Teaching ESL in Korea is a great gig- aside from a three or four year uni degree, you don’t need much experience or training. Your airfare and housing are paid for, living is relatively inexpensive and you’ll earn enough to save. Plus it’s cool to hang around in a new country for a year or two.
However, beyond teaching Korea isn’t exactly ‘the land of plenty of other jobs for English speaking foreigners’. This is because Korea hires Koreans first. Most Koreans are highly educated, have piles of job skills, and can speak Korean fluently. Although some foreigners may have schooling and career experience under their belt, they usually aren’t masters in the Korean language. With that being said, foreigners do get jobs outside of the ESL industry. When you’re job hunting in Korea the most important thing to keep in mind is, “What skills do I have that Koreans don’t have? How am I unique?” As well, there are certain jobs fields that are more likely to hire a foreigner once in a while and there are ways to go about job searching that will put you ahead of others.
Jobs For ExpatsEdit
Foreigners tend to get hired in the same fields. This is because foreigners have skills in these areas that Koreans don’t have. Keep in mind you may find work elsewhere outside of these fields. This is merely a guide to help you, but not the strict path you must follow.
English speakers from the seven English speaking countries (Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, the USA, and the UK) can easily finding ESL jobs. You’ve got a degree and you’re fluent in English. The job offers will come pouring in.
It’s a bit harder to get a job as a professor in Korea, but not by much. You’ll need a master’s degree to teach ESL in universities and it helps to have experience in Korea. There are also opportunities for those who want to be professors and hold a PhD. Check out university websites for job postings.
Think tanks and research organizations hire foreigners from time to time. You can either get transferred from a research institute in your home country or apply in person to the organization here. You’ll be hired on the premise that you can research and write well in English.
If you’ve ever dreamed of modeling, Korea is your big chance. You don’t need to be stick thin and 190cm tall. Companies need people of various nationalities for their marketing campaigns. Look for job postings on the internet and apply directly to agencies. With some decent head shots, you’ll have an even better chance. You may even be approached on the street if you’ve got “the look” which is most often slim, blonde hair, blue eyes, and a small head.
If you thought ESL was easy think again, voice acting is where it’s at. The best thing about voice acting is that it pays well and you don’t need to do anything except read a script into a microphone. Voice acting deals need foreigners with various accents to speak in English (or other languages) for projects. Most of the work is education related. TV shows, commercials and music videos need foreigners to play roles as the “token foreigner”. You probably won’t have a central role but it’s still cool to be on TV. Again it is common to be approached on the street to do these jobs or through someone you know.
There are English magazines, websites, and blogs that all need English writers. Writing naturally is always more difficult than speaking, especially for second language learners. It’s great to have fluent speakers to write in perfect English. Some foreigners have had success with their own blogs about Korea. Once their readership expanded they were able to get ad sponsorship. If you’re not much of blogger, look for jobs editing and writing textbooks or contribute articles to English websites and magazines.
Big companies can be a big ticket into Korea. Sometimes big companies hire foreigners for specific job skills. You’ll need to be well trained with some impressive experience to work for Samsung, LG, or Hyundai. Big banks or financial institutions are also good places to look for jobs. Often workers are transferred from abroad to Korea. So in this case, get a job for a big international (hopefully Korean) firm at home. Tell your employer you’re willing to relocate and hope they send you to Korea.
This might not be a job field you’re interested in, especially if you have studied at the post secondary level; however there are heaps of jobs in the labor industry. Manual labor is not a popular career choice in Korea so the workforce is suffering in a major way. These jobs pay poorly, hours are long and you’ll probably stay on a work compound, but it could be a good if you really want to immigrate to Korea.
Foreigners can find part-time jobs without too much hassle. Restaurants and bars like to hire multicultural staff who can speak English in Itaewon and Hongdae. People are always looking for private English teachers and wealthy parents need English speaking nannies for their children. Part-time work is great for students and for those traveling on a working holiday visa around Korea. The work isn’t high paying but it will be enough to supplement your travels or your living expenses while studying.
Embassies and Consulates
It’s pretty awesome to work for your embassy, consulate or government affiliated organization in Korea. You make excellent money. You’ll have a nice apartment. You’ll get to attend fancy functions and you can brag about your visa status. You’ll probably have difficulty working for the consulate from an English speaking country since they usually hire from within their own Foreign Service departments. Countries with smaller populations don’t do things the same way. If you show interest in Korea, and have Korean experience, it might be just the ticket to get you posted here. Look up the consulate from your country and apply directly.
Starting your own business in Korea lets you work for yourself and do whatever you want. That’s great. The major problem is that you’ll need a Korean person to register the business under, you’ll need a significant capital to invest and/or you’ll need to have a permanent visa status (F-2, F-4, F-5, F-6). If you don’t have money, you’ll need investors to back up your idea. Plus you need a great idea. Starting your own business is a good option for those who have already been in Korea for a long time and who plan to stay. Get married to a Korean and begin making your business plans!