EPIK Program: Landing the Job
There have been rumors floating about Korea for years, “The Government is cutting jobs….EPIK program is going to disappear…” For a long time, teachers—both in and out of Korea —didn’t believe there was much behind these statements. However, in the past few years cutbacks have actually started. Additionally, Korea has increased in popularity amongst English teachers, with more individuals looking to it as an attractive place to live; ultimately making public school placements much more competitive. However, don’t be put off by this, if you are qualified and have the right attitude there are great jobs available.
So what’s the process? How do you land a public school job? What should you expect?
Who, What, Where: EPIK Program and beyond
In Korea, public school positions exist under one of three government led programs, all of which offer similar benefits and have the same application process:
- EPIK Program – English Program in Korea, positions throughout the country, some rural some urban, but you have little to no say where you’ll end up.
- SMOE Program – Seoul Metropolitan office of Education, in and around Seoul, highly competitive.
- GEPIK Program – Gyeonggi province, possibly more rural positions, but not too far from the bustling capitol.
The decrease in job openings, coupled with the increase in competition means you’ll need to stand out in the applicant pool. The basic qualifications, include being a citizen of a country in which English is the native language (Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, UK, USA or S. Africa) and holding a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited university.
While these are the minimum requirements (to which there are no exceptions), they’ll no longer guarantee you placement. The government now looks for teachers who have majored in education, have some experience teaching, and/or hold a TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certificate. The easiest way to boost your application (and pay) is to complete a teaching certificate, many of which are available online.
A Must Read
If you are somewhat new to teaching or feel that you need some more background knowledge to be able to teach in the EPIK program effectively, then this book is a must read. It explains current pedagogy to teachers who want to access the more relevant ELT practices and incorporate them into their lessons. In addition, it provides guidance on how to deal with larger class sizes and multi-level classes, which are some of the biggest difficulties facing EPIK teachers in Korea.
While it is possible to complete the application on your own and submit it directly to EPIK/SMOE/GEPIK, working with a recruiter can help ease the process. Various recruiters work with these programs, streamlining the process for all involved. The recruiter will be available to help with any questions you may have and will review all documents for you before submitting them—ensuring you’ve completed them correctly. There’s no fee to use one of these recruiters, so there’s really no reason not to.
Application and Timeline
The application process for public school placements is not an easy one, the best advice is that you should be prepared to wait; this will take some time. Aside from the application the following documents are required, some of which take a while to obtain:
- An Apostilled Copy of a Bachelor’s Diploma
- Original Sealed Transcripts
- Apostilled National Level Criminal Background Check (CRC)
- Two letters of Recommendation (Academic/Professional)
- Copy of Passport
- Proof of Teaching Experience (optional)
- Copy of Teaching Certificate (optional)
The CRC is by far the most difficult and time consuming document to obtain, thus, it is advised to start the process well before the application deadline. Obtaining a CRC differs from country-to-country but may require fingerprinting, mailing documents and waiting, lots of waiting. Once all of the documents are complete and submitted the waiting game begins—again.
Once all the necessary documents have been submitted, applications are reviewed and you should hear if you have passed the first stage approximately 5 months before the starting date. If you were successful in stage one, you move onto the final stage. This contains an interview either by phone or skype. Yet again, you are asked to wait a month or two to find out if you were successful. This is the most frustrating part of the process, not knowing if you’ll be packing up and jumping on a plane in a month or two. But, ride it out and hopefully you’ll hear good news.
Alternatives to the EPIK Program
While the major hiring process takes place only twice a year (August and March) opportunities sometimes appear throughout the year. If for some reason you miss the deadline for the initial intake, you can still prepare your documents and submit them (via a recruiter) for other openings. A popular option for this is working with GOE (Gyeongsangnam-do office of Education), located in the SE region of Korea. There are a few recruiters that work with these schools, with the application process mirroring that of EPIK/SMOE/GEPIK.
Whatever route you may take, remember that the process is long, and sometimes frustrating. Learning to be flexible, patient, and adapting will prepare you for your future year of teaching. Good Luck!
Stephanie is a storyteller, yoga enthusiast, and wandering soul who recently settled in for her second round of teaching in Korea. After her first stay in Korea, teaching in the EPIK program in Korea, Stephanie spent nearly two years traveling, exploring the world, making new friends, and becoming a certified yoga instructor. If you want to read about her travels, teaching tales or just learn more, check her out here: www.yogifootprints.weebly.com