Teach English in Japan (2023)

Types of teaching jobs in Japan

There are 4 main types of English teaching jobs in Japan with varying application requirements and hiring seasons. Keep reading to see which one is right for you and your teaching goals!

The JET Programme

The Japanese government has been running the JET programme since the late ‘80s. (JET stands for Japan Exchange and Teaching.) Native English speakers are placed as Assistant Language Teachers in public schools across Japan. JETs usually work a 35 hour week from Monday to Friday, and you will need a bachelor’s degree to be considered. The hiring calendar varies by the home country of applicants.

English teachers in Japan can earn an annual salary of about $27,000 during their first year in the JET programme. From there, your pay increases every year you renew your contract.

Private language academies/schools

Companies like AEON and ECC are constantly looking for teaching staff. Many of these positions involve relatively long hours, and some will require you to work evenings and weekends. With these private companies, there is a higher likelihood (than with JET) that you will be placed in a large city. You will need a bachelor’s degree to be considered. The hiring calendar varies by company.

Public schools

Some public schools recruit privately or source teachers through organizations such as Interac. A 30-35 hour workweek is common. Leave entitlements can vary significantly depending on the individual school or company you are recruited through. Some public schools prefer their teachers to have a CELTA/TEFL qualification and/or teaching experience. You can apply to work year-round, however, peak hiring season is January through April.

(Video) What Teaching English in Japan was REALLY Like

Private lessons

Many foreign nationals give private lessons, often teaching in cafes one-on-one with students. There are no qualifications required for this, though you will need to ensure any work you do is compatible with your immigration status. There is more potential business in the large cities, particularly for anyone looking to do this as a full-time job.

Average salary and benefits

On average, English teachers in Japan can expect to earn a salary between $1,700 - $5,000 USD monthly. The salary you earn while teaching in Japan typically depends on your experience, the type of school you’re working at, and your credentials.

For example, university positions tend to be the highest paying, but require stricter qualifications such as a TEFL certification, master’s degree, or prior teaching experience.

Common teacher benefits

Compared to other major teaching destinations, Japan is known to have some of the best and most comprehensive benefit packages. Below are some of the benefits you can expect while teaching English in Japan:

  • Housing
  • Flight reimbursement
  • Transportation passes
  • Cell phone SIM cards
  • Free meals (at the school)

Read more: How Much Money Can You Save Teaching Abroad?

(Video) Everything You Need to Know About English Teaching Companies in Japan ll 2022/2023

Cost of living in Japan

It’s no secret that Japan is one of the most expensive countries in the world. Living costs are high, but with the generous salaries and benefits, it's still possible to have a reasonable standard of living! The following is an estimation of how much it will cost you to live per month, based on your personal preferences and lifestyle:

  • Food: $80 - $100 (depends on how much you eat out or spend on groceries)
  • Transportation: $68 for a monthly public transportation pass
  • Entertainment (movies, bars/clubs, etc): $50
  • Housing: ~$769 one bedroom apartment in the city center

Source: Numbeo

Where to teach English in Japan

As with starting a job in any new country, it's important to do your research before coming to Japan. Start by exploring these major teaching cities in Japan.

Tokyo

Teachers in Tokyo are in high-demand, with Japanese schools requiring children to learn English, as well as many top companies encouraging their employees to take English lessons. Living and teaching in Tokyo is sure to be an exciting experience, packed with plenty of things to do and see, delicious food, and a vibrant nightlife scene!

Osaka

Being Japan’s second largest metropolitan area as well as the country’s street food capital, Osaka is a popular destination for both tourism and teachers looking to teach English in Japan. Compared to Tokyo, teaching jobs are not as competitive, although having prior teaching experience or a TEFL certification is still highly recommended.

(Video) How to Teach English in Japan 👩‍🏫

How to get a job teaching English in Japan

Ready to start searching and applying for teaching jobs in Japan? Getting a teaching job abroad can be competitive. Below we've outlined all you need to know to prepare for application season and learn how to become an English teacher in Japan.

When to apply

When applying for teaching jobs in Japan, aim to apply around March-April, and in August, as those are the start of public school semesters and hiring season. For private language schools, you can apply year-round!

Working visas in Japan

A working visa is generally required to teach English in Japan. Many language schools will sponsor your visa application, and you will usually need a bachelor’s degree to be granted a working visa. Some countries also have arrangements whereby you can obtain a working holiday visa, which allows you to teach part-time. To learn more about Japanese visas, visit VISA HQ.

Common qualifications to teach in Japan

The requirements to teach in Japan may vary depending on the school you’re applying to teach at, however, most employers look for candidates with the following qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s degree: A bachelor’s degree is essential for any formal teaching job in Japan, but any major will suffice!
  • Native English speaker: You must be a native English speaker from one of the following seven countries: U.S., U.K., Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, or South Africa.
  • CELTA/TEFL qualification: Some public schools and private recruiters prefer candidates with a CELTA/TEFL qualification, and it is encouraged if you want higher pay or are looking to apply to a more competitive school. Getting certified can also boost your confidence as a teacher!
  • Previous teaching experience: Not a must, but definitely preferred by some schools!
  • International driver’s license: This may not apply to every teaching job in Japan, but you may notice some schools require their teachers to have driving licenses, since teachers may be asked to drive company cars to different branches of the school.

Read more: What are the Requirements to Teach English Abroad?

(Video) Why you MIGHT NOT want to teach English in Japan

Classroom culture in Japan

As an ESL teacher abroad, it’s essential that you take the time to research the country’s etiquette and classroom culture, as it can be vastly different from what you’re used to at home! Remember that you’re a visitor in the country you’re teaching in, so come in with respect and curiosity!

Here are a few important tips to know before teaching English in Japan:

  • If you are teaching adults, you may be able to socialize with them outside lessons, though some private companies prohibit this.
  • Some high schools and private companies will require you to dress up and wear a suit when you teach lessons. Those who teach elementary school students are usually able to dress more casually, though.
  • While teaching English in Japan, you'll be exposed to a different culture, work environment, and social customs, such as bowing, gift-giving, and style of compliments. It will take some time to adjust to, and nobody will expect you to get everything right the first time, but you will be expected to make an effort.
  • The Japanese workplace tends to be formal and punctual -- professionalism is important!

Ready to find your dream teaching program in Japan?

Start researching and comparing teaching jobs here at Go Overseas, in the Teaching Programs in Japan section below.

Want to read more? Get started with these articles:

(Video) Teaching English in Japan | ALT| Expectation VS Reality

  • Why Should I Teach in Japan?
  • How to Get a Job Teaching English in Japan
  • The 7 Best Cities to Teach Abroad in Japan

FAQs

How much does teaching English in Japan make? ›

As an ESL teacher in Japan, you can expect to earn anywhere between 200,000 and 600,000 Yen ($1,700 - 5,000 USD) per month. Hourly tutoring rates hover around 3,000 Yen ($28 USD) per hour. Like in China, Japan often offers teachers flights, accommodation, and training included in their salary packages.

Is it hard to become an English teacher in Japan? ›

Higher Education

There are many English teaching jobs available in universities throughout Japan. However, acquiring these jobs can be difficult, especially if you are outside of the country. Many of these jobs will require a master's degree or higher for consideration.

Is Japan a good place to teach English? ›

Japan has been a popular destination for teaching English abroad for many years. This is mainly due to the country's vibrant culture, the great food and friendly locals. Japan has a lot to offer and it can be overwhelming to find the ideal city to move to.

How in demand are English teachers in Japan? ›

There's high demand for ESL teachers in Japan, and plenty of students need teachers, but not at any cost. TEFL certification will, in Japan or anyone else, provide demonstrable proof to schools that you have the skills for a job teaching English.

Is it expensive to live in Japan? ›

Living in Japan is about three times as expensive as living in the US. Living costs in the main cities are significantly higher than in the more rural side. Japan is in the top 10 of the most expensive countries to live in.

Do English teachers get paid well in Japan? ›

Most first-time English teachers in Japan get paid between 247,700 and 286,200 Yen ($2,250 - $2,600 USD) per month. First-year participants teaching English in Japan on the JET Program earn an average monthly salary of 280,000 Yen ($2,550 USD) per month with yearly wage increases.

What qualifications do I need to teach English in Japan? ›

To teach English in Japan, you will need a TEFL certification and a 4-year college degree. You must be a native English speaker without a criminal record. You can expect an average salary of about $2,500 - $3,000 USD per month.

Can I teach English in Japan without knowing Japanese? ›

You don't need to speak Japanese to teach English in Japan. Your classroom will be held entirely in English to fully immerse your students. However, you can learn Japanese if you wish, and many schools offer free Japanese lessons for teachers.

Can you survive in Japan with English? ›

Working, living, and traveling in Japan without speaking Japanese is feasible, and there are countless examples of foreigners doing so. Having said that, learning Japanese will put you at an exceptional advantage in both your professional life and daily life.

How many hours do English teachers work in Japan? ›

Japan TEFL 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.

Can you live in Japan as an English teacher? ›

A working visa is generally required to teach English in Japan. Many language schools will sponsor your visa application, and you will usually need a bachelor's degree to be granted a working visa. Some countries also have arrangements whereby you can obtain a working holiday visa, which allows you to teach part-time.

Is a TEFL certificate worth it? ›

Is TEFL Certification worth it? Yes. If you want to get a good teaching job and be an effective teacher for your students, then it is definitely worth it. Remember, most schools worldwide require a TEFL certification; and once you're certified you can the ball rolling on applying and interviewing for jobs.

What is a good income in Japan? ›

The Japanese Salary Range. The average monthly salary for employees in Japan can range from approximately 130,000 JPY (1,128 USD) to 2,300,000 JPY (19,963 USD). Note: The upper range of salaries is the highest average and not the maximum salary Japanese people earn.

Can you teach English in Japan permanently? ›

Teaching English in Japan doesn't have to be a short-term adventure. If you're considering TEFL as a long-term career in Japan, here's the scoop on how to do it. To get some solid TEFL career tips for teaching English in Japan, we decided to go straight to the source and talk to someone who's been there.

Where are English teachers needed most? ›

Teaching abroad will give you the ability to help people connect with those who really need to speak English for business, education, travel, and more.
...
Finding meaningful, profitable work as an ESL teacher abroad.
  1. Brazil. ...
  2. Cambodia. ...
  3. China. ...
  4. Colombia. ...
  5. Mexico. ...
  6. Morocco. ...
  7. Russia. ...
  8. South Korea.
3 Mar 2021

Which country needs teachers the most? ›

China. Based on many studies, China runs at the top of the list. China has continued to be the most sought-after teaching destination right now because it has almost 300 million English learners.

What countries hire English teachers? ›

Top 10 Countries for Teaching English Abroad in 2022 [Updated]
  • China – The Third Biggest Country.
  • Japan – The Land of the Rising Sun. ...
  • South Korea – The Republic of Korea.
  • United Arab Emirates – Dubai and the City of Gold.
  • Taiwan – A Country Full of Culture and Traditions.
  • Saudi Arabia – Oil-rich Country.

Are teachers in Japan respected? ›

Respect for Teachers in Japan

Teachers and school administrators are held in very high esteem in Japan.

Where is the best place to teach English Japan? ›

6 best places to teach English in Japan
  • Tokyo. If it's fast-paced, big city life you're after, Tokyo has to top the list for best places to teach English in Japan. ...
  • Sapporo. If you like snow, you're in for a treat at Sapporo. ...
  • Osaka. ...
  • Okinawa. ...
  • Kyoto. ...
  • Outside the cities.

Videos

1. Why NOT to Teach English in Japan
(Abroad in Japan)
2. A Day in the life of an English Teacher in Japan.
(Sharoona)
3. What’s it like Teaching English in Japan ?
(TAKASHii from Japan)
4. Top five reasons You'll HATE teaching English in Japan
(Tomi's World)
5. TEACHING ENGLISH IN JAPAN IS BULLSH*T (even as a Japanese)
(SHUNchan)
6. How To Teach English In Japan | JET Program
(Lwazi M)
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