The Japan Exchange and Teaching Program (JET) is a government backed scheme that has been operating for over 30 years. Every year around 5,000 foreign nationals are placed into schools right across Japan with the intention of raising the language skills of young people. Unlike many similar programs in other countries, the JET Program also has a strong focus on cultural exchange between participants and the local population. Competition for places on the program is generally very tough as successful applicants receive a competitive salary and a range of extra benefits.
What are the requirements for the JET Program?
The program is open to college graduates up to the age of 40, although its status as primarily a youth culture exchange means that recent graduates have a greater chance of success. The main criteria required is a minimum of a bachelor's degree or alternatively a three year teaching qualification at either primary or secondary level. In addition to this basic requirement, there is a strong emphasis on youthful energy and a desire to fully embrace the Japanese culture, language, and overall way of life.
What teaching positions are available through the JET Program?
There are three types of position available through the program. The most common, at over 90% of applicants, is working as an Assistant Language Teacher (ALT). Duties of an ALT include assisting a Japanese teacher in the classroom, preparing teaching materials, and participating in extracurricular activities such as sports or language clubs. If you have a good standard of Japanese language skills then you can also apply as a Coordinator of International Relations (CIR), while sports professionals can apply for the role of Sports Exchange Advisor (SEA). For more detailed information please visit the official JET Program website.
What are the benefits of the JET Program?
The specific benefits available to successful applicants vary from one position to the next but you can expect to earn a pre-tax salary of 280,000 JPY (currently $25,000 USD) in your first year. Working hours are approximately 35 per week from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday to Friday. Airfares for travel to Japan, plus homeward flight on completion of the contract are paid for by the program. Paid holiday time varies between 10 and 20 days, plus all national holidays. Please note that all participants are liable for a mandatory monthly salary deduction of around 40,000 JPY to cover health insurance and pension contributions.