The Complete Guide on Teaching English in Japan

Apr 22, 2020


Teaching English in Japan is an exciting opportunity and a popular way to start work in Japan. This guide explains the smart way to find a teaching job and all about the visa and other requirements necessary.

(FYI:The Complete Guide on Teaching Japanese in Japan here)

What Requirements Are Needed to Teach English in Japan?

Japan is a popular country for teaching English abroad. It is exciting, safe, and offers countless cultural experiences. Join a program or a company, teach elementary school children in a rural location surrounded by rice-fields, or business individuals on their way home from work in a city. So many possibilities.

The different options you have for teaching English in Japan come with different requirements and application processes. This article will take you through some standard requirements so you will be ready to take the first step into teaching in Japan (individual programs or institutions may have different requirements, and all are subject to change, so check before applying).

1. How to Get a Work Visa

To teach English in Japan, you’re going to need a visa. The two relevant work visas are the Instructor Visa and the Specialist in Humanities Visa. The Instructor Visa allows you to work in schools, and the Specialist in Humanities Visa enables work in companies and private language schools. Spousal, Working Holiday, and Dependent visas may also be accepted, such as described on the Heart English School Homepage. Don’t forget if you are a teacher at a public school on an Instructor visa to an English teacher at a company, you will probably have to change to a Specialist in Humanities visa.

So what do you need to get a work visa? 

–    A Bachelor’s Degree
–    A job offer from an institute willing to sponsor your visa

To apply for a work visa, it is necessary to have a bachelor’s degree. For those who wish to teach in the JET Programme (see more below) you can still apply if:
1. you have not yet graduated
2. you have completed, or will complete a 3-year course for elementary or secondary school teaching.

A Job Offer. You will also need a job offer from a program or institution that is willing to sponsor your visa, provide the paperwork, and assist you in the process. There are further requirements you need to fulfill to get this job offer, the most common are explained in the next section. 

2. Teaching Programs and their Requirements

The most widely known program for teaching English in Japan is the JET Program. However, the program you decide to apply will depend on whether you want to teach children or adults, and the location you prefer. 

How to Choose?

What is most important to you when choosing a program? What students you will be teaching is arguably the first thing to think about. Do you prefer to teach children or adults? 

In the JET Programme as an ALT (Assistant Language Teacher), you will ordinarily teach children at elementary, middle, or high schools. The term “ALT” is used throughout the industry and refers to a teacher who will support the key teacher of English (usually a native Japanese teacher) in public schools. The degree to which you help the lesson will depend on your placement; in some cases, you will lead the class yourself as the head teacher. If you are flexible about which demographic to teach, Westgate offers placements in universities as well as elementary schools, and Heart English School has opportunities to teach adults as well as children. 

If you would like to focus on teaching adults, then maybe an Eikaiwa (英会話, English Conversation) School is for you. Some Eikaiwa schools do offer courses for children, but many of them are catered towards adults. In Eikaiwa schools, like AEON or ECC, the teacher often teaches one-on-one or group classes at the Eikaiwa studio, usually in one same studio location. In some cases, teachers will be dispatched to companies to teach business English.

Location may be one factor that interests you. For Honshu, you may want to apply to Heart English School or Westgate, these programs have schools in that area close to metropolitan areas. While in comparison, the JET Programme generally (but not always) offers more rural locations nationwide. It’s best to be aware that even if you make a request for a specific location, you may be given a different placement. Especially if you request an urban or popular location. 

It is essential to find out what expenses are covered by the program you apply for. In most cases, the JET Program covers your departing and returning flight, Westgate will subsidize a round-trip up to 1,200 USD, and AEON will give a one-time flight allowance of up to 70,000 JPY. Some other programs, such as Heart English School will not provide flight tickets. Some programs and institutions may also offer housing, this may depend on the location and placement. AEON, for example, guarantees subsidized, furnished apartments and will pay the deposit and key money.

Typical Requirements for programs:

–    A Bachelor’s Degree (see the Work Visa section above)
–    Ability to speak English at a Native level
–    An interest in Japan and a willingness to adapt to working there (JET Program)

It may seem obvious, but to obtain a job offer and a better chance of getting a work visa, you will need to speak English. Passport holders from native English speaking countries (U.K., Ireland, the U.S.A., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa) have an advantage. Also eligible for a work visa are citizens from other countries with 12+ years of education in an English school or 3 years of teaching English as a Second Language (ESL). 

A criminal check may also be required to apply for most programs and especially schools, if working with children. The JET Programme requires a criminal check, the process of which is different depending on the country you apply from. 

Other things to think about:

Some programs prefer you to study a little Japanese to help you get by and communicate with teachers and students. It may help your application, but in most cases, it is not required. The JET Program also offers access to a Japanese e-learning course to help with communication and cultural understanding. 

Previous teaching experience or qualifications teaching English as a Second Language will also help you in your application, while not required. 

How Can I apply to the programs? 

Each program’s homepage gives details about the application process. 

The JET Program: http://jetprogramme.org/en/howto/
Westgate: https://www.westgatejapan.com/M-5-1.html
Heart English School: https://heart-school.jp/en/applications/
AEON: https://www.aeonet.com/
ECC: https://eccteachinjapan.com/ 

The JET Program is an especially long process. The application dates differ for each country applied from, but applications generally open from September or October in the year before departure. The applications are submitted online to the embassy in your home country. After the applications are reviewed, candidates will be asked for an interview at their embassy, and the results are usually announced in March and April. New teachers will depart in April (early departure) or July/August.

In most other programs, the applicant submits an online application and after screening partakes in an interview online or over the phone and is offered a placement if the requirements are met


3. How Much Money do I Need Before Starting Work?

Before you get your first paycheck, you will need to make some payments that may not be covered by your program or institution. Some of these include housing deposits, mobile phone or utility set-up, groceries, etc. It is vital to check what is included and subsidized for the program you are interested in and to find out when you will get your first salary. 

In preparation and for living expenses in Japan before the first paycheck, the JET Program recommends access to at least 2,500-3,000 USD, Westgate recommends 80,000 JPY, Heart English School recommends 4000 USD. AEON agrees 3,000 – 4,000 USD is necessary, and they further state that teachers are obligated to provide;

1. the equivalent of 150,000 JPY for utilities, mobile phone set up, etc.,
2. the flight to Japan
3. a professional wardrobe for 5 days.

The Smart Way to Find a Teaching Job Offer in Japan

Are you searching for a job from abroad or from within Japan?
It’s important to remember that if you are searching for a job while abroad, you should look for jobs that will sponsor your visa. If you are in Japan and your visa is due to expire, or you need a different visa for the new job, then you should confirm your new employer will help assist you in renewing or changing your visa. 

How Can I Find a Job in Japan? 

If applying from outside Japan, your best chance might be referring to the above mentioned English teaching programs to ensure your safe arrival and sponsorship to Japan. 

If you are applying from inside Japan, you may have different options as some offers might require you to own a valid visa already.

In Japan, students looking to join a large corporate company often undertake “Shukatsu” (Job Hunting Activities) in March the year before they graduate. If you are an exchange student or a new graduate with an understanding of Japanese who wants to join a Japanese company, then maybe this is something that interests you. However, some companies, especially those who are looking for foreigners and most institutions looking for English teachers, allow applications all-year-round.

Popular routes to find jobs in Japan are through a recruitment service or through job search sites, many of which are catered for foreigners in Japan.  

What Sites and Services Are Available?

There are many different sites for you to use when searching for a job in Japan. Here are some we thought might be useful.

Guidable Jobs: https://jobs.guidable.co/en
Guidable’s own job search site. It offers jobs in different industries such as office work, hospitality, caregiving, engineering, and more.

GaijinPot: https://jobs.gaijinpot.com/job/index/lang/en
A well-known job search in Japan, with an extensive range of teaching positions. It offers many jobs for people applying from overseas. 

Teachaway: https://www.teachaway.com/teach-english-japan
A job site specializing in teaching jobs worldwide, with a section for teaching in Japan.

Jobs in Japan: https://jobsinjapan.com/
As well as English teaching, this site also provides tourism, hospitality, and entertainment-related jobs. 

Daijob: https://www.daijob.com/en/
A job search site for professionals with positions not only for English teachers but also for IT, administrative, and more available. 

The Japan Times Jobs: https://job.japantimes.com/index_e.php
The Japan Times News Site’s job section. 

What is Guidable Jobs?

Guidable Jobs is a recruitment site that connects foreigners looking for work in Japan and Japanese companies looking for skilled workers. 

What makes Guidable Jobs different? 

The first thing you may notice about job pages on Guidable Jobs are the photos. Photos on the offer page show the atmosphere of the workplace and give you, the applicant, a better idea of the working conditions. 

There is a visa matching tool that shows which jobs are available to you after you input your personal information on sign-up. So it’s easy to know what jobs you can apply for.

Guidable Jobs provides free accident insurance to all new subscribers, so you will be covered for one month starting from your first day at work.  

How to Find an English Teaching Job on Guidable Jobs

To find a job on Guidable Jobs, first, visit https://jobs.guidable.co/en/users/sign_up and sign-up. From there, you will be asked to fill in your personal information, including your education and previous employment details, which will be used as your resume. 

After you have signed up and completed your profile, you can search for your desired job either through selecting the job categories or searching by job type, location, Japanese level, or keyword. English teaching jobs can be accessed through this link: https://jobs.guidable.co/en/english_teacher. You can apply from the job offer page, and now all there is to do is wait. You will receive contact directly from the company if you are successful in your application.

Are you ready to take the first step in teaching English in Japan?

Whether applying to a program from abroad or using a job searching site in Japan, we hope you are now ready to start the search for your perfect English teaching job. Moving from your home country to teach English in Japan can come with its complications but also well-earned rewards. There are many different options when it comes to teaching in Japan, and we hope this article proved useful in your job search.  

Are you seeking a new job? Our service can help you to do it.

Guidable Jobs

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