Japan has a long history as a TEFL destination as the number of jobs and average salaries have been high for many years. However, due to a rise in living costs and little growth in pay rates, it is no longer one of the most lucrative options in the Asian region. Despite losing its status as one of the top countries for saving money while teaching English abroad, Japan still has plenty of good opportunities available across the country. The main centers for job numbers and the best salaries are major cities such as Tokyo, Osaka, and Yokohama.
What can I expect to earn while teaching English in Japan?
In general, TEFL salaries in Japan are based on a range of factors, including your previous classroom experience, academic qualifications, the location, and the specific employer. Most teachers will earn somewhere between 200,000 and 600,000 yen (currently $2,000 to $6,000) per month. If your job pays by the hour rather than a monthly rate, you can expect to earn somewhere in the region of 2,500 yen ($25) per hour. It is common for TEFL jobs in Japan to include extra benefits which can make a big difference to your overall quality of life, such as paid airfares, free housing, and health insurance. Some jobs will even offer a contract completion bonus.
What kind of employer will I work for while teaching English in Japan?
Private language academies known as Eikaiwas are one of the biggest employers of TEFL qualified teachers in Japan. Some of these offer extra language classes to children outside of normal school hours, while others cater to adults who want to learn English for work, social, or travel reasons. This type of class usually operates in the afternoons, early evenings, or on the weekends. In this environment you should expect to teach classes of between ten and fifteen students, with an average salary of around 250,000 yen ($2,500) per month. Some private language schools do provide extra benefits such as flights and accommodation, but it is not always the case.
The other major employer of TEFL qualified teachers in Japan is the public school system. Most positions in this bracket are filled via a government sponsored scheme known as the JET Program which hires around 2000 foreign teachers each year. Salaries on the JET Program are around 280,000 yen ($2,750) per month for the first year, with a pay rise for each additional year you sign up for. If you follow this route to teaching in Japan you will receive free flights in and out of the country, furnished accommodation, health insurance, and around four weeks paid vacation. It is also possible to find public school jobs via an independent recruitment company, although the salary you will receive is likely to be lower than those offered via the JET Program at around 200,000 to 250,000 yen ($2,000 to $2,500) per month.
Are there any other employers of TEFL teachers in Japan?
You might also come across a limited number of job options at universities and international schools, both of which offer higher rates of pay than private or public schools. If you manage to secure a position in one of these environments you can expect to earn anything from 300,000 to 600,000 yen ($3,000 to $6,000) per month. However, to qualify for these positions you will normally require a high-level teaching qualification and plenty of classroom experience. Jobs within universities are often highly prized as the working hours are generally less than other options and the holidays are very generous.
How does the cost of living affect TEFL teachers in Japan?
The everyday cost of living in Japan has risen significantly in recent years, which means it is harder to save as much money as teachers routinely did in the past. One way that many teachers add to their overall income is by taking on private students in their spare time. Opportunities for private tuition are widespread and the average hourly rate is very good, at around 3,000 yen ($30). By teaching a few extra hours a week you can make a big difference to your bank balance over the period of a school contract.