Lusting after a well-paid English teaching job in the Land of the Rising Sun? You’re in luck!
Japan has long been a prolific employer of overseas English teachers, and that’s not about to change any time soon. Not only is English taught as a compulsary subject in the Japanese public school system, but enrollment in private language schools for kids and adults has skyrocketed across the country in recent years.
Meaning: You’re virtually spoilt for choice when it comes to English teaching job opportunities in Japan.
Japan is also one of our most highly recommended countries to teach English in the world here at Teach Away. Many of our placement coordinators have lived and taught there and rave about their experience. Japan has a climate, a culture and a history all its own, so be prepared for a truly unique and memorable experience.
Without further ado, here are the steps you can take to make that leap to teaching in Japan this year.
Step 1: Meet the requirements
We’ve written a whole other blog on the requirements for teaching in Japan so we won’t go into every single detail here.
Just know that you will need to have English profiency and a bachelor’s degree in order to qualify for most English teaching positions in Japan.
Like most other ESL hotspots in Asia and elsewhere, employers have a strong preference for applicants who are TEFL/CELTA certified.
Step 2: Start saving!
While many teaching programs and language school English teaching positions in Japan will help you out by covering your flights and offering free (or subsidized) housing in tandem with your generous teaching salary, you will still need to set aside some money to cover daily living expenses until that first paycheck hits your bank account.
We recommend you bank anywhere from $2,000 - 4,000 USD, depending on the local cost of living where you’re planning on teaching.
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Step 3: Kick off your job search
Figure out what kind of teaching job you’d like, keeping in mind that the volume of open positions will fluctuate depending on the time of year.
While it’s true that many companies do hire all year round, January and July tend to be peak hiring times for many English teaching jobs in Japan, as schools kick off their recruitment drive roughly three months before the start of each semester.
Option A: Apply to a teaching program
The JET Program (one of the best teach abroad programs in the Asia, if not the world) hires hundreds of foreigners to work as Assistant Lanuage Teachers (ALTs) every year. Because you get lots of support throughout the application and hiring process, JET is popular with new grads who are looking for their first real job after college.
However, competition for these positions is stiff. What’s more, the hiring window for the JET program is pretty narrow, meaning you may not have the freedom to make the move whatever time of the year you choose.
One other potential downside with going the JET route: You won’t get to choose where in Japan you’re placed.
So, if you’re set on one particular city or region, your best bet may be to:
Option B: Apply to a private English school
These are called eikaiwas (or conversation schools) and they’re great entry-level jobs for fresh grads who didn’t major in education. Eikaiwas cater to kids as well as adults. Some of the more well-known eikaiwa chain schools that regularly hire teachers for English positions across Japan include Aeon, Amity and ECC.
While eikaiwa teaching jobs are often concentrated in urban cities, like Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe and Fukuoka, you can also find English teaching jobs scattered throughout smaller towns and rural areas in Japan.
Option C: Apply to an international school
If you have a teaching license and classroom experience, you’re eligible for better-paying English teaching jobs at Japanese international schools, so you might want to focus your job search there.
Option D: Apply to a university or college
If you’re an experienced ESL teacher with an advanced degree, then there are plenty of English teaching openings at universities and colleges in Japan, where your English teaching know-how is in huge demand.
One last word of advice for your English teaching job hunt in Japan? Figure out how long you’d like to teach for before you start applying for jobs. Most private language schools (as well as JET) require candidates to sign a minimum one-year contract. If you’re looking to teach in Japan as more of a short-term move, this will help you narrow down your options.
Check out the following sites for the latest English teaching jobs in Japan:
As you’re looking through job descriptions, job down some notes so you can tailor your resume to fit common requirements of the job. Bonus: Here’s where you can show off that shiny, hard-earned TEFL certification!
Step 4: Work on your interview skills
Most employers in Japan are happy to hire in advance. For more guidance on interviewing for teaching jobs abroad, check out these handy blogs on that very topic:
- 6 interview tips that will get you the job - straight from a teach abroad recruiter
- 11 tips for a successful teacher phone interview
Depending on your employer, you might also be required to travel to a major city in the US or Canada for an in-person interview (an expense that you’ll be on the hook for).
Step 5: Go through the visa process
After you’ve signed your contract and the ink has dried, your employer, as your visa sponsor, will be able to help you with getting all your documents in order.
Step 6: Pack your bags!
Packing essentials for teaching in Japan run the gamut from universal power adapters, to comfy walking shoes shoes and prescription medicine. And (of course) your visa and passport! Oh, and maybe your pet, too.
While this all sounds like a lot of work, the thousands and thousands of new grads and experienced teachers who make the move to teach in Japan are proof that you really can do it. So if you’re truly passionate about making a change, stop making excuses and take the first step!