There are many full-time English teaching jobs in Tokyo and you can have a great time teaching students while making money. Full-time teaching positions are relatively easy to find and demand for English is not going down any time soon. You can make some decent money and teaching is a great place to start your career in Japan if you do not speak N3 level Japanese or are not a wizard on the computer with programming skills.
This guide is on what type of full-time English teacher positions for children and teenagers are in Japan. If you are more interested in teaching English to adults check out our guide to finding a full-time English teaching for teaching adults.
- Teaching at a public school
- Teaching at a private school
- Teaching at an English school for kids
- Teaching at a preschool
This guide focuses on what full-time English teaching jobs are available in Tokyo and where to find them. After finding the right type of English teaching position for you, check out our guide to getting an English teaching job where we focus on how to write a cover letter and resume, understanding the recruiter and the interview process, and what to do after the interview to make sure you stand out as a candidate.
If you are not looking for English teaching jobs in Tokyo, check out our guide to other full-time jobs for foreigners in Japan for what positions are available to foreigners that do not require Japanese skills. We also have the number one guide to part-time jobs in Tokyo.
Full Time Teaching Position at a Public School
Full Time Teaching Position in Public Schools Qualifications and Pay
- University degree
- Dispatch companies hire non-native teachers for elementary school positions
- JET and dispatch companies do hire from overseas
220,000 - 240,000 yen for positions at a dispatch organization
280,000 yen and above for direct hire and JET program positions
Hours and Schedule
- Monday to Fridays from 8:30 - 4:30 PM
Benefits and Challenges
- Benefits : You have more than 30 days of vacation each year
- Benefits : You almost never have to do overtime and can make it home by 5:00 to 6:00 PM
- Challenges : You will feel exhausted after teaching children all day
- Challenges : You will have to make an effort to be a part of the community
What does a public school teacher do and what are the requirements?
This will come as a surprise to foreigners but you can teach English to children at a public school in Japan with a University degree in something that is not related to education. Since you are not technically in charge of the class and are team teaching with a licensed Japanese teacher, you do not need a teacher's license in Japan. The other term for this position is an ALT or assistant language teacher.
Another surprise is that more than 50% of English teachers in Japan are teaching at Japanese public schools. When you think of teaching jobs, you will probably think of the major English conversation schools, but most foreigners are actually employed to teach at public schools.
Please note that you need an instructor visa and you cannot get this without a university degree. Schools require the degree and a permanent residence visa holder without a degree cannot get this position.
What are the school schedules for public elementary schools?
Most schools start from around 8:30 AM in the morning and finish around 3:30 PM in the afternoon. Depending on the region, there will be several days a week where the students finish earlier than 3:30 PM. For example, most days will have six periods, but one or two days where there are only five periods. Please note that this only applies for the children, because you will probably be required to stay until 4:30 or 5:00 PM depending on the place.
On a side note, the 1st and sometimes second graders get to leave earlier than the older children.
What are the school schedules for public junior high schools?
Junior and senior high schools start around the same time or slightly earlier than public elementary schools in Japan. Once lessons are done students usually remain at school and participate in club activities that are organized by the school and managed by one teacher. Clubs range from sports, music and the arts, and educational themes. You sometimes have a kendo club, sumo club, judo club, or even board games club which students actively participate in.
Benefits of teaching as an ALT at a public elementary school
There are several major benefits to teaching as an assistant language teacher at a public elementary school in Japan. The main benefit is that you are like a celebrity to the children because you are the only foreign adult and the children are very curious about you and want to know more about you. Some schools will let you sit with the children and eat with them during lunch and for the kids, this is often a special moment.
The second benefit is that you really need Japanese to communicate with your co-workers and the more Japanese you speak, the smoother things will go so it pushes you to improve your Japanese. This is the best position out of all English teaching jobs in Tokyo to improve your Japanese speaking skills.
The third major benefit is the school vacations that can last up to 1 month in summer and two weeks in winter. Some companies make you work while others make you “kinda” work, so make sure to check out the requirements during the break in the interview.
The four major benefit is saving money. School lunch is around 250 yen and is filling, so you will get to eat a somewhat healthy meal while keeping money in your pocket.
Benefits of teaching as an ALT at a junior high school
The main benefit to being an ALT at a public junior high school is that you get to experience a part of Japanese culture that most people do not see. You can see the school club atmosphere and the relationships between people based on seniority and the focus on doing things together.
The second benefit is that you can have a big impact on a few students. You will not influence most of your students but you may make a few of them more interested in foreign cultures and you will also be able to answer many of their questions.
The third benefit is vacation like above and down time. Most public schools will not have you teaching more than 4 lessons a day, so you have a lot of time to prepare for your lessons, offer assistance to the English teachers, and talk to students and Japanese staff.
Challenges of teaching as an ALT at a public elementary school
The biggest challenge is managing your health and energy. Teaching five to six lessons plus eating lunch with the children and sometimes playing with them during recess is exhausting. You will often come home exhausted. Also, ALTs in elementary school get sick more often than other English teachers because of the energy demands plus being in close proximity to kids who may have the cold or flu.
The second challenge is for people who are ambitious and always want to be improving their work skills. You may start getting bored after 2.5 to 3 years of teaching.
The third challenge is that the children may do and say things you do not like. For people who are overweight, the children will definitely point it out and may even poke you gently in the stomach. If you have a big butt, the children will point it out and some adventurous 6 year olds may even try to touch it. Anything that is unique and different will be mentioned. If you are a man, you may be kancho’d and you will have to look up what a kancho is.
Challenges of teaching as an ALT at a public junior high school
There are two main challenges and one is boredom. They keep you super active and involved in elementary school to the point you want to sleep the moment you get home. Junior high schools keep you so inactive in some cases that you may question why you are there in the first place. Teachers who are not proactive in offering their support or learning from other ALTs on how to be given more responsibility may die of boredom. I enjoyed the freedom, but I really had to go out of my way to learn the textbook and proactively share ideas with the teachers. I also went out of my way to speak to other teachers and assist with the club activities.
The second main challenge is that you may be placed at a school with students who do not follow the rules. They may swear at you and make fun of you and you just have to accept it. 95% or more of schools are fine with a few punks, but 3% or less can be chaotic and unfortunately have an issue with bullying based on seeing hundreds of junior high school in the greater Tokyo area.
Salaries for full-time public school teachers
There are two types of teachers at a public school. A teacher who is directly hired by the board of education or city or a teacher who works for a company who is contracted to introduce teachers to public schools.
Teachers who are hired directly are usually hired through the JET program which is run by the national government or directly hired by the city or town itself. JET program teachers are only hired from overseas and have a limit of 5 years. Teachers who hired directly by the city usually have one year renewable contracts and are eligible for permanent employment after working 5 years continuously.
The salaries for direct hires usually start around 280,000 - 300,000 yen and go upwards of 350,000 yen depending on the budget of the area. The JET program starts at 280,000 and goes up to around 330,000 yen.
Teachers who are hired by intermediary companies start with lower salaries than direct hire teachers. According to glassdoor, teachers who work for Heart Corporation start from around 220,000 and teachers who work for Interac start from around 230,000 yen and we are not to sure about the maximum salary rates as it is not public knowledge, but our guess would be around 250,000 yen.
What are the teaching materials like?
Public elementary schools use a textbook made by the national government for the 5th and 6th graders called “We Can!” and “Let’s try” for 3rd and 4th graders. The base lesson content for 1st and 2nd graders are still up to the school or assistant language teacher.
Junior high schools normally use a series called New Horizon or New Crown or one of the several other textbooks approved by the national government. All teachers have to finish the book by the end of the school year and you will be asked to come up with activities to help the English teacher to review the content in a fun way or do a lesson to provide students a break from the grind.
Elementary School : https://www.tgmjapan.com/esl/lesson-plans-and-ideas/
Elementary School : https://www.altwiki.net/goodbye-hi-friends-hello-we-can
Do they hire non-native English speakers?
Many public elementary schools offer full-time English teaching jobs in Tokyo for non-native English speakers. I remember managing areas where the ratio is around 50% native and 50% non-native teachers. These jobs are offered through dispatch companies like INTERAC and HEART in the greater Tokyo metropolitan area.
Most public junior high schools have a very strong preference for native speakers. Some people from non-native English speaking countries may be considered if they have a neutral accent. The textbooks focus on native accents and that is the standard pronunciation for schools.
Where can I find these positions
Please note that a majority of the public school teaching positions are not direct hire and through intermediary companies who hire new teachers. Direct hire positions are usually reserved for veteran teachers and normally have to come through your network or you get headhunted after working in the city as a teacher through the intermediary companies. The below is one direct hire teacher talking about his experiences and how he stood out.
As for the JET program, you can find all the information here : http://jetprogramme.org/en/
As for working in a public school through intermediary agencies, you can find most positions through the website jobsinjapan.com
Full Time Teaching Position at a Private School
- You will need a valid TESOL or CELTA certificate, TESOL degree, or be a licensed teacher in your home country depending on the school’s requirements
- You may need experience teaching in the subject you are teaching
- You will need a bachelor’s degree for ALT position
- 280,000 yen to 350,000 yen for a dispatch company
- 300,000 yen to 420,000 yen for a direct hire position
Hours and Schedule
- Monday to Fridays from 8:00 - 5:00 PM - you will be expected to stay later
- You will have to work on some weekends
- You will make enough money to support a family and develop a career
- You will have much more responsibility and can greatly impact your students
- You will feel exhausted and this is not a working “holiday” position
- You will have to deal with internal politics from foreign or Japanese co-workers
What does a private school teacher do and what are the requirements?
In terms of career potential and salary, a teaching position at a private school is one of the top positions you can get as a full-time English teacher in Tokyo.
A private school teacher is directly hired by the school to teach English as a second language or your traditional school subject if it is an international school. They have private school positions for elementary, junior, and senior high school, although most positions are for junior and senior high school students. This section will focus on JHS and SHS positions as ES positions at private schools are more likely to be ALT positions.
The major difference between teaching at a private school and public school is that you are the main teacher and not an assistant language teacher. You may even be a homeroom teacher at a private school in charge of one class. You will be responsible for planning and teaching all of your lessons, assigning and correcting homework, and grading your students. Full-time private school english teachers are also expected to assist in after-school clubs and events, speech contests, applications to foreign universities, and joining school faculty meetings.
You normally work Monday to Fridays, but you sometimes have special events come up on the weekend that you will need to attend like school festivals or competitions. You will also be teaching around 5 - 7 lessons a day with around 20 - 30 students in a class. The maximum size for classes is usually around 40 students in one class.
The requirements for private school positions really depends on the school you work for. Most schools will require you to have a TESOL degree or a teacher’s license in your home country while others may require only a TESOL certificate from a valid organization or CELTA. The general rule of thumb is that the more requirements they have, the higher salary it will be.
What are the benefits of teaching at a private school in Tokyo?
If you are extremely passionate about teaching and this is your calling, private schools are your chance to carry your mission. You will be in charge of a class and you will be directly involved in the growth and development of your students. You will not be an outsider like teaching at a public school full-time who are usually teaching at multiple schools, but will be highly involved at one school. You will have a lot of responsibility and your children will show their appreciation and even come back years later to thank you.
What are the challenges of teaching
The main challenge with private schools are the politics between faculty as opposed to the children giving you a headache. You may have some student issues, but normally nothing like the ones you may experience at a public school. Children from private schools usually come from more stable homes and you tend to have issues with verbal bullying as opposed to actual delinquents in your classroom. Politics can involve a divide between the foreign and Japanese staff or drama between a drama king or queen in the foreigner department who is overly negative and making the workplace uncomfortable.
The other challenge is the commitment. You may be asked to take the children on an overseas trip on the weekend or be required to do something on your normal days off. You may also have added work if you are running some school group or managing the other foreign teachers. Management teachers can be a headache especially when you have a teacher who is having a hard time adjusting to Japan or is negative to be around.
Do they hire non-native English speakers?
The main question here is more about your credentials as a teacher. A native speaker without the teaching credentials or master’s degree will not get the position. Some schools may have a preference for native speakers, but there are places that hire native level English speakers from non-native countries.
Where can I find these positions
You can find some of these positions on websites like GaijinPot and JobsinJapan. Below are some additional sites that post private teaching positions.
GaijinPot also created an excellent article on the topic that expands upon some of the topics we covered in this article.
Full Time Teaching Position at a Kids School
- University degree required for major school chains
- Native speakers for major schools - mom and pop schools do hire non-natives
- 240,000 - 270,000 yen
- You may receive social insurance depending on the school
Hours and Schedule
- Tuesday - Saturday from 11:00 AM - 8:00 PM or 1:00 PM - 10:00 PM
- Most schools do not have a Monday to Friday schedule
- Most of the children are sweethearts
- You will not feel bored as you are always doing something
- You will feel exhausted after teaching children all day
- You will probably feel a need to develop work skills outside of teaching after 1 year.
What is working at an English school for kids like?
We have covered the public and private school positions, but there are also English schools and programs for children ran by private companies. These positions are similar to the teachers who teach both adults and children, but these schools only focus on teaching children and in some cases teenagers as well.
Your job would be to teach English to children from 3 - 12 years of age in most cases, but depending on the school, you may have to teach classes for children under 3 and children in junior and senior high school. You will mainly need to dance, sing, and be an energetic playmate for the little ones while you may need to teach the teenagers English conversation or assist them with their preparation for English tests like EIKEN or TOEIC.
Depending on who the school caters to, your work hours will be completely different. Schools that target children under 3 years old will normally have you working from 9:00 or 10:00 AM to around 5:00 or 6:00 PM. You would be teaching the super young ones until around 1 PM and teaching the kindergarteners until around 3 PM and then teach the elementary school kids after 3 or 4 PM.
Schools that target junior and senior high school students will probably have you teaching from 11:00 AM or 1:00 PM until 8:00 or 10:00 PM. You will be teaching children similar to the times mentioned above but you will be teaching the junior high school and above children after 6 PM.
Benefits of teaching adults
The main benefit are the kids. Majority of your students will be sweethearts and pretty much all the things mentioned above in the section for English conversation schools apply here as well.
Challenges of teaching
The same applies for challenges, but one difference is that you usually have a Japanese support and English schools for kids but not at conversation schools. If you have unruly children, they may or may not support you with helping keep the children focused on the lesson. Having the supporter can be a benefit or a challenge depending on the person.
What are the teaching materials like?
Any place that can afford to hire a full-time English teacher will usually have teaching materials or some curriculum to follow. In general, the larger the chain or organization you work for, the more likely they are to have materials. This can be awesome if you have no idea what you are doing when you first start, but if you are a veteran teacher, you might find having to use their materials restrictive and you may not be able to exercise your creativity.
Many mom and pop places usually started with the mom or pop teaching all the lessons and developing some general hodgepodge curriculum. These materials can also be a blessing or disaster in disguise because they may not be open to feedback for improving the curriculum or you they might be disorganized and not have anything for you at all. Asking about materials is something you should always bring up during your full-time English teacher interviews.
Salaries for full time English teaching positions in Tokyo
Salaries at kid schools normally start around 240,000 yen and go upwards to 270,000 yen. Depending on the company you can receive a completion bonus for finishing your work contract. Many schools also provide housing support which involves you paying the rent, but they will find you a furnished place and pay the ridiculously high moving in costs in Japan which is normally 1500 dollars or more just to move into a place.
Do they hire non-native English speakers?
Mom and pop places are usually willing to give a non-native English speaker a chance, but the big schools normally have a preference for native speakers as that is what they sell to customers and what customers pay big bucks for.
Where can I find these positions
You can learn where to find many of these positions on our post on where to find jobs in Japan.
Below are some of the major corporations that run hundreds of schools for children.
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