Considering making the dive into living and working overseas and not sure where to begin? Heard about Korea’s fast-paced lifestyle, modern technology, active lifestyle, and incredible foods and want to experience them for yourself? Then this article is perfect for you. Learn about how to make the move to living overseas and teaching English in Korea with EPIK and change your life in ways you’d never even thought about.
This guide will help you tell you all about teaching English in Korea and whether it might be the right move for you.It’ll will provide you with all the essential information you need to work with EPIK, and also show you more about why EPIK is such a great opportunity to save money, develop yourself as a person, and travel more.
I’ve been teaching English in Korea for 5 years and I want to offer you my personal insights, advice, and guidance about how to apply for EPIK, whether it’s right for you, and why you’ll have a great time teaching English in Korea.
Not only that, you can also make an incredible amount of money – $15,000 per year, or more – and still enjoy all that Korea has to offer. If you want to know how I got that figure, then check out this article:
Not sure whether life overseas if something you’d be into. I wrote an in-depth review of what it’s like living and working in Korea. You can get some honest insights and see if life in Korea is right for you.
Ready to learn about how to start teaching English in Korea with EPIK and learn about other opportunities in Korea? Then keep on reading.
Disclaimer: This article may contain affiliate links, which means I may earn commission if you book after clicking. This won’t cost you anything extra, but helps me to keep on writing content for you. Thanks for your support.
Korea Travel Advice & Planning Facebook Group
Have any questions about your trip to Korea that you’d like answered? Want expert advice for the best places to see, eat, and explore? Then join the Korea Travel Advice & Planning Group on Facebook and get answers from locals, bloggers, travellers, and expats in Korea.
EPIK Quick Summary
If you’re reading this post, you probably already know what EPIK is, and have an idea about why teaching English in Korea with EPIK might be a good idea. If not, here’s a quick summary about what the EPIK Program is and why it’s a great opportunity for you.
Why EPIK is good:
Firstly, the EPIK Program gives native English speaking people the opportunity to live and teach in Korea, even if you’re not a teacher. Secondly, they offer a generous salary with a lot of benefits that will allow you to save and travel – $15,000 per year, or more. Furthermore, it’s an incredible chance to develop crucial personal and professional skills that will help you in your life and career. For example, organisation, presenting, teamwork, collaborating, and confidence are all skills you’ll improve whilst teaching English in Korea with EPIK.
Why teach English in Korea with EPIK:
Teaching English with EPIK is a wonderful chance for personal growth and development, it certainly helped me to get to the place where I am now, writing this article for you. And, no, no one at EPIK is paying me to write this (however, I’ll take a fee if you are, EPIK). I just want to help you understand more about the realities (both good and bad) about the EPIK experience.
When to apply for EPIK:
If you want to apply, EPIK has two intakes each year and provides rolling one-year contracts. You’ll start in either late February or August, and can work for 1 year, 2 years, or more if you want to. The longer you work with EPIK, the more you can learn about Korean culture, language, history, and such like, as well as develop your abilities as a teacher and expat in a truly unique country.
If you’d like a deeper insight into living in Korea as an expat, and some of the challenges and benefits of Korean culture, then check out my guide to expat life in Korea.
My Experience Teaching English In Korea With EPIK
I spent 5 years teaching English in Korea with EPIK and had a great time living and working in the country. I’m not going to lie, there were certainly some bad times, but on the whole it was a truly positive and rewarding experience and I’m glad I did it. I stayed at the same place for the whole 5 years, even though I had the option of moving to a different school after my second year in Korea. I was teaching both elementary and middle school students (an unusual situation) and was lucky enough to meet some incredible students that I still keep in touch with today.
For me, the highlight of teaching English with EPIK was definitely the chance to work with those awesome students. I’m not going to lie, the money, holiday, travel opportunities, and lifestyle also played a big part in making me happy in Korea. But it was the students that I’ll remember for a long time to come, and the people who I’m glad I could connect with and help as a teacher.
I’ve taught English in Japan, Hong Kong, and Korea, but have to say that teaching English in Korea with EPIK was the most enjoyable and rewarding (in many ways) of those experiences. Not only is teaching English in Korea with EPIK rewarding because it’s enjoyable, you can also make a whole load of money teaching in Korea. Read on to see how to save $15,000 per year teaching in Korea:
If you’re unsure about where to start teaching English, I’d recommend starting with EPIK in Korea because they provide so much help to get you set up in the country, as well as providing mentorship for your first 6 months. These things can make a big difference to new teachers, and certainly helps take the fear away from being in a new country all by yourself.
What Is The EPIK Program?
Here’s a brief breakdown of the EPIK Program, including the history of EPIK, what EPIK employees do, and who is eligible to teach English in Korea with EPIK.
The EPIK (English Program In Korea) Program was created in 1995 as a way to increase the English-speaking abilities of Korean students and teachers, as well as to develop cultural exchanges between Korea and the English-speaking world. Today, the EPIK Program has thousands of foreigners from seven native English-speaking countries teaching English in schools across Korea.
Teaching English in Korea with EPIK is a win-win situation for both the Korean students and for citizens from the eligible countries. The students get to listen to and interact with a native English speaker. The native English speaker gets to experience life in Korea, develop skills through working in Korea, and has the chance to save and travel lots.
Besides the chance to teach English in Korea, one of the most important parts of the EPIK Program is living in another country and learning about cultural differences. This is one of the most challenging, but also most rewarding aspects of teaching English in Korea with EPIK that I have experienced. This is true whether you join the program for 1 year, or 5 years, or more.
What Do I Do As An EPIK Teacher?
If you get onto the EPIK Program, you’ll most likely work in an elementary school. Alternatively, you might work in a middle school. A rare few get to work at a high school. You could also work at multiple schools.
Your responsibilities at each will be more or less the same (teaching English, planning lessons). However, the size of the school, the students, their ages, and other teachers will greatly affect your experience teaching English in Korea with EPIK.
Because you’re a foreigner with a native level of English, you’ll be expected to focus more on speaking and listening skills. Students get plenty of chances to read and write in English, but not so much listening and speaking (especially speaking) practice.
You will teach lessons ‘with‘ a Korean co-teacher. I say ‘with‘, because sometimes you can be teaching together, sometimes you will teach while they’re merely in the classroom observing the students. Sometimes the Korean teacher will be teaching and you will have to stand back and observe.
You will teach up to 22 ‘hours’ per week. These teaching ‘hours‘ are not actual hours, but counted as periods of teaching. For example, a 40 minute class will count as 1 ‘hour‘ of teaching. So you’ll teach up to 22 English lessons per week. The exact number of hours can vary each week, depending on other school events or school closure (holidays).
Unfortunately, EPIK do not tell you where exactly you’ll be placed until you arrive. You will find out which city or province you will work in, but nothing beyond that, not even which level. Personally, I don’t agree with this and I wish they’d change it, but it is what it is.
Responsibilities Of An Epik Teacher
The responsibilities of someone teaching English in Korea with EPIK may include:
1: Assisting Korean teachers with their English classes, and/or jointly conduct English classes with Korean teachers, and/or extracurricular activities or English camps.
2: Conducting English conversation classes for Korean students and teachers.
3: Preparing teaching materials for English language education.
4: Assisting in developing teaching materials for English language education.
5: Assisting with activities related to English language education and other extracurricular activities.
6: Demonstrating a good command of the English language, both written and spoken.
7: Performing other duties as specified by your MOE/POE.
A Typical Day As An EPIK Teacher In Korea
A typical day as an EPIK teacher in Korea at elementary school (where most EPIK teachers work) would start with a busy morning and then a quieter time after lunch. Teachers are expected to work 8 hours from around 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. The actual times can vary depending on the school.
EPIK teachers often teach 4 morning classes five times a week (20 classes) and the occasional afternoon class. Lunch is around noon and you might eat with the teachers in the teachers office, or with the students if the school does this. In the afternoon you might teach classes, but mostly you’ll be allowed to use this time for class preparation.
There may be some club activities that you are asked (or can volunteer) to join, such as volleyball club, English club, or clubs for other subjects. These classes can be one of the best parts of teaching English in Korea with EPIK as you get to spend some time with the students in a relaxed environment. You can get closer to them, help them practice their English, and develop a bond with them. This certainly goes a LONG way to making classes easier when then students have a greater connection to you.
At 4:30 pm, you’re free to go home and enjoy the wonders of life that come from finishing so early. Much better than a 9-6 office job with a long commute home! If you finish all your class preparation in the afternoon, you’re free to enjoy the evening.
Is Teaching English In Korea With EPIK Easy?
Sure, if you’re a naturally talented teacher who has no problem adapting to life overseas and already loves Korean food. Seriously though, it’s important to remember that this is a job, just like any other one. You’ll be expected to be professional, to work hard, and to do some things that you probably don’t want do, such as sit through long ceremonies.
Some people will find it easy to adapt to life in Korea and may already know some Korean, which certainly makes life a lot easier. Some people may be confident public speakers and have teaching skills. Those ‘skills’ are varied and can, for example, include being able to laugh at yourself and tolerate awkward questions from students.
For me, teaching on EPIK was a mixture – some parts of it were easy, other parts were quite difficult. I don’t think anyone teaching English in Korea with EPIK has a really ‘easy’ time, just as no one has an ‘easy’ life. There are times when you’ll face difficult situations, especially cultural issues and conflicts that you may not have even considered.
There are loads of great times, though, when you’re really glad you took the plunge and decided to join EPIK. There are lots of good reasons to teach English in Korea, as I’m about to explain.
What’s Good About Teaching English In Korea With EPIK
There are so many good things about teaching English with EPIK that I could probably write a whole article about them. Maybe I will one day? For now, I want to keep this part short and sweet.
So here’s a quick and easy list of all the best things I found about teaching with EPIK:
A chance to live overseas – this is an incredible opportunity that many people don’t have in life. For me, this is one of the best things about EPIK.
Teaching can be fun – it really can. Sure, sometimes it can be boring and repetitive, but seeing the smiles of the students, and the look of understanding in their eyes, is worth so much.
Students are so funny – there are few funnier people in the world than a bunch of interested students involved in a class or chatting in the hallway.
The food – soooo good.
Lots of holidays – 26 days holiday for all EPIK teachers. That’s more than 5 weeks!
Money – a chance to save so much money! Find out how much money right here.
Working hours – working hours typically run until 4:30pm and you can be home by 5:00. Lots of time to relax or party in the evenings.
Life is so different from what you’re used to – Korea is a whole different culture, and getting used to that is a great challenge with big rewards.
Not everyone teaching with EPIK has the same experience. However, if you’re a positive person and enjoy a challenge, you should get a lot from working with EPIK.
What’s Difficult About Teaching English In Korea With EPIK
Of course, life isn’t always perfect. There are certainly some downsides to teaching English with EPIK that can’t be ignored. Some of these are to do with the job, others the culture or adapting to life overseas.
Adapting to life abroad – this is definitely not something that can be ignored. Everyone goes through culture shock sooner or later and dealing with it can be tough.
Language difficulties – not being able to order food or do the simplest of daily tasks can be really frustrating. I really recommend learning at least a little bit of Korean before you get there.
Adapting to local culture – why is everyone rushing around everywhere and why are the old ladies pushing me around on the subway? Korean culture takes a long time to understand, longer to appreciate.
Fine dust & the weather – I won’t lie, this is probably the hardest part of living in Korea for me. Spring is dusty, winter is cold and dry, and summer is hot and humid.
Students will drive you crazy – yes, I love working with students, I also get really frustrated with them sometimes. I assume every parent feels the same?
Hard work at high schools – I knew a few high school teachers and they worked long hours and had to teach English at a much higher level than you’d see at elementary school. That’s not always bad, just more difficult.
Not everyone suffers the same problems in Korea, but some of these issues can’t be avoided. Being prepared for what you could face helps a lot in being able to adapt and deal with it. Don’t hide your head in the sand and pretend that life on EPIK will always be perfect.
Who Can Teach English In Korea With EPIK?
You might think that in order to work as an English teacher in Korea you’d need to be a qualified teacher. Fortunately, that isn’t true. Otherwise I never would have made it in! You do need to meet the requirements set out by EPIK, however. These requirements are:
1: Be a citizen from one of these countries – United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, or South Africa.*
2: You must have attended school in English from at least the 7th Grade (junior high level) and graduated from a university in one of the aforementioned 7 countries.**
3: Korean citizens with legal residency in one of the 7 aforementioned countries can apply. However, they must provide proof of English education from the 7th Grade and beyond, including for university.
4: You will need at least a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited university for at least 4 years (3 years in the UK). If you have only completed 2 years at university, you can apply for the Teach And Learn In Korea (TALK) Program.
5: Be mentally and physically healthy.
6: Have a good command of the English language.
7: Have the ability and willingness to adapt to Korean culture and life.
*Under the CEPA agreement, Indian citizens are eligible for positions if they meet all other requirements and hold a teacher’s license in English. Please inquiry with the EPIK Office at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
**Applicants from areas such as South African, Quebec, etc. where significant portions of the population might not speak English as their primary language, must provide proof that their schooling from 7th year/grade and through university was conducted in English.
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Life Teaching English In Korea With EPIK
There are a lot of things to consider when thinking about applying to teach English in Korea or any other country. The most common question on a lot of people’s minds is how much money can I make or save. You might also be curious about what sort of place you could live in, what’s good or bad, and are you capable of doing it. I hope to answer these questions and more in this section about your life teaching English in Korea with EPIK.
How Much Money Can I Earn Teaching with EPIK?
Money, money, money.
This should probably be at the top of the post, as this is what most people look for when they consider teaching English in Korea with EPIK. I know it was certainly one of the first things that I checked out!
Honestly, a lot of people are very interested in this, especially those who have just left university and have big debts to cover, or those who want a break from their life back home but are scared they won’t be able to survive financially. Well, I have some good news. EPIK pays really well and the longer you stay teaching in Korea with EPIK, the more you can save.
For a more detailed breakdown about how to make money teaching in Korea, check out my article below.
The base salary for EPIK is 2,000,000 won per month, which is about $1,500 (as of Feb 2020). The highest salary is 2,700,000 million won. This might not seem like a lot to some people, but there are extras as well.
Keep reading to find out about the other benefits of working on EPIK.
Here’s the pay scale for EPIK again:
Other Benefits From Teaching English In Korea With EPIK
EPIK covers your rental expenses up to 400,000 won per month. You will usually be placed in an apartment when you arrive and won’t ever have to worry about rental stuff. EPIK will pay the rental costs directly to the owner. You can choose to try to find somewhere bigger (I did after 2 years). If your new place is under 400,000 won per month, then EPIK will pay the owner directly. If it’s over 400,000 won per month, then EPIK will give you the money and you’ll have to pay the owner.
Citizens from the USA, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, and South Africa (sorry, Canada) won’t have to pay any tax for the first 2 years. You’ll need to apply for a residency certificate in your home country to avoid paying taxes in Korea.
Citizens from Australia, Canada, and the USA can also claim back their pension payments. I’m gutted that this doesn’t apply to British people, but that’s life.
Want more money? Of course! Well, there’s some good news for you. When you finish your contract, you’ll get one month’s salary as severance, meaning you essentially earn 13 months of salary in 12 months.
Not only that, EPIK will also pay 1,300,000 won for your airfare to Korea AND back home again at the end.
Update: From 2020, this will be paid as a bonus at the end of the contract, regardless of whether or not you leave Korea.
That’s not all! If you renew your contract for EPIK, you’ll get a bonus of 2,000,000 won for staying, and probably a pay rise to the next level! It all adds up!
Finally, and this is probably one of the best things, every EPIK employee gets 26 days holiday per year! That’s very generous.
How Much Money Can I Save Teaching English with EPIK?
So now that you know how much you could earn, how much can you really save by teaching English in Korea with EPIK? That’s like asking how long is a piece of string, but I’ll try to give you some rough estimates based on my experiences.
Assuming you’re at the very lowest pay grade and not paying tax, you’ll be able to make around 2,000,000 won per month. Deduct medical and pension costs (to be refunded later if you’re from certain countries), you’re left with about 1,800,000 per month.
Monthly Expenses In Korea
Korea generally has much cheaper living costs than in the West, which means you can start to save a lot of money if you spend wisely. You’ll have to cover other bills, such as gas, electricity, maintenance, internet, and a mobile phone. Some people might have some of these included in their rent, others won’t. Expect to pay anywhere from 50,000 per month to 250,000 per month for these costs. Let’s call it 150,000 won per month to be prudent as gas bills can soar in winter (heating) and electricity in summer (air-con).
Food can be incredibly cheap, more so if you eat Korean food and don’t eat out every night. Prices range from 2,000 won for a gimbap, to 8,000 for a Korean stew, 15,000 (average) for Korean BBQ, and 20,000+ for some more extravagant meals. Assuming you want to save money, I’d budget about 400,000 per won per month for food. I spent more, but then I liked eating out and Korean restaurants are too good to resist!
Travel, drinking, parties, transportation, etc., these can all vary. Again, if you’re trying to save money, you could keep these really low. However, I’m going to assume you want to travel and see more of Korea whilst you’re there, so 250,000 won per month for the rest.
Therefore, total monthly expenses are 800,000 won. Sometimes they’ll be higher (especially around holidays). sometimes they’ll be lower. The cheapest months are usually the ones when you have to work a lot.
How Much Can I Save Each Month?
Based on the above income and expenses, here are some very simplistic figures to show you how much money you could save teaching English in Korea with EPIK each month.
Minimum Income (after bills):
1,000,000 won (per month).
Or about $825 USD per month.
If your goal was to save as much as possible, that could easily go over $1,000 per month. If you want to have a good time, eat out lots, travel, and still save, you could still save $500 per month easily enough.
How Much Can I Save Each Year?
If you worked for one year, this is the kind of money you might make when focused only on saving:
($1,000 per month)
(one month’s salary)
(approx. – only available for US, Australian, & Canadians)
Total Yearly Savings:
$13,500 – $15,000 per year
(depending on pension refund eligibility)
The total above would take some dedicated saving and I think a more realistic amount would be about $12,000 per year. This would allow you to save, spend money travelling and going out, having some weekends away, eating lots of delicious Korean food, and maybe a holiday in Japan or somewhere else close. If you want to find out how to save more money teaching in Korea, read my article below.
The longer you work with EPIK, the higher your income will be, as well as the final payout for severance and renewal bonuses, etc. A very rough guesstimate for how much you could save each year (based on what I was saving / spending) would be as follows:
Year 1 Savings:
Year 2 Savings (total):
Year 3 Savings (total):
Year 4 Savings (total):
*If you’re only staying for one year, this figure would be higher as you’d get your pension refund, flight allowance, severance, etc. This figure is lower as those would come at the end of your contract.
**This 4th year, which most people don’t get to, would assume you’ve learnt how to eat and save like a local and wouldn’t be travelling around Korea so much. Again, you could save less, or save more. This is a rough estimate based on my experience here in Korea. Your salary also increases, allowing you to save more.
Can I Really Make That Much Money Teaching English With EPIK?
As you can see, you can make great money by working with EPIK, but be realistic about your lifestyle and don’t miss out on the opportunities that you can only find living and working in another country. Those are usually worth more than a few dollars.
It is also entirely possible to save no money at all and spend it all getting drunk on imported beer, eating Western food, taking lots of holidays, and living comfortably. That’s ok, too. You decide what you want to spend. By the way, those are the things you should avoid if you want to save lots of money teaching English in Korea with EPIK…
I’m pretty confident that most people walk away from EPIK with a good deal of savings at the end of it. I know some who have used this to pay off their student loans, others who have used it to travel after EPIK, or even put down a deposit on a house.
The amount you save is really up to you and how dedicated you are to saving, or how you want to live your life in Korea. It’s definitely possible to save money though.
Where Will I Live in Korea?
Location, location, location.
It would be awesome if I could tell you that you’ll be living in Hongdae or Myeongdong in Seoul, with an apartment near all the bars or shops. Sadly, however, I can’t promise that. Applying for EPIK is like a lottery, one that you’ll hopefully win, but one where you don’t know what the prize will be.
Simply put, there is no guarantee of where you’ll live when you apply to teach English in Korea with EPIK. You may end up in a big city, or you may end up in a tiny town in the countryside. The choice isn’t yours and EPIK will put you where they think you’ll fit.
In terms of housing, you will be given a place to live, wherever you end up living. The Office of Education that you work for will provide a house and cover your rent (up to 400,000 won). Most EPIK teachers have an apartment waiting for them when they arrive. If you renew your contract, you might have the option to move somewhere else.
Can I be Placed in Seoul With EPIK?
Yes, you can be placed in Seoul with EPIK. However, obviously a lot of people want to be placed in Seoul, so demand is very high and there aren’t that many places available. Therefore, it’s likely that you’ll be placed in another city in Korea. So, if you’re applying with the sole aim of being able to live and work and Seoul, be prepared for a placement outside of the city.
For me, that was perfect. I asked to be placed in a metropolitan city with good transport links, and that’s exactly what I got. It’s great being able to travel to Seoul on the weekends, but living there can be tough. Working in a smaller city and exploring the bigger cities on the weekends and holidays is a much better balance and gives an improved quality of life in my opinion.
What is an EPIK apartment like?
Well, there is no standard apartment, but they should all offer heating, air conditioning, running water and gas, and all that stuff. You’ll be given a settlement allowance when you arrive (300,000) to help you buy goods and settle in. All apartments should come with basic furniture (bed, chair, table, etc), but you can buy extras as you like.
I’ll be honest, my EPIK apartment was kinda small – a one room apartment with a bathroom and kitchen / lounge open to the rest of the place. It was tiny and I had to sleep on a mattress on the floor. However, I moved after two years and got a place with a semi-separate bedroom, which was a big improvement. There are some really nice apartments, there are some not so great ones. But they’re all free, so it’s hard to complain.
Application Process For EPIK
Finally, here is an overview of the application process for teaching English in Korea with EPIK. Please visit the EPIK website for full details, and to download the EPIK application form.
How Do I Apply To EPIK?
There are three ways to apply for the EPIK Program in Korea. You can apply directly to the EPIK Office in Korea, through an MOU/MOA organisation, or with a recruiter. I applied directly to the EPIK office as I’d heard that it’s the best way to be guaranteed a position on EPIK, but many of my friends on EPIK applied through a recruiting agency, which made the application process easier for them.
Applying Directly To The EPIK Office In Korea
To apply to work on EPIK directly through their office, you’ll need to create an account on their website. Click the button to apply for the next available intake (either in spring or fall), then follow the steps to start your application process. After you’ve registered your interest in EPIK and submitted your application form, the next steps are as follows:
- The EPIK Office will review your application.
- If successful, you will get an invitation for a Skype interview.
- You will have a Skype interview with EPIK.
- If you pass the interview, you will need to submit all the relevant documents.
- As long as your documents are fine, the EPIK Office will recommend you to the regional offices of education for placement.
- An office of education will select the best applicants and then EPIK will notify you of the final placement results. This is when you find out which area you’ll go to.
- You will need to apply for a visa to work in Korea. The EPIK Office will send you the relevant documents.
- Finally, you will arrive in Korea for an orientation and then begin teaching English in Korea. Congratulations!
This beautiful flow chart will make the process even clearer for you:
I remember the process being quite easy for most steps. However, getting hold of the documents can be tough (and expensive) so I’d recommend preparing them as early as possible. Maybe even before you’ve had the interview. I know that’s jumping the gun a bit, but the faster you can get the documents through to the EPIK office, the faster they can process and approve your application.
Applying Through An Official MOU/MOA Organisation
The EPIK application process through an Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) or Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) organisation is mostly the same as applying directly to the EPIK Office in Korea.
Here are the steps you will need to take to apply to teach English with EPIK through an official MOU/MOA organisation:
- Contact the relevant MOU/MOA organisation and submit your EPIK application form, as per their instructions.
- If successful, you will get an invitation for a Skype interview.
- You will have a Skype interview with EPIK.
- If you pass the interview, you will need to submit all the relevant documents to the MOU/MOA organisation.
- As long as your documents are fine, the MOU/MOA organisation will pass the application to the EPIK Office in Korea. The EPIK Office will then recommend you to the regional offices of education for placement.
- An office of education will select the best applicants and then the MOU/MOA organisation will notify you of the final placement results. This is when you find out which area you’ll go to.
- You will need to apply for a visa to work in Korea. The EPIK Office will send the relevant documents to your MOU/MOA organisation, they will pass these to you.
- Finally, you will arrive in Korea for an orientation and then begin teaching English in Korea with EPIK. Congratulations!
This beautiful flow chart will make the process even clearer for you:
Finally, here is a list of the MOU/MOA organisations that currently work with EPIK:
Applying Through An Official Recruitment Agency
Again, the process of applying to EPIK through a recruitment agency is mostly the same. However, the benefit of applying with a recruitment agency is that they will spend time checking your application. Basically, they’re there to help you get accepted onto EPIK.
Here are the steps you will need to take to apply to teach English with EPIK through an official recruitment agency:
- Contact the relevant recruitment agencies and submit your EPIK application form, as per their instructions. The recruitment agency will check your application and advice you if you need to make changes.
- If successful, you will get an invitation for a Skype interview.
- You will have a Skype interview with EPIK.
- If you pass the interview, you will need to submit all the relevant documents to the recruitment agency.
- As long as your documents are fine, the recruitment agency will pass the application to the EPIK Office in Korea. The EPIK Office will then recommend you to the regional offices of education for placement, as long as there are still available positions.
- An office of education will select the best applicants and then your recruitment agency will notify you of the final placement results. This is when you find out which area you’ll go to.
- You will need to apply for a visa to work in Korea. The EPIK Office will send the relevant documents to your recruitment agency, they will pass these to you.
- Finally, you will arrive in Korea for an orientation and then begin teaching English in Korea. Congratulations!
This beautiful flow chart will make the process even clearer for you:
Finally, here is a list of the recruitment agencies that currently work with EPIK:
Completing The EPIK Application Form
The EPIK application form is the first, and probably most crucial step in the whole process. After all, if the EPIK recruiters don’t like your application, you won’t get through to any of the other stages. That being said, the form is quite easy to fill in and you should be able to complete the application without any problems.
I’d recommend putting in the extra effort for each section to make sure that you put yourself ahead of others who want to teach English in Korea with EPIK. If you are worried about completing the application form, it would probably be best to apply to EPIK through a recruitment agency. They will check your form and make sure it’s okay.
Here’s some advice from EPIK about starting the application form:
“Before starting your application, please read through the the Initial Application Preparation Guide. This will give you details on what you need to prepare before starting your application on the online system. You will be prompted to upload certain files while you complete the online application, and this guide will give you specifics on how to prepare those in advance.”
When you’re ready to apply, visit the EPIK application site here:
Finally, here are some important reminders from EPIK to consider when you’re applying.
“For direct applicants, we will begin reviewing applications in the order received in the weeks following the opening of applications. At that time, we will inform applicants whether or not they have been selected for an interview.”
“For applicants applying through an official recruitment agency or official MOU/MOA organizations, please be sure to contact them directly before creating an account/submitting an application for specific directions and guidelines.”
Source: EPIK website
EPIK Application Skype Interview Tips
Once you’ve submitted your EPIK application to teach English in Korea and it has been accepted, you will need to have a Skype interview with the EPIK Office online.
This step was actually a lot easier than I expected and only lasted about 20 minutes. I won’t go over what questions they’ll cover (it was a long time ago, my memory is bad), instead here are some tips to help you:
1: Dress smartly – treat this as you would any other job interview.
2: Find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed.
3: Check your internet connection is steady and you won’t lose power if you’re using a laptop.
4: Prepare a glass of water – you might do lots of talking and it’s good to keep your throat hydrated. This is a good tip for when you start teaching, too.
5: Read through your application several times so you know what you said.
6: Sit up straight and smile to the interviewer. Appear confident and friendly.
7: Keep your hands on your lap if you think you’ll fiddle with them nervously.
8: Don’t panic – breath slowly and smile. No one is going to think badly of you.
9: Show your passion for Korea and teaching. Honestly, this is probably the most important thing. The interviewers want to know that you’re excited to go to Korea and embrace the culture.
10: Tell them why you’re the best person for the position and reassure them that you’ll work hard when you get there. Would you want to hire a lazy person?!
11: Be positive – as in all things in life, try to stay positive and smile, no matter what happens.
Remember, if you nail this interview, you’re likely to be placed and start teaching English in Korea with EPIK before you know it. Good luck!
What Documents Do I Need To Apply For EPIK?
If your application to EPIK is successful, and you pass the Skype interview stage, you will need to submit your documents to the relevant organisation ASAP. I would recommend preparing these before your interview so that you avoid lengthy delays.
Some of these documents can be hard to get (especially the criminal record check) and may take weeks to sort out. If you’re applying for EPIK through the EPIK Office, they assign positions on a first come, first placed basis, so get in there quickly.
Here are the official documents you need to apply to EPIK. I won’t go into them here in detail, instead I’ll list them so you can get an idea of what you will need.
- Professional photo
- Apostilled criminal record check
- Apostilled diploma
- Sealed transcripts
- Two original recommendation letters
- Proof of Level 2 pay status (EPIK has several levels of pay, more on this later)
- Additional mandatory documents specific to certain applicants
Getting these documents can be time consuming and expensive (my application cost me several hundred pounds), so be prepared. Apostilling can be a difficult process and I recommend checking out where you can get documents apostilled in your country. All of the relevant information will be included in the ‘required documents download‘ provided by EPIK. I can’t stress this enough, be thorough with this stage, it’s where the most people fail when they shouldn’t do.
What Qualifications Do I Need For EPIK?
Firstly, I want to make this very clear as lots of people ask this question.
You cannot teach English in Korea with EPIK without a Bachelor’s degree.
The minimum qualification requirement for EPIK is a Bachelor’s degree. There are 4 possible acceptable qualification combinations to apply to EPIK, as follows:
Bachelor’s degree in Education / major in Teaching, TESOL, Second Language Studies, or Education
Bachelor’s degree in any discipline + TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certificate (min. 100 hours)
Bachelor’s degree in any discipline + Teacher’s License
Bachelor’s degree in any discipline + 1 year TaLK scholar experience
If you have a degree in education with a major in teaching, education, TESOL or second language studies, then you won’t need any other qualifications to teach English in Korea with EPIK. For those with a degree in any other discipline, you will also need a teacher’s license, 1 year TaLK experience, or a TEFL / TESOL / CELTA certificate.
These requirements will place you at pay grade 2, which is the lowest level on the EPIK pay scale (shown below). There are higher levels that will require more qualifications or teaching experience (incl. on EPIK), which will earn you more pay.
What’s The Easiest Way To Get Onto EPIK?
Having any degree and a TEFL certificate is the most common and easiest way to apply for the EPIK program. The TEFL / TESOL / CELTA certificate must be completed with an accredited program to be acceptable for EPIK.
You do not have to have completed the certificate before you apply. You can still apply, as long as you receive the relevant qualification no later than 6 weeks before the final arrival date in Korea.
The easiest qualification to get is a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate. The others are TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) and CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults). These other two options usually involve longer courses and cost more.
How Do I Get A TEFL Certificate?
I got my TEFL certificate online with Bridge TEFL. It was really well organised and I was able to complete the course at my own speed over the period of 1 month. My course was the 120 hour master course, which was perfect for applying for EPIK (anything over 100 hours is sufficient).
The course taught me a lot about teaching, grammar, education, and the role of a teacher. Not only did it help me improve my skills, it also gave me a lot of confidence about becoming a teacher, and made me ready to start teaching full time.
There are many different options for getting a TEFL certificate, with the easiest being online. If you want to finish the TEFL ASAP, then study for several hours per day, otherwise try to study daily for at least one hour at lunch or night, or whenever you can.
Do I Need An English Or Teaching Degree For EPIK?
As stated above, you will not need an English or teaching degree to be placed with EPIK. However, it will probably give you a better chance of being placed on EPIK if you do.
If you have a Master’s degree in education, teaching, TESOL, or second language studies, then you will be eligible for higher levels of pay when you start teaching. See the pay scale above to see what pay you would be eligible for.
Can I Apply For EPIK Without A Degree?
No. You will not be able to start teaching English in Korea with EPIK unless you have at least a Bachelor’s degree. If you want to travel and work as an English teacher, I strongly recommend getting a degree, especially if you want to work overseas long-term.
When Do EPIK Teaching Contracts Begin?
There are two intakes for the EPIK Program each year. These occur in spring and fall. The EPIK Spring Intake begins around February 26th and the EPIK Fall Intake begins around August 26th. These might be a day or two later if those dates are on a weekend.
Before you start teaching English in Korea with EPIK, you will need to join a mandatory orientation for about one week before your start date. This is not included in your salary or work contract, but your accommodation and food costs will mostly be covered by EPIK.
You won’t officially start working until February / August 26th, although you will need to be in Korea a week before those dates.
Each contract runs for one year and ends on February / August 25th of the next year, or whenever one year has passed.
For details of the application period and key dates in the EPIK applications process, please refer to the guide below. Exact dates will be confirmed by the EPIK Office each intake and can be affected by events each year, such as public holidays like Seollal and Chuseok.
EPIK Spring Intake 2021
The EPIK Spring Intake begins on February 26th, 2021. Applications for the EPIK Spring Intake begin in July 2020 with Skype interviews being conducted from October and final documents and visas to be sorted by the middle of January. If you need to get a TEFL certificate, you should complete this by this time, too.
The Korean school year starts in March and runs until February, with a long winter vacation from January. If you join the EPIK Spring Intake at this time, you’ll get the benefit of starting your EPIK position at the same time the students begin their school year.
This is a great time to start as you can build relationships with students from the very beginning of the new year. It also means you miss most of the cold Korean winter and start your time in Korea with lots of fun spring festivals and the beautiful cherry blossoms appearing a month later.
EPIK Fall Intake 2020
The EPIK Fall Intake begins on August 26th, 2020. Applications for the EPIK Fall Intake begin in February 2020, with Skype interviews being conducted from April and final documents and visas to be sorted by the middle of July. If you need to get a TEFL certificate, you should complete this by this time, too.
The EPIK Fall Intake is one of the busiest for people applying after university, especially those from the USA or UK. You can apply while you’re still studying, as long as you can submit the required documents (diploma & transcripts) on time in mid-July.
I started teaching English in Korea with EPIK in the fall intake and was happy that most of the hot weather from summer had passed and autumn was coming. September to November is one of the best times to be in Korea as the humidity falls away and trees begin their slow decline, with stunning autumn leaves appearing in mid-October.
How Long Is An EPIK Teaching Contract?
Each EPIK teaching contract is one year. The contracts start on February / August 26th and end the following year on February / August 25th. If you renew your contract, you’ll start a new contract on the 26th that will run for another year with the same finishing dates.
How Long Can I Teach English In Korea With EPIK?
There is no set answer to this question. If you are accepted to teach English in Korea with EPIK, you will get to stay for at least one year. However, you have the option of renewing your contract each year, as long as you meet the requirements.
I was teaching English with EPIK for 5 years and had to renew my contract each year. I know other teachers who have been teaching English in Korea with EPIK for 7 or 8 years, though that certainly isn’t the norm! Most teachers stay from 1 to 3 years, longer for those who want to live in Korea long term.
The renewal process involves reviews from your supervisor and co-workers, who will mark you on a scale of 10 for various things. For example, your professionalism, your teaching ability, or your ability to adapt to Korean culture. If you pass the renewal process, your pay will probably go up, depending on where you are on the pay scale. If you don’t pass, you won’t be renewed and will have to look for another job at the end of your contract.
Final Thoughts About Teaching English With EPIK
I really enjoyed teaching English in Korea with EPIK. It was an incredible opportunity for me to develop my skills as a teacher, to save a lot of money, to travel to other countries and, most of all, develop a love and understanding of Korea and Korean culture. That’s probably why I ended up staying for 5 years and still blog about Korea now.
If you want the same opportunities, then go ahead and sign up for EPIK. If you are still unsure, go ahead and do it anyway. You’ll never know what you’re missing until you go out and try it!
Getting out of your comfort zone can be incredibly hard, but it’s also incredibly rewarding. Be brave, take a chance on something different. Whatever happens, you’ll develop as a person and walk away with more potential than before.
Here are some final things you might want to consider before applying to teach English with EPIK.
Why Should I Teach English In Korea With EPIK?
If you’ve read through the list of pros and cons for EPIK, and still haven’t made your mind up about teaching English in Korea with EPIK, then here are 10 reasons why you should teach English with EPIK.
1: This is a fantastic opportunity that will help you develop as a person and will teach you some important personal and life lessons.
2: You will develop a greater understanding of foreign cultures, which will certainly help you be more aware of global issues and a more tolerant person. In an increasingly globalized world, this could help with further job opportunities.
3: You can eat as much delicious Korean food as you want, all day, every day!
4: It’s a great opportunity to save some money, lots of money!
5: There are so many incredible countries to travel to during holiday time – Japan, China, Taiwan, SE Asia, etc.
6: Improve or develop your skills as a teacher. So, if you want to continue teaching as a Korea, this is really a great place to start.
7: Helping students learn English is rewarding in itself. Seeing them develop over 1 year, or more, is certainly worth the effort you put in.
8: Fans of Korea will be able to see what life in Korea is really like. Teaching English with EPIK is a great way to establish yourself in Korea if you want to live there long-term.
9: Life is short – this is a chance to seize an opportunity not gifted to most of the world. Make the most of it and get out of your comfort zone. You won’t regret it.
10: Because you might end up meeting the person of your dreams…
Hopefully those reasons will help you decide.
Is The EPIK Program Right For Me?
I’ve met a lot of different people from all walks of life during my 5 years teaching English with EPIK, and there is no one ‘right’ type of person who is right for EPIK. That means that there is no way to say whether or not EPIK is right for you.
Traits of people who enjoy EPIK include people who are either extroverted or inverted (seriously, plenty of both on EPIK), those who enjoy teaching and sharing knowledge, people open to new cultures, trying new things, and willing to work hard. Furthermore, people who can be patient, tolerant, sociable (or not), have a love of Korea (or have no idea about Korea, like me), confident (or not), and are willing to take a chance, can all thrive in Korea.
Traits of people who don’t enjoy EPIK include people who are intolerant of other people, things, places, experiences, and those not willing to learn or try new things (Korea is certainly full of them!). Those who won’t, or can’t, learn from their mistakes, nor control their feelings, will find it hard to adjust to life in Korea.
However, I honestly think that almost anyone can enjoy teaching English in Korea with EPIK, as long as you are willing to embrace a new culture and way of thinking, can get along with others, and is generally a nice person.
I’m not saying you have to be perfect and accept everything that happens, I certainly don’t, but do your best and try to understand things that might seem strange to you. The more you put into a job or opportunity, the more you’re going to get out of it at the end.
Alternatives To Teaching English In Korea With EPIK
If you don’t like the sound of teaching English in Korea with EPIK, or you are unsuccessful with your EPIK application, then there are still ways you can teach and live in Korea. Another popular method of moving to Korea to teach English is to apply for hagwon positions.
Hagwons are private academies that are a massive business in Korea. A lot of students go to these private academies to learn all sorts of subjects, including English. They don’t usually pay as well as EPIK and their work hours are different because they start at in the afternoon and finish late at night (up to 10pm!).
The hagwon industry in Korea – more money is spent on private education than public education, which is quite worrying. If you want to start teaching English in Korea, these businesses can be a good place to start. However, I’d definitely recommend EPIK over a hagwon if you have the choice.
Where To Find Non-EPIK Teaching Jobs In Korea Online
Here are some great resources to get you started if you’re looking for non-EPIK teaching jobs in Korea. You can contact these companies when you’re outside of Korea and find out about moving to Korea and getting a job.
Take a look at some of these sites to get an idea of what jobs are on offer, what requirements they need, and the salary & benefits you can expect.
Teaching English In Korea With EPIK FAQs
Finally, here’s a few FAQs about teaching English in Korea with EPIK, in case the above information didn’t cover enough for you.
If you have any more questions, then please feel free to ask me in the comments below.
How much do you make teaching English in Korea?
The minimum amount of money you’ll earn per month teaching English in Korea with EPIK is 2,000,000 Korean won. You can earn more if you have a Master’s degree or teaching experience. You’ll also get lots of other benefits, including free accommodation, severance pay after each yearly contract, flight allowance, 26 days paid vacation each year, and a settlement allowance. You can find out more about how much you can earn, and save, in my guide to making money teaching in Korea.
Is teaching English in Korea a good idea?
Yes, it’s a great idea. Teaching English in Korea is a great way to make money, travel the world, experience Korean culture, and expand your own skills and abilities. It’s an incredible pathway into a new world and culture, as well as an opportunity to save for your future goals. If you’re open minded enough and willing to adapt to a new culture, you can make a lot of unforgettable memories and new friends teaching in Korea.
Can you teach English in Korea without a degree?
No. You can’t apply to work with EPIK unless you have at least a Bachelor’s degree. For all teaching jobs in Korea you’ll need a degree to be able to apply for the relevant work visa. Without a degree, you can’t teach in Korea. To start teaching English in Korea, you’ll also need at least a 100 hour TEFL certificate
Do I need to know Korean to teach English in Korea?
No, you don’t need to know Korean to teach English in Korea. However, your life in Korea will certainly be a bit easier if you know at least a few essential Korean phrases before you arrive. There are many great opportunities to learn Korean, both in Korea and online. When you’re teaching English in Korea, you’ll mostly be responsible for communicating with students in English as a native speaker. You won’t need to translate English into Korea, or vice-versa.
Which is better, teaching English in Korea or Japan?
There is no real answer to this, it mostly depends on which country you have more of an interest in. I’ve taught English in Korea for 5 years and in Japan for 3 year and I had an incredible time in both for different reasons. The salaries are similar, as are the opportunities, but I think teaching English in Korea might help you more money as costs are generally cheaper in Korea. If you prefer Japanese culture and food to Korean, then you will probably enjoy teaching English in Japan more. However, the opposite is also true.
What school would I work at with EPIK?
Most EPIK teachers work at an elementary school. If you start teaching English in Korea with EPIK then you are most likely to be placed at an elementary school, middle school, high school, or special institute – in that order. High school positions with EPIK are quite rare and most people work at elementary or middle school. You won’t find out which school you’re going to be working at until you arrive in Korea.
Where would I be teaching English in Korea with EPIK?
There is no definite answer, but if you request to work in a certain area, then you may be placed there. For those people interested in teaching English in Seoul, then you should apply to work for the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education (SMOE), otherwise you could be placed anywhere in Korea. I was teaching English in Korea in a large city, but there are also rural places available, too. You won’t have a choice and you’ll find out when you start teaching. Whatever place you are given, make the most of it.
How long can I work with EPIK?
There is no maximum amount of time. The minimum time you can work with EPIK is 1 year. Each year you’ll have to pass a review that will allow you to extend your contract by 1 year. Most people stay for 1 or 2 years, but it is possible to work for longer. I’ve been teaching English in Korea with EPIK for 5 years and I know others who have been with EPIK for longer than that.
Who can start teaching English in Korea with EPIK?
Only people from the recognised 7 native English-speaking countries can apply to teach English in Korea with EPIK. These 7 native English-speaking countries are the USA, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Ireland, and South Africa. You have to be a native English speaker and have studied in English at school. For non-native English-speaking applicants, there are other positions available at private language academies in Korea.
When do EPIK teaching jobs start?
February and August. There are two intakes each year – the spring intake and autumn/fall intake. Application for these intakes begin around 6 months before the start date. Therefore, if you want to begin during the autumn intake, you’ll need to start your EPIK application in February. For the spring intake, begin applying in August.
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