Last updated: 06/05/15
For my first post I wanted to write about gaining a Professor/Assistant Professor English teaching position at a Korean University. It’s unfinished, but I couldn’t wait to publish my first post, weirdly, so it should become more polished across the next few weeks as I learn more and become more accustomed to the WordPress format. At the time of writing, I’m still in Sydney anxiously awaiting my visa approval for my first teaching job, at a hagwon in Dongjak-gu, Seoul. If I enjoy this year and can imagine myself teaching as a career, then I’m really hoping to get my Master’s and aim for a university position in the future. This isn’t meant to be a ‘how-to’, but more of a ‘how-to-probably’ kind of guide. I’m writing this based on my analysis of job listings, advice I’ve read elsewhere, as well as inferences based on what I would look for if I were recruiting. Even if some things may seem obvious, I think it’s important to try and consider as many factors as possible, to try and differentiate yourself as being above and beyond basic requirements.
Master’s Degree or higher
The most important criterion in getting a university position would be that you hold a master’s degree, ideally (but apparently, not necessarily) in TESOL, or a related field such as linguistics, English or education. Every job posting I’ve seen has asked for this. I’ve seen a posting by Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (Fig. 4) that preferences Master’s in Education (TESOL) over a Master’s in Arts.
Generally speaking, the more the better, however minimum requirements seem to vary. Some job listings aren’t explicit about experience being necessary, and welcome any applicant with a Master’s (Fig. 1). Others ask for experience at “accredited institutions” (Fig. 4). Meanwhile, Kyungnam University, Changwon, requests “a minimum of two years experience at the university level or three years experience at the middle/high school level”, and that “experience in private academies will not be counted” (Fig. 3). Kyungpook National University asks for more than 3 years EFL experience with adults, preferably in Korea (Fig. 2). Increasingly, 2 years at university level is becoming the standard requirement, so it’s likely to be the minimum by the time I get my Master’s.
Another asset occasionally listed is research experience— seems to constitute published journal articles. Some advice for publication can be found here.
Finding a job
TEFL Tips.com guest contributor Jackie asked members of the ‘Foreign Professors and University English Teachers in South Korea’ Facebook group about how they received their positions, to which they responded:
ESL Cafe Job Board: 36% Through a friend: 34% Through a job site besides ESL Cafe: 14% Networking: 7% Dropping application off at a university or applying through the university website: 7%
Fortunately, about a third of jobs go through Dave’s ESL Cafe Job Board. About another third go through friends or networking. Alternate job sites include: Profs Abroad, Chronicle of Higher Education, TESOL.org, KOTESOL, Craigslist, Jobseekr, and Koreajobfinder.
‘University Jobs in Korea’ at Jackie Bolen’s YouTube Channel (2015) — A web miniseries by the ubiquitous Jackie Bolen
‘Foot >>> Door for Korean unis: What’s attractive?’, ‘MA and 2 years research, stop taking university jobs’, ‘University positions without Uni experience’— Recent discussions at Dave’s ESL Cafe (2015)
‘The Best TEFL Jobs in South Korea’ at Tefl-Tips.com (2015) — An up-to-date and comprehensive guide
‘Very Boring Post Unless You’re a Foreigner Looking For a College Teaching Gig’ at Wet Tumblrments (2013) — Reinforces MA and 2 years University experience becoming standard, recommends being in-country for interviews
‘A University Job’ at waegukin.com (2014) — Probably one of the best, and most recent, articles I’ve come across lately about this topic
‘Getting a university job in Korea’ at Overseas Exile (2011) — Provides clarification about differences between jobs, and different visas
‘How to get a University ESL Teaching Job in Korea’ at jackieb99’s HubPage — Gives some good interview tips
Past job listings
An archive of recent job listings is provided below to get a clearer idea of the qualifications and experience requested by various institutes, as well as some of the different kinds of positions that are out there. It’s important to remember that often jobs are only listed fairly briefly, so it’s important to continue checking online every week if you’re hoping to find something.