The Ultimate Guide for teaching jobs as a foreigner
Ultimate guide for English Teaching in Tokyo
You've come to the right place to find teaching jobs for foreigners! Finding a teaching job even in this economical climate shouldn't have to be hard! We've put together this as a guide to help people who have never done teaching or are unsure of where to start.
Firstly, this article serves to help you become part of the many who already have teaching jobs as foreigners in Japan. Secondly, it welcomes any person new to Japan, unsure where to start or where to search to find a job. Thirdly, it's to help prove to you that finding a job in Japan doesn't have to be such a challenge.
Being in Japan you will often hear people upset that they haven't been able to find a job in the field they want. This is mainly because finding a job in Japan will require you to have a JLPT of at least N3 ( the Japanese language proficiency test). For those of you who don't know, N3 is roughly the grade where you can start comfortably conversing and reading Kanji Rightly so, if you try to find a job in Japan - most of the time you will need at least a Japanese level of JLPT N3. However, if you try to find a job in Tokyo, you will have more luck!
Tokyo, city of opportunities
Tokyo is the capital, so the chances of striking on gold is much higher. However, you will find the competition for positions quite fierce. You’ll find the competition levels exponentially higher without the N2 or in some cases N1. Luckily, a teaching job is one of the gateways into Japan that doesn't require a high level of Japanese.
With this complete guide, we will try to show you some of the teaching jobs available and that finding a job as a foreigner is not hard at all!
The article will break down the teaching industry, their positives, their negatives and of course… their salary range! All to make it easier for you when it comes to applying for teaching jobs. Please use it as a rough estimate as qualifications, company and prefecture does affect the experience you have!
Japan? Teaching? Of course!
When most people think about jobs in Japan, they’ll think about teaching. Quite rightly so, many foreigners in Japan and especially in Tokyo spend their time teaching. Whether you’re native or non-native, you can find part time jobs, full time jobs, or even spend your time freelancing!
Even though the 2020 Olympics have slightly skewed the interest in English, parents aren’t giving up on their children learning English. That's where you come in. As foreigners searching for teaching jobs. you cant ignore Teaching English to children. Especially in Tokyo, it is probably one of the most lucrative ways to make a living here. The demand is almost always there, especially with parents pushing their children more and more to learn it from an early age.
There are definitely drawbacks to the high pay that this section offers. The drawback is that it is usually very draining (especially for people who don’t like small children)! The ages will vary but most of the time it will be anywhere between 3 year olds - 15 year olds, sometimes in the same class!
What do you do? This section of the industry is so wide so it does vary. Most of the time you are babysitting in English if it is children under 7. If you are teaching children above 7, there are definitely still some elements of babysitting but it does involve learning! Singing, dancing and activities such as arts & crafts are definitely something you will do at some point!
Be sure to confirm your responsibilities before you start working!
Interview tip: Show your energy! I can’t stress this enough, you’ll need energy to work with children, if you can’t show this in the interview - you may be passing up a job offer!
Pay estimate: 1800-3000 yen per hour
ALT - Assistant Language Teacher
This is the definitely number one when it comes to acquiring a visa and working with a stable income. As it is usually a full time position, there is no chance of part-time work as an ALT. (You are still allowed to work another part-time job as an ALT if you ask your employer and get permission from immigration).
If you have a University degree, even if it is unrelated to teaching, you are eligible. While it is definitely an advantage to be from a native speaking country, not being from one of those countries isn’t a nail in the coffin. Some of the ALT teachers that work with us are from the Philippines, Jamaica and all over Europe! (you can read some of our teachers' stories here).
What do you do? While it does vary depending on the school and company - most of the time when you work as an ALT, you are not in charge of the class. It is more of a team effort, you are teamed up with a licensed Japanese teacher. The tasks could include preparing for the lesson, repeating or reading words. Bear in mind, you will be in front of the class almost all the time, be prepared for that!
Be sure to confirm that the school or company that you meet with does meet your standards as an employer. Reading reviews online from glassdoor or finding teaching forums will go a long way.
Be careful! You will receive an instructor’s visa. This visa explicitly allows you to work in Japanese public and private schools. No other work visa will allow you to do this, you will have to change your visa to work as an ALT
One of the good things about working as an ALT is the workload is not overwhelming.
It may be at first but most report having free time during the day! If your sleep cycle can tolerate the early mornings, you can also save money with the school lunch. While you may not have gone to school in Japan as an adolescent, you can definitely still enjoy the filling meals at a cheap 200-300yen
One of the downsides is that you are likely to get sick and tired more often. Not due to workload, but due to the energy spent eating lunch with children, playing with them during break times and maybe even catching colds from them! Managing your mental health, physical health and energy is very important for this role!
Salary : 260,000yen - 300,000yen (starting at roughly 1625yen per hour)
Jet program: 280,000yen - 320,000yen (starting at roughly 1750 per hour)
Try companies like Interac, Aeon, Borderlink, Heart Corporation.
In terms of career as well as salary potential, this one ranks very high. Teaching at a university is a stressful position however it is one of the most rewarding too. With the virus still looming around, most of the universities are sticking with online teaching. This means you might have a tougher time finding a job in this sector compared to other ones on this list.
The type of work varies between full time and part time contracts. The universities have somewhere between 3-10 teachers who are foreign (non-natives are totally okay) and this is usually a selling point for the institution.
What do you do? Teaching English at a Japanese university is likely to involve teaching English or vocabulary to undergraduate students. The classes are usually filled with students, averaging at roughly 20 per lesson. Some of the more specialised lessons such as for specific courses or for business will have lower count of students with much more dedication compared to the standardised classes.
Many of you reading might have had an experience as a learner, maybe even at university. You might have been the one or have seen students who were not motivated to learn. Mainly filling the space because parents have forced them to go or because they are required to learn English. Japan is no exception, you will definitely have some students at a point who aren’t motivated. The silver lining is that those who are dedicated are a pleasure to teach, they will ask engaging questions and will make you challenge your own learning - you will feel like you’re also learning!
Salary ranges anywhere between 300,000 - 600,000 yen per month for full time.
The requirements for these jobs vary however what remains constant is a Masters degree, usually in teaching language as a second language. Some universities allow ANY masters degree if accompanied with experience.
Some universities in Japan which offer masters in TESOL are
These courses are offered in English.
Interview tip: most of the positions are filled by mutual connections, the first position will be hard to find. Once you’ve got your first position, you may find it easier - especially if you make great connections.
While not always the best place to search for a job, here are some places where you can find some!
Or directly at the university
For example Temple University job opportunities
Eikaiwa (conversational schools)
Now, if we’re talking about teaching jobs or teaching English in Tokyo or Japan we need to talk about Eikaiwas. A large chunk of English teachers in Tokyo are working in Eikaiwas. An Eikaiwa is a private English conversational based school. Rather than focusing on the grammatical and technical aspects of the language, they focus on speech and speaking.
Many who have taught at Eikaiwas, have worked part time or semi-full time. The hours are usually much more flexible, shorter than anything else on this list. The experience may vary depending on what company you work for but the general consensus is that it’s a fun experience that everyone should do once.
Some work at an Eikaiwa alongside an ALT job. However, many of those working at Eikaiwas are people on Dependents, Working holiday and students. Usually the schedules line up quite well with those visas. Many of the schools open from 11AM and close at 11PM.
You’ll find a range of students, depending on where you work. Some places specialise in children, while some focus on just business English, a majority will just focus on all types of English. Some Eikaiwas
Business type Eikaiwas - Teaching English at a business Eikaiwa will usually involve wearing suits, slacks or a skirt and blouse. These places will charge a premium and will involve contracts with other companies so looking the part plays a big role in the interaction. If you aren’t a suit person or prefer more freedom in your lessons/expression steer clear.
One major thing to mention about this particular teaching is that most of the time, they are learning using their company’s money or government money. They may not be interested in learning which could make a minority of the students you teach unpleasant. However, the majority are very pleasant and want to have engaging and challenging conversations!
Children and Adult Eikaiwa - These places work very similarly to the places mentioned earlier above as well as the previously mentioned kids schools. Some will find the balance refreshing as it is a very big range of students you’ll be teaching. Some will find it exhausting and the switch between the groups mentally taxing. If you aren’t a person who enjoys the company of the kids, stick to an adults on Eikaiwa
Adults only Eikaiwa - If you teach English to adults, you learn a lot about Tokyo, Japan and culture. Although you need a lot prep for these schools, you won’t go home exhausted from singing and dancing all day! Most of the students who are studying at these schools are paying their own money, so they truly want to be there and want to study English. Some of their ambitions range from wanting to communicate with foreigners at their own store to wanting to study abroad in the future! You will almost always love your students, except for the few oddballs here and there.
Salary range 1200- 2500 yen per hour.
Interview tip: Be sure to research the company you want to work with. Look at glassdoor, Indeed and what other people on the internet have said about the place!
Not all places will hire non-native speakers! Usually, the places that do will have a more fun and engaging work environment.
That’s all for this guide! If you want to read experiences about teaching in Japan. You can read some here! LINK