What is a hagwon and are they a good place to work?

A hagwon is a type of private educational institution in South Korea, predominantly focused on providing supplementary instruction in various subjects. These institutions are integral to the South Korean educational structure, which comprises both public and private systems. Many South Korean students attend public schools for their regular education and supplement their learning with extra lessons at hagwons, especially for subjects like English, where specialized attention is sought. Hagwons are thus critical in providing additional educational support and enrichment.

As for their suitability as a workplace, hagwons can offer unique teaching experiences. They are known for smaller class sizes and a focus on specific subjects, allowing for more in-depth instruction. However, prospective teachers should research individual hagwons thoroughly, as experiences can vary widely based on the institution's management, culture, and expectations.

Also read: What is the EPIK program for teaching English in South Korea?

Table of Contents

What is the hiring process for hagwons in South Korea?

What kind of contract will I get working for a hagwon in South Korea?

So, is a hagwon a good place to work?

What is the hiring process for hagwons in South Korea?

Given the abundance of hagwons seeking English teachers, there is no specific hiring season as there is with public schools. This enables year-round hiring, meaning teaching positions are typically available anytime. Requirements for aspiring teachers in the private sector in Korea include:

  • TESOL certificate (typically 120-hours or more)
  • Citizen from a native English speaking country
  • BA degree or equivalent (in any subject)
  • Current criminal record background check

Most organizations will conduct online interviews via platforms like Skype for shortlisted candidates, allowing you to secure a job even before you leave your home country.

Also read: What is the TaLK Program for teaching English in South Korea?

What kind of contract will I get working for a hagwon in South Korea?

The job application and contract-signing process for hagwons usually takes between two and four months. A typical contract details your work hours, contingent upon the type of school and your students. Kindergartens, for instance, operate between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., while schools for older students and adults operate in the afternoons to evenings, potentially including weekends.

A standard salary ranges from US$1,800 to US$2,800 per month, based on your experience. Hagwons generally employ several foreign teachers, and classes usually comprise fewer than 15 students. Many companies offer extra perks like free accommodation for their teachers and cover arrival and departure flights at the beginning and end of your contract.

Also read: How much can I earn teaching English in South Korea?

So, is a hagwon a good place to work?

Like any private entity across industries worldwide, there are commendable and less commendable hagwons. Social media can be a valuable resource when researching potential jobs as teachers often share their experiences on various platforms dedicated to reviewing these private schools' working conditions.

Before signing any contract, it is advisable to request the school's contacts of a current teacher for a conversation. Any reluctance or inability to provide this should serve as a warning.

Many hagwons are run by large educational companies, which typically prioritize their reputation. These organizations often have contingency plans for teacher accommodation, work permit acquisition, and so on. However, this doesn't imply that you should avoid smaller, family-owned hagwons. Some are exceptional, and being part of a smaller team can sometimes offer a more enriching experience.

Also read: Are public or private schools better for teaching English in South Korea?