Questions regarding non teaching jobs (specifically engineering)


I have a few questions regarding finding non-teaching jobs in Korea.  I know getting a job as an english teacher is in very high demand, but I'd prefer to find a job that will make use of my degree.  I am interested in finding an engineering job in Korea, but I realize there are some difficulties I have to overcome.  First some background information about myself:

-I'm halfway done with my Mechanical Engineering degree.  

-I can speak Chinese and English (Born in China, raised in the US).  

-I have been learning Korean and am at an intermediate level.

So here are my questions:

1.  I read that for foreigners to get a non teaching job in Korea, they need to have advantages over native Koreans because companies would rather hire native Koreans.  What kind of advantages are we talking about?  What should I do to help separate myself from native Koreans?  Does speaking Chinese and English help a lot in the Engineering field or not really useful?

2.  What type of Korean proficiency is needed for engineering jobs?  Intermediate? Advanced? Native?  In America, there are many engineers who speak English poorly but still have a job, is Korea the same?  Do you need a certain score on the TOPIK exam?

3.  How much more effective is a Master's Degree compared to just Bachelor's Degree in Korea?  Does it give an employee a huge advantage in both being hired and salary?  Or is it more of a personal accomplishment for bragging rights?  

4. In America, we have the FE and PE exams (Fundamentals of Engineering Exam and Professional Engineering Exam).  Is there an equivalent in Korea?  If there is do I have to retake it or can those tests in the US be transferred?  

5. As a foreigner, is there an advantage to move to Korea first without a job and start looking for one or can I apply overseas and just fly into Korea for interviews if companies are interested?  Also in the US, when you apply for jobs out of states, the companies usually cover your moving costs and give you some sort of signing bonus since you are going through the inconvenience of moving.  Do companies in Korea have similar incentives or are they pretty firm with their offers and there's very little wiggle room?

That's all I can think of right now.  Thanks for taking the time to read through and answer these questions!!!


-Kevin Han

Re: Questions regarding non teaching jobs (specifically ...

Hi Kevin.

I am an engineer working in here. I was in Seoul for more than a year but moved here in Busan 5months ago. I want to talk about few things.

1.  Language. Engineering companies do not require you to speak in korean since the kind of work you will be doing is not much related to communcation. Koreans will do the communication with korean clients but you can help when your clients are from overseas. In fact, you can have an edge over koreans if you were able to land a job in an engineering companies whose clients are outside korea. Project design calculation reports and documentations are also written in english. With this alone, you'll already have a high advantage.

2.  Education. Some companies are very particular on education. Experience is what mostly they are looking for. I know lots of foreigner engineers who do not have a master's degree and cannot speak korean working in Seoul. My wife only has a 3yr experience when she was given a job here in Korea

3.  License. In order for you to practice engineering here, you must have at least an engineering license from the country where you came from because that is one of the docs the government will demand from you. If you don't have, you may still apply but you'll end up doing some CAD drawings instead of professional engineering analysis and design works.

4.  Incentives. It is required for korean companies to pay for air tickets (round trip) of every foreigner employees. They will also pay your house and usually meals while working (lunch and dinner for overtime works).