Types of teaching jobs in Japan
There are 4 main types of English teaching jobs in Japan with varying application requirements and hiring seasons. Keep reading to see which one is right for you and your teaching goals!
The JET Programme
The Japanese government has been running the JET programme since the late ‘80s. (JET stands for Japan Exchange and Teaching.) Native English speakers are placed as Assistant Language Teachers in public schools across Japan. JETs usually work a 35 hour week from Monday to Friday, and you will need a bachelor’s degree to be considered. The hiring calendar varies by the home country of applicants.
English teachers in Japan can earn an annual salary of about $27,000 during their first year in the JET programme. From there, your pay increases every year you renew your contract.
Private language academies/schools
Companies like AEON and ECC are constantly looking for teaching staff. Many of these positions involve relatively long hours, and some will require you to work evenings and weekends. With these private companies, there is a higher likelihood (than with JET) that you will be placed in a large city. You will need a bachelor’s degree to be considered. The hiring calendar varies by company.
Some public schools recruit privately or source teachers through organizations such as Interac. A 30-35 hour workweek is common. Leave entitlements can vary significantly depending on the individual school or company you are recruited through. Some public schools prefer their teachers to have a CELTA/TEFL qualification and/or teaching experience. You can apply to work year-round, however, peak hiring season is January through April.
Many foreign nationals give private lessons, often teaching in cafes one-on-one with students. There are no qualifications required for this, though you will need to ensure any work you do is compatible with your immigration status. There is more potential business in the large cities, particularly for anyone looking to do this as a full-time job.
Average salary and benefits
On average, English teachers in Japan can expect to earn a salary between $1,700 - $5,000 USD monthly. The salary you earn while teaching in Japan typically depends on your experience, the type of school you’re working at, and your credentials.
For example, university positions tend to be the highest paying, but require stricter qualifications such as a TEFL certification, master’s degree, or prior teaching experience.
Common teacher benefits
Compared to other major teaching destinations, Japan is known to have some of the best and most comprehensive benefit packages. Below are some of the benefits you can expect while teaching English in Japan:
- Flight reimbursement
- Transportation passes
- Cell phone SIM cards
- Free meals (at the school)
Read more: How Much Money Can You Save Teaching Abroad?
Cost of living in Japan
It’s no secret that Japan is one of the most expensive countries in the world. Living costs are high, but with the generous salaries and benefits, it's still possible to have a reasonable standard of living! The following is an estimation of how much it will cost you to live per month, based on your personal preferences and lifestyle:
- Food: $80 - $100 (depends on how much you eat out or spend on groceries)
- Transportation: $68 for a monthly public transportation pass
- Entertainment (movies, bars/clubs, etc): $50
- Housing: ~$769 one bedroom apartment in the city center
Where to teach English in Japan
As with starting a job in any new country, it's important to do your research before coming to Japan. Start by exploring these major teaching cities in Japan.
Teachers in Tokyo are in high-demand, with Japanese schools requiring children to learn English, as well as many top companies encouraging their employees to take English lessons. Living and teaching in Tokyo is sure to be an exciting experience, packed with plenty of things to do and see, delicious food, and a vibrant nightlife scene!
Being Japan’s second largest metropolitan area as well as the country’s street food capital, Osaka is a popular destination for both tourism and teachers looking to teach English in Japan. Compared to Tokyo, teaching jobs are not as competitive, although having prior teaching experience or a TEFL certification is still highly recommended.
How to get a job teaching English in Japan
Ready to start searching and applying for teaching jobs in Japan? Getting a teaching job abroad can be competitive. Below we've outlined all you need to know to prepare for application season and learn how to become an English teacher in Japan.
When to apply
When applying for teaching jobs in Japan, aim to apply around March-April, and in August, as those are the start of public school semesters and hiring season. For private language schools, you can apply year-round!
Working visas in Japan
A working visa is generally required to teach English in Japan. Many language schools will sponsor your visa application, and you will usually need a bachelor’s degree to be granted a working visa. Some countries also have arrangements whereby you can obtain a working holiday visa, which allows you to teach part-time. To learn more about Japanese visas, visit VISA HQ.
Common qualifications to teach in Japan
The requirements to teach in Japan may vary depending on the school you’re applying to teach at, however, most employers look for candidates with the following qualifications:
- Bachelor’s degree: A bachelor’s degree is essential for any formal teaching job in Japan, but any major will suffice!
- Native English speaker: You must be a native English speaker from one of the following seven countries: U.S., U.K., Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, or South Africa.
- CELTA/TEFL qualification: Some public schools and private recruiters prefer candidates with a CELTA/TEFL qualification, and it is encouraged if you want higher pay or are looking to apply to a more competitive school. Getting certified can also boost your confidence as a teacher!
- Previous teaching experience: Not a must, but definitely preferred by some schools!
- International driver’s license: This may not apply to every teaching job in Japan, but you may notice some schools require their teachers to have driving licenses, since teachers may be asked to drive company cars to different branches of the school.
Read more: What are the Requirements to Teach English Abroad?
Classroom culture in Japan
As an ESL teacher abroad, it’s essential that you take the time to research the country’s etiquette and classroom culture, as it can be vastly different from what you’re used to at home! Remember that you’re a visitor in the country you’re teaching in, so come in with respect and curiosity!
Here are a few important tips to know before teaching English in Japan:
- If you are teaching adults, you may be able to socialize with them outside lessons, though some private companies prohibit this.
- Some high schools and private companies will require you to dress up and wear a suit when you teach lessons. Those who teach elementary school students are usually able to dress more casually, though.
- While teaching English in Japan, you'll be exposed to a different culture, work environment, and social customs, such as bowing, gift-giving, and style of compliments. It will take some time to adjust to, and nobody will expect you to get everything right the first time, but you will be expected to make an effort.
- The Japanese workplace tends to be formal and punctual -- professionalism is important!
Ready to find your dream teaching program in Japan?
Start researching and comparing teaching jobs here at Go Overseas, in the Teaching Programs in Japan section below.
Want to read more? Get started with these articles:
- Why Should I Teach in Japan?
- How to Get a Job Teaching English in Japan
- The 7 Best Cities to Teach Abroad in Japan
Is it difficult to become a teacher in Japan? Compared to other countries frequented by English teachers, Japan has more rigorous requirements. A bachelor's degree is required and a TEFL certificate is preferred. In higher education, a master's may be mandatory.How much can you make teaching English in Japan? ›
As an ESL teacher in Japan, you can expect to earn anywhere between 200,000 and 600,000 Yen ($1,700 - 5,000 USD) per month. Hourly tutoring rates hover around 3,000 Yen ($28 USD) per hour. Like in China, Japan often offers teachers flights, accommodation, and training included in their salary packages.Is it worth teaching English in Japan? ›
The teaching English job market in Japan is hot hot hot—great jobs, great support systems, and great salaries, too. If you're still unconvinced, here are just seven of the many awesome reasons to teach abroad in Japan stat.Are English teachers in demand in Japan? ›
There's high demand for ESL teachers in Japan, and plenty of students need teachers, but not at any cost. TEFL certification will, in Japan or anyone else, provide demonstrable proof to schools that you have the skills for a job teaching English.Does Japan pay English teachers well? ›
Most first-time English teachers in Japan get paid between 247,700 and 286,200 Yen ($2,250 - $2,600 USD) per month.Can you survive in Japan with English? ›
You'd really be surprised how many people in Japan know English, whether they speak it fluently or simply know key phrases that will help you when you're stuck. This is especially the case in more touristy areas such as Tokyo, Osaka and Harajuku.Is there an age limit for teaching English in Japan? ›
Are there age restrictions for TEFL in Japan? There's no age limit for obtaining a work visa to teach English. However, older teachers may struggle to score a contract at a local school or institute. In Japan, most people retire at the spritely young age of 60—much earlier than in the West.What qualifications do I need to teach English in Japan? ›
To teach English in Japan, you will need a TEFL certification and a 4-year college degree. You must be a native English speaker without a criminal record. You can expect an average salary of about $2,500 - $3,000 USD per month.Is teaching in Japan stressful? ›
These studies indicated that Japanese school teachers experienced high levels of stress in the workplace, which was detrimental to their physical and mental health, but their results seemed difficult to generalize because they were based on a survey of teachers working in schools in geographically limited region or ...How many hours do English teachers work in Japan? ›
There are plenty of opportunities in a lot of industries, even if you only speak English. In fact, a lot of foreigners, who've lived here for more than 10 years, can't speak Japanese. There's a catch, though: you're closing a lot of doors if you don't bother to learn at least conversational-level Japanese.Do I need to know Japanese to teach English in Japan? ›
You don't need to speak Japanese to teach English in Japan. Your classroom will be held entirely in English to fully immerse your students. However, you can learn Japanese if you wish, and many schools offer free Japanese lessons for teachers.Are teachers in Japan well paid? ›
A university job in Japan, similar to most countries, offers the best pay for teachers. If you have some experience, you can earn between 300,000 to 600,000 Yen ($2,500 to $5,000) per month. Your salary will depend on your education and teaching experience.Can you live off of being an English teacher in Japan? ›
English teachers in Japan can expect to make a base salary of ¥250,000 per month. (106 yen is currently roughly $1; xe.com offers a good online currency converter). Depending on what type of housing you choose, your monthly housing can range from ¥50,000–¥80,000 including utilities.What country pays teachers the most? ›
Luxembourg. According to an OECD report, Luxembourg (a European country) has the highest-paid teachers in the world. Another source indicates that a bachelor's degree holder is entitled to an initial salary of €67,000 (US $70,323.20) per annum at the start of their teaching career.Can a foreigner become an English teacher in Japan? ›
Yes. English teachers in Japan must be able to prove that they have a Bachelor's degree to get a visa. Many schools will want to see a photocopy of your diploma before they even interview you. The good news is that your degree can be in anything.Can I teach English in Japan with a family? ›
East Asia is one of the best places to teach English abroad with a family. Specifically, countries like Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, and China offer wages high enough (and low enough living costs) to raise a child on an English teacher's salary.Is Japan friendly to foreigners? ›
Luckily, Japanese society is very welcoming of foreigners and forgiving should you commit a faux pas.Is Japan English friendly? ›
English is in common use in Japan with Chinese and Korean also becoming more common meaning that you can certainly get around without using Japanese. This is most true in the big cities and in areas frequented by foreign visitors. But as you move outside of the cities, foreign languages will quickly dry-up.Is Japan good to live in as a foreigner? ›
Japan is a country with a unique system and way of life that are nothing like those of any other country. The advantages of living in Japan as a foreigner are wide, but it is also important to take into account the inconveniences that anyone from another country may face at some point during their stay in Japan.
Are there any age restrictions for teaching English overseas? In general, there isn't an age limit for teacher job opportunities abroad. Even if you've never been in a classroom since your college days, that doesn't mean you can't consider teaching English abroad in your thirties.Can I teach in Japan without a degree? ›
If you want to teach English in Japan and you don't have a degree then, unfortunately, your options are pretty limited. A degree – in any discipline – is required to get a work visa to TEFL in Japan, so without one, you aren't eligible.Can you teach English in Japan without a TEFL? ›
You do not need a TEFL, CELTA, or TESOL qualification to get a job teaching English in Japan, but it is progressively more important to have one, just as it is worldwide.Is a TEFL certificate worth it? ›
Is TEFL Certification Worth It? Yes. If you want to get a good teaching job and be an effective teacher for your students, then it is definitely worth it. Remember, most schools worldwide require a TEFL certification; and once you're certified you can the ball rolling on applying and interviewing for jobs.Which TEFL country pays the most? ›
- UAE. Average salaries: US$3,500 – 5,000 per month. ...
- Japan. Average salaries: US$2,000 – 4,000 per month. ...
- Saudi Arabia. Average salaries: US$3,000 – 4,000 per month. ...
- Hong Kong. ...
- Kuwait. ...
- Oman. ...
- South Korea. ...
IELTS is on the Japan Visas and Immigration (UKVI) list of approved Secure English Language Tests (SELT). The general test consists of 4 components: Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking.How much is a TEFL certificate? ›
You know you need it, but how much does TEFL certification cost? Prices vary depending on some key factors, but expect to pay about $200 for very minimal online certification and closer to $400-$500 USD for online certification of enough hours (at least 120) to qualify for most TEFL/TESOL jobs.Are teachers respected in Japan? ›
Respect for Teachers in Japan
Teachers and school administrators are held in very high esteem in Japan.
Teachers typically have two scheduled consecutive days off per week. In addition to their scheduled days off, teachers receive Japanese national holidays, three company designated one-week vacation periods spread throughout the year, and five personal days per year.Is Japanese worth learning for career? ›
As an interpreter or translator, you can work as a freelancer or work in different interpreter or translator service companies. So, if you learn Japanese, you have a high opportunity to work as a translator or interpreter and earn a lot of money.
Teacher Shortages (as of April 2021)
|Teacher shortfall (% of total)||Number of schools facing shortage (% of total)|
|Junior high schools||868 (0.4%)||649 (7.0%)|
Average Rent in Japan
Prices in the capital range from a single room in shared housing for about 20,000 JPY (190 USD) per month to over 150,000 JPY (1,400 USD) for a private apartment. The average amount for a two-bedroom unit is a little over 200,000 JPY (1,870 USD) monthly.
In Japan, becoming a public school teacher requires graduating from a Ministry-approved university teacher education program and then obtaining a teaching certificate for a particular school level (primary, lower secondary, or upper secondary) and for a particular subject.How can a foreigner get a job in Japan? ›
You'll need a high level of Japanese for most jobs in Japan. You can prove your Japanese level to employers with the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT). The standardized test has five levels. N1 is the highest level; you'll usually need to pass N2 at minimum to get a job in Japan.Do Japanese hire foreigners? ›
Nearly half of Japanese companies are interested in hiring foreign nationals, according to a survey by information technology services firm Zenken. In the survey, 45.5% of responding companies said they are interested in employing foreign nationals, while 35% said they are not.Do you need a 4 year degree to work in Japan? ›
Working in Japan without a degree
It is possible to work in Japan without a degree, but it makes things a little difficult and requires you to hustle and network, which are more appealing to some personality types than others. However, for those willing to put in the effort, it can be a good opportunity.
Yet despite this growth, studies estimate that less than 30 percent of Japanese speak English at any level at all. Less than 8 percent and possibly as little as 2 percent speak English fluently.What qualification do I need to teach English in Japan? ›
To teach English in Japan, you will need a TEFL certification and a 4-year college degree. You must be a native English speaker without a criminal record. You can expect an average salary of about $2,500 - $3,000 USD per month.Do you need to be fluent in Japanese to teach English in Japan? ›
You don't need to speak Japanese to teach English in Japan. Your classroom will be held entirely in English to fully immerse your students. However, you can learn Japanese if you wish, and many schools offer free Japanese lessons for teachers.Do English teachers get free housing in Japan? ›
In Japan, those teaching in public schools may receive free housing or a stipend for housing, however this will vary from school to school and region to region.
- Sales and Marketing.
Luxembourg. According to an OECD report, Luxembourg (a European country) has the highest-paid teachers in the world. Another source indicates that a bachelor's degree holder is entitled to an initial salary of €67,000 (US $70,323.20) per annum at the start of their teaching career.Why are salaries so low in Japan? ›
Economists point to a series of major contributing factors, including decadeslong deflation, the country's employment culture and a ballooning number of part-time and contract workers. According to data by the OECD, the average annual wage in Japan increased until 1997 to $38,395, and then flattened out.