching for a private school. Please keep in mind that not everyone wants the same thing and some things are more important to some than they are to others so this criteria may not match up to what everyone is looking for but it should give you a basic guideline.

1. Salary – Don’t listen to excuses about the economy; if schools were in dire straights they wouldn’t need instructors at all so they shouldn’t be shortchanging you. The absolute minimum you should accept is 2.2 million KRW per month. This hasn’t changed much over the past few years. You should only accept less if there are significant less hours or other major breaks from the norm (see other points). If you have an English or early education/education degree then you should obviously shoot for more than 2.2 (2.3-2.5?)

2. Hours – The average working hours should be 120 hours per month/30 hours per week. This is for the average run of the mill children’s academy. My apologies but I’m not too much up to par with adult hagwons as we honestly concentrate more on children academies. You’ve got the nasty split shift there but hours should be generally the same (or are they?). Again, if you’re working significantly less than 120 hours per month then a lower salary than 2.2 may be acceptable; I know that public schools generally have less working hours but then there’s all the ‘desk warming’ BS.

3. Working hours and days – For the kiddy academies, the hours are generally from 2 to 8, 3 to 9, or 4 to 10 (6 hour block). If you’re teaching kindergarten (which I did and absolutely hated), expect some morning hours starting around 9 or 10. You’ll have to teach elementary and middle school in the afternoon but it should even out if you’re working the average of 30 hours per week.

4. Overtime – From my experience, schools generally don’t like giving too much overtime (unless it’s in the winter/summer intensive months). On a monthly salary, for the suggested salary stated above, the average overtime should be around 25,000 KRW/hour. There are countless threads on Dave’s of instructors getting screwed on their overtime. Make sure you get a pay stub every month that gives you a breakdown of your hours, pay, and deductions (this is the law!!).

5. Vacation days – The average is around 12 to 15 for private schools. Usually it’s preset throughout the year, meaning that you would need to take them when the school is taking a holiday. They typically place these days near weekends or holidays so that you have longer breaks. Some schools offer 10 or less days per year but give you the choice of taking them when you wish (usually after a set time). Personally I would take this option if I had the choice so I could go back home for a week or so at a time. If you work for one of those hardcore prep schools, you can forget about any significant vacation. Public schools of course offer big blocks at a time in summer and winter.

6. Weekend/holiday work – Most schools I work with offer Monday to Friday but some do have Saturday classes. Granted they are shorter, but still sucks to work on a weekend day. Sometimes you gotta suck it up but there’s no way in hell you should accept the minimum if you’re working 6 days in a row. If Saturday work is required, good schools will give you a shortened day during the week or even a full day off. You also have to keep in mind that schools are required to have a certain amount of teaching days per month. That’s why they throw in holidays if the days exceed the number of teaching days required for a particular month. However, sometimes when they’re mandatory holidays during a month that eat into the teaching days, they may ask you to come in on a holiday or teach on a Saturday. Parents bitch about little stuff like this so when it happens (usually in February) just do it. If the school’s nice, they will give you an extra day off in the future.

Make sure your recruiter or school clearly spells out everything in the contract. If the contract says no Saturdays and they make you come in every Saturday because ‘a class just opened up’ prepare to bitch. Also prepare to ask questions like the number of students and teachers at that school, how long it was open, etc. They should absolutely provide this along with an email address of a current instructor at the school. If they stutter and don’t provide this information right away, I would be weary.

If you don’t live near a Consulate, that pretty much sucks and there’s nothing you can do about it except call them to see if they do video/phone interviews. Worst case, you will only have to make one trip out there and just give them a return Fedex envelope so that they could send your passport back once they’re done with the visa.

I heard about SMOE as well. Seems like a dick move on their part but perhaps a move to prevent future fiascos like this past summer.

Written by recruiterinkorea

November 14, 2009 at 10:26 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

10 Responses

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  1. Thanks for the information. Is it possible to get a stipulation in a contract that says if I get fired or the school goes out of business that they have to give me a letter of release? Along with that, do you know if they are really going to start making people go back to their home country to get Visa’s renewed? That would really suck.


    November 15, 2009 at 3:32 am

    • Schools would rarely amend contracts to fit the wishes of the applicant. It’s a very sensitive request that you are making that make ruffle the wrong feathers. If you get cool with your boss, I guess you could bring it up later but I wouldn’t bring it up from the get-go.

      If you were already issued an E-2 visa, you can go to Japan to get another one. If you’re renewing with the same school you don’t need to leave the country as long as it’s renewed before the visa expires. For first time E-2 visa applicants, you need to get it in your home country. However, if you’re American, you can also get it in Guam.


      November 15, 2009 at 10:51 am

      • Why are Koreans so obsessed with hiring hot girls? I mean, I don’t blame them, but I feel like I am getting some reverse glass ceiling here.


        November 16, 2009 at 3:15 pm

      • I guess some places equate hotness with good business:). From my experience with schools ‘hotness’ isn’t necessarily a requirement but they do want someone that looks friendly and outgoing.


        November 18, 2009 at 3:08 pm

      • also, hear anything about this company? YBM education inc. Thanks


        November 17, 2009 at 7:03 am

      • From their website they seem pretty legit. If you dig through old forums you’ll see that company-owned YBM schools always pay on time and don’t really screw you. Of course there are always issues with management and coworkers at any school but they seem to be on the up and up.

        Disclaimer: In no way am I endorsing this school or any other school/hagwon. Just saying what I’ve heard and seen on forums:)


        November 18, 2009 at 3:06 pm

      • Thanks for the response.

        As a recruiter is there a specific time when there is a huge crunch to find people at the last minute. I imagine people have multiple offers going and hold out until they get the one they want most. So, if I have all my documentation in order (background check, transcripts, diploma, etc.) so I could potentially leave at a moments notice (minus the visa interview at the consulate of course) do I have a chance at landing a job that would better than usual or be beyond my qualifications? Something like a lower tier university gig that usually requires a masters degree, but wants a warm body ASAP because someone backed out. Or a cushy corporate position or choice public school job. Etc.. When is this magical time, if it exists?


        November 19, 2009 at 6:54 am

      • Tom check out my new post. Thanks for giving me all the great ideas haha


        November 19, 2009 at 10:47 am

  2. […] hagwon on the other hand, will pay a ‘relatively’ decent salary (newbies: don’t accept lower than 2.2), will not require you to desk-warm for an unreasonable amount of time (although some may require […]

  3. […] newbies:  don’t settle for anything less than 2.2!  It’s sad though; I made that post in 2009 and the minimum/average salary hasn’t […]

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