A Guide to Teaching in Japan

Japan is a diverse country with stunning mountains, relaxing hot springs, tropical islands and tranquil ancient temples - you will get to experience a unique culture and modern technology when teaching here. Japan has the worlds second largest economy wages are high especially when instructing private language lessons. Apply to become an English teacher in Japan today. 


Popular Places to Teach in Japan

You can find positions throughout the country in places like:

  • Tokyo
  • Osaka
  • Nagoya
  • Fukuoka
  • Kobe
  • Kyoto


TEFL Courses in Japan

One of the best ways to get a teaching job is to take a TEFL certification in Japan. There are classroom TEFL courses available to book throughout the country where you will be trained by experienced staff and get to hands on tuition which is great if you have no previous experience.

These courses are an internationally recognized and accredited certification boosting your chances of getting a job teaching English in Japan and worldwide. Most TEFL schools offer packages which include accommodation, training, a certification and they also organise excursions and activities.

TEFL companies usually have excellent links with recruiters and some offer guaranteed paid jobs on completion of a course.


How to Get a Teaching Job in Japan

These are the best places offering teaching jobs for foreigners in Japan:

  • Public Schools
  • Private Schools
  • Businesses
  • Private Individuals / Freeland lessons
  • Sign up for a structured program like JET

When applying for jobs you will find a lot of schools and private recruiters prefer people with experience and also an advanced qualification. If you are totally new to this career we recommend you be friendly and open with other internationals who might be able to help you get a dream job.

A lot of positions advertised online on websites, Facebook and Twitter pages but always check authenticity and past feedback. You can also seek out employment locally or talk with language schools. The three largest cities in Japan are Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka - these are also some of the most popular places to teach as there are generally more jobs here than in other areas of the country.


Peak Hiring Times

You can apply for positions all year but the best time to gain employment is from January to April.


Salary for Teaching in Japan

Wages can vary depending on the job, employer and location but we estimate you should be able to make around £2000 ($2500) per month. Yearly you can ear around Y=3.0 million (around $35,000 USD) but if you have previous teaching experience and a technical TEFL/CELTA course you might also be able to demand higher wages.

You will find public schools pay quite well, around the same as private schools. You can expect to make around Y=2500 (£25 /$35) if you decide to lead private lessons but this can vary a lot. Once you have experience of working in Japan, get your feet routed and make good contacts you will learn how to make more money.

Competition for jobs can be high in some places and this can also have an effect on wages. As you gain experience, you can start to charge significantly more.


Cost of Living

When working as a teacher it is possible to save and make money as long as you are careful with your outgoings but Japan is a very expensive destination compared to other Asia teaching destinations. You can expect to pay around £800 - £1200 ($1000 - $15000) which should include food, accommodation and transport and general day to day things. You can save money by not eating out, not drinking alcohol and by shopping at local markets. You might also want to choose your accommodation carefully.



Japan is a safe destination for tourists and most teachers never encounter any problems. There have been isolated incidents though and you should always take precautions like telling people what you are doing, who you are teacher, where etc.



Knowing Japanese or being fluent is not needed to teach here but you will need to try to learn the basics just to make integration and communication easier. This will also give you an advantage in seeking employment if you can talk to recruiters in their native language.


Visa, Eligibility & Requirements

You will need a visa to work in Japan but most employers and schools will be able to help you with all paperwork and sponsor your time in this country. You can enter the country on a tourist visa and then apply for a working holiday visa in-country if you find a sponsor. To be eligible for a visa you will need to hold a bachelor's degree. Japan also had mutual arrangements with a selected number of countries where you can obtain a working holiday visa and then teach part time.



One of the biggest costs of living in Japan is accommodation, in places like Tokyo you will pay a premium for a tiny flat or room, if you are on a budget you might want to base yourself outside the large cities. Some employers help with accommodation or even will find somewhere for you e.g. the JET program. You also have the option to seek out a place to stay once in country, on the internet or though a company who help you find accommodation (fees might apply). We recommend you find somewhere which is furnished as the cost of buying items can be high.


How to Apply

You can search TEFL qualification courses and recruiters on our directory. If you need any help arranging a teaching job in Japan please get in touch.


Japan TEFL Reviews & Experiences

If you have ever been to teach in Japan and would like to add a review, write about your experience or share any recommendations please contact us.

"I went to university in Liverpool to study Japanese and that helped make me decide a career teaching in Japan would be for me. After graduating I departed for Osaka where I have been working as an English teacher. At first it was difficult to adapt but after the first few weeks you will really start to enjoy the experience. I have made friends with other teachers from all over the world and the local people have made me feel so welcome. I would highly recommend the experience to anyone looking to do something different." - Laura, England

"I first moved to Shikokuchuo City on Shinkoku Island in southern Japan. Shikoku was peaceful but I was itching to get back to the big city. So, it was on to Tokyo next! I was in Tokyo on March 11th when the earthquake hit. It was the last day of the school year, at public elementary school, and nearing the end of the day when the gym started shaking. Immediately, children got under tables, as they are taught to do, but we soon realized it wasn’t an ordinary quake and ran outside to the playground.

The experience was surreal. Once I stumbled outside (it’s not easy walking while the Earth bucks beneath you) I witnessed the power lines acting as jump ropes and the water from the pool spilling over into the playground area. Throughout the following days and weeks I was impressed by peoples’ ability to remain calm and the order they managed to maintain in the face of uncertainty. 

Since moving to Japan I have worked for a private language school, public elementary and junior high schools, and a private high school. I finally graduated with my Masters and thanks to it, and my certifications and experiences, am now working in universities in Tokyo. I made it to where I wanted to be way back on that fall day all those years ago when I first met Indy! Ok, not quite, I'm still hoping to make my way back to the states and find a university position there but I feel I'm close! Plus, I know now that if I do get the itch to teach abroad later it’s possible!" - Joshua Stone, USA


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