Most people know Tokyo as the home of Godzilla and Hello Kitty; eccentric, futuristic fashion alongside traditional temples; and neon lights shining over sushi bars where Itamae (sushi chefs) demonstrate ancient culinary skills. If you want to teach abroad, Tokyo is an unforgettable place to do so.
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Salary Expectations for Teaching in Tokyo
Salary can vary widely depending on the teaching job and school, but a standard teaching salary in Tokyo starts at 250,000 yen per month (roughly $2,200 USD). Salaries can go as high as 600,000 yen per month ($5,300 USD) for more qualified positions.
Housing is not typically included with teaching placements and can range in cost from 90,000-120,000 yen per month ($800-$1,000 USD) including utilities. In Tokyo, the total estimated cost of living is roughly 200,000 yen per month ($1750 USD), so while it is difficult to increase your savings while teaching English in Tokyo, it can be done if you live on a budget.
Required Qualifications to Teach in Tokyo
For visa purposes, English teachers should have a college degree. While you can find resources that say it's possible to teach in Japan or Tokyo without a college degree, these opportunities are rare and we at Go Overseas advise teachers to meet this minimum requirement before applying to teach abroad.
Other qualifications vary from school to school; some prefer TEFL/TESOL certification, and some want formal teacher certification from the home country. If you want to teach at the university level, many schools require a Master’s or higher degree.
Typical Teaching Job Opportunities
There are a variety of teaching job opportunities in Tokyo:
- Government Sponsored Programs -- The JET Programme is the most popular and publicized government-sponsored program in Japan. It’s a huge initiative by several authorities of the Japanese government. With a job placement through JET, you can work as an ALT (Assistant Language Teacher), Sports Exchange Advisor (SEA), or Coordinator for International Relations (CIR).
- Private Language Academies/Schools -- Similar to other countries in the region, private after-hours cram schools (called eikaiwa) are common in Tokyo. Teachers can help support students in morning or after-school classes.
- Public Schools -- The public Japanese school system has an application process of about four to six months, and recruits native English teachers around the springtime and in August. You get vacation time that the regular teachers receive, and you work alongside a Japanese co-teacher. Interested public school teachers, also called ALTs, can go through recruiting groups.
- International Schools -- Tokyo is a thriving international city and as such, there are definitely international schools that can be an attractive option for a Western teacher. Students at international schools can be from various countries. International schools do ask their teachers to have teaching credentials from their home countries and appropriate experience.
- Private Tutoring -- English teachers can make anywhere from $20 to $45 USD per hour teaching private students. However, exercise caution: most contracts with schools will not allow private tutoring, as it could be viewed as competition and distraction from your duties. Also, it is not allowed for English teachers to tutor students from their school. If you want to accept private students, do it discreetly.
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