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Requirements To Teach English In Japan: Everything You Need to Know

Are you looking to teach English in Japan? It’s a popular destination for many English teachers, but before you start packing your bags, there are some requirements you need to know about.

Getting degrees apostilled? Getting visas? We’ll cover everything you need about the basic and specific requirements for teaching English in Japan.

Key Takeaways

  • To teach English in Japan, the only set requirements are a Bachelor’s degree in any subject, native-level English proficiency, and a visa allowing you to work there.
  • TEFL certificates or other teaching qualifications are not a requirement, but you’ll find it tough to find work without one.
  • Different teaching programs are available in Japan, such as the JET Program, eikaiwas, and international schools, each with specific requirements.
  • Depending on the type of visa you need, you may require a job offer, Certificate of Eligibility, and specific qualifications.
  • Having cultural understanding, technology access, and flexibility as a teacher in Japan is important.

Basic Requirements to Teach English in Japan

If you want to teach English in Japan, you must meet some basic requirements.

A Degree in Any Subject

A degree in any subject is one of the main requirements for English teaching in Japan. This means you don’t necessarily need a degree in English or education. However, having a degree in these subjects can be an advantage. It shows that you deeply understand the English language and its teaching methodologies.

A degree is a prerequisite to getting a Visa, which we’ll explore now.

Native-level English

Native-level English proficiency is also essential.

Native or near-native English speakers are preferred, but non-native speakers with a high level of English proficiency can also apply to teach in Japan. Although finding a job may be more difficult – South Korea may be more appealing for non-native speakers

Have A Valid Job Offer

To get the work permit, Certificate of Eligibility (COE), and VISA, you’ll need the support of an employer who will file many of the documents on your behalf.

A Work Permit, Certificate of Eligibility, and A Visa

This is where it gets a little complicated. But luckily, you’ll already have a potential employer ready to guide you through the process.

There are two general routes, the instructor visa and the specialist in humanities visa.

The Japan Instructor Visa is for applicants who will act as instructors at educational institutions. The most common places of employment are elementary schools, junior high schools, and high schools.

The Specialist in Humanities / International Services Visa is one of Japan’s broadest and most important work visa categories. It’s used for working in language centers and other non-school settings.

The requirements for each differ slightly. But the general process works like this:

  1. Gather your documents (your degree, copy of your passport, and any other documents requested) and submit them to your school.
  2. Your school Applies for the Eligibility (COE): The COE certifies an applicant’s eligibility to work in Japan. It must be submitted in person at a regional immigration office in Japan, so your school will do it for you.
  3. Await COE Approval: The processing time is generally 4-6 weeks. After which your school will send it to you.
  4. Obtain Your Instructor Status of Residence (SOR): Proudly take your COW to the nearest Japanese embassy and convert it to a work visa with SOR. Upon receiving the SOR, you’ll also receive a Japan Residence Card (which must be carried at all times).

Additional Requirements That Many Schools Will Prefer

Imahe of Documents that meet Requirements To Teach English In Japan laid across a desk

As mentioned, you’ll need a job offer to get your Visa. So it’s with considering some other requirements that individual schools might prefer. 

Meeting these requirements may also secure you a better salary

TEFL/TESOL (optional)

Another important requirement is a TEFL/TESOL certificate with a minimum of 120 hours completed. This certification isn’t needed if you have other qualifications, such as a teaching license or a degree in education. However, having a TEFL/TESOL certification can increase your chances of getting hired. It shows that you have the necessary skills and knowledge to teach English as a foreign language.

I wouldn’t recommend going to Japan without having done some kind of TEFL course, even if it’s just a 20-hour online TEFL. Trust me; it’s not a pleasant experience being in a class with no idea what you are doing.

Criminal record check

While not a legal requirement, a clean criminal record is important for anyone who wants to teach English in Japan. You will need to provide a criminal background check to prove that you have no criminal record for most jobs in Japan, and it demonstrates your trustworthiness and reliability as a teacher.

If you want to teach on the JET Program, you’ll need to submit a criminal record check with your application.

Getting in with a minor criminal record may be possible, but this is unlikely.

Not Being Old

One of the harsh realities of teaching in Asia is that age discrimination can be challenging for older teachers.

Japan’s retirement age is 60 years old. This means you might have trouble finding work once you’re over 50.

Specific Requirements for Different Types of Teaching Programs and Schools in Japan

When it comes to teaching English in Japan, specific requirements vary depending on the type of program or school you want to work for.

For the JET Program, for example, you’ll need to meet certain qualifications that are different from those required for Eikaiwas or international schools.

Requirements for The JET Program

  • Applicants should hold a degree in any subject
  • Applicants should be under 40 years old.
  • Applicants should have a clean criminal record
  • Applicants should have an interest in Japanese culture and language
  • Applicants should be willing to adapt to living and working in Japan
  • Although not mandatory, having some teaching experience or skills relevant to the role is preferred

To be eligible for The JET Program, you must meet certain requirements. The program requires applicants to have a bachelor’s degree, be under 40 years old, be interested in Japanese culture and language, and be willing to adapt to living and working in Japan. Having some teaching experience or relevant skills is preferred but not mandatory.

If you meet these eligibility criteria, you can begin applying for The JET Program. The timeline for the application process typically begins in the fall and continues through the winter, with interviews taking place in the spring.

To increase your chances of being selected, prepare for the interview by researching the program benefits and clearly understanding what is expected of you as a participant.

Requirements for Public School (ALT) Teaching

  • Applicants must be native-level English speakers
  • Applicants are required to have a college or university degree
  • Some school boards may require teaching certifications, but most do not
  • ESL or TEFL certifications are not mandatory
  • Being able to speak Japanese is not a requirement for most ALT positions

To teach as an ALT (Assistant Language Teacher) in a public school in Japan, you must be a native English speaker and hold a college or university degree. Some school boards might require teaching certifications, but the majority do not.

ESL or TEFL certifications aren’t mandatory, but having them could lead to better positions and possibly more responsibility within your role‚Äč

Fluency in Japanese is not typically required for ALT positions. In fact, many schools prefer that you don’t speak Japanese, as the goal is for students to learn English. However, there may be instances where a little Japanese knowledge is preferred, depending on the job.

Requirements for Eikaiwas

  • Applicants should have a bachelor’s degree
  • Strong communication skills are essential
  • Native-level English proficiency
  • A TEFL/TESOL certificate is not mandatory, but having one can increase your chances of getting hired.
  • Having teaching experience is an advantage.

You’ll need a bachelor’s degree and strong communication skills to succeed as an Eikaiwa teacher in Japan. Eikaiwas are private English language schools that are popular in Japan and often hire foreign teachers.

While a TEFL/TESOL certificate is not mandatory, having one can increase your chances of getting hired. Additionally, having native-level English proficiency is highly preferred, as is having teaching experience.

The interview process for Eikaiwa teaching positions in Japan can be rigorous. You may be asked to demonstrate your teaching abilities through a mock lesson or be asked questions related to your teaching philosophy.

Cultural understanding is also important, as you’ll be interacting with Japanese students and colleagues daily.

If you meet the degree requirements and have the necessary language proficiency and teaching skills, you can succeed as an Eikaiwa teacher in Japan.

Tips and Advice for Teaching English in Japan

japanese proficiency communicate with colleagues

Following these tips and advice can make your experience teaching English in Japan even more rewarding.

First and foremost, be respectful of Japanese culture and etiquette. Learn some basic phrases and customs to communicate and interact with your students, colleagues, and locals. This will help you build stronger relationships and show that you’re making an effort to understand and appreciate their culture.

Be flexible and adaptable to different teaching situations and student needs. Classroom management can be challenging, especially with large class sizes and limited resources. Have a solid lesson plan and teaching methods that are creative and engaging. Try to make your lessons fun and interactive for your students, and incorporate different teaching methods such as games, group activities, and multimedia.

Cultural differences and language barriers may also pose a challenge. So be patient and understanding with your students and colleagues. Try to use simple language and avoid idioms or slang that may be difficult for non-native speakers to understand.

Lastly, make sure to do your research before choosing a teaching program or school in Japan. Ensure you understand the contract terms, the salary and benefits, the working hours and conditions, the location and accommodation, and the support and training provided.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there any age restrictions for teaching English in Japan?

Most schools require teachers to be at least 22 years old. However, visa requirements, cultural differences, and language barriers can also impact job opportunities. Older teachers may find it challenging to find work due to Japan’s lJapan’srement age of 60.

Can I teach English in Japan if I don’t speak Japanese?

Yes, you can teach English in Japan without speaking Japanese. However, there may be a language barrier and cultural differences to navigate. Effective classroom management and lesson planning can help overcome these challenges and create a successful teaching experience.

Is it necessary to have a teaching degree to teach English in Japan?

To teach English in Japan, a teaching degree is not always necessary. However, teaching qualifications, language proficiency, work experience, and cultural understanding are job requirements. With these, you can enjoy the freedom of teaching in Japan.

How long is the typical contract for teaching English in Japan?

Typical contracts for teaching English in Japan range from one to three years, with the option to renew. Salary expectations are competitive and dependent on experience. Visa requirements vary, while housing options are typically provided. Working hours vary by school and the renewal process is straightforward.

Can I bring my family with me while teaching English in Japan?

Yes, you can bring your family with you while teaching English in Japan. Visa requirements vary, but most schools offer family accommodation. Work-life balance is important, and schools usually have generous school holidays to help with cultural adjustment.