With its unique culture, generous salaries, and healthy job market, Japan is one of the top teaching destinations in Asia. While you might find some other countries in the region with a better mix of high wages and low living costs, you are unlikely to find anywhere that has such an amazing mixture of modern life and ancient traditions.
What will I need to teach English in Japan?
In order to be eligible for a work permit in Japan all you need is a degree in any subject. Other qualities that are highly important if you want to fit into the working culture are a professional approach, a strong desire to achieve results, and the willingness to work hard. Unusually, a TEFL certificate is not an official requirement to teach English in Japan, although it is still recommended as the job market is highly competitive in the most popular locations. By taking a TEFL course you will be better placed when applying for the top jobs and you will be ready to hit the ground running once you secure the right position.
What type of TEFL job can I get in Japan?
Most teachers will have one of the two main types of jobs in Japan: Assistant language teacher (ALT) in a public school or conversational English teacher in a private language academy. If you work as an ALT you will be in the classroom with a Japanese teacher where you will help them to deliver English lessons to junior or high school students. These jobs generally follow a standard Monday to Friday timetable with plenty of public holidays to enjoy. On the other hand, teachers in private language academies work with children or adults who want to improve their English skills outside of normal school or work hours. Because of this, you will typically need to work during the evenings and at weekends. However, unlike in the public school system, you will get to teach your own class rather than being an assistant to a local teacher. Both jobs have similar potential salaries, with a monthly average of around $2,000 to $3,000.
How do I apply for TEFL jobs in Japan?
Many teachers choose the convenience of the government sponsored JET Program. Every year the program offers several thousand positions for native English speakers in public schools across the country. If successful you will work as a classroom assistant to a local teacher. To apply for an August start date you need to begin the process as early as the previous November as competition for every place is always extremely strong. It is also worth noting that you get no say in the location where you are placed. Another good option is to register with recruitment companies who generally cater for both public and private sector jobs. If you are actually on the ground in Japan looking for a teaching job you will be in a particularly strong position as Japanese employers prefer to interview their candidates in person when possible.