Guide to teaching English in Japan

Packed with rich history, mountainous views, stunning temples, and innovative technology, Japan is a great country to teach English abroad.

English teachers in Japan are in high demand, and well respected, with salaries ranging from $1,700 - $5,000 USD per month.

Plus, with plenty of mountains, hot springs, temples, semi-tropical islands, cutting-edge technology, and a friendly, welcoming environment of excited students – what more could you ask for? Teaching English in Japan will be an unforgettable experience.

Interested in learning how to become an English teacher in Japan? We’ve got you covered! Keep reading to learn more about the types of teaching jobs, average salaries and benefits, and how to get a job teaching English in Japan!

Types of teaching jobs in Japan

There are 4 main types of English teaching jobs in Japan with varying application requirements and hiring seasons. Keep reading to see which one is right for you and your teaching goals!

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, and you will need a bachelor’s degree to be considered. The hiring calendar varies by the home country of applicants.

English teachers in Japan can earn an annual salary of about $27,000 during their first year in the JET programme. From there, your pay increases every year you renew your contract.

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 workweek 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. You can apply to work year-round, however, peak hiring season is January through 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.

Average salary and benefits

On average, English teachers in Japan can expect to earn a salary between $1,700 - $5,000 USD monthly. The salary you earn while teaching in Japan typically depends on your experience, the type of school you’re working at, and your credentials.

For example, university positions tend to be the highest paying, but require stricter qualifications such as a TEFL certification, master’s degree, or prior teaching experience.

Common teacher benefits

Compared to other major teaching destinations, Japan is known to have some of the best and most comprehensive benefit packages. Below are some of the benefits you can expect while teaching English in Japan:

  • Housing
  • Flight reimbursement
  • Transportation passes
  • Cell phone SIM cards
  • Free meals (at the school)

Read more: How Much Money Can You Save Teaching Abroad?

Cost of living in Japan

It’s no secret that Japan is one of the most expensive countries in the world. Living costs are high, but with the generous salaries and benefits, it's still possible to have a reasonable standard of living! The following is an estimation of how much it will cost you to live per month, based on your personal preferences and lifestyle:

  • Food: $80 - $100 (depends on how much you eat out or spend on groceries)
  • Transportation: $68 for a monthly public transportation pass
  • Entertainment (movies, bars/clubs, etc): $50
  • Housing: ~$769 one bedroom apartment in the city center

Source: Numbeo

Where to teach English in Japan

As with starting a job in any new country, it's important to do your research before coming to Japan. Start by exploring these major teaching cities in Japan.

Tokyo

Teachers in Tokyo are in high-demand, with Japanese schools requiring children to learn English, as well as many top companies encouraging their employees to take English lessons. Living and teaching in Tokyo is sure to be an exciting experience, packed with plenty of things to do and see, delicious food, and a vibrant nightlife scene!

Osaka

Being Japan’s second largest metropolitan area as well as the country’s street food capital, Osaka is a popular destination for both tourism and teachers looking to teach English in Japan. Compared to Tokyo, teaching jobs are not as competitive, although having prior teaching experience or a TEFL certification is still highly recommended.

How to get a job teaching English in Japan

Ready to start searching and applying for teaching jobs in Japan? Getting a teaching job abroad can be competitive. Below we've outlined all you need to know to prepare for application season and learn how to become an English teacher in Japan.

When to apply

When applying for teaching jobs in Japan, aim to apply around March-April, and in August, as those are the start of public school semesters and hiring season. For private language schools, you can apply year-round!

Working visas in Japan

A working visa is generally required to teach English in Japan. Many language schools will sponsor your visa application, and you will usually need a bachelor’s degree to be granted a working visa. Some countries also have arrangements whereby you can obtain a working holiday visa, which allows you to teach part-time. To learn more about Japanese visas, visit VISA HQ.

Common qualifications to teach in Japan

The requirements to teach in Japan may vary depending on the school you’re applying to teach at, however, most employers look for candidates with the following qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s degree: A bachelor’s degree is essential for any formal teaching job in Japan, but any major will suffice!
  • Native English speaker: You must be a native English speaker from one of the following seven countries: U.S., U.K., Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, or South Africa.
  • CELTA/TEFL qualification: Some public schools and private recruiters prefer candidates with a CELTA/TEFL qualification, and it is encouraged if you want higher pay or are looking to apply to a more competitive school. Getting certified can also boost your confidence as a teacher!
  • Previous teaching experience: Not a must, but definitely preferred by some schools!
  • International driver’s license: This may not apply to every teaching job in Japan, but you may notice some schools require their teachers to have driving licenses, since teachers may be asked to drive company cars to different branches of the school.

Read more: What are the Requirements to Teach English Abroad?

Classroom culture in Japan

As an ESL teacher abroad, it’s essential that you take the time to research the country’s etiquette and classroom culture, as it can be vastly different from what you’re used to at home! Remember that you’re a visitor in the country you’re teaching in, so come in with respect and curiosity!

Here are a few important tips to know before teaching English in Japan:

  • 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 who teach elementary school students are usually able to dress more casually, though.
  • While teaching English in Japan, you'll be exposed to a different culture, work environment, and social customs, such as bowing, gift-giving, and style of compliments. It will take some time to adjust to, and nobody will expect you to get everything right the first time, but you will be expected to make an effort.
  • The Japanese workplace tends to be formal and punctual -- professionalism is important!

Ready to find your dream teaching program in Japan?

Start researching and comparing teaching jobs here at Go Overseas, in the Teaching Programs in Japan section below.

Want to read more? Get started with these articles:

Teaching Programs in Japan

Displaying 1 - 12 of 25 programs

TEFL Courses in Japan

A TEFL Certification will help you acquire the skills and qualifications to teach abroad in Japan

New Teaching Jobs

View the latest teaching job postings on our job board.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How long can you teach English in Japan?

    The length of time you are able to teach in Japan will depend on the visa you receive. Work visas in Japan can be for lengths between 4 months to 5 years and can be extended.

  • Do I need to know Japanese to teach English in Japan?

    You don't need to have any knowledge of Japanese to teach English in Japan. In fact, many of the teach programs offer free Japanese lessons for teachers.

  • What are the requirements for teaching English in Japan?

    Requirements will depend on the school you are hoping to work with, but most programs will require a Bachelor's degree and a clean criminal record. Some may also require a TEFL certification.

  • Can I teach in Japan without a degree?

    Most schools in Japan will require teachers to have a Bachelor's degree, and some may also require TEFL certification.

  • How do I start teaching English in Japan?

    When considering teaching English in Japan, you'll want to consider where you want to be located, what type of school you want to teach in, and what age group you're hoping to work with. You can then begin applying to jobs through job boards, recruitment organizations, or by directly applying to specific schools. Start by checking out the Go Overseas Job Board!

    Related Content
  • Are English teachers in demand in Japan?

    English teachers are in high demand in Japan, especially native speakers or speakers with native-level fluency.

  • How much money do you make teaching English in Japan?

    As an English teacher in Japan, you can expect to earn anywhere between $1,700-$5,000 per month, depending on the type of school you're in.

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