Teach English in Japan

Narrow Your Search by Popular Cities

Flag of Japan

Japan is the place to go if you want to experience a unique culture while teaching in a professional environment. Mountains, hot springs, temples, neon lights, semi-tropical islands, jaw-dropping technology, a fresh cultural perspective, and a welcoming population are just a few of the reasons why people come to Japan. English teachers are in high demand.

  • Peak Hiring Times: January-April
  • Average Monthly Salary: $3000/month
  • Average Cost of Living: $1500/month
  • Save or Break Even? Saving is possible, especially if you live outside the big cities.
  • Work Visa: Most schools will assist you in obtaining a visa.
The JET Programme:

The Japanese government has been running the JET programme since the late '80s. (JET stands for Japan Exchange and Teaching.) Native English speakers are placed as Assistant Language Teachers in public schools across Japan. JETs usually work a 35 hour week from Monday to Friday. You will need a Bachelor's degree to be considered. The hiring calendar varies by the home country of applicants.

Private Language Academies/Schools:

Companies like AEON and ECC are constantly looking for teaching staff. Many of these positions involve relatively long hours and some will require you to work evenings and weekends. With these private companies, there is a higher likelihood (than with JET) that you will be placed in a large city. You will need a Bachelor's degree to be considered. The hiring calendar varies by company.

Public Schools:

Some public schools recruit privately or source teachers through organizations such as Interac. A 30-35 hour work week is common. Leave entitlements can vary significantly depending on the individual school or company you are recruited through. Some public schools prefer their teachers to have a CELTA/TEFL qualification and/or teaching experience. Peak hiring time is January-April.

Private Lessons:

Many foreign nationals give private lessons, often teaching in cafes one-on-one with students. There are no qualifications required for this, though you will need to ensure any work you do is compatible with your immigration status. There is more potential business in the large cities, particularly for anyone looking to do this as a full-time job.

When and Where to Look for Jobs:

Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya are the three biggest cities in Japan. They are where a large proportion of foreign teachers base themselves. The job market in these cities is competitive. If you are willing to be flexible and look elsewhere, you will find a huge range of opportunities all over the country. There are jobs across the four main islands of Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu. Many of these jobs are advertised online and are open to applications from abroad.

Working Visas in Japan

A working visa is generally required in order to teach English. Many language schools will sponsor you in your visa application. You will usually need a bachelor's degree to be successful in your visa application. Some countries also have arrangements whereby you can obtain a working holiday visa, which allows you to teach part-time. Finally, it is possible to travel to Japan on a tourist visa and change to a working visa after-entry, provided you are sponsored by your contracting organization. To learn more about Japanese visas, visit VISA HQ.


A Bachelor's degree is essential for any kind of formal teaching job in Japan. Some public schools and private recruiters prefer candidates with a CELTA/TEFL qualification and/or previous teaching experience. Japanese language proficiency is not required but can be helpful in securing better paid jobs.

Salary & Cost of Living:

You can expect to earn between Y=2.5 million and Y=3.5 million yen (around $31-45,000 USD) per year if you arrive without teaching experience. Those with previous teaching experience and/or a TEFL qualification can earn significantly more.

The JET programme pays Y=3.36 million yen (around $41,000 USD) per year. Most public schools will pay a similar amount to privately recruited instructors.

Private language schools tend to pay slightly less but the salary can vary considerably, depending on your level of experience.

Private lesson fees can vary, but Y=3000 yen (around $37 USD) per hour is not unusual. As you gain experience, you can start to charge significantly more. Your rates will also be affected by how much competition there is in the local area.

Some programmes, such as JET, arrange housing for their teachers. There are also a range of private companies who can assist you in finding accommodation. Sometimes the fees for getting settled in new accommodation can be high and apartments are often unfurnished.

Japan is one of the most expensive countries in the world. Living costs are high. However, the generous salaries mean that it is possible to have a reasonable standard of living. Tokyo is especially expensive, though if you are willing to live in the suburbs, rates are lower. Outside the big cities, Y=50,000 (around $600 USD) per month will usually get you something decent.

Eating out is expensive, but budget options do exist. At the low end, you can buy a filling meal of rice and toppings for under Y=500 (around $6 USD). Meanwhile, a typical mid-priced meal for two outside Tokyo will cost between Y=2000 and Y=4000 (around $25-50). You can expect to pay between Y=400 and Y=700 (around $5-9 USD) for a beer at a typical izakaya.

Classroom & Work Culture:

Japanese students tend to be relatively respectful and well-behaved. However, a lot depends on your particular school. There are some schools where classes are loud and difficult to control. You may teach alongside a Japanese teacher, in which case, they will usually have responsibility for classroom discipline.

If you are teaching adults, you may be able to socialize with them outside lessons, though some private companies prohibit this.

Some high schools and private companies will require you to dress up and wear a suit when you teach lessons. Those teaching elementary school students are usually able to dress more casually.

There are a range of social customs such as bowing, gift-giving and compliments that will take some time to adjust to. Nobody will expect you to get everything right first time, but you will be expected to make an effort. The Japanese workplace tends to be formal, punctual and inflexible. You should consider whether you would fit comfortably into that kind of environment.

Contributed by Ben David

Ben David is a British civil servant who has taken a career break to teach English in Japan. He blogs at Not Enough Cheese. You can e-mail him at artslondonblog@googlemail.com.

Programs & Reviews

View More Jobs in Japan

Hot New Job Listings!

Get paid to teach English around the world! Are you: A native English speaker from USA or Canada? Age 20-40? Wanting to get paid to teach English abroad? Looking to take a professional TEFL certification course? A job teaching English...
20 Reviews
More Programs by International TEFL Academy
The JET Programme, started in 1986, is the first and longest running government program which brings English teachers to Asia. Teachers who join the JET Program will enjoy teaching English in Japan through a stable program run by the...
12 Reviews
More Programs by JetProgramme
ITTT offers internationally recognized and accredited online courses to over 500 new trainees each month and ITTT course graduates are now working in over 40 countries around the world. Our online courses offer flexible and affordable...
35 Reviews
More Programs by ITTT TEFL
Interac teachers enrich the lives of hundreds of thousands of school children every year by delivering interactive and exciting English lessons. Commonly known as ALTs, which stands for assistant language teacher, Interac's teachers,...
2 Reviews
More Programs by Interac
Get paid to teach English around the world! Are you: A native English speaker from USA or Canada? Age 20-40? Wanting to get paid to teach English abroad and get paid? Looking to take a professional TEFL certification course? A job...
More Programs by International TEFL Academy
CIC was established in 1983 to provide Japanese people with more enjoyable and efficient, and easier ways of learning practical English at a reasonable cost. We have been always trying to improve our teaching methods according to the need...
1 Reviews
More Programs by CIC English School
Berlitz Japan has immediate openings for part time English instructors in the greater Tokyo area. We offer competitive compensation with attractive benefits in a professional work environment. We are seeking instructors for our...
2 Reviews
More Programs by Berlitz
Created in 1994, Amity has established over 70 different branch schools throughout Japan and currently teaches English to around 20,000 students. Amity's main goals includes inspiring students to use English as a limitless tool to discover...
1 Reviews
More Programs by Amity Corporation
Teach English in public schools across Japan, or at private language schools in Tokyo with Teach Away!
2 Reviews Request Info
More Programs by Teach Away Inc
Westgate Corporation has been offering English learning opportunities to universities, corporations, residents, and public schools in Kanto area (Tokyo, Kanagawa, Chiba, Saitama), Aichi, and Shizuoka, Japan since 1983. For ESL teachers...
More Programs by Westgate Corporation
Started by missionaries working in Nagoya, ICAN entered a partnership with NICS in 2000. Our students come from the USA (39%), Japan (51%), Canada, Korea, Sri Lanka, India, Eritrea, Brazil, and New Zealand. A majority of our students come...
More Programs by Network of International Christian Schools
Come and teach English for one of the biggest language schools in Japan. The majority of our schools are based in the greater Tokyo area. We will provide you with visa and accommodation assistance, when requested. You will teach small...
More Programs by Saxoncourt
ECC Teaching Jobs in Japan
ECC, celebrating our 50th anniversary has experienced steady growth and now has more than 150 campuses throughout Japan. ECC strives to promote a spirit of multiculturalism represented by a team of 15 different nationalities with over 650...
More Programs by ECC
NewPath Recruitment specializes in placing English teachers in private and public schools throughout Japan. Most of our applicants come from North America for our various start dates throughout the year with our partner schools. Some of...
More Programs by NewPath Recruitment
M.I.L. The Language Center in Chibi, Japan focuses on teaching English to all levels and groups of students, from Kindergarten classes to adults. Teachers work throughout our ten language centers in the area, teaching a wide variety of...
More Programs by M.I.L. The Language Center

Q+A Community

Do you have a burning question about teaching abroad in Japan? We're here to help! Most questions are answered within 24 hours. Here are some example questions:

  • How much can I expect to make in Japan?
  • What is the cost of living in Japan?
  • Do I need a TEFL to teach in Japan?

Please Note: Frequent and informative questions will be posted on Go Overseas for the community at large to engage with and learn more. Your contact information, however, will always remain private.

Tell us the name of the university you did or are attending.

Help us battle the bots. Enter the name of this website below.