Teaching English in Japan is a desirable pursuit for any TEFL teacher. The Eastern nation boasts incredible food, historical sights, and world-class cities. And if you ask teachers which nation is the best place in Asia to earn money from teaching, many will point to Japan.
Although there are other excellent English-teaching destinations, such as Taiwan, Vietnam, South Korea, and China, Japan still arguably tops the list in Asia. The country has thousands of public schools, private businesses, universities, and English language schools that are hiring teachers regularly.
However, how much money can you really earn if you teach English in Japan? Stay tuned and find out in this article!
What is the salary for English Teachers in Japan?
The salary for an English teacher in Japan is often between 200,000 to 600,000 Yen per month ($1,700 to $5,000). Of course, Japan is an expensive country; its economy is robust and powerful. However, these salaries are more than enough to live a great lifestyle, especially if you’re living in rural Japan.
Teaching jobs in Japanese cities, as you may expect, offer higher salaries than in rural areas. Tokyo is the highest-paid city in Japan because of the high living costs and it’s also the city with the most teaching opportunities.
Let’s look at some of the different options:
JET Salary (public schools)
The JET salary starts at 280,000 Yen ($2,200) per month, which is an impressive starting salary for teachers in Japan. And in general, the JET Programme’s teaching salaries lie between 2.8 million to 3.9 million per year. Millions of teachers choose the JET Programme because it provides accommodation, a reliable teaching career, and job security. However, although the salary rises yearly, other employers in the country may offer better pay increases.
JET teachers have one-year contracts, which they can renew every year for up to five years. Most importantly, unlike the EPIK program in South Korea, teachers don’t have to come from a native speaking English country. The JET Programme is the most well-known programme for teaching jobs in public schools.
Eikaiwas are independent English schools, otherwise known as private academies. You may hear people call these English conversation schools, cram schools, or night schools. Teachers in Eikaiwas can expect to earn upwards of 250,000 Yen ($2,000) per month.
These schools are good options for English teachers who don’t have lots of experience. The average class size is between 10 to 15 students, and teachers often work between five to eight hours daily. Most Eikaiwas will cover your accommodation costs, training, flights, etc. In addition, they often cover your insurance and visas; however, benefits will vary from school to school.
A university job in Japan, similar to most countries, offers the best pay for teachers. If you have some experience, you can earn between 300,000 to 600,000 Yen ($2,500 to $5,000) per month. Your salary will depend on your education and teaching experience.
University working hours are very appealing to teachers. Typically, university teaching hours will vary from 10 to 15 hours per week, which is far fewer hours than other teaching jobs with better pay. Teaching English at universities typically comes with three months of vacation, which is fantastic if you want to explore Japan or neighbouring Asian countries.
ALT (Assistant Language Teachers)
An assistant language teacher can earn between 200,000 and 250,000 Yen per month ($1,600 to $2,000) depending on their teaching experience. An English teacher will enjoy similar conditions to those on a JET Programme.
You can expect 10 to 20 days off per year, and class sizes are often over 30 students. Although the ALT salary isn’t the best, it’s an excellent choice for new teachers without teaching experience.
International School Salaries
Many experienced English teachers in Japan look for jobs in a Japanese international school. That’s because they offer higher salaries than other schools. The monthly salary varies from 250,000 to 600,000 Yen ($1,500 – $3,500).
Most international schools are within Tokyo, so they’re not ideal if you want to teach in rural Japan. Teachers tend to receive housing and settlement allowances, depending on which international schools you choose.
How Much Money Can You Save Teaching English in Japan?
Japan is a nation of vast financial opportunities for people teaching English. With that said, it’s also the third-largest economy in the world. If you don’t watch your outgoings and you enjoy everything Japan has to offer—which is easy to do—it can be challenging to save money when teaching English in Japan. Generally speaking, your saving potential is between 25 to 35% of your overall pay; this largely depends on where you choose to live, however.
Tokyo is one of the world’s most expensive cities. If you’re not teaching English with the JET Programme, you’ll have to pay for your apartment, which is usually very expensive—and small—in Tokyo. More affordable cities include Kobe, Kyoto, Nagoya, Hiroshima, Osaka, and Kyoto. If your heart is set on Tokyo, like it is for many teachers, prepare yourself for the expense that comes with living in such a city.
Japan’s cost of living is noticeably higher than other Asian nations, such as China, South Korea’s high-salary market, Taiwan, Vietnam, and the competitive salary opportunities in Thailand.
You also have other benefits, such as free return flights, work visa sponsorship, paid vacation, and health insurance, which make up for the high living costs. In addition, if you work as an ALT or eikaiwa teacher, your employer will likely cover your transportation costs.
Living Costs in Japan
Living costs vary depending on where you choose to live when you’re teaching English in Japan. However, some of the most prevalent costs include:
- Monthly rural rent: 57,000 Yen
- Monthly city rent: 95,000 Yen
- Domestic beer at a bar: 450 Yen
- Public transport: 185 Yen each way
- Taxi: 300 Yen per KM
- A loaf of bread in Japan: 200 Yen per loaf
- A meal at an affordable restaurant: 900 Yen per meal
- Apples: 700 Yen per 1kg
- Bananas: 330 Yen per 1kg
- Cappuccino: 420 Yen per regular cup
- A Meal at Mcdonald’s: 700 Yen per meal
- A Meal for 2 people at a mid-range restaurant: 5,000 Yen
You can find more information about living costs in Japan via Numbeo. If you want to save money, it’s essential to avoid touristy areas, such as Shibuya and Shinjuku in Tokyo. However, it’s easy to fall into the trap of hanging out, drinking, and eating at ‘foreigner friendly’ places in Japan.
Unfortunately, this is where you’ll burn your savings. You must learn to live like a local and avoid tourist prices. If you learn how to take Japanese public transportation and shop at local Japanese markets you can save an absolute fortune in living costs.
Is It Hard to Get an English Teaching Job in Japan?
You may have heard about how easy it is to land English teaching jobs in Asia. Sure, in places like Vietnam, finding English teaching jobs—with no skills or experience—is quite straightforward. Japan is slightly different; many schools require a TEFL certificate, bachelor’s degrees, and prior experience (especially the high-paying schools.)
With that said, that doesn’t mean getting an English teaching job in Japan is difficult. You need to sell yourself more, face more competition, and be determined to succeed. Landing a job is easier if you enrol in a teaching programme, such as the JET Programme. Not only are the pay and benefits superb, but you’ll also work with students who are willing to learn.
Can You Teach English in Japan Without a Degree?
Millions of people who don’t have a university degree think teaching English abroad is impossible; that’s not the case. Most schools, however, will require a bachelor’s degree and a clean criminal record. The JET Programme also requires all JET teachers to have a bachelor’s degree.
However, it’s still possible to teach English in Japan without a degree, but you’ll need one of the following:
- A Working Holiday Visa
- A Spousal Visa
- A Student Visa
- A Japanese Passport
Your best option is through a Working Holiday Visa. The visa enables you to TEFL in Japan without a degree. However, you’ll need to meet the following criteria:
- Aged between 28-30
- Have a passport from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Korea, France, Germany, UK, Ireland, Denmark, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Norway, Portugal, Poland, Slovakia, Austria, Hungary, Spain, Argentina, Chile, Iceland, Czech Republic, Lithuania.
- Be in good health
- Haven’t received a working holiday visa previously
You’ll also need to have:
- A valid application form
- A passport-sized photo
- A CV or resume
- An itinerary of your time in Japan
- A written reason for your application
- Either £2,500 in cleared funds or £1,500 and a return ticket
Where Can I Find ESL Jobs in Japan?
Fortunately, there are many ways for English teachers in Japan to find ESL jobs. Many English teachers will join a program that helps them find work before they land in Japan. That way, teachers have a feeling of security before they leave their home country. Some teachers will arrive on a working holiday visa and approach schools or agencies within the country. You can even switch your visa once you begin working full-time.
- AEON is a popular place for English teachers looking for jobs. They have hundreds of schools in Japan, with 40 hour work weeks, generous salaries, and housing provided.
- ECC offers lessons for kids aged 18 months and over and adults. Teachers will work 35 hours work weeks and get one-year contracts.
- GaijinPot is a tremendous place for teachers who are already in Japan. They have current listings for jobs in Japan. If joining a program before you arrive isn’t your preferred option, use GaijinPot after you arrive.
- The JET Programme in Japan is an excellent option for teachers who want definite employment before they leave their home nation.
Are English Teachers in Demand in Japan?
English teachers in Japan are in huge demand, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic, where it was almost impossible for teachers to enter the nation and apply for English teaching positions.
Although Japan places a high emphasis on learning English, many Japanese people couldn’t speak English until recently. Many people don’t regard Japan as a fluent English-speaking country. As a result, Japanese schools, Japanese teachers, and parents love native English speakers.
So you shouldn’t worry about a lack of demand for English teachers in Japan; landing a job teaching English is relatively easy.
Is Teaching English in Japan Worth It?
If you’re reading this article, there’s a good chance you’re dreaming of becoming a TEFL teacher in a foreign land. Japan is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the best nations for teaching English.
Not only is teaching Japan financially rewarding, but it’s also an amazing chance to immerse yourself in a foreign culture whilst building your teaching resume.
Begin Your Teaching Dream Now
As the world returns to normality, there’s never been a better time to teach English in Japan. Don’t worry if you don’t have experience and don’t have your TEFL Certification yet. There are plenty of TEFL jobs in Japan for teachers just like you.
Japan is one of the world’s greatest nations for English teachers; it’s an incredible financial and career opportunity for you. Now it’s your turn to make it a reality.