Teach English in Japan (2023)

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.

Public schools

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.

(Video) What Teaching English in Japan was REALLY Like

Private lessons

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:

  • Housing
  • Flight reimbursement
  • Transportation passes
  • Cell phone SIM cards
  • Free meals (at the school)

Read more: How Much Money Can You Save Teaching Abroad?

(Video) Everything You Need to Know About English Teaching Companies in Japan ll 2022/2023

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

Source: Numbeo

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.

Tokyo

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!

Osaka

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.

(Video) Top five reasons You'll HATE teaching English in Japan

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?

(Video) Why NOT to Teach English in Japan

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:

(Video) Why you MIGHT NOT want to teach English in Japan

  • Why Should I Teach in Japan?
  • How to Get a Job Teaching English in Japan
  • The 7 Best Cities to Teach Abroad in Japan

FAQs

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 hard to be an English teacher 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.

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 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.

Is there an age limit for teaching English 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.

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. First-year participants teaching English in Japan on the JET Program earn an average monthly salary of 280,000 Yen ($2,550 USD) per month with yearly wage increases.

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.

Can I teach English in Japan without knowing Japanese? ›

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.

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 English test is required for Japan? ›

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.

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.

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? ›

29.5 hrs/

Can you work in Japan if you only speak English? ›

Yes, there are many job opportunities in Japan as it houses many international companies and businesses. English teachers and headhunters are the common jobs offered to foreigners but with relevant skills you can find many technical jobs having departments where there is minimal Japanese conversation required.

Is 30 too old to teach English abroad? ›

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.

What country needs English teachers? ›

Our list of the countries that need English teachers might surprise you! There are many countries with high demand for English teachers.
...
Finding meaningful, profitable work as an ESL teacher abroad.
  • Brazil. ...
  • Cambodia. ...
  • China. ...
  • Colombia. ...
  • Mexico. ...
  • Morocco. ...
  • Russia. ...
  • South Korea.
3 Mar 2021

Which country needs teachers the most? ›

China. Based on many studies, China runs at the top of the list. China has continued to be the most sought-after teaching destination right now because it has almost 300 million English learners.

Which TEFL country pays the most? ›

Generally speaking, the highest paid TEFL jobs can be found in these countries:
  • 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. ...
  • Taiwan.

Does Japan pay teachers well? ›

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. University working hours are very appealing to teachers.

What is the best salary job in Japan? ›

Highest Paying Jobs in Japan 2022
  • Executive Management. ...
  • IT Professional. ...
  • Business Analyst. ...
  • Doctor. ...
  • Engineer. ...
  • Translator/Interpreter. ...
  • Lawyer. Lawyers are always in demand to help people navigate legal disputes. ...
  • Banker. Many people are drawn to banking as it can be quite a lucrative career no matter where you are.

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.

Is Japan friendly to foreigners? ›

Luckily, Japanese society is very welcoming of foreigners and forgiving should you commit a faux pas.

Is living in Japan difficult? ›

Living in Japan is very comfortable, but it will not be easy for you to feel like home. One of the aspects that struck me the most when I first arrived in Japan was that, unlike in Spain, in Japan people talk very little (or almost nothing) about controversial issues such as politics, religion or taxes.

Is Tokyo easy for English speakers? ›

Tokyo is definitely the place where English in Japan is most ubiquitous. In addition to bilingual signage in the Tokyo Metro, JR Lines and in popular areas like Asakusa and Shinjuku, a large percentage of people in Tokyo speak some English, even those who don't work in foreigner-facing professions.

Can you live in Tokyo only speaking English? ›

Working, living, and traveling in Japan without speaking Japanese is feasible, and there are countless examples of foreigners doing so. Having said that, learning Japanese will put you at an exceptional advantage in both your professional life and daily life.

How hard is it to get a job in Japan? ›

Getting a job in Japan without a degree isn't impossible, but it is really tough. Regular working visas require a university degree, which translates to a four-year degree in the United States. Language level. You'll need a high level of Japanese for most jobs in Japan.

Can you fail a TEFL course? ›

It is possible to fail a TEFL course. If you have a degree already and are a native English speaker, you will absolutely be able to handle the course load.

Are TEFL exams hard? ›

You might find a TEFL easy or difficult, depending on your current level of English. If you still struggle with English, maybe because it is not your first language, you might find that the course material is more difficult for you than someone who speaks English fluently.

Is TEFL stressful? ›

TEFL teaching is anything but straightforward. It can be stressful and pressurised trying to work out and meet the expectations of the students, parents and school leaders. As well as having to settle into a new culture away from family and friends, money can be tight and the next payday can seem a long way off.

How much is JLPT fee? ›

After completing your application, you must complete payment before your registration will be confirmed. Test Fees are approximately 5,500 Yen but may vary based on the location in which you decide to take the test.

How much does the JLPT test cost? ›

JLPT Registration Fees and Details about Each Test Level
Test LevelTest FeePDF Describing Each Test Level
N2$100N2 (PDF)
N3 – Medium Difficulty$100N3 (PDF)
N4$100N4 (PDF)
N5 – Least Difficult$100N5 (PDF)
1 more row

Is entrance exam in Japan hard? ›

Getting into college in Japan can be pretty rough. While there is a standardized, multiple-choice test that is accepted by the country's public colleges and some private ones (The "National Center Test for University Admissions"), scoring well enough on that exam simply gets you in the door for consideration.

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.

Are teachers respected in Japan? ›

Respect for Teachers in Japan

Teachers and school administrators are held in very high esteem in Japan.

How many days off do teachers get 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.

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.

How much does it cost to rent a house in Japan? ›

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.

Can I live in Japan without a job? ›

Can I live in Japan without a job? With a student or spouse visa (married to a Japanese citizen), yes you can live in Japan without a job, but you'll still need money to support yourself etc. Japan isn't a cheap place to live. Otherwise, no.

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.

What work can foreigners get in Japan? ›

Teaching English as a second language (ESL) is one of the go-to career choices for foreigners working in Japan. It's not just private tutoring too; you can also teach in private institutions or public schools, depending on how qualified you are.

Do English teachers get paid well in Japan? ›

Most first-time English teachers in Japan get paid between 247,700 and 286,200 Yen ($2,250 - $2,600 USD) per month. First-year participants teaching English in Japan on the JET Program earn an average monthly salary of 280,000 Yen ($2,550 USD) per month with yearly wage increases.

How much do English translators get paid in Japan? ›

The first two years of experience is the period where the earnings are the lowest. This translator earns approximately 298.000yen/year.
...
Project-Based Translators.
LANGUAGE PAIRYEN/WORDYEN/HOUR
Japanese-Korean¥9,49¥3.394
Japanese-Chinese¥10,54¥3.631
English-Japanese¥12,65¥3.700
9 more rows

How well do teachers get paid in Japan? ›

Average salaries for teachers in Japan at a glance
English teacher job typeMonthly salary
Eikaiwa teacher250,000 Yen
ALT teacher with the JET Program280,000 Yen
University ESL instructor400,000 Yen
International teacher300 – 650,000 Yen
1 more row
9 Oct 2018

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.

What job pays the most in Japan? ›

Highest Paying Jobs in Japan for Foreigners
  • Recruitment.
  • Sales and Marketing.
  • Finance.
  • Banking.
  • Healthcare.
  • Law.
  • Aviation.
17 Mar 2022

What language is the highest paid translator? ›

German tops our list of the highest paying translation languages. The language is closely associated with the business world, so German translators often make good money. The average annual income of a German translator in the US is $50,000.

What language pays the most translation? ›

What Are the Highest Paying Translation Languages?
  • German – $60,000 per year.
  • Spanish – $48,000 per year.
  • French – $45,000 per year.
  • Dutch – $44,000 per year.
  • Russian – $43,000 per year.
  • Japanese – $42,000 per year.
  • Italian – $36,000 per year.
  • Chinese Simplified (Mandarin) – $35,000 per year.
11 Mar 2021

Are Japanese translators well paid? ›

While ZipRecruiter is seeing annual salaries as high as $73,500 and as low as $24,000, the majority of Japanese Translator salaries currently range between $41,000 (25th percentile) to $57,500 (75th percentile) with top earners (90th percentile) making $69,000 annually across the United States.

Which country pays teacher 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.

Are teachers overworked in Japan? ›

Overall, a total of 66.9% of teachers reported working 20 or more hours of overtime during the week -- effectively crossing the line for determining death by overwork, or "karoshi" in Japanese.

Do foreigners get paid more in Japan? ›

In general, we only make around 70% of the average salary in Japan. The average salary for a regular foreign worker is around 2.5 million yen/22,600 USD. This is because a large number of foreigners are working in the service or education sector, where the pay is relatively low compared to other industries.

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