* Public vs Private Schools

Many applicants consistently ask us what the differences are between teaching at a public school and a private school. Having worked with as both a private and public school recruiter, we thought to clarify the differences between the two as objectively as we can in order to help clarify.

They both have their advantages and disadvantages. It really comes down to individual preference and what you qualify for.

Note: Public school positions are slowly being phased out of the Korean educational system. The market is slowly being reverted back to the private sector. Seoul positions have been phased out, and other provinces are decreasing their hiring numbers with each semester. This makes public school positions quite competitive these days. Essentially applicant submit all the paperwork, then wait to hear if they have been accepted. This can take a few weeks.


First, the BASIC facts:

Note: These are generalities. I will provide further clarification below.

Both are great options and provide attractive employment packages. However, it is good to be properly informed on all the info beforehand.




– Airfare Reimbursed upon arrival Provided upfront
– Vacation 4 weeks + 15 nat. holidays 2 weeks + 15 nat. holidays
– Class size 30-40 students 8-12 students
– Hours 22hrs teaching/wk -40hrs incl. office hours and lunch 30 hrs teaching/wk 40-45 hrs altogether (prep, breaks, lunch)
– Curriculum Provided Provided – can be discussed during the interview.
– Salary 1.8-2.7 (generally 1.8-2.0) 2.1 – 3.0 (generally 2.1-2.3)
– Locations Choice of three locations – First come- first serve More choices (dep. On qualifications).
– # of foreign teachers per school 1 1-30
– Start date March 1st/ Sept 1st (generally) Year round
– Application procedure Systematic Bureaucratic selection/interview process (similar to JET in Japan) Resume and photo to recruiter. Await for them to consult and guide you.
– Job security Good  Generally good – depends on school 
– Qualifications BA any major + 100 hr Tesol BA – any major
– Placement assurance First come – first serve  will need to submit application and wait.

More of an organic process.

Placements depends on several factors: qualifications, time of year, preferences, recruiter


1. When considering a public school position, you generally want to be clear on the following:

– Beginning a position in ether September or March.

– Paying your own airfare to Korea (and applying for reimbursement)

– Being paid a little less than private (generally about 200 US/mth for a first year
 teacher) – unless you have verifiable teaching experience, a teaching licence or a degree in
 education (in which case your salary can be incrementally higher.

– Acquiring a min. 100 “in class” Tesol certification- required.

– Being the only foreign teacher at your school

– Teaching large classes (it is harder to focus on the individuals students and discipline 
  sometimes tends to be an issue).


2. When considering a private school position, you generally want to be clear on the following:

– Work with a good recruiter who will consult, support, and guide you properly. Essentially find you a good job and help you process and get over here. This is key as it is a big step to make the move to Korea.

– Communicate with a teacher working at your school (good as a 2nd source of reference).

Be prepared to work and teach well. These are private schools and parents pay well to have their students study here in addition to their regular studies. Slacking is not an option. As with any job in the private sector, hard work benefits all and is rewarding at the end of the day.

– Be adaptable.. a team player. As with private schools back home, they are less rigid than public and can be more organic in their administration. It is just the nature of the business. As such, it is important to work with your administration as part of the team and simply go with the flow of things.

-Don’t rock the boat! Your employer is your sponsor and your lifeline in Korea. They invested in you so be sure to be make it worth their while. It is also Asia, so “no arguing with the boss”.


I hope this helps. Feel free to send us any questions or comments. We will see if we can help clarify things for you.

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