Teaching English in JapanNow Hiring


Map of Japan

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How Much Can I Earn?
Monthly Salary:
225,000 - 300,000 JPY
1,974 - 2,632 USD
Private Tutoring per Hour:
2,000 - 4,000 JPY
13 - 26 USD
Income Tax Rate:
5 - 10%
Ability to Save per Year:
500 - 4,620 USD

What Are My Benefits?
Sometimes included or allowance may be given
Reimbursement (full or partial) sometimes given
Health Care:
Usually included

What Will Teaching Be Like?
Teaching Hours:
25 - 40
Typical Contract Length:
One year
Typical Start Date:
March/April, August/September, or year round
Application Timeline:
3 - 6 months

What Do I Need?
Work Visa:
Employer sponsors
Education Requirements:
Bachelor's Degree,
Oxford Seminars TESOL/TESL/TEFL Certificate
Additional Notes:
Contract completion bonus typically included
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Teaching English In Japan
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Peak ESL Hiring Season in Japan
How to Find Jobs Teaching English in Japan
Largest Chain Schools in Japan
Tips for ESL Teachers in Japan
Teaching Requirements for ESL Teachers in Japan
Embassy and Consulate Information for Japan

Peak ESL Hiring Season in Japan

Public and Private School System

The public and private school year is divided into three semesters with April to July being the first semester, followed by September to December, then January to March. Hiring for the public and private schools is typically done for positions either starting in March/April or August. ESL teachers looking to work for public and private schools should apply three to six months before the start of the semester.

Private Language Schools

Private language schools such as AEON and ECC and NOVA hire on a continual, as needed, basis. These language schools operate year round; therefore, employment is based on supply and demand. During recent years, most of the placements for private language schools occurred between August and September or April and May. However, peak seasons during one year may differ from the next year. For exact details regarding the hiring process, talk to our Job Placement Service. It should be noted that applicants are suggested to apply for positions three to six months prior to their desired departure date. For a list of the most common chain schools in Japan please see the Largest Chain Schools in Japan section of this report.

Universities and Colleges

Japanese universities have two semesters with the first semester starting in April and the second starting in October. Some universities offer new courses to parallel the Western academic school year, which start in either September or October. ESL instructors interested in teaching at a university or college should have a minimum of a Master's Degree and/or years of teaching experience. Some universities and colleges also require ESL teachers to have some basic fluency in Japanese.

The hiring season is similar to public and private schools with peak hiring occurring four to six months before the beginning of the semester. It is common for university and college teachers to have gained experience teaching in the Japanese public and private school system before obtaining employment at a university or college. Doing this helps build contacts and relationships for creating job prospects.

Private Tutoring

ESL teachers can provide private tutoring for Japanese nationals, but most contracts prohibit teachers from doing so. The majority of job opportunities occur through word of mouth or advertising in the local newspapers; however, ESL teachers should be very discreet when obtaining tutoring jobs. ESL teachers should note that tutoring their own students will result in being fired, so it is highly recommended to tutor Japanese nationals who have no affiliation with their school.

Private English tutors can earn from ¥2,000/hour to ¥4,000/hour, depending on the student, the demand, and the location.

The JET (Japan Exchange and Teaching) Program (Programme)

English teaching exchange programs are also a popular form of ESL employment. The Japan Exchange and Teaching Program, also referred to as the JET Program, is the most common English teaching exchange program for individuals wanting to live and work in Japan. Please note that the JET Program application process typically takes 7-9 months, starting in late September. Applicants cannot apply outside of their native country, and the application process includes in-person interviews and health-checks. Interviews are conducted between February and March, with notice to successful applicants occurring between April and May. Individuals interested in the program should know a contract with JET is a minimum of one year with a possible extension for three years. Applicants accepted into the JET Program depart in late July, although a small group also departs in April. For further details and exact dates, please visit http://jetprogramme.org/en/howto/.

Tips for ESL Teachers in Japan

    • Foreigners should always carry their resident card
    • Always carry handkerchiefs and tissues because public washrooms may not provide toilet paper or paper towel
    • Take money out before any national holiday, as most banks and ATMs are closed (ATM machines are not accessible 24-hours a day)
    • 'Gaikokujin' is the term for foreigners, although this is commonly abbreviated to "Gaijin"
    • Be early; the Japanese are very punctual
    • Bring an extra pair of shoes if you have large feet, because the average shoe size for men is 27.5cm (US size 9) and 23.5cm (US size 7) for women
    • Japanese nationals do not pour soy sauce on their rice
    • Golden Week (April 29 - May 5) is the longest holiday in Japan and Japanese workers are given the time off with pay; be prepared for most stores to be closed or to have smaller staffs during this time
    • New Year's is the most important national holiday so most things will stay closed until January 3rd
    • Tipping is an insult: if foreigners want to show their gratitude, give a gift

How to Find Jobs Teaching English in Japan

Graduates of Oxford Seminars receive our Job Placement Service with access to established schools and recruiters around the world. After completing your in-class component, you will have access to a team of Job Placement Advisors who have first hand experience working internationally and are ready to help you find your dream job in the Land of the Rising Sun. Contact your Job Placement Advisor for assistance and feedback to improve your chances of securing a position in this competitive ESL teaching market.

Other resources that may include ESL teaching jobs are:

These resources are available in English and can be used to supplement your job search beyond the Job Placement Service.

Another useful resource for ESL teachers that is available online is Metropolis. The news source contains a vast amount of information about Japan including job advertisements, apartment listings, popular restaurants, upcoming concert dates, and more. The editions are published daily and are entirely in English. Be sure to visit their website at http://www.metropolis.co.jp/.

Largest Chain Schools in Japan

  • AEON - The AEON corporation has been providing English education since 1973. The company currently has over 300 branch schools and employs over 800 teachers. AEON teachers can expect to earn approximately ¥275,000 per month. Salaries may vary depending on the performance and bonus structure established by AEON. http://www.aeonet.com/.
  • ECC - ECC (Education through Communication for the Community) has been specializing in English instruction since 1962. Throughout Japan, ECC has over 150 schools and employs more than 650 teachers. ECC teachers earn a base salary of approximately ¥270,000 per month. Salaries may vary depending on the performance and bonus structure established by ECC. http://recruiting.ecc.co.jp/.

Jobs Teaching English in the Summer in Japan

As mentioned in the Hiring Season for Teaching English in Japan section, the school year is split into three semesters with the first semester occurring from April to July. Therefore, the summer English positions are short, not making it worthwhile for ESL teachers to travel abroad. In addition, the ESL summer positions usually do not pay for accommodations and often require the teacher to have them arranged before the position is awarded. Most teachers granted summer teaching positions are already living or traveling in Japan.

Additional ESL Resources to Help Teach English in Japan

There is an abundance of ESL resources for teachers to help teach English as a Second Language; however, finding resources that meet specific teaching needs may be difficult. Some examples of the available teaching resources are listed below.

These are just some examples of the resources available to ESL teachers. As mentioned above there is a large number of teaching aids available, but teachers will have to devote time to finding the resources that meet their individual teaching needs.

Teaching Requirements for ESL Teachers in Japan

The Certificate of Eligibility - A Certificate of Eligibility is issued before a visa application by a regional immigration authority under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Justice as evidence that the applicant fulfills various conditions of the Immigration Control Act, including those certifying that the activity in which the foreigner wishes to engage in Japan is valid and comes under a status of residence (excluding Temporary Visitor Status). The Certificate of Eligibility has the advantage of reducing the time required to obtain a visa and complete immigration procedures, since a foreigner in possession of such a certificate can probably acquire a visa at an embassy or consulate without any inquiries being made to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and, by showing the certificate to the immigration officer, obtain landing permission more easily. This document is required of individuals wanting to work, study, or live in Japan. A sponsor such as a spouse, employer, or academic institute must submit the certificate before individuals can apply for a visa.

Resident Card - This card is issued to foreign nationals looking to stay in Japan for 3 months or longer by immigration authorities at the main international airports within Japan. This will serve as an important piece of identification that will likely be needed when purchasing a phone plan, opening a bank account or renting an apartment. Please note that you are required by law to notify municipal offices of any changes in address after receiving this card, and it must be renewed annually. 

American Citizens

US citizens wanting to teach English in Japan can qualify for three types of visas.

Work Visa:

A Certificate of Eligibility is required. There are two ways to obtain the Certificate of Eligibility, which are:

  • Apply as an ALT (Assistant Language Teacher) through a private company for the public system such as the JET Program
    • Applicants require a degree
    • Applicants do not need to be US citizens as long as they have at least 12 years of education in an English speaking country
  • Apply as an English instructor.

    • Applicants must apply through a private language school (juku and eikaiwa) such as Berlitz
    • Applicants require a valid US passport
    • Applicants need to have a criminal record check
    • Applicants require a degree

Spousal Visa:

Spouses can apply for visas in one of two ways:

Spouse of a Japanese national must provide:

  • Documentation (original marriage certificate) proving the applicant is married to a Japanese national
  • The resident card of Japanese national
  • A letter of guarantee by a person living in Japan
  • The Japanese spouses employment certificate and certificate of tax payment
  • If the Japanese spouse is not employed or is currently not living in Japan a letter of guarantee from a Japanese guarantor residing in Japan and the guarantor's employment and tax payment certificate is required
  • The applicant can apply for the visa outside of Japan; however, the application process is usually done within Japan. The visa is valid for 90 days to three years and applicants must extend the visa before expiry.

Spouse of Permanent Resident must provide:

  • Documentation (e.g. marriage certificate, statement of joint bank accounts, birth certificate, etc.) proving the relationship between the applicant and the permanent resident
  • A copy of the permanent resident's passport
  • Documentation certifying the applicant or his or her sponsor's financial stability (e.g. bank statement, employment and tax payment certificate, etc.)

The applicant can apply for the visa outside of Japan; however, the permanent resident should be in Japan. The visa is valid for a maximum of three years.

Student Visa:

Individuals wanting to study in Japan must apply for a student visa. In order for applicants to qualify for a student visa they must:

  • Obtain sponsorship from an educational institution
  • Provide proof (e.g. bank statement) of money to pay for tuition, textbooks, and accommodation expenses

Student visa holders are prohibited from engaging in paid employment without obtaining permission from Japanese immigration and the school. If the request to obtain paid employment is approved, students are limited to a maximum number of working hours per week.

Embassy Information for Japan

American Embassy Offices in Japan

Embassy of the United States in Japan
1-10-5 Akasaka
Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-8420
City: Tokyo
Phone: 81 03-3224-5000
Website: https://jp.usembassy.gov/

Canadian Embassy Offices in Japan

Embassy of Canada
7-3-38 Akasaka, Minato-ku
Tokyo 107-8503, Japan
City: Tokyo
Phone: 81 03 5412 6200
Fax: 81 03 5412 6247  
Website: www.japan.gc.ca/

Australian Embassy Offices in Japan

Australian Embassy
2-1-14 Mita
Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-8361
City: Tokyo
Phone: 81 035 232 4111
Website: https://japan.embassy.gov.au/tkyo/home.html

British Embassy Offices in Japan

British Embassy
No 1 Ichiban-cho
Tokyo 102-8381
City: Tokyo
Phone: 81 352 11-1100
Website: http://ukinjapan.fco.gov.uk/en/
Visa Email: visa.tokyo@fco.gov.uk

Irish Embassy Offices in Japan

Embassy of Ireland in Japan
Ireland House,
2-10-7, Kojimachi,
Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 102-0083
City: Tokyo
Phone: 81 03 3263 0695
Fax: 81 033 265 2275
Website: http://www.irishembassy.jp/

New Zealand Embassy Offices in Japan

Embassy of New Zealand in Japan
20-40 Kamiyama-cho
Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0047
City: Tokyo
81 03 3467 2271
Fax: 81 033 467 2278
Email: nzemb.tky.pa@mfat.govt.nz

Embassy Information Outside Japan

Japanese Embassy Offices in the United States

Embassy of Japan in Washington, DC
2520 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W. Washington, DC 20008
City: Washington, DC
Phone: 1 202-238-6700
Website: http://www.us.emb-japan.go.jp/english/html/

Consulate general offices are located in major cities and offer full services including consular services. Honorary consulates offer a limited range of services including consular services. A full list of Japanese consulates in the US can be found at: http://www.us.emb-japan.go.jp/jicc/consulate-guide.html

Japanese Embassy Offices in Canada

Embassy of Japan in Ottawa
255 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, Ontario
K1N 9E6
City: Ottawa
Phone: 1 613 241-8541
Website: http://www.ca.emb-japan.go.jp/

Consulate general offices are located in major cities and offer full services including consular services. Honorary consulates offer a limited range of services including consular services. A full list of Japanese consulates in Canada can be found at: http://www.mofa.go.jp/about/emb_cons/mofaserv.html

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