This post is part of a series about teaching English in Korea. To see the rest of the posts, or find more information about teaching English in Korea, check out this page.
Today’s post is about how to find a public school job in Korea and is written by Clare, a middle school teacher in Bundang.
In the current economy finding a job in South Korea has become very competitive. University graduates are fleeing their home countries due to lack of jobs, and are landing upon Korean shores in the hopes of finding work here for a year or two.
Because of this getting a job in Korea is tough, and finding a coveted public school position in Korea is even tougher. So if you do decide to apply you should be prepared for all eventualities.
Below I have written five top tips that one should consider when applying for a public school job in Korea. But before you read on you should first decide on just where you want to teach in Korea, as this will greatly affect your application process.
Korea is largely governed by three different educational programs: SMOE (Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education), GEPIK (Gyeonggi English Program in Korea) and EPIK, (English Program in Korea). SMOE covers the Seoul area, GEPIK covers the Gyeonggi-do area, (which is the area surrounding Seoul) and EPIK covers the rest of Korea.
So once you have decided upon the area that you want to head to in Korea, you can then begin the application process. Here are five of my top tips for successfully finding a public school job in Korea through GEPIK and SMOE. They may seem basic, but they are all very important to remember.
1.You must have a teaching certificate.
This is a relatively new change that wasn’t in place when I first came to Korea back in 2008, but due to the recent cut backs in the public school systems both SMOE and GEPIK can now afford to be picky. Therefore in order to work in a public school in Seoul and Gyeonggi-do you need a 120 hour teaching certificate.
2. Go through a recruiter.
Whilst it is possible to get a position by applying directly to the program itself, I wouldn’t recommend it, especially if you are a new teacher still living in your home country. This is because recruiters can guide you through the entire process from beginning to end. They help you out with your visa, they proof-read your application package and give you advice where needed. Some recruiters even welcome you at the airport and give you cell-phones and other goodies!
I personally used ‘Korea Connections’ for my SMOE application and ‘Korvia’ for my GEPIK application, and was very happy with both of their services.
3. Do not use multiple recruiters when applying through SMOE.
This is very important to remember. If you do apply through multiple recruiters with SMOE then your application will be rejected, and I don’t even know if you can reapply later or not.
However you can apply through multiple recruiters for GEPIK. This is because with GEPIK the school hires you, and with SMOE the education board hires you.
This is a point of confusion for teachers, and you should be aware of this before you start applying for jobs.
4. Finding a ‘great’ public school is difficult, but not entirely impossible.
It is a common truth in public school teaching that your school, co-teachers and location is random and you have no control over where you will be placed. This is true for Seoul, and if you do decide to teach in the capital then you won’t find out your location until after orientation, and by then of course it is too late to back out!
However, you can choose your school with GEPIK. So long as the school agrees to hire you then you can take a position anywhere that you want in Gyeonggi-do. After four years in Seoul I have made the move to GEPIK and I couldn’t be happier. Having control over location and schools has really made a huge difference to my time here in Korea.
5. Don’t read too much into the fear-mongering.
I want to end on a brief note about the cutbacks currently taking place in Seoul and apparently now in Gyeonggi-do. Because although I think it’s important to be aware that the landscape of public school teaching in Korea is changing, I also think it’s important to not read too many stories on the internet.
I advise you to only take note of the things that your GEPIK coordinator tells you, or of what your contact at SMOE passes down to you, or of what is written on their official websites. Because while sites like ‘daveseslcafe’ have their worth, they also help breed untruths based on misinformation and gossip.
Applying for a public school job may seem daunting but I think as long as you remember the above tips then you shouldn’t go too wrong. Utilize your recruiter well, keep asking them questions, and remember that they work for you! If you do all of this then you should have a good year here.
Author Bio: Clare has been an expat and teacher for 7 years. She is currently teaching EFL to middle schoolers in Bundang, Gyeonggi-do. When she isn’t teaching she’s updating her blog at: http://www.haiyasse.tumblr.com.