Ultimate Guide to Teaching Jobs in Japan

By Tyson Batino | Updated October 03, 2019

This is the ultimate guide to teaching jobs in Japan.

We cover everything you need to know, so you would probably not need to check any other blog posts on the topic of job hunting.

You will learn about the 10 different types of English teaching positions, how to do a resume and cover letter for teaching positions, understanding what English teacher employers are looking for, how to do the interview, and how to handle your post interview process and understand what goes behind the scenes into hiring someone.

ESL Jobs in Japan - Teaching English in Tokyo to Adults - Conversation School

We are assuming that you are looking for a teaching position. If you do not want a teaching job in Japan, check out our section on jobs in Tokyo for foreigners that do not require Japanese.

Section 1 : Guide to English Teaching Jobs in Japan

Our first section covers all the teaching jobs in Japan and Tokyo. Learn about what English teachers do in various schools, how much the positions pay, and where to find those teaching jobs. You can click on the link to skip to that section.

English Teaching Jobs - Children

English Teaching Jobs - Adults

Section 2 : How to Get an English Teaching Jobs in Japan

Once you find the teaching position type that matches your experience and skills, you will be ready to start your job hunt to find a good employer and actually get the job. This whole guide is around 30 to 40 pages long, so there is a lot of content in each of the sections that covers everything you need to know.

Understanding English School Employers in Japan

  • The ideal teacher.
  • The ideal personality for different positions.

How to do your resume and cover letter

  • How to stand out from other applicants.
  • Common resume and cover letter mistakes.

How to do an interview for English positions in Japan

  • Commonly asked interview questions.
  • Common interview mistakes.

How to handle the post interview job process

  • How to properly communicate with the company.
  • What goes on behind the scenes.

ESL Jobs in Japan for Teaching Children

There are many ESL jobs in Japan for teaching children and you can have a great time teaching 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.

Section Outline

This section focuses on full-time teaching jobs in Japan for Teaching Children for teaching children and teenagers are in Japan. If you are more interested in teaching English to adults, scroll down below for our large section on teaching jobs in Japan to adults.

  • Teaching at a public school
  • Teaching at a private school
  • Teaching at an English school for kids
  • Teaching at a preschool

ALT Teaching Positions in Japan

Qualifications and Pay for full-time ALT jobs in Japan.

1 : University degree

2 : Dispatch companies hire non-native teachers for elementary school positions

3 : 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 for ALT jobs in Japan

  • 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 are the requirements to be an ALT?

This will come as a surprise to foreigners but you can teach English to children at a public school in Japan as an ALT 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 the English teachers here are an ALT in Japan. 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.

Japanese ES and JHS ALT schedule

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 is a typical schedule for a junior high school ALT in Japan

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.

ESL Jobs in Japan - Teaching Kids Teacher Demonstrating Tambourine Playing

Benefits of teaching as an ALT in Japan

There are several major benefits to teaching as an assistant language teacher at a public elementary school in Japan. The main benefit as an ALT in Japan 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 as an ALT in Japan 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 Japan 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 as an ALT in Japan

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 as an ALT in Japan 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 Japanese 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 as an ALT in Japan 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.

ESL Jobs in Japan - Preschool

ALT Salaries in Japan

There are two types of English teachers at a Japanese 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.

English 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 English 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 an English textbook 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 an English 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 in Japan?

Many public elementary schools offer full-time ESL jobs in Japan 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 ALT positions in Japan?

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

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ESL Jobs in Japan - Private School


  1. 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
  2. You may need experience teaching in the subject you are teaching
  3. 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 are a private school English teacher duties in Japan?

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.






ESL Jobs in Japan - boardwork

What are the benefits and challenges of private schools?

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 English teaching jobs in Japan at a private school 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 private school hire non-native speakers in Japan?

The main question here is more about your credentials as a English teacher. A native speaker without the teaching credentials or master’s degree will not get the position. Some schools may have a preference for an English native speakers, but there are places that hire native level English speakers from non-native countries.

Where can I find private school teacher positions?

You can find some English teaching positions on websites like GaijinPot and JobsinJapan. Below are some additional sites that post private teaching positions.

  1. http://educareer.jp/jobboard/index.html
  2. https://www.etas-net.jp/

GaijinPot also created an excellent article on the topic that expands upon some of the topics we covered in this article.


ESL Jobs in Japan - Teaching Kids Eikaiwa


  1. University degree required for major school chains
  2. 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 ESL jobs in Japan with 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 and Challenges of Teaching English to Kids

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 English 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.

What is the job market like for kids school teachers?

ESL jobs in Japan at a kids eikaiwa school 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.



Teaching Jobs in Japan - Children Section Summary

How was our guide on teaching jobs in Japan to children? You can move on to learn more about positions teaching adults or check out our guide to teaching jobs in Japan 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 ESL jobs in Japan, check out our guide to non-teaching full-time jobs for foreigners in Japan for what positions are available to foreigners that do not require Japanese skills.

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English Teaching Jobs in Japan for Adults

ESL Jobs in Japan - Language Lesson

There are many full-time English teaching jobs in Japan and you can have a great time teaching students while making money. You can teach adult students, children students, or a mixture of both.

Full-time teaching positions are relatively easy to find and demand for English is not going down any time soon. It is also 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.

Section Outline

Full Time English teaching jobs in Japan to adults

  • Teaching at an eikaiwa
  • Teaching business English lessons
  • Teaching at a university

This section focuses on what full-time English teaching jobs in Japan are available and where to find them.

English Teaching Jobs in Japan - Eikaiwa

Qualifications and Pay for an English Teaching Job in Japan at an Eikaiwa

  1. You need a university degree for major schools
  2. You need to be a native speaker for major schools
  3. Major schools hire native speakers from overseas

Eikaiwa is the Japanese term for an English Conversation School. Mom and pop shops do hire people without university degrees. If you do not have a degree, but want to come to Japan, you do have some options to get a Japanese visa to work in Japan.

Salary : 250,000 yen and above

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

Benefits and Challenges :

  • Benefits 1 : Higher pay than kids schools
  • Benefits 2 : Students are paying their own money, so the % of tough adult classes are low
  • Challenge 1 : You will have some challenging kids courses if you teach children
  • Challenge 2 : You may have some adult students you may feel bored with teaching

What are English conversation school jobs like?

There are two types of English conversation schools. One that caters to adult and children students and others that only focus on adults. Most if not all of the mom and pop schools and many of the major schools focuses on both groups. These schools usually get you to teach several hours of adult lessons from around 11 - 2 PM for the afternoon crowd. Then focus on teaching children to around 5 or 6 PM and finish with adult lessons from 7 PM with students who are coming to take your lessons after work.

Similar to business English schools, English teaching in Tokyo at a conversation school would require you to wear a suit and slacks. Since they charge a premium price to Japanese students, teachers have to look professional and these companies also spend money on having decent school interiors.

The main reason most schools teach both kids and adults and not adults only is because the afternoon from around 2 to 6 PM is not popular with adults. The homemaker crowd has to start preparing for the return of their children from school and the working crowd will usually be at work. Many schools have you teaching preschool aged children from around 2 PM and the older children who go to elementary school from around 4 PM. This distribution for students applies to English schools in Tokyo and others all over Japan.

Teaching English in Tokyo at a school that caters only to adults are a dime a dozen and usually do not pay as much salary or have a much more limited amount of positions because of the downtime in the afternoon. The best thing about teaching in adult only schools is that you get to learn a lot about Tokyo and Japan from your students because you are talking to other adults and you won’t be physically exhausted from singing and running around all day. The founder of BFF Tokyo actually is a co-owner of an English school chain that just focuses on adults.

What are the benefits and challenges of an Eikaiwa?

Another big benefit of working in an adult only school in Tokyo is that you do not need to deal with students who are misbehaving or forced by their parents to learn English. Most students in adult only schools are paying their own money and genuinely want to be there. Other than the occasional odd or awkward student, you will enjoy teaching almost all of your students.

Adult students will also teach you a lot about Japanese culture and society. Depending on your school, they may also take you out for lunch or dinner and this is crucial for your sanity if you are not living in a central location like Tokyo. I learned a ton about Japanese culture from them and going out every week with some of them help me deal with the initial homesickness I felt when I came to Japan.

Benefits of teaching children?

You sometimes get magical classes where the students are real sweethearts and are very interested in learning English. If you work at a school for more than 2 years, you will get to see the child grow and mature and improve their English. I had two students who I taught for 18 months when they were 10 > 12 and I was impressed that they still had perfect English pronunciation when I met them when they were in high school. You may also get to teach children who are in kindergarten and they can be a lot of fun.

Salaries for English Conversation Teachers

Most of the English teaching jobs in Japan for adults pay really nice salaries of over 255,000 yen. Depending on the company, they may also offer social insurance and even completion bonuses for finishing your one year contract. Compared to other English teaching jobs in Japan, a salary of around 250,000 yen

One thing you should confirm with your school is how vacation time works. In general, you have to wait more than 6 months to use your paid time off as per Japanese law. Some schools have an arrangement where they choose how to use 5 days and you get to choose 5 of your paid holidays. Some people do not like this system, but school generally apply those 5 days on school holidays that are near in time to a long vacation breaks, so they can close the school and give both Japanese and foreign staff a decent to nice vacation.

What are the teaching materials like?

Most of the major schools and smaller chains have good in-house developed textbooks and teacher manuals. I used to work at one of the major schools, and although you had to make the materials using print outs from the teacher manual, the materials itself were really good. The teacher manuals had a ton of ideas and I did not really need to reinvent the well because the content covered 80 - 90% of what I needed for my lessons. This is a question I would recommend asking in the interview though - do you provide a teacher manual and do you provide ready made materials to use in class.

Most mom and pop schools and some smaller chains use textbooks made by major publishers. These books are mediocre in quality but are good enough to get the job done. The teacher manuals from these major textbooks are often unusable but the main reason is because the books are made to be used all over the world and are often too difficult for Japanese students. The custom made in-house books, usually spread out the content over more levels, so the lessons and content are more Japanese student appropriate.

Do they hire non-native English speakers?

I have seen cases where English conversation schools hire non-native speakers for English teaching jobs in Japan. However, most of those teachers who were hired had native level English speaking skills and American or British accents. Most people from non-native English speaking countries that I saw hired usually went to an international school as a child or lived abroad during their teenage and college years and for that reason were able to speak with a neutral accent.

For those who are non-native speakers who speak good English but have somewhat of an accent, you would have an opportunity to be hired as an English teacher for children or a lower paying English conversation school because students who pay lower tuition fees are fine with teachers who are not native speakers. I also run an English school with teachers from over 25 countries and over 5000 students and we have found that our students are fine with non-native teachers.

You may complain that this is discrimination, but as someone who also runs a Japanese school, almost all of our foreign students prefer to study with Japanese teachers and would be against the idea of learning from a Japanese teacher who is not Japanese. For this reason, I can now understand why Japanese would prefer to learn from teachers with American or British accents.

Finding a Full-Time English Conversation Teaching Job in Tokyo

Below are some major employers of teachers who teach both children and adults. You can find the mom and pop schools on a site like jobsinjapan or the ohayou sensei newsletter. If you are looking for a position from overseas, schools that teach both children and adults would be your best option because the major schools actively hire from overseas and the mom and pop places do as well.

Below are gigantic school chains that are always hiring teachers.

Here are some schools that only focus on teaching adults in Tokyo. Please note that schools that only focus on adults usually do not hire from overseas.

  • Rosetta Stone Japan
  • Linguage
  • Jabble
  • OneUp Eikaiwa

I am buddies with the foreign owners of Jabble and they pay a good salary for teaching adult lessons, but the only catch is that they are looking for experienced teachers.

English Teaching Jobs in Japan - Business English

Business English Teacher Qualifications and Pay

  1. A University degree is needed
  2. Business experience is not needed but preferred
  3. Business positions only hire teachers domestically - Berlitz does hire from overseas

Pay : 280,000 yen and above

Hours and Schedule :

  • Monday to Fridays from 9:00 - 6:00 PM / 1:00 PM - 10:00 PM

Benefit and Challenges of Teaching Business Full-Time :

  • Benefit 1 : You can teach managerial level business people who are interesting
  • Benefit 2 : You can make more than 300,000 yen a month
  • Challenge 1 : You have to wear a suit
  • Challenge 2 : You may have to commute a long distance depending on the client

What are business English teaching positions like?

English teaching in Tokyo doing business English lessons is much different from your normal English conversation school lessons. The way you teach lessons and the techniques you use have a lot of similarities, but business lessons have a another layer of formality from wearing suits to using formal language. A normal business lesson usually involves talking about business topics, doing simulated roleplays of challenging business situations, and teaching students expressions they can use in a business environment.

One of the main requirements for teaching business lessons is that you need to wear a dress shirt, suit, and slacks. There is no way of getting out of this unless the student comes from a startup that is relaxed and laid back. Additionally, business lessons are always taught in classrooms or office rooms at your company or at the company of the student.

The majority of your students are in their 30s and 40s and you may even have some students in their 20s, but they are most likely to be self-funding their lessons. Your students in their 30s and 40s are normally middle management level staff who have to interact with clients and employees in branches in another country. Another common reason for teaching business English is that your student will have to go on a business trip or live in another country and therefore needs to brush on their English skills before heading out.

The common areas that Japanese people need help with for their business English is on doing presentations, negotiations, writing emails, cultural differences, and sharing their opinion during meetings.

Business Teacher Salaries

Business English teacher positions pay higher than English conversation teacher positions in Japan. However, companies tend to be more selective for business English hires and have higher expectations and requirements for their teachers. There are also much less positions available, so you would need to approach business teacher interview more seriously than other positions. The starting rate goes around ¥270,000 for an entry level position and upwards of 450,000 monthly if you have a lot of business experience and can teach senior level business people English.

Good Business Teaching Experience in Tokyo

English teaching jobs in Japan in business English industry can be awesome when you get to teach an executive or senior level business person. Most people who spend hundreds of dollars to speak with them and you get paid to talk to them and teach them. You also get the opportunity to learn about their industry and about how they view the Japanese economy and business world in general. If you are an aspiring business person, having the opportunity to interact with someone multiple tiers above you will help you in taking the next steps yourself. It is also interesting to hear their views on society because they often view things on a more macro level than your average person.

There are some interesting textbooks on business English that are produced by Oxford University called Business Results and Business One on One. Books like these include business case studies, business statistics, and questions that make you think about the economy. You can often learn new things yourself while getting paid to teach business lessons.

Challenging Business Teaching Experiences in Tokyo

Teaching business lessons can also be an unpleasant experience if you have to teach business people who are forced by their company to take lessons. This applies to English lessons in general and are not limited to business lessons, but you have situations where the student is not interested in taking lessons but are there. In business English, most of the lessons you teach are paid for by the company or government subsidy and not the person themselves. In general, a majority of your students are pleasant to speak but you may sometimes run into those who do not want to talk.

Should you Teach Business Lessons?

If you have business experience or are interested in business I would consider teaching English in Tokyo at a business English provider. You get paid more money than normal teaching positions and in some cases you get to visit and check out the headquarters of international companies.

If you do not have any work or business experience, you would really have to sell them on your interest for business and why they would trust placing you in a classroom teaching people business English who have much more business experience than you. The best way to do that is to dress, speak, and act as a business professional would, so you seem more knowledgeable about business than you actually are.

Finding a Business Instructor Position in Tokyo

The key factor in getting English teaching jobs in Japan for business is actual business experience and another important factor is that you are from a country with which the client is doing business with. The good news is that this is not limited to America, England and Australia and since a lot of Japanese people are doing business with Asia and southeast Asia there is also some demand for non-native teachers as well

Most business positions are pretty much from your network but major companies like Berlitz are usually hiring and you can sometimes find positions on jobsinjapan and gaijinpot. Berlitz has solid business materials and has eliminated the need to create materials through their online system saving you time from needing to make things from scratch.

English Teaching Jobs in Japan - University

Full Time University Teacher Qualifications and Salary

  1. Masters degree is necessary
  2. PhD is normally required for non-TESL positions
  3. English programs normally do all their hiring domestically
  • 280,000 yen for bachelor degree only - these positions are not that common
  • 300,000 yen to 600,000 for Masters and above

Hours and Schedule

  • Monday to Fridays from 9:00 - 6:00 PM

Benefits and Challenges

  • Benefits 1 : You can make enough money to support a small family in Japan.
  • Benefits 2 : You have more responsibility and control over what you teach than other positions
  • Challenges 1 : Decreasing job stability due to more Universities closing down due to a lack of students.
  • Challenges 2 : You may have to deal with drama queen or king foreigners co-workers.

What does a University professor do?

Teaching English at a Japanese university in Tokyo involves teaching English to undergraduate students. This would not be English literature or the type of English classes that you took in university but actual language classes to help improve English communication and fluency. Depending on the focus of the university, the amount of lessons on English can differ quite greatly.

Most Universities have around 3 to 5 English professors who are non-Japanese. Universities in Tokyo who use their English program as their main selling point often have more than 8 professors working for them who are on a mixture of full-time and part-time contracts. I have seen one University with more than 20 foreign English professors.

ESL Jobs in Tokyo - University Professor

What are lessons and students like at Universities?

English teaching in Tokyo at a university will involve teaching classes of between 10 to 100 students and lessons are usually a 90 minute lesson. Your general English courses will have many students and your specialty lessons like communication courses, business prep courses, and other courses designed for a specific purpose will have less but more dedicated students. Outside of your lesson, you may also be required to provide one and one coaching to students who have a specific goal that the school wants to support them on. One example, are students who are going to study abroad at their sister University for one year.

What are the requirements for University teachers?

The main requirements for getting a university teaching position is usually a Master’s degree in teaching English as a second language. You can take the master courses in your home country or take them at Temple University and several other foreign universities in Japan. Another option involves doing an online correspondence course from established universities overseas that are aimed for people who are working and want to expand their career options in the teaching field.




I do know a few people who had master degrees in different areas with multiple years of teaching experience for adults who were able to get a University position for teaching English. You will also need a masters degree or PhD to teach non-English related subjects as well. The one exemption is in business courses and we cover that in more detail below.

University Instructor Salaries

My friend who is a University instructor himself mentions this on a blog post he wrote.

Full-time positions are normally in the range of ¥300,000 ~ ¥600,000 per month. Contracts are usually one or two years in length, renewable two or three times

For part-time positions : A koma is 90-minute lessons)

Compensation is usually in the range of ¥20,000 ~ ¥40,000 per koma per month, including the summer months between semesters when there are no lessons scheduled. In other words, you will receive a set monthly salary all year round, despite only teaching for 30 weeks per year (15 in the spring semester and 15 in the autumn semester). Travel expenses will also be provided, although health insurance and pension contributions will not.


ESL Jobs in Japan - University 2 1

Positive University teaching experience in Tokyo

English teaching in Tokyo at a university can be a magical teaching experience when you have a high level, highly motivated class of students who really appreciate being in the classroom and actively participate in the learning process.

Negative University teaching experience in Tokyo

You sometimes experience students who are not interested in learning, especially if you are at a school where students are required to learn English, but may not be interested in learning it. You also need to be cautious of working for lesser known Universities and rural Universities who are experiencing a decline in their student base. This decrease in students has led to a big increase in universities that are closing down, and unfortunately this trend will continue to grow as the population of Japan decreases.

One person we interviewed experience this and multiple instructors we interviewed recommended that an instructor position is great if you have the qualification, but you need to do proper research if you are planning to invest several million yen into a master’s program.

Finding a University Instructor Position in Tokyo

Like many other high paying teaching positions, most of the best positions would have to come through your network and are not posted non online job boards. A University HR personal will usually ask their current teachers if they know anyone who meets the minimum requirements and looking for a position. If there are no qualified candidates in the friends route, if and only then will they start posting an online ad. However, there are many University teacher conferences and professional organizations where they meet together, so most teachers have quite a few connections and most positions are filled through introductions.

The biggest challenge is getting your first English teaching university position in Tokyo and things get much easier after you join the club. Job offers will come to you if you are a member and put the word out that you are looking and other people like you.

If you are not a member of the club, you will have to search for your dream University English teaching job in Tokyo through one of the sites below.

  1. https://jrecin.jst.go.jp/seek/SeekTop?ln=1 - from the government
  2. The Japan Association of Language Teachers Job Board
  3. The Japan Association of College Teachers
  4. TEFL.com : University Teacher Positions

This post could go on forever about the intricacies of University positions and you can dive more into the topic with this podcast from Jobs in Japan and the blog post from my friend Paul whom I quoted for the salary amounts above.

  1. https://jobsinjapan.com/blog/job-seeker-advice/universityteacherjames/
  2. https://blog.jobs.ac.uk/just-higher-ed/jobseeking/teaching-english-at-japanese-universities

Bonus Section : Finding a University instructor position in a non-English field in Japan

You might be able to teach university courses in business if you are an industry veteran in your field with more than ten years experience. Most universities however require that you have masters or PhD for their professor positions.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of universities that hire foreigners in Tokyo for teaching non-English subjects.

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Getting a Teaching Job

This guide assumes you know what type of teaching jobs in Japan you want and are now ready to start your job hunt to find a good employer in Japan. If you are not sure what position you want, check out section 1 on types of teaching jobs in Japan.

After finding the right company and teaching position, you will have one chance to persuade a company to give you a chance. Getting a teaching job you love will involve standing out among the other candidates and we will cover the whole recruitment process from applying to teaching jobs in Japan to interview for those positions.

The information in here also applies to part-time English teaching jobs in Japan and for more information on what part-time jobs are available in Tokyo, you can check out our Ultimate Guide on Part-Time Jobs in Tokyo here.

Structure of the Guide

Stage 1 : Researching companies - we assume you have done this stage

Stage 2 : Understanding what employers want

  • Do I need teaching experience?
  • What candidates are English school owners looking for?
  • Teaching certification and certificates

Stage 3 : Writing your resume and cover letter

  • Writing an effective cover letter
  • Writing an effective resume
  • Resume mistakes to avoid

Stage 4 : Interviews

  • What are some good questions to ask employers?
  • What not to do in the interview
  • Understanding the real meaning behind interview questions

Stage 5 : Post Interview Stage

  • What are signs of a good interview?
  • What actions should I take after an interview?
  • How to balance multiple offers
  • What decisions go into hiring a candidate
ESL jobs in Japan - Japanese co-workers

Getting a Teaching Job in Japan : Researching Companies

The first step to getting a teaching job is to find a company and position you are interested in. We have created a guide on where to find jobs in Tokyo and what job boards are available for foreign job seekers. We have around 8 recommendations of where you can find a teaching job, but to be honest, we recommend our friends at jobsinjapan.com as they have a good selection of teaching positions in Japan from large corporations to small mom and pop shops. They also include a section that lists companies that hire from overseas and can provide a visa.

Getting a Teaching Job in Japan : Understanding Employers

The second step to getting a teaching job in Japan is to understand what an employer is looking and not looking for from applicants.

You do not need teaching experience for entry level positions

This is a great question to ask employers for English teaching jobs in Japan. The answer will open the window to understanding what type of candidate they are looking for. Most major English schools and dispatch companies in Japan hire people with zero experience nor certification and it is not a make or break point in the decision process. Most of the major companies have an average retention rate of 1 - 2 years and would be unable to fill all their positions if they only hired experienced and certified teachers.

Teaching certificates are not necessary but helps to differentiate yourself

Having teaching certification would definitely help in getting a teaching job. It shows that you are more serious about becoming a teacher than your average Joe in Tokyo. This will also help to prove that you have at least a minimum understanding of English teaching concepts. This article will not go into detail about teaching certificates but the only certificate I take seriously are CELTA certifications which are run by the famous Cambridge University. Be careful of certification mills that focus only on theory and not on actual teaching.

Most major English schools have decent training programs for newbies

All major employers have training programs for new teachers. For English teaching jobs in Japan these programs can range from several days to one week and are designed for people with no experience teaching. They will usually also dedicate a half-day to training you about company policy, but the rest will focus on teaching theory and getting you to do demo lessons. No matter how much training you receive, you will always feel that it was not enough and so 50% of what you need to know you will need to learn on the job or by asking people.

You need experience or certification for higher paying jobs

Private schools, direct hire positions, and companies like Sesame Street Japan and Phoenix will often only hire experienced or certified teachers. They do not want to invest the time and money in someone inexperienced because their customers expect high quality from the beginning and risk losing thousands of dollars by inserting an amateur teacher.  On the other hand, they offer more money and are looking for someone who can stay longer than the average 1-year period and have perks that try to motivate you to stay for a longer term because it is great for customer satisfaction.

Examples of places that offer more money are universities who normally only hire English teachers with a master’s degree. Another example are high level business lessons in Tokyo where getting a teaching job there would involve either business experience or teaching experience because you are teaching mid-manager or higher level people who are paying good money for English lessons.

ESL jobs in Japan - Japanese co-workers

Part-Time Jobs in Tokyo

In addition to providing great content and information for foreigners, BFF Tokyo also runs an English language school chain that hires teachers from all over the world - more than 25 countries represented.

Getting a Teaching Job : The Ideal English Teacher

If I had to choose one characteristic for English teaching jobs in Japan, it would be reliability. Most employers already had their fair share of problems created by people who treat working in Japan as a vacation. The main challenge for employers is that the main customers are Japanese and they  expect from you and the company the same things they expect from other Japanese; things like being on time and being polite, attentive, available, and clean. Most companies want someone who will be on time, who will complete the contract and not leave prematurely, and takes a shower daily! One unreliable teacher can cost the company thousands of dollars in losing current and potential students.

Some examples of behavior that is unreliable are being absent without giving the company advance notice, not completing the contract, constantly taking vacations, taking the same day off often, and not teaching the curriculum or type of lesson they expect.

Ideal Candidate for Teaching Adults

The Good Conversationalist and Facilitator

Many of the students who come to English language schools just want to chat. They do not want to learn grammar, difficult vocabulary, or experience anything else stressful – Japanese get enough of that at work already. A teacher who can keep a conversation fun, flowing smoothly, and throw in an occasional laugh will keep students coming back for more.

A good conversationalist is someone who asks follow-up questions, shares occasional stories, and keeps everyone involved. A bad conversationalist is someone who often brings the topic back to oneself or frequently name drops to the extent that people feel that you are not listening to them.

The Teacher

Students want to feel they are learning something. The English teacher is someone who gives them the experience of learning by pointing out student errors and mistakes, writing down new words on the whiteboard, making students try again when they make mistakes, and gives students the AHA moment by giving simple explanations or connecting it to things Japanese can relate to. Even offering to give homework to students regardless of them doing it or not goes to show you care.

Students can talk in English to their foreign friends or strangers if they want a conversation, but what they come to an English school for in many cases is to have a teacher who will challenge them and expand their boundaries. If you understand this, you will be quite successful in any adult based English teaching jobs in Japan no matter what country you are from.

The Professional

Everyone knows at least one person who has hooked up with a student in Japan. Gossip of a teacher fooling around with students can result in an angry Japanese lover storming to the school or students feeling uncomfortable with you. Being able to treat and respond to both male and female students equally will show that you are professional and reliable.

The professional also understands that the company’s number one priority is in pleasing students and has the ability to silence their inner teacher when conflict arises between business and teaching. One example of this is demanding homework from students. The student would learn most from doing homework, but maybe doing homework is not their biggest priority and continually pushing the student may lead them to quit.

Ideal Candidate for Teaching Kids

The Big Kid

The ability to make a complete fool out of yourself in front of kids and enjoy the experience is a key component of success to being an effective children teacher in Japan. Singing a kids song like you love it, dancing and jiving even if you don’t have the rhythm for it, and having the ability to make strange faces and overreactions when dealing with younger kids are some ways to go all out. Kids want to have fun and have a hard time opening up to a stiff person in a suit.

A big kid who is reliable will have an easy time finding a job teaching children in Japan. If you are a big stiff, you should probably look for something in the business English world.

The Chameleon (Adaptability)

The ability to turn your big kid switch on with the kids and turn it off with administration will win you some big points with recruiters. Dealing with an adult employee who is like a child 24/7 (who always want things their way) is draining for a manager even if they are an awesome teacher. Being a professional in the interview and changing to a big kid during the trial lesson and returning back to a professional when dealing with adults is a near guaranteed way to get a position teaching children. Being a chameleon also involves adapting and accepting Japanese rules and knowing when to choose your battles. The foreigner who always complains or wants to go against the standard is not someone most companies want to hire.

Teaching Courses and Certificates

For those who want to give themselves an edge over other candidates in English teaching jobs in Japan, taking a teaching course is highly recommended. However, be careful because there are many crappy certificates and companies out there who are just trying to get your money and provide little for it.

The CELTA and Trinity TESOL are two certificates that signify quality for me. I have hired many teachers with the CELTA certificate and they do an excellent job of training people.

CELTA from Cambridge University - http://www.cambridgeenglish.org/teaching-english/teaching-qualifications/celta/

Trinity TESOL from Trinity College London - http://www.trinitycollege.com/site/?id=293

General advice for taking a teaching course

  • Take courses with a minimum of 100 hours of training
  • Take courses where you do actual teaching and receive feedback

I have interviewed many people who have taken paper courses and have no clue how to teach. My personal opinion is that theoretical based teaching courses are not useful unless you already have teaching experience and are a good English teacher looking to improve your employability. Theoretical based courses cannot teach you the interactive elements of teaching, so I personally do not take them seriously and do not factor them into hiring for English teaching jobs in Japan.

For those who are unable to take a course in person, here are some well-known on-line courses

  1. https://www.teachaway.com/tefl-certification (by University of Toronto)
  2. http://www.onlinetefl.com/
ESL jobs in Japan - Teaching-Jobs-in-Japan-Resume

Getting a Teaching Job in Japan : Writing your resume and cover letter

The third step for getting a teaching job in Japan is to write a decent resume and cover letter. 80% of the cover letters I receive really suck and are uninspiring, so when I finally receive one from someone who meets the minimum requirements and actually took the time to look at our site, it is an easy decision to move them to the next round.

For non-native English speakers

In my experience as a recruiter for English teaching jobs in Japan, most of the generic cover letters we receive are from people who are NOT from the US, Australia, UK, and the other so called native English speaking countries. I sympathize because most companies are not open to hiring people who are not from native speaking countries, so you just machine gun blast your resume all over the internet. My recommendation would be to check if the company hires non-native speakers, do some research into them, and then send your cover letter so you can focus on the places most likely to hire you and also distinguish yourself from others.

Getting a teaching job would involve a proper visa to work in Japan. For those looking for a Japan Visa, checking a job board like Jobs in Japan will help you save a lot of time because they have a special section for companies that hire from overseas for English teaching jobs in Japan.

Ideal cover letter length

Keep it two or three paragraphs long. Four paragraphs are too long unless the company is desperate to hire someone, but one paragraph is way too short. Good companies looking for an entry level position hire are satisfied with something two to three paragraphs long.

The first paragraph should focus on why you are applying for the position – and you need to communicate why you want to work at company X and not company Y without mentioning company Y.

“I looked at the websites of many companies and I appreciated the attention to detail you applied to making the website. It looked like your team is passionate about teaching and that is a company I would like to work for.”

The second paragraph should focus on why you are suitable for the position – which is another way of saying why should they hire you. Remember that you are applying for teaching jobs in Japan, so avoid talking about topics that shows that you are not interested in teaching English and that your dream is to do something other than teaching.

Links for improving your cover letter

T Cover Letter : https://michaelspiro.wordpress.com/2010/06/07/the-t-cover-letter-the-only-type-worth-sending/

T Cover Letter Sample : http://www.midasrecruiting.com/Email%20T%20Cover%20Letter%20Template.doc

Common resume mistakes

Resume Mistake 1 : Avoid calling recruiters by their first name until you are hired

If you know the name of the recruiter, do not refer to them by their first name in the header. This can be interpreted as unprofessional by some hiring managers. Refer to them by his or her family name and gender (Dear Mr. Johnson) or (Dear Hiring Manager) if you do not know. For Japanese recruiters, refer to them by their last name + San (Tanaka San) (Miyagi San) – referring to someone by their last name + San is the English equivalent of using Mr. or Miss.

I personally do not mind being called my first name, but even I feel a bit hesitant when someone refers to me by name in the first one or two interactions. The caution comes from worrying if this person will be overly casual in other areas of employment.

Resume Mistake 2 : Stop sending generic cover letters

What is a generic cover letter? A generic cover letter is one that says dear hiring manager and does not mention anything specific about the company and was sent to hundreds of other companies.

If you do send a generic cover letter, the minimum you should do is at least include the company name and include the website. Many recruiters automatically ignore or throw generic cover letters into the digital trash can. It basically shows that you are not interested in that company and only companies who are desperate for staff would respond.

Resume Mistake 3 : Business selfies and other bad photos

Recruiters know when you used your smartphone to take photos because you appeared so close up in the photo. Ask a friend to take your picture  from a short distance or at a minimum use the damn timer to give you some space to avoid the selfie look. Also, use the light feature to create decent lighting. This does not apply for entry level positions, but my general thought for managerial level positions are if you do not know how to do simple camera operations, then you probably may not be able to handle more complex operations. Do not use group photos or travel photos as your resume picture as well unless you are applying for a tour guide position!

Resume Mistake 3 : Using internet lingo and slang

I have often seen fresh graduates use internet lingo and unprofessional English in resumes and email interactions. Examples of this include internet lingo like “i c” “gr8” and unprofessional English like “wicked” and “pimping.” Show you understand the process of professionalism by using proper written English in all your writing interactions. This mistake is funny because you are applying for teaching jobs in Japan.

Resume Mistake 4 : Not Including details the recruiter needs to know

Here is what recruiters want to know before considering someone for an English teacher position. Getting a teaching job would involve understanding recruiters.

  • Contact details and picture
  • VISA type and work permissions
  • How long you plan to stay in Japan
  • What is your nearest train station if you are already in Japan

When under time constraints a recruiter may choose another candidate over you simply because a decision has to be made and the recruiter does not have the time in that moment to search your email interaction for the information they are looking for.

Resume Mistake 5 : Grammar and spelling errors

Most candidates make grammar errors in emails and other documents. Avoid wasting hours making a resume just to have it become worthless because of grammar errors. This advice is on websites everywhere because people still consistently make spelling and grammar errors that could be corrected through a spell checker. This applies more so for English teaching jobs in Japan because your students will notice your grammar and spelling errors.

Use a free grammar checking software or copy and paste it to Microsoft word or google documents. Using a grammar checker is not that hard folks and recruiters commonly complain about how both native and non-native English speakers write emails and send cover letters with a ton of mistakes on them.

Why can a small mistake such as a misspelled word result in me not getting a position?

In the HR field there is a famous expression that says you are only as good as your last hire. A recruiter can hire 5 great people in a row, but lose that reputation with one bad hire. To protect themselves from losing their job, recruiters are highly risk averse when making hiring decisions. For this reason, they use any excuse possible to disqualify a candidate and that includes spelling errors and grammar mistakes.

This is something you do not understand until you work as a recruiter, but 10 - 20% of your time is spent on filtering unqualified candidates because people often give false information or withhold information to get an interview.

Resume Mistake 6 : Not including business achievements!

If you did not learn anything new from this article so far, this should be the one takeaway you have.

In my experience, 95% of foreigners who apply for English teaching jobs in Japan are guilty of only writing their job description when explaining what they did in their previous company. This is important information to know, but it does not tell the recruiter what you are capable of contributing to their company. Use this opportunity to tell the recruiter what you accomplished as opposed to what you were expected to do.

Example 1 : Job descriptions vs Job accomplishments

  • Description: Taught students aged 5-12 English once a week
  • Accomplishment: Achieved a 95% yearly contract continuation rate with adult students

There is a difference between simply teaching students and having your students continue year after year.

Example 2 : Job descriptions vs Job accomplishments

  • Job Description: Made lesson plans for English lessons
  • Accomplishment: Made lesson plans that became the official lesson plans of the school

There is a huge difference between making lesson plans vs making the best lesson plans among your co-workers and being chosen as the standard for the school.

Resume Mistake 7 : Not tailoring your resume for the English teaching jobs in Japan

You can still tailor your resume for the English teaching industry even though you do not have any teaching experience. Since the English teaching industry is about servicing customers, design your resume around how you helped customers, increased customer satisfaction, and reduced customers leaving if possible. Since reliability is a huge issue for hiring in Japan, any chance you can show where you stayed at a position for a long-time or took responsibility for something will boost your chances of finding a position.

Tips for improving your resume

Sample Resume and why it rocks


Resume Checklist


ESL Jobs in Japan - Teaching-Jobs-in-Japan-Interview-in-Person-2.jpg

Getting a Teaching Job : The Interview Stage

Congratulations on making pass the tedious process of sending resumes and cover letters. Now is the time to prepare for the interview and your charisma and ability to answer questions is what will help you getting a teaching job.

Those who hire for English teaching jobs in Japan want to know that you consider making their customer satisfied as your number one priority. Questions that show you are interested in the company philosophy, teaching philosophy and priorities, customer base and profile, and characteristics that separate them from other companies will give you a big jump ahead of other candidates.

Here are generic questions I get from almost all non-experienced candidates. Most of the questions can be organized into categories of…you could have checked the website, about what the teacher wants and not what the school wants, and asking generic questions that are not thoughtful or creative.

Unnecessary Questions : The answer is usually on the website

  • How many lessons do I have to teach a day?
  • Do you provide lesson plans and training?
  • Do you pay for transportation?
  • What are the ages of your students?
  • Do I have to wear a suit and tie?

Unnecessary Questions : Generic time consuming questions

  • How many students do you have in the school?
  • How many teachers do you have?
    • Does it really matter if you agree with the mission?
  • Do you provide textbooks?
  • Why do students study English?

Unwanted Questions : Questions that are focused completely on the candidate

  • How does taking time off work?
  • When do you make salary payments?
  • Do you allow staff to date one another? I do receive this one from time to time.

English teacher hopefuls who ask questions that focus completely on oneself on the first interview will only usually be hired by a company with a retention problem. Selective companies do not hire people who focus on these questions because the person applying for the job is mainly looking for a job instead of looking for the job they want. Why hire someone who is looking for a job when you can hire someone who is looking for a job whose career plan or personal goals matches your company. Here are examples of more thoughtful questions:

Teachers and training

  • What separates a great teacher from an average or a bad teacher in your school?
  • What are the main challenges I need to be aware of in my first several months?
  • What part of training do teachers find the most beneficial and why?
  • What additional options do you offer for training after initial training?
  • Why do teachers remain with your company long-term? Short-term?
  • Do you allow interviewees the option to observe lessons?

Teaching philosophy

  • What is your philosophy towards giving students corrections?
  • What is your company teaching philosophy towards using Japanese in the classroom?
  • What is your philosophy towards teacher and student speaking ratios?
  • What is your philosophy towards giving homework?

Schools and atmosphere

  • What are the main reasons why students sign-up with your school?
  • What are the main reasons why students stay with your school long-term?
  • What do most teachers like about working here? What do they find the most challenging?
  • What is your company mission?
  • What separates your company compared with your competitors?

The best way to approach any interview for any English teaching jobs in Japan is to allow them to interview you 50% and you interview them 50% to see if they are a match. Asking penetrating questions is a good way to really understand the company and to give them the impression that you want to do well at the school. You should also balance questions that you really need to know like taking time off and salary with questions that explore if you have the same philosophy as the company. Only asking questions that concern your benefit raises questions on how dedicated you are to make this a win for the company. On the other hand, you have to watch your back to protect yourself from getting into a bad situation.

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Critical interview mistakes that can cost you the interview

Fail 1: Not wearing professional attire.

You would think this is common sense, but some people come with a t-shirt and shorts as a way of showing nonconformity. Save your time by either dressing up in professional attire or not interviewing for a company that stresses professionalism.

You can tell just by looking at their website. If someone is wearing a suit, you should wear a suit as well. If the person is teaching kids, wear a nice polo shirt and khakis.

Fail 2: Not checking the website in advance.

I have interviewed many candidates who did not take the time to look at the company’s website. It was an automatic indicator that the candidate was not going to make an extra effort to learn teaching without being forced or pressured to do it. They could have saved themselves several hours by taking 30 – 60 minutes to check the website.

Many English schools here have pictures about their school and general explanations that give a basic lowdown on what it is like for English teacher jobs in Japan and at their school.

Fail 3: Taking control of the interview.

Many candidates do not understand that the recruiter has a set amount of time for each interview. Making the interview go longer because of constant interruptions, tangents, and questions is a good way to annoy the recruiter and maybe considered as disrespectful.

Let the recruiter take charge of the interview and blast through the details they need to confirm and then use the remaining time to ask your questions. Once the recruiter has confirmed what they needed to know, they will be listening to you with an open mind as opposed to having a distracted mind because they were not able to confirm what they need to know.

Tips for an interview with a Japanese interviewer

  1. Make sure to sit after the interviewer gives you the signal to sit.
  2. Make sure to answer their questions and not ask questions when it is not your turn to. It is considered disrespectful to ask the interviewer questions out of turn.
  3. Dress formal even if a Japanese interviewer tells you not to. I made this mistake twice!
  4. Understand that Japanese look for different things than foreigner recruiters.

Fail 4: Not practicing the demo lesson on another person.

Many applicants mistakenly feel they can just practice on their own and they will be fine. This assumption is wrong almost all the time. Approaching the demo as if you are NOT part of the 5 – 10% of people blessed with natural teaching ability will go a long way. Do not overestimate your teaching abilities and underestimate the amount of skill and experience that goes into teaching. Practice your demo lesson for one or two hours with one person and get their feedback and do the same with another person or group to get another perspective.

Fail 5: Not assuming you are being evaluated all the time by everyone.

The person in the elevator. The staff member who picked you up. Everyone you meet may have a say in you being hired or not. Be polite to everyone you meet and introduce yourself. Fails include hitting on the co-worker of the recruiter, mentioning negative comments to a fellow candidate about the company in the bathroom, and demanding staff to call the recruiter after waiting for 3 minutes.

Fail 6 : Misunderstanding the definition of casual

Dressing casually does not refer to wearing a t-shirt, shorts, and slippers. Come with nice jeans and a polo shirt or dress shirt without a tie instead. I would follow the above rule of thumb even if you are applying for an English teacher position for kids in Japan.

Fail : 7 Coming too early

Avoid coming more than 15 – 20 minutes early because you will be interrupting the staff or recruiter from their normal work flow. Try to arrive around 10 minutes earlier if possible. I personally do not mind when an applicant comes in early, but different recruiters have different preferences and coming 10 minutes early will ensure you start the interview on a high note no matter who the recruiter is.

Fail 8 : Crossing your legs or fidgeting

Definitely avoid overly relaxed or dominant behavior like putting your arms over something or crossing your legs during the interview. Another thing to avoid is crossing your arms and other forms of defensive body movement. The goal for interviews is to create rapport and not distance!

Translating the real meaning of interview questions

Why do recruiters ask the same questions?

Most recruiters in the same industry look for the same things. The same applies to the English teaching industry. Recruiters here look for someone who is reliable and will not break the contract, someone who can adapt to working in a Japanese work environment, and someone who is professional in conduct.

Translations for commonly asked questions by recruiters in the interview :

1 : Why did you come to Japan?

Translation: Are you planning to stay in Japan long-term?

Translation: Do you like Japan enough so that you will not break contract and go home?

2 : Can you speak Japanese?

Translation: How much do you like Japan?

Translation: Are you dedicated and disciplined?

3 : Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Translation: How long do you plan to be in Japan?

Translation: How likely are you to break the contract and run home to your country?

4 : Why would you like to become a teacher?

Translation: How can you benefit our students?

Translation: Do you like helping people? How would you like to help people?

Translation: Are you a caring person who likes to help others?

5 : What do you like about Japan?

Translation: How well do you know Japan?

Translation: Do you have a superficial interest or deep interest in Japan?

Translation: How long does this person plans to stay in Japan?

6 : What do you dislike about Japan?

Translation: Is this person able to see the positive and negatives of a situation?

Translation: Is this person unsuitable to work in a Japanese company?

Translation: Is this person accepting of cultural differences and playing by Japanese rules?

7 : What are your weaknesses?

Translation: This is a question designed to discover your future potential

Translation: Is this person aware of his or her weaknesses?

Translation: Does this person notice the weaknesses that I notice?

Translation : How does this person respond to challenges?

Translation : Does the person make an effort to improve one’s weaknesses?

Translation : Does the person expect others to accept his or her weak points?

Translation : Does the person have a plan for overcoming weaknesses?

ESL Jobs in Japan - Post Interview Reaction

Getting a Teaching Job : Post Interview Stage

Now you are at step 5, the final road on your journey to finding a teaching job in Japan. You are almost there and do not give up yet. Here are some of our thoughts on how to tell how you did in the interview.

What are the signs of a good interview?

Compliments from the Recruiter

When a recruiter compliments you, you need to listen very carefully to what they are complimenting you about. They could be complimenting on criterion or areas that are relevant to the position itself or not related to the position itself.

Any compliments about how you did the interview is not a guarantee you will be hired, but is an indicator that they either liked you or were impressed by you.

Any compliments about a specific skills needs to be evaluated. If the skill is relevant for the position itself than that is a good sign. I routinely compliment candidates on how well their YouTube channel is doing or their number of Instagram followers, but it is completely unrelated to being a good teacher. However, if I complimented someone on their demo English lesson, there is a good chance that we would be interested in hiring the person.

Any compliments about your work experience also needs to be evaluated. If you are applying for an entry level teaching position and someone compliments your 5 years of managing experience, their compliment may mean “Wow. I am surprised someone as qualified as you is applying for this entry level position.” The compliment is genuine about your experience, but not as someone appropriate for the position on hand.

Signs of urgency to hire you

I have to start this off with a huge caveat because this could be a great sign or terrible sign about the company.

Thinking positively, if you are someone who matches the experience needed, culture and personality of the company are better than the other candidates, the company would allow you to skip their traditional skeptical and cautionary approach to hiring. In this case, the recruiter is like “I want to hire this person before they get hired by someone else and I need to act quickly.”

Thinking skeptically, the company may be in a desperate position and they need to fill in the position as soon as possible. My general thought is that if a company is rushing through the hiring process, 80% of the time it means they need to hire someone quickly or they have a deadline.

Extending the normal interview time

Most recruiters have a set amount of time to conduct each interview based on the position and stage in the interview process. A recruiter extending the normal interview time from the second interview onward is a good sign that they are interested in you for the position. I would discount the first interview because most likely they are being polite in extending the interview.

You can do this by prolonging the interview by asking good questions and ensuring that you have answered all of their questions. At the end of the interview, ask them how long most their interviews go and apologize for making them go past that time. If they respond with a “it’s ok” or a compliment and genuinely mean it, it is a sign the interview went well.

Moving to the next stage of the interview

The sounds obvious at first glance, but applicants will always underestimate how much it means for a recruiter to pass you onto the hiring manager or a higher up level person. If you get the next interview, it means that they are at a minimal somewhat interested and are at least willing to spend several thousands to tens of thousands of yen in labor costs to give you another chance. Most companies are not going to spend thousands of yen in labor costs on someone who has no chance. The worst case scenario is that they like something about you, but there is something that they are suspicious about and need more time to figure.

Spending extra time doing small talk at the end

In about 50% of cases, the recruiter immediately knows if you will get the position or not. If they know they will not hire you, they will most likely not spend a large amount of time making small talk after the interview and move on to the next candidate. Recruiters have to meet a monthly quota and have to manage their time carefully. In the other 50% of cases, they genuinely will not know if they can hire due to factors outside their control or unpredictable situations. For example, having too many good candidates or a popular former employee suddenly requesting to come back.

Getting a Teaching Job - What actions should I take after an interview?

You should always follow up after an interview

If you are very interested in the position, you should contact the recruiter once you reach home and mention why you would like to join that company over other companies. I personally recommend interviewing at least two schools, so when you express your reasons for wanting to join one company, you can use the other company as a basis for why company 2 is more suitable for you. Avoid sending an email by mobile phone and always send important emails by computer.

The above applies even when you have already scheduled the following interview with the company. If you can write a memorable message, they are likely to continue to think about you even after they interview more candidates. Recruiters often remember their most recent interview and they are different from applicants. Applicants will remember the interview with the recruiter more vividly than the recruiter for you. For this reason, sending an email on the same day or one day later is a great way to keep you in their mind.

You should follow up if they do not respond by the promised date

If the recruiter does not respond by the promised date, I would recommend by stating your interest again in the company and give a short follow up by saying something like “I understand that you are really busy at the moment, and I wanted to follow up with the scheduling for the next interview because I am still very interested in your company” and give one short reason.

You do not need to go into detail like the post interview email, but simply show that you are not passive and that you are actually interested in the position.

ESL jobs in Japan - Japanese co-workers

Part-Time Jobs in Tokyo

In addition to providing great content and information for foreigners, BFF Tokyo also runs an English language school chain that hires teachers from all over the world - more than 25 countries represented.

Getting a Teaching Job - Balancing multiple offers

This is question is highly contextual based and you would need to read the situation to understand the most probable course of action.

Question : Do many people want to work at that place?

If the answer is yes than that employer probably has a good work culture and the staff are probably satisfied and know the value of working there compared to other places. If this is the case, mentioning that you are considering other places is the equivalent of saying that you are not sure if they are the right place for you. They will probably not wait for you and will hire someone else in the time while you are exploring other options. I need to make the point clear that they will hire someone else whose first option is their workplace. Depending on when you contact them, they may be willing to wait 3 - 5 days for you think about the decision.

If the answer is maybe or no than you have the luxury of juggling two options. Any place that is normal or does not receive many referrals are probably used to hearing candidates mention that they would like to explore other options. They will probably not wait more than two weeks for you.

Tip : I recommend checking out multiple places while job hunting and interviewing at the place you are not as interested in first. One, you get to practice your interview techniques and get some practice before going to the place you want to work at most. Two, you will be able to people the first place on hold as a backup if your first choice does not go through.

Question : What is your skill level?

If you are an entry level teacher (level 1), you can probably negotiate 3 days to 2 weeks. If you are a head teacher (level 2), you could negotiate 1 to 3 weeks. If you are a teacher manger (level 3), you could negotiate 2 to 4 weeks or more depending on your experience. If you are director level (levels 4 to 5 levels), you will have up to 3 to 6 months to think at times because you can change their whole company and they are willing to wait.

The general rule of thumb is the greater the impact you have on the school, the longer they would be willing to wait to give you time to think. Additionally, the salaries and responsibilities are much higher, so it is normal that you would be given more time to think.

What decisions go into hiring someone for teaching jobs in Japan

Hiring a candidate is not a simple yes or no question

The first thing that surprised me when become a recruiter was the amount of unseen factors that go into hiring a candidate. I thought the hiring process was a simple we have an opening and therefore we need one person to fill the spot equation as an applicant. Here are some of the unseen factors that goes into hiring an applicant.

Unseen hiring factors

Factor 1 Internal Preference : We want to interview both internal candidates and external candidates for the position. We have a great external candidate but we are waiting on a good internal candidate and what to do to fill their shoes if we hire them, so we are delaying our response to the external candidate.

Factor 2 Cultural Fit : We want to hire someone that would be a good fit for the manager - this may be different than the type of person I would like to hire for myself as recruiter. The recruiter really has to think if your personality and the team or manager is a good fit and that is not something they can answer during the interview and really need to think about it.

Factor 3 Stability : We want to hire this candidate and they are obviously the most talented, but might be a flight risk, so we will choose the slightly less talented but more reliable candidate.

Factor 4 Diversity : This is more of an American company situation, but companies may have to hit their diversity or gender ratio quotas or else receive criticism from their own employees and by the public and so the decision to make hires is prolonged in an attempt to manage ratios.

Factor 5 Timing : We need to hire someone for the position immediately and we will choose the best candidate available now. Unfortunately, the best candidate two candidates needs us to wait 3 months but we cannot wait that long, so we will choose the third best candidate.

The 3rd situation is one that strongly applies to English teaching positions in Japan and Tokyo and pretty much applies to any companies that deal with foreigners because companies are not looking for people who want to work for one year. They are looking for someone who wants to work for 5 to 10 years and will choose someone who is more reliable but not as talented. Based on my personal experience, I also have that preference as well because it takes a big time investment to train someone and training someone who will leave in one year is not worth the investment.

Summary on Getting a Teaching Job in Japan

Stage 2 : Understanding what employers want

You do not need teaching experience for getting a teaching job for an entry level position, but for the higher paying English teaching jobs in Japan you do need certification or experience. Employers are looking for someone who is reliable and can stay more than 2 years ideally for full-time positions and are looking for someone to be a teacher and not just a chat buddy. As for certificates, stick with ones from major universities or international organizations and avoid the crappy certificate factories.

Stage 3 : Writing your resume and cover letter

Getting a teaching job involves not sending the same cover letter to all companies. If there is a company you are really interested in, spend some time researching more into them and that it is obvious to recruiters that you did not do research on their company. Desperate companies hire desperate people, so avoid entering a company you will regret later due to a lack of research. The most common resume mistake you are making is probably listing your job description as opposed to accomplishments.

Stage 4 : Interviews

Getting a teaching job involves not asking obvious questions that are on the website as to stand out from the millions of others who are seeking English teaching jobs in Japan. Ask questions about their education system and do not be afraid to interview the company. If you are a quality candidate and they are looking for quality people, they will appreciate your time investment in their company. We also talked about the real meaning behind interview questions, so you can understand what information they really want but may not be able to directly ask.

Stage 5 : Post Interview Stage

Context is everything and there is a lot more going behind your hiring decision than a simple yes and no answer. Your interview could go perfect, but getting a teaching job can be much deeper than that because they still might not be able to hire you because of what they are looking for and what you offer. The trick to balancing multiple offers is to know how much leverage you have and how much they can benefit from hiring you. Entry level position candidates have low leverage while level 4 and above employees have high impact and leverage.

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