As most of you know, last year we taught English in South Korea with EPIK (English Program in Korea). Teaching English abroad is a great way to travel and make decent money, and if you want to go to Korea and you are from an English-speaking country and hold a degree, you likely qualify. Though be advised that as Korea slowly phases out its native English teacher program (this is just a prediction, because they are doing it in Seoul and the rest of the country usually follows), positions with public schools are going to become more and more competitive.
I was originally going to write a more detailed post about applying for EPIK, perhaps even more posts about how to choose between EPIK and teaching at a hagwon (private tutoring center), but to be totally honest there is already a ton of that out on the internet. A quick search will bring you lots of good advice, or you are definitely welcome to email me about it. I’d just like to give you a few tips that I learned on my own.
Why I Chose EPIK and Would Choose it Again
- Excellent benefits. Reimbursed flight, free housing, move-in stipend, severance bonus – just to name a few.
- Comparable pay to hagwons. I knew many a hagwon teacher and those who worked the same amount of hours typically made the same pay. Some teachers were able to make lots of money at a hagwon by working a gazillion hours, but that’s just not for me.
- Normal working schedule. For elementary school, it was 8:40 to 4:40 Monday through Friday, and I was entitled to overtime for anything outside those hours. Yes, please.
- Little to no chance you won’t get paid or the school will turn out to be a scam or close on you. The government is a little more stable and trustworthy than those for-profit hagwons. Note that this doesn’t mean you’ll like your school or your coteachers… but it is pretty unlikely they will scam you.
Tips for Applying for EPIK
- Don’t use a recruiter. Honestly, you probably don’t need one unless you are wildly confused after looking at the EPIK website. I simply thought it would be easier, but actually our recruiter kept telling us things wrong and making it more difficult. If you must use a recruiter, I heard many good reports about Footprints.
- Get your documents in advance – but not too far in advance. The documents you have to collect for the EPIK application are going to be a gigantic pain in the ass no matter when you start gathering them. But if you’re really keen on a particular placement or just want to be sure you’ll get your spot, try and get the ball rolling on this process in advance. But I would like to stress that you can’t get them too early because some of them are only valid, according to EPIK, for three months (this goes for the background check). If you start the process a month or two before you’ll send in your application, things will be great. Remember that even after they accept you, your place is not held until all your documents are received.
- Apply early. If you are picky about your placement, or applying with someone else, apply as early as you can. You can email EPIK directly to find out when they’ll start taking applications for your desired term (firstname.lastname@example.org). It’s usually about 5 months ahead of your intake date.
- Consider getting a TEFL certification. This can be done online. It will A) make you a more desirable teaching candidate, and B) increase your salary, easily paying for itself within a month or two. Not to mention that you might actually learn something if you are not already a qualified teacher.
These are my simple tips for applying for EPIK. Please don’t hesitate to comment or contact me if you have more questions, as I can probably help or point you to someone who can.