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5 Requirements for Teaching English in South Korea

Jake is an ESL instructor in Seoul, Korea. They have been teaching for about two years.

Learn whether or not you're eligible to teach English in South Korea by answering these five questions.

Learn whether or not you're eligible to teach English in South Korea by answering these five questions.

Are You Considering Teaching English in Korea?

You may be considering the opportunity of teaching abroad. Many people consider Korea because of the savings potential and the terrific standard of living. After you decide to go, you may be wondering if you're eligible. Here is a list of five questions that determine whether you are eligible.

  1. Where Are You From?
  2. Did You Graduate From a University?
  3. Do You Have a Criminal Record?
  4. Are You Healthy?
  5. Are You Drug Free?
Seoul at Night

Seoul at Night

1. Where Are You From?

The first requirement is to be a native English speaker. The E2 visa, or the teaching visa, will require a passport from one of the following countries:

  • United States
  • Canada
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • South Africa
  • United Kingdom
  • Ireland

If you're a citizen of any of these countries, you meet the first requirement.

2. Did You Graduate From a University?

The E2 visa also requires that you graduate from a four-year university. The visa process will require you to submit a copy of your diploma. In some countries like Canada, you'll be required to submit your university transcripts. However, your major doesn't matter. Although a teaching or linguistics major may help in some cases, it isn't required.

If you have a four-year diploma, you meet the second requirement.

3. Do You Have a Criminal Record?

A big part of the visa process will be submitting a criminal background check. In the United States, this will be performed by the FBI. You will have to show the Korean Government that you have no criminal record in your home country. Anything on your record will exclude you from being able to teach. This includes DUI, possession charges, or assault charges.

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If you don't have a criminal record, you meet the third requirement.

4. Are You Healthy?

Within 90 days of arrival, you will be required to take a health test. Most schools will do this within the first 1–2 weeks to get you registered more quickly. The test includes an AIDS/HIV blood test. You will not be able to stay under the visa nor teach if this returns positive.

If you are AIDS/HIV free, you meet the fourth requirement.

5. Are You Drug Free?

The health test mentioned above will also include a drug test. There is some speculation on whether the test includes marijuana. It seems to be case by case, depending on the hospital. However, they do check for other, more addictive drugs. If you have any doubts, it may be a good idea to be tested before you leave and see if you pass.

If you can pass a drug test, you meet the fifth requirement.

That's It!

If you meet these five requirements, you are on your way to teach in Korea. You can start the visa and job search process now. If not, unfortunately, there is no wiggle room, especially with the criminal background.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.


Sharon Priscilla on December 10, 2017:

Is teaching in South Korea possible if I'm a non-native English speaker ?

Joe on September 15, 2016:

Thanks for the tips for teaching in Korea.

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