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How Much Does an English Teacher Make in Japan?

JET? Dispatch? Eikaiwa? University? Knowing which organizations in the English teaching industry in Japan offer the best pay and benefits can help you make the right decision.

By 11 min read

Pursuing a career as an English teacher is one of the fastest ways to live and work in Japan—provided you meet the requirements. However, the drawbacks to this convenience are the industry’s competitiveness and relatively low pay. 

According to insights from Japanese job boards and our own GaijinPot Jobs, the average English teacher salary in Japan is approximately ¥280,000 per month, totaling around ¥3.38 million annually (roughly $21,763).

Let’s look at recent trends and compare English teacher salaries in Japan.

Average Starting English Teacher Salaries

Now you get to burn it on bills.

Not all English teachers are the same. An English teacher from the JET programme will share some, but not all, the same experiences as an Assistant Language Teacher (ALT) hired through a haken (dispatch company). Likewise, a full-time university English teacher with a doctorate will earn much more than an English teacher at an eikaiwa (English conversation schools).

Here are the average monthly salaries a new full-time teacher can expect in Japan.

 Hiring Organization Starting Monthly Salary Potential Salary Raise
JET Programme ¥280,000 ¥330,000
Direct Hire ¥250,000 ¥300,000
Dispatch Companies ¥220,000 ¥280,000
Eikaiwa ¥220,000 ¥280,000
Business English Schools ¥300,000 ¥375,000
Universities ¥400,000 ¥600,000

Note: These salaries are before taxes.
The salaries of English business school and university positions may look the best for aspiring English teachers. However, it’s important to note that these salaries are for full-time employees, which are scarce and fiercely competitive. You’ll likely find part-time opportunities, typically offering hourly rates ranging from ¥3,000 to ¥5,000.

What Does The Jet Programme Offer?

JET will support you, but there is a contract limit.

The Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme (JET) offers a unique opportunity to teach in Japan and experience the culture, all with a dedicated support system. They will even pay for your plane ticket. The JET Programme recruits foreigners to work as Assistant Language Teachers (ALTs) in public schools, spanning elementary, junior and high school levels. ALTs are native-level English speakers who work with Japanese teaching staff in classrooms.

While most candidates will be from outside Japan, you can apply for the JET programme while living in Japan via the Japanese embassy or consulate in your home country. It’s a competitive application process. The organization receives around 5,000 applications—only 1,000 are accepted.

To break down the annual salaries provided for JET Programme participants into monthly figures:

  • First Year: ¥280,000 per month (¥3.36 million annually)
  • Second Year: ¥300,000 per month (¥3.6 million annually)
  • Third Year: ¥325,000 per month (¥3.9 million annually)
  • Fourth/ Fifth Years: ¥330,000 per month (¥3.96 million annually)

JET Programme Vs. Other ALT Jobs

How much does an English teacher make in Japan

Let’s consider different English Teaching salaries in Japan. While JET, eikaiwa teachers, direct hire and dispatch ALT jobs are all close regarding salaries, there are some very big differences. For starters, the JET programme is more difficult to get into than a job at an eikaiwa, and with it comes tons of benefits most eikaiwa teachers can only dream about.

JET benefits include:

  • Airfare Coverage: JETs have their airfare to and from Japan covered.
  • Language Learning Access: They receive free online Japanese language learning resources.
  • Skills Training: Translation and interpretation skills training are provided.
  • Grants for Certification: Grants are available for TEFL certification and the JLPT.
  • Mental Health Support: A mental health counseling service is offered.
  • Career Fair Opportunities: A career fair in February helps participants find post-JET employment.
  • Insurance Coverage: Participants are covered by JET Programme Accident Insurance.
  • Insurance: JETs are enrolled in National Health, Employment and Pension Insurance schemes.

JET Vs. Other ALT Jobs

English teacher images

One drawback of JET is limited contract renewals, creating uncertainty about long-term employment. Participation is capped at five years, and placements vary widely, with some in rural areas. This can lead to immersion or isolation. Also, salaries remain fixed regardless of location, potentially impacting living expenses.

On the other hand, direct hire, dispatch ALTs, and eikaiwa teachers can potentially earn more than JETs, especially direct hires. They have more control over placement and enjoy flexibility in contract length and renewal options. However, many eikaiwa and dispatch jobs are limited to one-year contracts.

In theory, Japanese law is that at five years, a company must hire you as a seishain (a regular permanent employee), with all the benefits and security that come with it. However, some companies may evade this by not renewing contracts or transferring employees. Civil servants and government employees are exempt from this rule. So, if you teach at a city position, you won’t benefit from this regulation unless the employer voluntarily offers you seishain status.

  • JET Programme Drawbacks:
    • Limited contract renewals, leading to uncertainty about long-term employment.
    • Participation is capped at five years.
    • Placements vary widely, potentially leading to immersion or isolation.
    • Fixed salaries, regardless of location, may impact living expenses.
  • Advantages of Direct Hire, Dispatch ALTs and Eikaiwa Teachers:
    • Potential for higher earnings, especially for direct hires.
    • Greater control over placement and flexibility in contract terms.
    • Many eikaiwa and dispatch jobs offer limited one-year contracts.
  • Japanese Employment Law:
    • In theory, companies must hire employees as regular permanent workers after five years.
    • Some companies may avoid this obligation through contract non-renewal or employee transfer.
    • Civil servants and government employees are exempt from this rule.

Dispatch Company (Haken) Salaries

You could be placed at a pre-school or even a high school.

Dispatch companies (think Interac, Borderlink and Heart) hire ALTs to teach in public schools throughout Japan. Interviews are typically conducted online, making the hiring process more accessible. Overseas hires are often placed in rural areas compared to local hires. Thus, keep an open mind about placement options if your goal is to work in Japan. With teaching experience, you can apply for positions elsewhere in Japan with a valid working visa.

Dispatch companies typically offer lower starting salaries than other teaching options, averaging around ¥220,000 to ¥240,000 before taxes. Moreover, ALTs with dispatch companies may receive prorated salaries during school holidays, unlike JET or direct hire contract ALTs, who often receive full salaries during breaks. 

  • Starting Salary: Typically ¥220,000 to ¥240,000 before taxes
  • Easier To Get: Dispatch teaching jobs are typically easier to find.
  • Placement Considerations: Overseas hires may be placed in rural areas, so flexibility is key.
  • Support Services: Dispatch companies may assist with relocation, visas, housing and enrollment in essential services.
  • Training and Orientation: There is typically a paid training period.
  • Holiday Salary Considerations: ALTs with dispatch companies may experience prorated salaries during school holidays.

Direct Hire Salaries

  • Higher Salaries: Typically starting around ¥280,000 per month (no dispatch company’s management fee).
  • Better Contracts: Contracts (should) comply more with labor regulations regarding holiday entitlements, pensions and healthcare contributions.
  • Stability: More stability as employment is directly tied to a Board of Education (BOE).
  • Considerations:
  • Less Flexibility: Dispatch positions have less flexibility (contracts, hours, placement, etc.)

Direct hire refers to being directly employed by a Board of Education (BOE), bypassing placement through a dispatch company or the JET Programme. Pursuing direct-hire positions may appeal to ALTs considering a long-term stay in Japan.

Direct-hire ALTs often enjoy higher salaries, typically about 30% more than those hired through dispatch companies, averaging around ¥280,000 per month. Contracts for direct-hire ALTs are designed to align with labor regulations, ensuring your rights and benefits are protected. They are similar to the contracts offered by the JET Programme.

Direct-hire positions offer high job security. In contrast, dispatch companies may lose contracts with certain cities, potentially leaving ALTs without work. By choosing a direct-hire position, you can enjoy a more stable and secure career path in Japan. However, direct-hire jobs may lack flexibility.

English Conversation School (Eikaiwa) Salaries

Many eikaiwa schools are for children.
  • Full-Time Salary: Typically ¥275,000 to ¥280,000 for full-time instructors.
  • Pay Per Lesson: Typically ¥1,430 to ¥1,930 for a 40-minute class, with bonuses for peak hours.
  • Independent Schools: Salaries vary based on location, potentially aligning with local wages.
  • Flexibility: Eikaiwa jobs suit those seeking part-time or flexible schedules.
  • Considerations: Full-time job seekers should ensure sufficient classes for a stable income.

Eikaiwa are private English conversation schools and cater to the general public. Most classes are held after typical work or school hours, often in the evenings or on weekends.

Major Eikaiwa chains such as ECC, Aeon, and Berlitz typically offer monthly salaries between ¥275,000 to ¥280,000 for full-time instructors working around 38 hours per week. In contrast, other chains like NOVA and GABA often pay based on lessons taught, with bonuses for peak-hour classes or high customer satisfaction. Typically, between ¥1,430 to ¥1,930 per 40-minute lesson.

Smaller independent English language schools may offer salaries in line with local wages, potentially varying based on location. While salaries outside major urban centers like Tokyo may be lower, the lower cost of living could balance the earnings.

Eikaiwa positions can be attractive for those seeking part-time or flexible schedules, allowing teachers to balance teaching with other pursuits. However, individuals seeking full-time employment should confirm that their contract guarantees sufficient classes to meet their financial needs, as a “flexible schedule” may not always equate to consistent income.

Average Eikaiwa Salaries in Japan

Here are the most well-known eikaiwa in Japan and their base salaries.

Company Average Base Salaries in (JPY) 
ABC English ¥275,000 ~ ¥280,000
AEON Corporation of Japan ¥275,000
American Language School ¥250,000
Amity ¥275,000
Berlitz ¥280,000
British Culture Academy ¥190,000
California Language Institute (Japan) ¥172,500 ~ ¥240,000
ECC Japan ¥270,000
Gaba Corporation ¥1,630 ~ ¥2,170 Per Lesson
Interac ¥240,000 ~ ¥300,000
Ittti Japan ¥240,000
KidsDuo ¥250,000 ~ ¥270,000
Model Language Studio ¥250,000
NOVA (Japan) ¥230,000
One Coin English School ¥1,200 ~ ¥1,500 Per Hour
Riso Kyoiku (TOMAS) ¥260,000
Seiha English Academy ¥251,000
Shane English School ¥252,800
Vantage Japan ¥265,000 ~ ¥280,000

Business Teaching Salaries

A great option if you’d rather teach adults.

Business English classes, funded by companies for their staff, offer higher pay rates despite fewer teaching hours. Typically conducted in groups, these classes cover work-related tasks like email writing and phone calls, with advanced students seeking assistance with presentations. 

While some schools prioritize teachers with business experience, hourly rates for business English teachers surpass those of other English teachers due to corporate willingness to pay more. Hourly rates average around ¥3,800, primarily in major cities like Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto. Most starting salaries at a business English school start around ¥300,000.

Some popular business English Schools are:

Company  Average Base Salaries in (JPY) 
Berkeley House Language Center ¥270,000 ~ ¥290,000
Tokyo Center for Languages and Culture

University English Teacher Salaries

  • Qualifications: Short-term instructors need a degree and teaching experience. Long-term faculty require a Master’s degree or Ph.D. with research experience.
  • Salary Disparities: Directly employed tutors earn high salaries, while short-term English instructors through dispatch companies may earn less, starting from ¥270,000 to ¥280,000 per month.
  • Directly Employed: They earn more, typically between ¥400,000 to ¥600,000 per month, needing advanced qualifications in English, linguistics, or education, along with research experience.

Teaching at a university offers exceptional career advancement opportunities. Short-term instructors typically require a degree and teaching experience, preferably in EFL or ESL, with teaching qualifications desirable. Long-term faculty members need a Master’s degree or Ph.D., research publications and university-level teaching experience.

University teaching is recognized for its high salaries, especially for tutors and lecturers directly employed by universities. However, earnings for short-term English instructors at Japanese universities, often hired through dispatch companies like Westgate Corporation, are comparatively lower. These instructors can expect monthly earnings from ¥270,000 for less experienced teachers, with contracts lasting three to five months.

Directly employed university faculty members receive even higher salaries. They typically require advanced qualifications such as a master’s degree or Ph.D. in English, linguistics, or education, along with published research. However, you can expect ¥400,000 ~ ¥600,000 per month for such an esteemed position.

How Many Hours Will I Actually Teach?

The typical number of hours English teachers in Japan spend teaching in the classroom varies depending on their position and employer. However, a common range for classroom teaching hours is between 20 to 25 hours per week for full-time positions. This can vary based on school policies, grade levels, and curriculum requirements.

Outside of classroom teaching hours, English teachers often engage in various activities such as lesson planning, grading assignments, attending meetings with colleagues and school administrators, participating in extracurricular activities or school events, and providing additional support to students needing assistance with English language learning. At an eikaiwa, you might even be cleaning on a slow day.

What’s The Best Teaching Job in Japan?

The right teaching job for you depends on your goals and circumstances.

Before signing an English teaching contract in Japan, understand how the company calculates your scheduled working hours. Like in Japan’s General Union’s article, “When is a 45-hour week actually a 29.5-hour week?”, some language schools manipulate workers’ schedules to keep them below the 30-hour threshold, thereby avoiding pension contributions.

For instance, schools may only count actual lesson time, neglecting preparation periods before, after or between classes. All residents in Japan must enroll in the national pension system. Failure to enroll may result in mandatory make-up payments. For more information, refer to our Japan 101 section about Health Insurance in Japan.

Here is what you should consider before your next English teaching job hunt:

  • Consider Your Goals: Choose a job that aligns with your objectives and situation. Each field offers its advantages and appeal.
  • Full-Time Positions: If you’re seeking a full-time job with visa sponsorship, options include English conversation schools, ALT positions or university roles.
  • Overseas Applicants: The JET program offers generous benefits, including airfare, skills training, and services, along with a competitive salary, to applicants from overseas.
  • In-Japan Applicants: If you’re already in Japan and need visa sponsorship, consider full-time positions at major eikaiwa chains or in business English, offering around  ¥250,000 ~ ¥300,000 a month. 
  • Part-Time Opportunities: Teachers seeking part-time work can explore options in business English or English conversation schools, offering flexibility to pursue other interests.
  • University Teaching: Short-term university teaching can also provide a stable income, averaging around ¥270,000 monthly. Faculty positions at universities offer high pay (up to ¥600,000 per month) and career prospects.
  • Career Transition: If English teaching isn’t your long-term plan, consider a flexible teaching job that will give you time to work on other things and build a resume.

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What’s the best salary for English teaching you’ve seen in Japan? Do you have any tips for hopeful teachers? Let us know in the comments!

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