Why I Love Working at a Korean UniversityI've been working at universities in South Korea for the past eight years and I can say with reasonable certainty that they are the best jobs that I’ll ever have in my life and that deciding to leave Korea to pursue other adventures will be an extremely tough decision. There are various reasons why this job is so amazing including: time spent in the classroom, hands off administration, and the benefit package. I’ll talk about all three of these things in a bit more detail.
Time in the Classroom
Education is a serious business in South Korea and the result is that teaching is a very well respected profession. University students are generally very polite, kind (they’ll bring you small gifts on your birthday and for teacher’s day), and although they can sometimes be a bit shy, they’re fun-loving once you get to know them a bit. Even if you have some less than stellar classes (engineering students!), you won’t actually be spending that much time teaching since most jobs average around 9-15 hours/week.
Hands off Administration
One of my favorite things about my job is the freedom and lack of micromanagement from the administration. While you are usually given a book to teach from, it’s almost entirely up to you what you’ll teach from that book and how. While you need to give tests, homework and grades, it’s pretty much left to your discretion as to how you’ll do this. Meetings and paperwork are minimal so it really is a job with almost complete freedom. Obviously, it’s not great for inexperienced teachers or those new to Korea, but if you don’t need anyone to hold your hand, it’s really the perfect job.
The benefit package
One reason so many teachers stay at Korean universities for years and even decades is that the amount of money you get per teaching hour is extremely high. I’ve calculated it at around $75 US/ hour. It comes through a combination of things including salary (2.4-3.0 million Korean won), housing (free) or housing allowance (around 400,000 Korean won), pension (around 200,000 Korean Won/month paid by the school) and plentiful overtime opportunities, often at 40 000-50 000 Korean Won/hour. Combine this with a low numbers of teaching hours per week and about 5 months vacation paid at your regular monthly rate, you come out with that $75 US/hour.
If you want to pursue interests beyond teaching, it’s an ideal job since vacation and overtime work during the semester are usually optional. If you want to make lots of money, it’s possible since there are quite often plenty of legal overtime opportunities through your university. If you want to see the world and get paid to do it, it’s a great choice. It’s really up to you: hobbies, money or travel!
Convinced? Here’s How to Get a University Job in South Korea
These jobs aren’t that easy to come by since they really are one of the best English teaching jobs in the world. If you want some tips and advice from someone familiar with the ins and out of Korean university jobs, you should check out this book: “How to Get a University Job in South Korea: The English Teaching Job of Your Dreams.” It’s available in Kindle and print edition and after reading it, I’m sure you’ll be well on your way to getting a university job in South Korea.
You might also want to read another one of Jackie Bolen's guest posts: How to Get a University Job in Korea.
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