Average Salary in South Korea
How much does a South Korean worker make?
A worker in South Korea normally makes 3,890,000 KRW per month. The average wage in South Korea is 2,890,000 KRW. The average salary in South Korea is 2,818,500 KRW.
The annual salary (calculated only for full-time employment) is 493,750,000 KRW.
It appears that the average wage in South Korea has been growing at a rate of around 8.5% per year over the last 10 years.
The country has a very highly educated workforce, and the economy is mostly driven by the high-tech industry. South Korea is famous for its shipbuilding and car manufacturing industries and also exports semiconductors and refined petroleum.
Salary Distribution in South Korea
South Korean salaries start at 983,000 KRW per month. Most entry-level South Korean workers make 2.13-2.43 million KRW per month, but there are exceptions.
Unqualified foreign English teachers often start at about 1.8 million KRW per month.
It is possible to find English teachers who start at over 2.0 million KRW though, especially if they have more than 10 years of experience or advanced degrees like a Master’s degree (overcoming the ‘unqualified’ obstacle).
Unqualified foreign engineers usually start ranging from around 3.4-3.7 million KRW per month depending on their specific job and education background (although some unqualified engineers do start below this range).
The median monthly wage is 3,960,000 KRW, which implies that half of the population earns less than 3,960,000 KRW and the other half earns more. The average monthly wage is 4,443,000 KRW.
For one person to be above the poverty line, he or she must makeover 5,250,000 KRW.
25% of the population earns less than 2,230,000 KRW, while 75% earn more. 50% of the population earns less than 2,160,000 KRW, while 50% earns more.
A percentile indicates how many candidates get paid below a certain amount. If you take the average of all compensation figures for all employees, you’d get 100%.
What’s the difference between the median salary and average pay?
The median salary is the middle figure in a list of earnings, with an equal number of employees earning less and more than the median salary.
The average pay is calculated by adding together all the earnings and dividing them by the number of people.
The average will often be higher than the median because some people earn much more than others in an organization or in a particular industry so they skew the data.
Generally, though, it’s unusual for one person to earn both half the employees’ salaries and twice as much as everyone else so this difference between medians and averages is not too great.
Comparing Salaries Based on Years of Experience
How does South Korean income grow?
Based on this research, it is evident that employees who have more than 20 years of work experience receive higher salaries than those with less experience.
By analyzing different factors of income such as age, gender, educational background, etc., this study found that income drastically increases after working 20 or more years in South Korea.
Korean workers’ salary increases steadily overtime after working for more than 2 years. After 8 years of work, Korean employees have an average salary of around KRW 29 million. After 20 years of work, employees’ average salary is around KRW41 million.
Furthermore, the income gap between men and women was also narrowed after long-term employment so that there were no longer any differences between genders.
Salary Comparisons According to Education
How does your degree of education affect your salary?
One of the major factors that affect your salary is your level of education. Many employers will not hire someone without a college degree, and if they do the payment will usually be lower than for those with degrees.
The type of degree also can affect how much you earn; for example, judges make more money than street policemen (South Korea Information). With higher levels of education come higher salaries.
Those who graduate from high school in South Korea can find jobs as laborers or office workers. Their salary would be around KRW 2,000,000 a month (USD 1,651.23 as of Aug 30th).
Those who graduate from vocational high school usually make more money than those with only high school educations.
They can work in factories or small businesses and their salary is around KRW 2,500,000 to KRW 3,000,000 (USD 2,188.88 to USD 2,550.70) (South Korea Information)
Those with bachelor’s degrees make the most money out of all educational backgrounds. Their salaries range between KRW 3,500 000 (USD 2,910.66) and KRW 4,500 000 (USD 3,737.92) per month.
College graduates are either hired by large corporations or small businesses. The salary given is the same as those with bachelor’s degrees, ranging between KRW 4,000 000 (USD 3,452.51) and KRW 5,000 000 (USD 4,409.06).
Gaining a master’s degree will allow you to work in medium to large companies or research institutes. Those who make it into these types of positions also make slightly more than those with bachelor’s degrees at around KRW 5,500,000 (USD 4,873.43) to KRW 6,500,000 (USD 5,717.21) per month.
Salary Comparisons According to Gender in South Korea
Male workers in South Korea earn 6% more than female employees on average across all industries.
Men in South Korea are paid more than women in all industries except for mining, quarrying, and gas distribution where the average salaries of both genders are almost equal, at KRW 44,890 and KRW 44,899 respectively.
When comparing the average salaries of full-time employees in South Korea across all sectors, those who are male earn an average of 22% more than women.
Men in South Korea are paid a mean salary of KRW 381,510 per month compared to KRW 313,850 for women.
From this, we can see that there is still a significant difference between men’s and women’s wages with men earning on average almost 20% more than their female counterparts per month.
South Korea’s Average Yearly Salary Increase Percentage
How much do South Korean salary raises cost? When do employees earn raises?
Employees in South Korea (Korea) may expect a pay rise of around 9% every 16 months.
Large South Korean companies tend to give their employees bigger pay rises than small ones. But Korean workers at smaller firms still get a significant compensation bump – about 5% annually. Women generally earn less than men for performing the same job.
Annual Growth Rates by Industry in South Korea
- Education – 6%
- Construction – 9%
- Retail – 7%
- Transportation – 5%
- Wholesale Trade – 6%
- Finance and Insurance – 3%
- Information Services – 10%
- Professional, Scientific, Technical Services – 3.5%
Average Salary Increase Rates by Level of Experience in South Korea
There is an average of an 8% increase in salary per year for most people with 5 years or more of work experience.
The only reasons that the figure would be lower than 8% are if you switch jobs too frequently or if your performance was not up to par.
The salary range for entry-level employees is KRW 2,400,000~3,000,000. The average increase in salary that takes place during one’s first five years of working can be anywhere from about 6% to 13% depending on the company and job type.
For example, if your base pay is 2,500,000 won at the beginning of your career and you receive an annual 9%, it will take until the 4th year for your salary to double.
However, since companies tend to raise their salaries by 10% every year during this period or whenever they feel like it because they know that most people are too afraid to quit, the expected salary for people with an average level of experience will be around 3,000,000 won.
Additionally, if you are working as an experienced professional your salary range is KRW 3,900,00 won. The average increase in salary that takes place during one’s first five years of working can be anywhere from about 13% to 18%, depending on the company and job type.
Bonus and Incentive Rates in South Korea
What are South Korean employees’ bonus amounts and frequency?
South Korean workers often receive bonuses during their employment. The rate of giving bonuses has slightly decreased in the past few years but is still at a relatively high level compared to other countries.
On average, South Koreans receive about 3 months’ worth of salary as an annual bonus, with some variation depending on the sector and region.
There is also considerable variation according to position (full-time/regular employees vs part-time/temporary employees).
Additionally, people working in the IT industry, for example, are more likely to receive large bonuses (e.g. year-end or mid-year) than people working in other sectors.
The rate of giving bonuses has slightly decreased over the past few years but is still at a relatively high level compared to other countries.
Types of Bonuses
Individual Performance-Based Bonuses
Individual performance-based bonuses are paid to an employee in recognition of his individual contribution to the accomplishment of a specified goal, objective, or project for which he is responsible.
They are usually targeted at specific objectives related to functional responsibility and would be most common in non-unionized companies.
Individual bonus plans often have shorter payout periods than group bonus plans in order for them to serve as incentives rather than rewards, though this varies depending on the nature of the business.
The simplest plan involves paying a specific amount when certain predetermined goals are met.
Company Performance Bonuses
These bonuses are paid to all employees, or specific subsets of employees, based on the overall success of the company.
Company performance bonuses are most common in unionized companies where they are called “profit-sharing.”
They can be determined by comparing actual performance against predetermined goals or budgets set for each fiscal period, or upon the achievement of specified milestones during the year.
Goal-based bonuses are paid to employees for achieving specific pre-determined objectives during the year. These may be annual or more frequent milestones, such as completing a new product development project within budget and on schedule
This type of bonus is most common in non-unionized companies where it provides an incentive for employees to focus on key business priorities.
Holiday / End of Year Bonuses
Holiday or year-end bonuses are paid at, or around, the holiday season to recognize employees for their contributions during the fiscal year.
This type of bonus is most common in unionized companies where it serves as a holiday supplement (for example, for Christmas/Hanukkah).
Different types of bonuses are more or less useful depending on the nature of an organization’s industry. Other companies may offer only one type of bonus, and still, others may require a combination of types.
Bonus Rates Comparison by Career Field
What makes a position worthy of good bonuses and a high salary in South Korea?
Many jobs exist in South Korea that requires a great deal of education, training or a license to do. There are many factors before giving out good bonuses and high salaries in that job field.
For example, people who are working in the position of an employment counselor need to have a license for this profession. They get good bonuses and high salaries because they have to go through many years of training before being able to get their license.
In South Korea, most jobs that require a great deal of education, training, or a license to do are seen as worthy of good bonuses and high salaries.
Bonus Comparison by Seniority Level in South Korea
Senior employees in South Korea often complain about their low monthly salaries. However, the starting salary for a new employee is actually lower than that of other countries. In fact, it varies depending on industry and company size.
In order to make South Korea’s employment environment fairer, the government announced last year that from this year on any companies with 300 or more employees would be required to pay a minimum wage of at least 7,530 won per hour (US$6.64).
If you work at a large company in Seoul, your hourly rate should be no less than 8,350 won ($7.22) – that’s almost 5 times what senior-level employees get paid.
Additionally, small to medium-sized companies are required to pay a minimum wage of 6,470 won per hour.
Even when standardizing salaries by seniority level, people often complain that their salaries are too low.
The following comparison shows the average monthly salary for employees in South Korea depending on their age and number of years of experience.
The average monthly salary for employees in South Korea is between 2.1 million won and 4.5 million won depending on their age and number of years of experience.
Salaries For Popular Jobs
- Administrative Assistant – 2,170,000 KRW
- Office Manager – 3,530,000 KRW
- Accountant – 1,900,000 KRW
- Lawyer – 2,520,000 KRW
- Public Notary – 1,780,000 KRWAccounting
- Bookkeeper – 1,780,000 KRW
- Payroll Manager – 2,170,000 KRW
- Cashier – 1,850,000 KRW
- Accounting Assistant – 1,800,000 KRW
- Medical Clerk – 1,900,000 KRW
- Pharmacy Manager – 2,500,000 KRW
- Nurse (LPN) – 2,250,000 KRW
- Dental Hygienist – 3,280,000 KRW
- Accountant – 1,900 KRW
- Financial Analyst – 2,170 KRW
- Accounting Manager – 3,530 KRW
- Accounts Payable Clerk – 1,950 KRW
- Concert Promoter – 2,750 KRW
- Event Manager – 3,010 KRW
- Booking Agent – 1,850 KRW
Average Hourly Wage in South Korea
In Korea (South), the average pay per hour is 22,400 KRW. The average South Korean makes 22,400 KRW per hour. It’s 2,845,000 KRW every month.
Public vs Private Sector Income Comparison
On average, public sector workers in South Korea earn 6% more than their private-sector colleagues across all industries. However, the disparity varies widely.
Government employees in traditional industries such as agriculture/fisheries and manufacturing/mining earn 29% more than their private-sector counterparts, while this difference is as little as 0.2% for those working in professional/scientific sectors such as finance, real estate education, etc.
Admittedly, the pay for civil servants in South Korea is already lower than that of private-sector employees.
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