TEACH ENGLISH IN JAPAN

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About Teaching English in Japan

From Shinto shrines & Shogun castles to onsen hot springs, Japan offers a cultural experience like no other. It has also long been one of the top job markets for teaching English in Asia.

The Asian markets are some of the largest in the world for English teachers, and Japan has one of the longest traditions of employing English instructors. The Japanese have mandated that English be taught in all of their public schools beginning at age 5 and lasting through the completion of high school. This broad base of child learners has opened a large market for English teaching jobs in Japan. Adults are taking English language classes in the millions as well, and it often seems that language schools are on every corner of a city block.

Those looking to teach English in Japan can find jobs year-round, and in-person interviews are conducted 3 to 6 months in advance throughout the U.S., U.K., and Canada. Instructors are usually responsible for airfare and housing costs, although schools do assist in finding housing and sometimes provide accommodations.

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Many Americans teach English in Japan through the famous Jet Program and the Interac Program, which places qualified Americans as assistant language teachers (ALTs) in high schools and grades schools throughout the country.  Many foreigners also teach in private language schools. English teachers must obtain a proper work visa to work in Japan.

Overall, teaching English in Japan enables teachers to live a comfortable lifestyle. Schools typically offer 20 to 25 hours of work per week (and sometimes more), leaving plenty of time to travel and explore. English teachers need a bachelor’s degree, and TEFL certification is typically required to teach English in Japan. Major cities for teaching in Japan include Tokyo, Fukuoka, Kobe, Kyoto, and Osaka.

Teaching Requirements

TEFL CERTIFICATION

A TEFL certification is required to teach English in Japan. You do not need professional teaching experience but earning your TEFL certification will provide you with the training and qualification you do need to get hired. 

Teachers typically interview in-advance from their home country, therefore, it is most common for students to take one of our TEFL course options listed below:

You may also wish to take one of the 4-Week In-Person TEFL Courses that we offer in 21 locations worldwide.

NATIVE ENGLISH SPEAKER

To teach English in Japan, you must be a native English speaker. Citizenship from the USA, Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa is highly preferred.

There are instances, however, where non-natives can obtain teaching employment if they have at least 12-years of schooling in English. If this route is taken, you will be expected to be fluent in English and speak at a native level to be considered for teaching jobs.

DEGREE REQUIREMENTS

English teachers need a bachelor's degree to teach English in Japan. Please note, your bachelor's degree does not need to be in education, it can be in any field.

BACKGROUND & HEALTH CHECK

Although not a visa requirement, if you are planning on applying for the JET Program, please note that you will need a clean FBI background check. If you have ever been arrested, charged and/or convicted of any offense other than minor traffic violations, including any juvenile offenses, you will not be eligible for the JET Program. Private school employers may also sometimes require a background check. 

Japan is very intolerant of drug offenses as a whole, so anything drug-related will likely bar you from most schools in Japan. Many schools will also conduct drug tests for their teachers.

TEFL Jobs in Japan

JOB TYPES

The most common job types in Japan consist of:

  • Teaching children in public grade schools and high schools as an assistant language teacher through the JET Program or Interac.
  • Teaching children at private schools known as Eikawas.
  • Teach Business English to adults in a corporate environment.
  • Teaching English Online.

HIRING & VISA

English teachers in Japan can expect to find jobs year-round. Interviews for teaching jobs are done in advance from your home country in two forms:

  1. Either via phone or video call (i.e. Skype).
  2. Many recruiters hold face-to-face interviews in the US, Canada, or the UK at least 3-6 months in advance.

You will process your Japanese work visa in your home country before departure, however, your visa can be processed in any country that has a Japanese Embassy. Please be mindful that you will be without a passport as your visa gets processed.

Read More: How Do I Get a Visa for Teaching English in Japan?

HOURS

Schools in Japan offer approximately 20 to 30 hours of classroom work per week plus additional hours for prep time. This allows for plenty of time to travel and explore. 

STUDENTS

It is most common that your students will be children or adult business professionals. 

Salary & Cost of Living

START-UP COSTS

Start-up costs will range from $2,500 - $3,000 USD (277,050 – 332,500 JPY). These are expenses you will incur from your arrival in Japan until you receive your first paycheck and may include things like rent, apartment supplies, transport, groceries, getting your new local cell phone number set up, etc. 

SALARY

A solid hourly wage enables teachers the opportunity to live a comfortable lifestyle while in Japan. Teachers can expect to make $1,500 - $2,500 USD per month.

Some schools will provide teachers with housing or an added stipend, but this is not always the case. Flight reimbursements may also be provided, but there is no guarantee that all schools will do this.

Read More: What are Salaries for English Teachers in Japan?

COST OF LIVING & SAVINGS

The cost of living typically ranges between $800-$2,000 USD per month.

Japan can offer a good salary for teachers looking to save, however, there are three things to keep in mind with this.

  • The best benefits and highest savings potential are often with the JET program because it does include housing and airfare. Participants in the JET program can save between $300 and $600 a month in their first year.
  • If housing is not provided, expect higher start-up costs, including paying “key money”. This is typically the amount of one month’s rent that is given as a gift to your landlord, and it will not be returned once your lease is up. If you are renting your own apartment, this is an expense you should consider in planning for your start-up costs.
  • The average monthly cost of living in Japan tends to be higher than other Asian countries, and it can take longer to establish yourself and start saving money. Depending on where you are living, expect to break even for the first 4-6 months if you are working at a private language school.
 

What does teaching in Japan look like?

Watch ITA alumna Yvonne Worden show us a day in her life living and teaching English in Nabari, Japan.

Want more? We've got you covered! Visit our Video Library to watch day in the life videos from our alumni and get a glimpse into what your life as a teacher in Japan could look like!

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Teaching English in Japan FAQs

Do I need a degree to teach English in Japan?

To teach English in Japan, make sure you understand what is required:

Required:

  • A four-year college degree

  • A TEFL certification

  • A clean FBI background check
  • Pass a drug and health test
  • Citizenship from the U.S., U.K., Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand or South Africa are highly desired, though highly qualified candidates from English-speaking countries in the Caribbean may also get hired in some cases. Citizens from other countries with documented 12+ years of education in an English-speaking school are also eligible for a work visa, though many schools still prefer to hire exclusively from the seven countries listed above.
  • Understanding of the types of English teaching jobs that are available

  • Savings for start-up costs

Read More: What are the Basic Requirements for Teaching English in Japan?

What is the salary for teaching English in Japan?

Start-up costs will range from $2,500 - $3,000 USD (277,050 – 332,500 JPY). These are expenses you will incur from your arrival in Japan until you receive your first paycheck and may include things like rent, apartment supplies, transport, groceries, getting your new local cell phone number set up, etc. 

A solid hourly wage enables teachers the opportunity to live a comfortable lifestyle while in Japan. Teachers can expect to make $1,500 - $2,500 USD per month.

Some schools will provide teachers with housing or an added stipend, but this is not always the case. Flight reimbursements may also be provided, but there is no guarantee that all schools will do this.

The cost of living typically ranges between $800-$2,000 USD per month.

Japan can offer a good salary for teachers looking to save, however, there are three things to keep in mind with this.

  • The best benefits and highest savings potential are often with the JET program because it does include housing and airfare. Participants in the JET program can save between $300 and $600 a month in their first year.
  • If housing is not provided, expect higher start-up costs, including paying “key money”. This is typically the amount of one month’s rent that is given as a gift to your landlord, and it will not be returned once your lease is up. If you are renting your own apartment, this is an expense you should consider in planning for your start-up costs.
  • The average monthly cost of living in Japan tends to be higher than other Asian countries, and it can take longer to establish yourself and start saving money. Depending on where you are living, expect to break even for the first 4-6 months if you are working at a private language school.

Read More: What are Salaries for English Teachers in Japan?

What are my job opportunities for teaching English in Japan?

The most common job types in Japan consist of:

  • Teaching children in public grade schools and high schools as an assistant language teacher through the JET Program or Interac.
  • Teaching children at private schools known as Eikawas.
  • Teach Business English to adults in a corporate environment.
  • Teaching English Online.

English teachers in Japan can expect to find jobs year-round. Interviews for teaching jobs are done in advance from your home country in two forms:

  1. Either via phone or video call (i.e. Skype).
  2. Many recruiters hold face-to-face interviews in the US, Canada, or the UK at least 3-6 months in advance.

What is the JET Program for teaching English in Japan?

JET stands for the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program, which is a cultural exchange and teaching program sponsored by the Japanese government that employs university-educated, native English-speakers to teach English in Japan. Accepted participants are placed in positions throughout the country, so while you can request preferences, your teaching location will ultimately be chosen for you. JET has a prestigious reputation and is therefore a bit more competitive than other teaching programs for teaching in Japan. 

The JET Program hires for three different positions with three different acronyms (ALT, CIR and SEA).  Ninety percent of program participants are ALTs, short for Assistant Language Teachers.

Read More: What is the JET Program for Teaching English in Japan?

What is an Eikawa?

While the JET Program caters to placing teachers in public schools, you also have the option of seeking out teaching positions at private schools known as Eikawas. These teaching positions allow you to:

  • Teach your own solo classes
  • Work with students across the entire age spectrum
  • Teach smaller class sizes
  • Must be flexible with schedule - some schools require evening hours or even weekend work
  • You can choose where you teach and can live directly in Tokyo, Osaka, etc.
  • Must be flexible with commuting to different class locales and settings

Read More: Public & Private Schools: What Are Your Options for Teaching English in Japan?

What type of visa do I need to teach English in Japan?

To teach English in Japan, you will process your work visa in your home country before departure (however, the visa can be processed in any country that has a Japanese Embassy). Please note you will be without a passport as they process your visa.

For a full list of documents needed, please read the linked article below.

Read More: How Do I Get a Visa for Teaching English in Japan

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Why Our Alumni Love Us!

Michael Gilbertson

Teaches English in Japan

Michael Gilbertson

The ITA course requires practicum to pass, something not many other TEFL certifications providers had. Now that I am an alum, the help that still exists from ITA to me is impressive. I teach as part of the JET Program - I get paid very well, especially for my area. I am easily able to save money every month... which I immediately spend on traveling and enjoying my time here. I only get to live in Japan for two years so I figure I should indulge in it. 

Emily Feldman

Teaches English in Japan

Emily Feldman

I chose ITA because they have a good reputation. Prior to signing up I even had the opportunity to meet with some ITA alumni in Korea and Japan and talk to them about their experience. I've been overwhelmed by the kindness of my students, surprised by how rewarding teaching has been, and constantly amazed by the beauty of Japan. I'll admit that it's not the cheapest or best country to go if you are trying to save money. However, if you want to go to a modern country and totally immerse yourself in the challenge of a foreign culture, I think Japan is the perfect place.

Haley Olds

Teaches English in Japan

Haley Olds

I chose ITA because it offered job guidance and a wide alumni network. I was a bit nervous about the practicum requirement initially but now I feel grateful for that experience before going into the actual job! If you're interested in Japan, COME! You can make good money here, meet wonderful people, experience both a rich historic and vibrant modern culture, and eat the freshest seafood you can get anywhere in the world! 

Visit the Japan section of our blog to read more articles and stories by our alumni about their experiences teaching English in Japan.