English ESL/EFL teaching in Japan

English ESL/EFL teaching in Japan

Asian labor market is quite generous and lucrative for English teachers. Japan, as a leader of cutting-edge technology, offers decent work conditions to linger. Given that there are warm and beautiful springs, rich historical heritage, and friendly environment, so almost everyone dreams of working here. As long as English is a mandatory language at schools, there will always be motivated students. Considering Japan as a home, take into account some points relate to ESL tutors. Given the rate race, it takes some effort to get a place in the sun. However, we've collected whole information about teaching English in Japan to help you.

There are many ways not only to realize a professional potential, but also to put money by. An average salary ranges between $1,300-3,000 depending on lots of things. Thankfully, there are so many language institutions, so that there is a fat chance you will stay with no hope to make dough. Before you start daydreaming, let's have a look at requirements to fit the bill. 

Requirements for English teaching in Japan

When it comes to qualification to work in Japan, the list of must-haves isn't so long and strict. The two of them are significant enough to land a job. Candidates must be bachelor's degree holders in any subject and native speakers. It's good for you if you are from one of such countries as, the USA, the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, or South Africa. But if you are a non-native, you just have to prove you know the language perfect having either TOEFL exam or a degree.

Previous experience and language certificates are preffered but not required. However, the more achievements you can boast, the higher salary you may expect. Despite the fact that visa regulations in Japan have nothing to do with TEFL or CELTA, most of the employers prefer to hire teachers with such qualification. Clean criminal record is a necessity wherever you want to work. As soon as you get visa and arrive, you have to take a medical check-up in a local hospital. 

So, you can work legally in Japan if:

  • You are a native speaker or have C2 level of English and can prove it.
  • You have a college degree.
  • You are a law-abiding citizen.

Other points as experience and TEFL certification will be your advantages among other candidates. 

Course for English teachers

Teaching ESL without a degree

As we mentioned, having a degree is one of the most important requirements you have to fit. Otherwise, there is a fat chance to get a visa and even a work permit. Even online teaching requires candidates to have a diploma. Usually schools help and sponsor applying for a visa, so if you can't provide a major, it's your responsibility for the result. It's better to be locked and loaded in advance. And there is always a chance to get a job, if you are a degree-holder. Some Asian countries have the same rule.

Teaching English with no experience

The good news is teaching experience isn't included in the list of must-have requirements. However, you should understand that the lack of it may take a toll on your income. Apparently, most institutions are interested in hiring professionals. So, shortage of practice won't let you work in prestigious language schools and international companies. But anyway, it's incredible chance to get international experience in teaching.

Another way to provide at least something is demonstrate some background relating to teaching. So, if you remember that your neighbours hired you as a babysitter, or you were a volunteer at school, don't forget to mention it at an interview.

Types of teaching jobs in Japan

There are plenty of places to work depending on your preferences. Somewhere you may work hard with a full schedule to make a fortune, others suggest having a part-time job with an oppotunity to explore nearby places and the culture. This is the case when your ability to introduce yourself plays the same role as your professional achievements. Be sure your CV and resume seem right and impressive. Also, you shouldn't send the same letter to all potential employers. All institutions have different missions and students. For example, an international company is looking for an English tutor to teach employees Business English to communicate with partners and providers. Given that you will hardly impress them with teaching General English to kids. Try to provide pertinent information depending on a place you apply.

English class in japanese school

Public Schools

You may apply through a whole year, however the season starts in January and ends in April. Sometimes such institutes hire staff through word-of-mouth recommendations, but sometimes they turn to some recruiting agencies located in Japan. A common work week includes 30-35 hours, there are some lessons with students and work with reports, lesson plans, and official events. If you find a paperwork engaging, give it a shot. Such qualities as patience and kindness are necessary to teach children from 5 to 17. Usually, probation takes a couple of months. However, you must be ready to commit to one-year contract to begin. It's a good start for newcomers because there is no need to make lesson plans and course program, materials are also provided.

Private Language Schools

Famous and trust-worthy agencies as AEON and ECC are constantly looking for ESL trainers. You need to have a flexible schedule and to be ready to work on weekends and in the evenings. Most students are adolescents, so you may help them to develop critical thinking in English. Such academies provide all necessary materials and course books to have lessons. The duties include assessment students' progress and use of different approaches. The requirements might be high, however the salary isn't low as well. The more accomplishments you mention, the more chances you will get a job.

The JET Program

The Japan Exchange and Teaching program offers fresh graduates to take a part in international education. The main idea is to unite different nations with English. There are some vacancies as assistant language teacher and coordinator for international relations. The first suggest working with Japanese native speakers, making lesson plans, assisting in leading activities and games. There is a typical schedule 7 hours a day from Monday to Friday. A salary and other benefits depend on a city and place.

Private lessons

It's also possible to work on your own having individual lessons and even group sessions. It will take some time to advirtise and find students to teach. Some people conduct lessons in cafes and parks. There are many advantages of working with no boss. You don't need to make reports and use particular textbooks. However, it means you are the only who are responsible for the result. Needless to say that work without methodological and financial support is really tough. But it lets you set your own price and have a flexible schedule.

Teaching English Online

Online teaching proposes incredible opportunities to have convenient working hours and a decent income. Moreover, it's possible to choose a category of students. Work with teenagers to teach General English or adults to teach Business one. Needless to say that an interview process goes easier as well. Usually online schools provide authentic materials and even training to newcomers. However, some paperwork comes with the territory. The only thing you have to get used to and accept is time difference. Depending on a place where you live, you have to work according to Japanese time zone, it's much ahead of some famous cities like Chicago and Los Angeles. 

Average salary and benefits for English teachers in Japan

When it comes to money and work conditions, Japan is a leader that can offer decent terms. As usual, the higher salary you expect to get, the more impressive your accomplishments must be. Fortunately, it is possible to make up for the lack of experience with credentials. Japan provides almost the same perks as China.

Japanese money

Benefits you may expect:

  • flight reimbursement;
  • free-rent appartment;
  • compensation of transport fares;
  • free meals at school.

Depending on some things, a salary changes from $1,500-3,000 a month. If it's not your first job, probably, you understand how labor market works. Employers are interested in hiring high-qualified professionals, otherwise, they don't have much to offer and hire newcomers. Think of your advantages that might be extraordinary and worth attention. Work on your CV and resume to highlight them.

Factors influence salary:

  • amount of years of experience;
  • education;
  • English level;
  • TEFL certification;
  • knowledge of methodology and learning approaches.

However, matching all of those things doesn't guarantee getting much money. It has nothing to do with unfair terms or Japanese employers. You should remember about some essential expenses after getting paid. And an amount of money to save depends on a cost of living. It's difficult to predict how much money you'll have saved by the end of the month. Some cities are quite expensive in terms of food and entertainment. Living in a small city allows to save at least $500 each month. So, you have to chose what is more important for you, fast pace of life in a metropolis, or calm way of living in a rural area.

Japan takes the fourth place in terms of the highest salary for ESL teachers in the world. If you want to make dough, you should consider different places in our article.

Where to teach English in Japan?

It comes with no surprise that the capital offers incredible opportunities. English is in demand here, parents are into making children speak fluently, whereas adults want to improve their knowledge to work or study abroad. Having enough practice and qualification allows to work in international companies. Business English is very popular, so such tutors are quite busy. Moreover, there are famous sights and delicious food to make you feel here more compfortable and pleased. The more powerful and famous company you work for, the more chances you will have all possible benefits and put money buy. Unfortuntaly, an average salary $2,000 isn't enough to live the best life in Tokyo. The high cost of living won't let you eat out each evening and rent an appartment in the centre.

Japanese students

Okinawa is a beautiful island with amasing marine life and tropical climate. The culturally-rich place invites intrepid travellers to settle down and relish the nature and animal world. It is included in UNESCO. The requirements to work here are the same as for all Japan. However, there are more perks for ESL teachers. Firstly, public schools offer about $1,900 a month, whereas private institutions promise $2,400. Besides, some employers provide medical insurance and teacher tranings. Unfortunately, the cost of living is high enough, but it is definetaly worth such a peaceful and wonderful place.

There are a lot of kindergartens, schools and other institutions in Osaka. You may make here $2,400-2,900 a month having about 30 hours a week and a full-time job. The demand is so high, so it's not a problem to get a part-time job. Be ready to have an interview and even work in a smart suit. Show your punctuality, the Japanese don't like being late or waiting. If you want to live here, you have to get used to crowded buses and boiling hot summer. The city is for those, who are ready to live in a fast-paced way.

How to find ESL/EFL jobs in Japan?

Now you know about JET program, however it's not the only way to work in Japan. There are some Eikaiwas, conversion schools, which are located all over Japan and hire foreigners to teach children and adolescents with pleasure. Also, you can find lucrative terms on the Internet, there are many offers you may find in some free magazines as well. Another way to find a job is to be in a teacher's community. As usual, tutors are always ready to help and definetely one of them has had such an experience. Also, you can rely on some recruiting agencies, which will help you to get a decent place according to your preferences and abilities.

Whether you think of online of offline work in Japan, you should start searching offers on the Internet. So that you will have a chance to know more about a potential employer, fit the bill, and edit your CV/resume. We know it's difficult to trust new websites and agencies, so we have searched such information for you. There are some trust-worthy websites, where you may find a well-paid job not only in Japan, but also in whole Asia. Check it out

Visa for teaching jobs in Japan

Getting a visa is always nervous and important process. Now you know what qualifications and credentials you must have in order to fit the bill. Let's see how the process works. Keep in mind that you have to hand in some documents, and while you are waiting a result, you are without your passport. You have to send all documents before arriving in Japan.

In order to teach English in Japan you need to have Highly Skilled Professional Visa, which is quite affordable about $55 for a fee.

Necessary documents:

  • passport;
  • one photograph (passport style);
  • completed visa application form.

Whereas a workplace, where you are going to work must submit:

  • contract;
  • certificate of eligibility.

As usual, schools provide visa sponsorship to candidates and contact a local immigration office to apply for the certificate of eligibility, which you are going to get as well. Obtaining visa with the certificate takes from five days to two weeks. However, it's possible not to get such certification. Don't worry, such cases might be, and it doesn't matter you can't work in Japan. But the list of requirements extends.

Additionaly to the previous list of documents you have to provide:

  • information about the company, where you are going to work;
  • your diploma to prove your degree and teaching lisence if you have;
  • something to prove your professional history and previous work experience, letters, CV.
  • a copy of the contract, and a letter of acceptance.

It this case, it takes several months to get the visa. 


If it's your first time of working abroad, pay attention to the classroom culture. Japan is famous for its discipline and reserved behavior. Also, some companies may ask you to wear a smart suit each day. Punctuality is a key to get a respect from Japanese students and staff. If you don't understand something, don't hurry up to reject it and critisize. You are a newcomer, so start immersing in another culture with curiosity rather than judgement.

It's not so complicated to get the visa and work in Japan making money on what you love. It's good to know that even not experienced ESL teachers have a chance to realize their professional potential. TEFL/TESOL courses can increase you chance to get a well-paid job abroad even with the lack of experience. Such online course provides all neccessary information about teaching people of different ages, making rapport with students, and assessment. After the course you will be able to spend little time on lesson preparation. But what is more importnat, the certificate you will get at the end of the course will make you a real professional in teaching. You will be able to work legally in any country without hesitation. Don't waste your time and start studying now with a nice discount.

We hope you found this article useful. If you have some relevant questions, leave them in the comments section below. We are always glad to help. 

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