Over the past few decades, teaching English has become a popular way to experience Japan, a country that continues to attract people from all over the world. With recent changes to national policy, it’s becoming easier than ever for foreigners to get jobs teaching abroad in Japan, and schools are always eagerly searching for native English speakers. Despite these improvements, finding a teaching position, especially when you’re still outside of the country, can seem like a huge hassle.
If students are your passion and you’re interested in experiencing this vibrant culture firsthand, here are some helpful tips for how to get a job teaching English in Japan.
(Don't miss our ultimate guide on how to get a teaching job anywhere in the world and what you need to know before teaching English in Japan!)
Why is Teaching in Japan so Popular?
With its breathtaking historical monuments, temples, and shrines nestled side by side with modern skyscrapers and dazzling city lights, Japan offers a blend of advantages, making it a unique destination for teachers. In addition to its sights, culture, and conveniences, it is incredibly safe for travelers.
English teaching jobs in Japan also have some of the best compensation packages in Asia as a whole. Salaries for teaching English in Japan are respectable, and many teachers love teaching in Japan so much that they stay for years and make a career out of it.
Not sure if Japan is right for you? Read more about why you should teach English in Japan.
Qualifications to Teach in Japan
Before you head off to the Land of the Rising Sun, here is a list of the qualifications you’ll need to provide in order to secure a teaching job in Japan. Keep in mind that these are almost always required as Japanese schools expect them from prospective teachers.
- Be a native English speaker—Most teachers come from England, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the United States. You should be aware that Japan is strict about which countries are considered native English-speaking countries. Even if you are a proficient English speaker, countries such as Malaysia, Germany, or Brazil are not considered native English-speaking countries. (Not a native English speaker? No problem! Check out Where to Teach Abroad as a Non-Native English Speaker)
- Bachelor’s Degree—A bachelor’s degree is required for most full-time teaching positions in Japan, but it’s not necessary to have one in English or education. (Read our guide on How to Teach Abroad Without a Degree if this doesn’t sound like you.)
- 100% Clean Criminal Record—If you want to become a teacher in Japan, you will need a spotless criminal record to work with students.
- Teaching Certification -- Getting your TEFL, TESOL or CELTA certification can be a big help to you landing a teaching job in Japan. Need help getting started? Check out the Go Overseas TEFL Courses page.
- Start Up Cash -- Even if you land a teaching job in Japan quickly, you may not get paid right away; your first monthly paycheck usually comes in the second month of working. Therefore, having some extra cash, say around $2000 or one month’s living expenses, is better than taking on credit card debt or struggling for a couple of months.
Dive deeper into the qualifications for teaching in Japan.
When to Apply for a Teaching Job in Japan
There are generally two hiring times. One is just before the school year starts in April, from January to March, and the other is just before September, between June and August. These are the best times to find a job in Japan for international schools, universities, and dispatch companies.
Where to Find Jobs in Japan
The Go Overseas Teaching Job Board is a great place to start when looking for jobs. You’ll find new ones posted regularly, and consistent opportunities to apply for teaching jobs in Japan.
For a more expanded search, there are several other websites that are worth checking out. Gaijinpot is one of the most popular job websites, and Japan English Teacher also has many job listings for English teaching jobs. If you are bilingual, Daijob is another good place to look. There are a lot of good opportunities and great career prospects for teachers in Japan.
New Jobs in Japan
New jobs are posted regularly on our job board.
Common Types of English Teaching Jobs in Japan
When you are ready to start looking for a job in Japan, it helps to know the various job types available. There are several kinds of English schools, and each has its own method of operation. Reviewing each type will help you determine which one is right for you. This insight will not only help you find a job in Japan faster, but you’ll also find one you enjoy more!
This is one of the more popular methods of working in Japan that involves various “dispatch companies” hiring foreigners under contract.
Foreign English teachers are sent to Japanese public schools to assist with English classes. School level, working hours, living arrangements, and compensation are greatly dependent on the contract with the dispatch company. The JET Program, Japan Exchange and Teaching, is a very common and highly regarded road to working in Japan. These types of companies are connected to many certification programs like TEFL and CELTA in other countries and hire from outside Japan. In these jobs, you will be mainly supporting Japanese English teachers in schools rather than teaching a full class yourself. If you are looking to gain experience, dispatch companies are a great place to start your teaching journey in Japan.
Eikaiwa Kyōshitsu (English Conversation Classrooms)
Eikaiwa (pronounced ‘ay-kai-wah’) schools are private companies that offer English lessons to Japanese people of any age. Students come to the class to learn English from native English speakers from a set curriculum. Daily teaching hours tend to be low, but vacation days might also be low depending on the company contract. A popular Eikaiwa company is Berlitz, and many smaller companies offer this opportunity as well.
There are many different grade levels in international schools, but the majority of teaching opportunities are based in kindergarten. International schools offer some of the best contracts to foreigners. These private schools usually hire from within Japan, but there are exceptions.
International schools have native English speakers teach one class for a year. Teachers follow a curriculum but generally have control of their own class and are usually paired with a Japanese teacher. This is one of the best teaching jobs in Japan as far as challenge, experience, and benefits. If you love working with children and being challenged in your work, international schools are a great option.
There are many English teaching jobs available in universities throughout Japan. However, acquiring these jobs can be difficult, especially if you are outside of the country. Many of these jobs will require a master’s degree or higher for consideration. These jobs are commonly found through networking with other foreigners in those positions.
If you are interested in a smaller scale position that gives you more flexibility in terms of location and compensation, you might consider offering private English lessons. With this option, you can settle in one place or travel around, and you can provide lessons using your own curriculum with the age group of your choice.
Teaching English Online
If you have a passion for Japanese students but aren’t ready to move abroad, you can connect with online platforms and schools that offer English lessons. Some platforms provide curriculum while others allow teachers to be more creative with their lesson plans. Most offer tremendous flexibility, making teaching English online a good, affordable option that allows you to work from anywhere. Here are two such programs that come from reputable providers:
Online TEFL & Teaching Programs in Japan & Korea with TravelBud: This program allows you to earn your TEFL degree and helps you land a job in Japan as soon as you’re qualified. Consistent and helpful support throughout the process helps you feel at home with this long-distance option.
Find Private Language Students Abroad with Teacher Finder: While this platform is not designed for Japanese students only, it attracts students from all over the globe and is highly reviewed by past and current teachers on Go Overseas. After setting up a profile with your interests and expertise, you’ll be matched with eager students looking for English instruction.
Additional Information About Japanese Teaching Contracts
Whenever you apply for an English teaching job overseas, always read your contract thoroughly. Pay close attention to the following terms in particular:
- Start date (and end date, if relevant)
- Salary, benefits and bonuses, if any
- Housing (if included or if not)
- Working hours
- Vacation days
- Visa sponsorship
- Medical insurance
- Airfare ticket (if included or not)
Like all travel overseas, teaching English in Japan can be a transformative experience that defines your future career in the classroom. As you go through the routines and rhythms of the school year, you’ll have the opportunity to see what life is really like in Japan and discover its distinctive blend of tradition and innovation for yourself. If you’re ready for a scholastic adventure, Japan is waiting.
This post was originally published in February 2018, and it was updated in February 2021.