In the 1980s if you had blonde hair and blue eyes you could easily step off the plane and walk into an English teaching position and make huge bucks. Things have changed somewhat since then. In this blog I will provide you with an overview of what it is like to Teach English in Japan today. This will include the types of teaching jobs available and the necessary qualifications to get a job. I also cover how you can find a teaching job, how much money you might make plus provide contacts for finding a job.
The largest source of employment for gaijin (foreigners) in Japan is still teaching English. This is mostly because the demand is high for English teachers and you can work minimal hours and receive a very good salary. This salary will allow you to live a very good life in Japan. While also lso providing you with the opportunity to travel and immerse yourself in to Japan and its way of life.
Is there a best time to find a job teaching English in Japan?
As gaijin continue to enter and leave Japan this means there is a constant demand for people to teach English in Japan. In fact there are about 8,000 English language schools with around 65,000 people teaching English in Japan at this time. Teaching English is big business in Japan and great news if this is your plan. However, the academic year begins in the first week of April so if you are looking for a contract you are best to look in March, even earlier. Though you will find that English conversation schools recruit English teachers throughout the year.
Where are the Teaching English jobs in Japan?
Jobs can be found all over Japan as there are schools everywhere. However, there is a concentration of English Language schools in the major cities. This is something you might want to consider before choosing to apply for a job. Would you want to live in the hustle and bustle of Tokyo or prefer to live in the countryside. Either way, there are jobs available.
Qualification required to teach English in Japan?
It will depend on where you secure work as to what qualification is required. To work in the school system you will definitely need a Bachelor Degree. Though if you don’t have this qualification and still want to work in a public school then you could apply for a Assistant Language Teacher position. These jobs are best found through programs such as JET (Japan Exchange and Teaching Program).
Most find employment in an English language school. Though you could get away with not having a qualification here to secure a good job a TEFOL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) Certificate will stand you in good stead. This qualification is highly regarded and often requested by many employers.
Having a good command of the English language is also a must. After all, how can you teach it if you don’t speak it! The English language schools predominantly hire from English-speaking countries including Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, the UK and the USA.
If you are a non-native speaker of English it will be trickier for you to find English teaching work however, not impossible. If you have no luck you could offer private lessons which is what a lot of people do to make extra money.
You might also find that some companies advertising jobs teaching English in Japan have a preferred age range. Usually older than 21 and younger than the retirement age of 60. But if you are outside this age range you can still do private one-on-one English language teaching.
The TEFOL qualification
Having a TEFOL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) qualification has long been a way for travellers to find work in different countries around the world, and Japan is no different. You can obtain this qualification by doing a course in a class room situation or on-line. I highly suggest you check out i-to-i. This is a reputable organisation that offers TEFOL qualifications on-line. Check out their courses here. Before you choose a qualification to study read about the Types of Teaching English jobs in Japan. It might help you choose the qualification to study.
Types of teaching English jobs
If choosing a qualification to study as mentioned a Bachelor Degree is required to teach in the public school system. A TEFOL qualification will be fine for the following.
By far the largest source of employment as an English Teacher in Japan is with private English conversation schools (Eikaiwa). There are around 8,000 of them throughout Japan. There are also opportunities in after school teaching (Juku). Teaching English to business professionals, private English teaching on a one-to-one basis and now teaching on-line.
English conversation schools are just that, schools where English conversation is spoken. Most Japanese have been through six years of English language tutoring at school and go to English conversation schools to hone their English.
The best thing about working for an English Conversational school in Japan is that you’ll be teaching people who want to learn. They will be adults who have set aside the time to learn, and will be paying for it themselves. You will mostly be working around 6 hours per day with many classes being conducted after school/work hours.
Another option is to specifically teach English to Japanese Business people. Many business people need to speak English, and not just any English. They need to speak a high level of English. There are companies that specialise in teaching business people English in Japan. Teaching business people will require you to travel to different the businesses office/s and location/s to teach business people in their offices. Not everyone likes the travelling but you should be paid a little more for doing so.
Many, to make more money, offer private one-on-one English lessons. There are many Japanese who want to improve their English and are happy to meet, often in casual environments such as a bar or coffee shop to practice their English.
A newish addition to the Teaching English scene is teaching on-line. There are organisations such as VIPKID that link teachers to students and everything is done via computer, usually through Skype. The problem with this is you won’t be immersing yourself in the Japanese culture.
How much money can you earn Teaching English in Japan
The following amounts should be used as a guide only. Basically an Assistant Language Teacher on the JET Program can expect around $2,500 per month. While teaching at a Conversational School you can expect an hourly rate of around $25 and teaching Business English around $30 per hour. You can set your own rates if you offer private one-on-one lessons while teaching on-line can yield around $20 per hour.
How to find a job teaching English in Japan
There are two options to find a job teaching English in Japan. You can find a job directly through a Japanese school by their website. Or after your arrival in Japan approach English Language schools directly.
The first option is the choice of many first-timers. This is because you will be heading off to Japan with the knowledge you have your visa, your job and possibly accommodation arranged for your arrival. You will have a lot of help to immerse into life in Japan.
Others head to Japan without employment pre-arranged and this also has advantages. Firstly, you are not reliant on the position you have accepted (to which you will not need to commit for one year). Secondly, you have control over your departure and choice of place to live however, you may have to wait a month or two before you secure a position. You will need to support yourself during this period and this is one reason why having a position arranged for you is very appealing.
The best sources to find teaching positions in Japan are through other gaijin, and by looking in Monday’s edition of the Japan Times or the Kansai Time Out (for Osaka and Kyoto). Also, the Wednesday edition of The Daily Yomiuri and the monthly Tokyo Time Out.
Check out the following websites for a job Teaching English in Japan.
Also visit Daves ESL cafe www.eslcafe.com This website has been around for years and has loads of advice on teaching English and contacts for landing jobs
Before signing on the dotted line of any contract ensure you have a few things clarified. These include the salary you will receive, the hours you are required to work, the length of your employment and is accommodation included. Also can the contract be broken at any time, are bonuses paid, is on-the-job training offered and will you have access to teaching resources or need to have your own. I would ensure you are happy with what is offered.
Where will you stay in Japan?
If you are arriving in Japan with no accommodation organised then I suggest you organise some. There is a variety of accommodation available ranging from love hotels, capsules, hostels to 5 star establishments. No matter your budget I suggest you book one week accommodation but probably two. I say this because by the time you arrive and do some sightseeing your week might almost be up. If you have no-where to go to and not yet have a job, it will help if you have an extra week accommodation to sort these things.
For short term accommodation I suggest booking a hostel bed through HostelWorld where you can compare and book. Or if you want something a little more luxurious get on the Booking.com website or app to book something that suits you and your budget.
I hope this blog provides you with the information you need to kick-start your adventure teaching English in Japan. Japan is an interesting place to live, work and play and now it is your turn to discover that for yourself.
Sharyn McCullum has travelled most of her life thanks to her dad who worked at Sydney Airport. In her 20’s she left Australia and spent 4 years on a working holiday in London before working and travelling in other countries. She currently calls Melbourne home.