How to become an English teacher in Japan
Japan is a country full of diverse fashion, kind-hearted people, beautiful mountain terrain, and of course, delicious sushi! Most travelers describe the Japanese culture as “home away from home.” With its unique international feel, welcoming vibes, and endless opportunities, the chance to teach English in Japan is the perfect place for wanderlust educators.
English jobs in Japan offer the best of both worlds — small town and big city locations are available to enhance your teaching skills. But what do you need to know before you take off on your super kawaii adventure? Forget multiple tabs: Here’s everything you need to teach English in Japan, and the closest we can get to answering: “how to teach in Japan.”
FAQs on ESL jobs in Japan
What are the English teacher in Japan requirements?
When you decide to teach in Japan, it’s very easy to find multiple opportunities within a variety of schools — provided you fulfill the English teacher in Japan requirements. The number one qualification to score English jobs in Japan is to have native fluency in English. This can be a tough reality pill to swallow for citizens from non-Native English speaking nations, as it is incredibly difficult for them to get ESL jobs in Japan. Other English teacher in Japan requirements include being the proper age (no one above 60 is allowed, as this is the mandatory retirement age here), having clean criminal background check, and having a degree from an accredited institution. Phew!
Japan is not a great place to work if you haven’t gone to college yet. Truly, the struggle to find English teaching jobs in Japan (for non-degree holders) is real!
Lastly, though not required, we generally recommend that all ESL teachers in Japan have a TEFL certificate, which will allow you to not only do your job and teach English in Japan, but to do it well. More on that later. ;-)
Depending on your qualifications, English teachers in Japan are usually placed in private schools, high schools, language academies, or universities (want to know the difference between these types of teaching jobs in Japan? Keep scrolling!).
What is a common English teacher in Japan salary?
Teaching jobs in Japan for Americans and other native English speakers do pay and some even offer benefits, like assistance with housing, flights, and days off. Your English teacher in Japan salary could range from $1,900 to $2,200 or 210,000 to 250,000 in yen. Schools will normally give you a certain number of hours to work and they pay a monthly sum for that time. Private touring can pay you roughly $25 a session.
The truth is, you won’t make a fortune teaching in Japan, but you will to able to make enough to live comfortably and experience Japan to its full potential. Your English teacher in Japan salary might not be as high as some of its neighbors, but the experience you gain will still pay for itself tenfold.
Will teaching English in Japan make me rich?
Everyone dreams of making millions, living life internationally, and knowing they can do anything they want without the stress of money. Teaching English in Japan probably won’t make you rich in cold hard cash, but it does make you rich in culture and unique experience. You will make enough to get by, live comfortably, and visit other destinations in Japan. By having this position on your resume, you will stand out from the crowd when you start to apply for teaching jobs — or jobs in any field — back home. Focus less on the salary and earnings, and more on the incredible experience to be gained!
Okay okay, but what should I spend all my Yen on?
When exploring a new place, the best thing to spend your yen on is the new cuisine! Japanese incorporate a heavy fish, ramen, and tempura diet that any teacher will enjoy. Don’t forget the white rice. Japanese serve it with every meal and it’s compared to our bread and butter in the U.S. They have unique restaurants where you can choose your freshly served food on a conveyer belt. They also love to sit on the ground with a pillow for a seat. Some restaurants even let you cook your own food! They have a big stone grill in the middle of the table. The server will bring you raw fish, vegetables, meats, etc and you cook it to your perfection. Make sure to practice your chopstick skills before your arrival!
Using your days off to travel around Japan is important. Attending a local outdoor festival, walking the famous Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto, or climbing to the top of Mount Fuji is a great use of your earnings. It’s very easy to navigate around Japan by plane, bus, train, and their wicked fast bullet trains!
Besides spending your money on fun, it’s always good to invest into your savings. Traveling is a blast, but you want to make sure you feel comfortable doing fun activities without any financial worries. If you still have student loans, make sure you’re setting some dough off the side so you’re aren’t charged interests when you return home.
Can I try teaching English in Japan without a degree?
It’s rare to find teachers in Japan without a bachelor’s degree. Most programs and schools like to fill their teaching vacancies with candidates that have already attended university or college. To offer the best experience for the international students you’ll be teaching, plan to wait to find English teaching jobs in Japan until after you graduate college.
Do I need a TEFL certificate before I teach English in Japan?
Some countries require you to have a TEFL Certificate to teach overseas, especially if you want to pursue your teaching career abroad professional. Luckily, if you only plan to teach in Japan for a few months or a full school year, a TEFL isn’t a requirement to teach abroad in Japan.
However, if having a TEFL Certificate is important to you, we say — go get ‘em! It’ll make you a more confident, skilled teacher… especially if you don’t have much teaching experience under your belt. You can get a TEFL certificate online, in-person, or even in Japan. Here’s everything you’ll want to know (and maybe more?!) about getting a TEFL to teach abroad in Japan.
What types of ESL teaching jobs are in Japan?
- Private schools: Teaching English in a Japanese private school, you work with variety of ages and get to be creative with your own lesson. By working at a private school, you may need to devote time after hours to give students extra tutoring.
- Universities: Teaching in a university, you might get paid more if you’re a full time employee and gives you higher stature on your resume. When it comes to landing your job, it’s tougher than it looks. The application pool is bigger, stronger, and trickier to get an interview.
- Language academies: Language academies are great, because you get to work with a variety of ages from babies to adults. People actually want to learn the language and personally sign up to take these course. Downfall is that sometimes these classes run later into the evenings since a majority of adults work during the day.
- High schools: High school students are usually open-minded and curious about the world, so they’re the perfect age to be inspired by their experiences with a foreign native English speaker. The struggle with Japanese students is that their curriculum is very strict and if they don’t make it past a certain GPA, they fail school. This causes them to be more stressed than the average student.
- Teaching jobs in Japan international schools: By working at most international schools in Japan, you will receive benefits like medical insurance and will set you up a retirement plan. Again, the struggle with having a position like this is beating out other applicants in tough interviewing pool.
Where can I find ESL jobs in Japan?
Knowing where to start on deciding your big adventure can be intimidating, but by using the GoAbroad online advisor, it makes the process a breeze! Fill out the personal questions about your traveling interests and they find the best program that fits you. By signing up for an account with goabroad.com/mygoabroad, they keep you up-to-date, plus, they extend your search and help you narrow down the program selection. They also host contests, side-to-side program comparisons, and more!
Once you’re sold on wanting to teach in Japan, visit GoAbroad's page dedicated to jobs to teach English in Japan — this specializes in helping you find the perfect teaching program. Here, you can hunt for the best program that fits you. You can read a brief about the program, visit their website, read reviews from past participants, and sign-up instantly. Before you choose, it’s best to click the contact provider button to connect with a valued employee of the teaching program.
After weighing out all of your options and researching your teaching position, it’s time to apply for your new position to teach in Japan. The application process shouldn’t be any different than if you were applying for a job in the US. A Skype interview or an in-person interview with a US based employee will likely be conducted during the application process. Once you’ve been accepted to a trip of a lifetime, it’s time to pack up your bags and leave the US to find jobs in Japan for Americans.
Do I need a visa to teach English in Japan?
Yes, it’s a requirement by both governments to carry a work visa with you while you teach English in Japan. You will need to go online to set up an appointment with the nearest Japanese Consulate. You will need to bring the proper identification, a headshot of yourself that can be taken at a local Walgreens, and the requested paperwork to fill out. You have to go in person and can’t miss your appointment. Always arrive 30 minutes earlier to your time slot — you don’t want to take any chances. Depending on where you live, you might need to travel to another state to apply for your work visa.
What are the most popular cities for teaching in Japan?
With many positions around the country, English teaching jobs in Japan are easy to come by. But where? How do you decide what city to call your next home? You can never go wrong with any Japanese city! They all have so much rich history and culture to offer. Here are top five cities, both big and small, to teach in Japan! Click here to view the full detailed article about each location.
If you’re looking to be in the center of one of the biggest cities in the world and live a fast-paced life, then Tokyo is for you! The city is full of endless sites, shrines, and restaurants that you’ll never be bored! For a fun day trip, check out the Tsukiji Fish Market around 8 a.m.
Everyday, it’s filled with fresh off the boat fish and it’s a hub for locals to bargain for their dinner.
- See all jobs to teach English in Tokyo
- Keep reading — The 6 BEST Places to Teach English in Japan This Year
Are you a big foodie who loves to give their taste buds a run for their money? Then Osaka is the place for you! Known for its gourmet restaurants and amazing street food, it’s no wonder why this place is a favorite among tourists! Ever heard of Takoyaki? It’s the most amazing small Japanese dish you’ll ever have. It’s a breaded, deep fried dumpling with octopus in the middle. Every restaurant puts their own homemade sauce over top of it. Don’t be afraid – give it a try!
Do you own a Toyota brand car? Nagoya is where all of the Toyota cars are manufactured! Check out the Toyota Museum of Industry and Technology and educate yourself on the car business! Nagoya has a great samurai walking tour around the city. Learn about the ancient war culture from knowledgeable tour guides.
- See all jobs to teach English in Nagoya
- Keep reading — 10 Highest Paid Teaching Jobs Abroad in 2017-2018
If you want to be in the midst of traditional Japanese culture, Kyoto is the place to teach in Japan! It’s common to see geishas and kimonos in the streets. The city is filled with some of the country’s most ancient architecture and shrines. Take a day to rent a bike and visit the Fushimi Inari Shrine. It’s a long orange pathway you can walk through and see some of the great Japanese artwork. Definitely a must see!
Looking for a relaxing Japanese oasis full of city pride and great people? Hiroshima is visited by many and tourist fall in love with the city fast! Enjoy relaxing on the beaches or taking a day trip to the neighboring island of Itsukushima, where it’s known for its old forests and temples. Visit Hiroshima during their Peace Day celebration in August and participate in traditional festivities put on by the locals!
- See all jobs to teach English in Hiroshima
- Keep reading — 5 Places Where You’ll Earn the Big Bucks Teaching English Abroad
[Save & compare teaching jobs in Japan side-by-side with MyGoAbroad]
Should I teach abroad in Japan or South Korea?
Conflicted between teaching in Japan or South Korea? Both are great locations to gain experience with education, but it’s by far easier to find English jobs in Japan rather than in South Korea. In South Korea, a lot of the schools require you to have a TEFL degree, an FBI background check, and an apostilled diploma. To teach in Japan, there is less red tape and the process is clear and concise. Not to forget, the English teaching salary is much higher in Japan.
The culture is more alive in Japan and has more of an eastern feel, unlike South Korea, which is very similar to the western ways. The fashion, architecture, art, tradition, and norms in Japan are more distinct from the American lifestyle and gives you a whole different perspective on a new culture. Japan is much cleaner and our big environmentalists.
For those who like to venture into the city after dark, the night life in Japan is some of the best in the world. Notorious for their karaoke bars, you’re sure to make new native friends in no time by singing your heart out to Dancing Queen by Abba.
What are the best programs for teaching jobs in Japan?
Some just do it better — here’s our go-to list of top teaching jobs in Japan.
The International TEFL Academy is a program participants have the opportunity to teach in 25 different countries and are supported to find an international teaching position once certified. Teaching in Japan through the International TEFL Academy, you can teach English in Japan and take courses to receive your TEFL certification.
Interac gives recent graduates real world teaching experience in Japan. They offer salary, housing, insurance, training, and support. The position serves two parts: language instructor and cultural ambassador.
Amity Corporation gives teaching hands-on experience with private English lessons in Japan. From baby to adult lessons, these give you the chance to be one-on-one with your students and to bond a close relationship.
Looking to get your TEFL certification and perform a paid TEFL internship at the same time? With it-to-i you can accomplish both. They have been dedicated to helping student succeed their teaching goals and have been in the TESOL business for over 22 years.
[Nothing hitting the mark? Check out ALL teaching jobs in Japan]
Join the ranks of teachers in Japan!
Now that you have the scoop on everything you need to know about teaching in Japan, you’re ready to begin your next great escape! Just picture yourself living your dream job, impacting the lives of international students and being the bridge between two worlds. To teach English in Japan is an honor that most people wish to accomplish. Stop wishing. Get out there and find your home away from home by becoming an English teacher in Japan.
“A ship in harbor is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for.” – John Shedd