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How to Get an English Teaching Job in Japan

Getting a job in Japan doesn't have to be a complicated process.

By 6 min read

Many people want to know how to get an English teaching job in Japan and searching for work can seem like a daunting task, but if you are focused, patient and organized, you shouldn’t have to wait too long before finding a job that is suitable for you.

The first step to finding an English teaching job in Japan is to make your resume available to a large pool of employers; there’s no point in having the perfect resume if no one can see it! Not to blow our own trumpet but GaijinPot Jobs is the largest source of English teaching jobs in Japan and uploading your resume will put it in front of hundreds of potential employers.

GaijinPot also organizes regular education and teaching-related job fairs in Tokyo throughout the year. Stay up to date by following us here, on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube for details of upcoming recruitment events.

When thinking about what kind of job you want to apply for, it’s a good idea to focus on jobs that fit your criteria and give you the best chance of being hired. These points will help when trying to narrow down your search.

Salary

If you’re living in a bustling city, rent, transportation, taxes, and living costs will be greater than if you are living in the countryside. Work out what your monthly budget will be and the minimum wage you require to live comfortably. The average cost of living in Tokyo in 2019 is calculated around ¥285,093, including rent, daily expenses, and taxes. You can read more about this topic in our “What Is the Average Cost of Living in Japan in 2019?” article.

Working hours

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Working hours are often the most difficult aspect to compromise on, nobody really wants to work on the weekend, but for some positions like ALT or Eikaiwa teachers, it is unavoidable. Again, most employers will let you know from the outset what they expect from you. If it isn’t a schedule you are comfortable with, don’t apply.

Location

Relocation costs are extremely expensive in Japan, with cleaning fees, deposits, key money, payments to guarantor companies and transportation costs, moving may not be a viable option unless you have money saved up. Therefore look for jobs within easy commuting distance or with transportation and moving allowance included.

If you are applying from outside Japan, you also want to consider the most affordable living location. A 1K studio rent in Tokyo can vary from ¥80,000 up to ¥130,000 depending on the location. Knowing how to rent an apartment in Japan and the average rent in Japan will help you prepare for your big move.

Experience and certification

If you have no business background then a corporate teaching job may not be the best for you, no matter how good the pay is. Teaching English to children is a popular option but many companies require a specific teaching certificate to teach to infants or elementary school students. Junior and high school student ALT jobs typically don’t require teaching qualifications (see below).

Clearly defining who you want to teach can help you connect with the students and be a productive employee. How much you will make will also depend on the type of English teaching job you will choose.

What does the employer expect from you?

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Some teaching positions require specific teaching qualifications and/or experience. They may also require that you have a certain grasp of the Japanese language, as office duties are often required for some positions. Being honest from the outset is highly advised. You’ll want to avoid the later embarrassment when they find out that your language ability is limited. Being a native English speaker is, of course, the basic standard for being hired, but we’ve seen a hiring trend for non-native English teachers in Japan in recent years.

Will the employer sponsor your visa?

Some positions are able to sponsor a visa for you, but unless they say otherwise, assume they can’t. If you are trying to work in a public school, having an “Instructor” visa is preferable, whilst jobs at English conversation schools normally accept the “Humanities” visa as well. With Japan’s immigration becoming stricter every year, you’ll want to know what type and how to apply for a working visa in Japan.

Now that you have your checklist complete, you should think about what kind of job you can apply for, GaijinPot has an extensive explanation of what kind of teaching jobs you can find in Japan, but below is a quick explanation of some of the common English teaching jobs.

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Common English Teaching Jobs

Assistant Language Teacher or ALT

This will normally see you working through a dispatch company such as Interac to find a place in a public school (most commonly Elementary or Junior High). You will normally work for eight hours a day and be given (on average) eight weeks’ holiday per year. Monthly wages can range from ¥200,000 to ¥260,000. As there is a team of office workers ensuring you do well at school, this is a great job for those new to living in Japan.

Preschool and kindergarten

Working as a preschool or kindergarten teacher will usually require certain qualifications or specific experience teaching children. Your work hours will be typically eight to nine hours a day, five days a week (which may include Saturday), and you can expect around four weeks’ holiday a year. It’s a busy schedule and comes with the expectation that you will bond with both your students and their parents as well.

English Conversation Schools or Eikawa

Conversation school positions are normally paid by the hour, so the more you teach the more you earn. But your schedule will be dependent on what classes are available. Expect it to change on a weekly basis, with working evenings and weekends being very common. Students tend to be much more responsive at English Conversation Schools as they have chosen to pay to attend and therefore will be more enthusiastic about learning English.

The starting salary is not very high compared to other English teaching jobs but you’ll have enough time for side jobs or side activities, especially if teaching is not your first vocation.

Business English

Again paid by the hour, meaning it is hard to find a full-time corporate English teaching job. The pay is higher than English conversation schools and the English level is usually higher so it can be a welcome change from the monotony of working at an Eikaiwa.

By focussing on where you submit your application you increase your chances of being hired. Use the GaijinPot Jobs search parameters to focus your search by location, industry and language proficiency, and be sure to check the website often as new jobs are always being added.

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