Due to its widespread job market, high salaries and unique culture, Japan has long been one of the most popular teaching destinations in Asia. Although there might be a few other countries in the region with a better balance of high wages and a low cost of living, nowhere else can quite match the incredible mix of modern development and ancient traditions that Japan is so famous for.
What are the requirements for teaching English in Japan?
The requirements for gaining a work visa in Japan are not quite as stringent as some other countries as you simply need to possess a degree in any subject. The other essential qualities you need are to be fluent in English, to have a very professional approach, and a clear passion and desire for teaching in the classroom. Although a TESOL certification is not an official requirement, it is still advisable to have one as it will help you in what is a very competitive job market. By completing a TESOL course you will instantly increase your chances of securing the more sought after jobs and acquire the skills and knowledge you will need to have confidence in your own ability on your first day in the classroom.
What kind of jobs are available teaching English in Japan?
There are two main types of ESL teaching job in Japan: Assistant language teachers (ALT) in public schools and conversational English teachers in private language academies. ALTs work alongside a Japanese teacher in a public school with the aim of helping to deliver English lessons to students at either junior or senior high school level. Working hours are usually typical school hours from Monday to Friday, with plenty of public holidays thrown in. In contrast, private language academies are usually aimed at school children or adults who are looking to improve their language skills outside of normal school/work hours. As a consequence, teachers in private schools are normally expected to work evenings and weekends, although you will be in charge of your class and not just an assistant as in the public school system. Both types of school pay similar salaries that average between $2,000 and $3,000 per month, depending on the employer and the location of the school.
What is the best way to apply for jobs teaching English in Japan?
The government sponsored JET Program is a very popular route into ESL teaching in Japan. Each year the scheme places several thousand native English speakers into public schools where they work as assistant language teachers alongside a local teacher. The application process starts in November for start dates around August of the following year. Competition for a place on the program is always high, although you will have no say in the location where you will end up. Recruitment companies are also a good place to look for ESL jobs in both public and private schools. If you happen to already be in Japan you will be in a very strong position as japanese employers are always keen to interview potential teachers in person.
Why should I teach English in Japan?
As well as plenty of jobs and good salaries, Japan attracts teachers from far and wide due to its unique cultural heritage and diverse environments. Whether you prefer the frenetic pace and high-tec life of Tokyo, or the peaceful charms of its rural heartlands, Japan is certainly a fascinating location for teaching English abroad.