Teaching English in Japan

Well-known for being one of the most expensive countries in the world to live in, it can be expensive to make the move to Japan. However, teaching salaries are high – especially for those with experience or those on the JET program.

There are various different options to consider but it is inadvisable to arrive in Japan before you have secured a position. Eikaiwa (English conversation schools), such as AEON, ECC and Berlitz, are good for urban placements but offer lower salaries. Local elementary and high schools employ English ALTs (Assistant Language Teachers) and most of these positions are found via recruitment agencies such as Interac. Finally, the JET (Japan Exchange and Teaching) program has an excellent reputation and is by far the best option, salary-wise, unless you have the qualifications and experience required for the lucrative yet elusive positions in International Schools. Be aware that JET participants are often given placements in rural areas and are expected to be ‘cultural ambassadors’ for their country of origin. Interviews for ALT/JET positions are held in cities in Canada, USA, UK etc. The JET program even offers some positions to non-native English speakers.

Salaries in Japan start at around $2,000 USD per month and go as high as $5,000 USD per month at some of the better international schools.  Jobs are available nation-wide, with the cost of living and salaries slightly lower in rural areas.  You will need a degree and a TEFL certificate plus at least one year of experience to teach in Japan.  You need to plan ahead. Recruitment agencies have strict annual deadlines for applications. These deadlines vary according to your country of citizenship. Bear in mind that positions are limited and there is considerable competition for them.  Think carefully whether you would prefer to teach in an urban or rural area. When applying for teaching positions, make sure you emphasize your interest in the culture of Japan and mention any language skills you have already. Your resume should be meticulously detailed.  A degree is obligatory for those hoping to teach in Japan as you cannot get a work permit without one. Given that accommodation costs are so high, you will need some savings to help you through the initial period.

The cost of accommodation in Japan is very high and securing an apartment is expensive as you will have to pay agent fees and a large deposit. Medical costs can be astronomical so make sure health insurance is included in your contract or else arrange it yourself beforehand. Travelling in Japan is expensive but highly efficient.

Income tax is paid by your employer at the end of each month and you will be given a pay slip detailing relevant deductions.


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