5 Best English Teaching Jobs in Japan – ESL/ELT Job Options

Before you have begun to find an English teaching job in Japan or attempted the sometimes extensive application process, it helps to set your goal clearly. There are many teaching jobs available in Japan, and not all aspiring teachers fit each job type. The requirements, range of salaries, and workload can vary wildly between different positions, so we have put together this guide to educate you on the options.

How can you work as an English Teacher in Japan?

Let’s look at some of the top English teaching options in Japan, the salaries and requirements.

1. ALT English Teaching Jobs in Japan

ALT jobs (Assistant Language Teacher) are one of the most common jobs for foreigners in Japan. The well-known JET Programme is a popular way to start as an ALT if you meet their requirements.

As an ALT, you will be expected to help a Japanese teacher during their lessons, providing a correct pronunciation and drills for the words or phrases they are trying to teach. Depending on the teacher, they might ask you to help with lesson planning or other aspects of ESL.

ALTs usually work on the average school’s schedule and do not have many responsibilities outside of the classroom. However, depending on your school, you may be asked to attend or participate in extracurricular activities. Being a part of a school like this is a great way to meet more people in your area and become a part of the community.

There are three main ways to become an ALT: You can work for an ALT dispatching company. You might also be hired directly by a local Board of Education (BoE). Alternatively, you could apply for the JET Programme and hope you are accepted.

Dispatchers are typically private corporations having contracts with the BoE to send them reasonably trained and responsible ALTs. In exchange, the ALTs have steady work while the dispatcher makes a cut of their pay. There is currently a trend with the BoE to seek other sources to save money and find long-term candidates for these ALT positions.

Applying directly to the BoE is a little more challenging, but they generally pay a little better if you can find these jobs. In exchange, you will be required to have more responsibilities and connections to the school. For example, those after-school events mentioned earlier will be mandatory now that you work for the school. Many ALTs like the stability of a direct contract and the deeper connection with coworkers and students.

ALT jobs in Japan could be for any age group of students from preschool to high school. You will likely assist with a variety of students. Many ALTs are essentially preschool or kindergarten teachers.

Summary of ALT Jobs:

Students: Classes of elementary school, JHS, SHS students
Schedule: Around 22-24 hours of teaching per week, plus prep time and events
Salary: Starting salary ¥230,000 – ¥280,000 per month
Requirements: Bachelor’s Degree for a work visa, an ESL certification like CertTESOL, some Japanese skills if applying directly

2. Eikaiwa English Teaching Jobs in Japan

The other main source of a first job in Japan for ESL teachers is working at an eikaiwa or “conversation school.” Eikaiwa jobs usually involve teaching small groups or one-on-one tutoring sessions. There used to be an emphasis on conversation skills only. Still, most eikaiwas offer a wide range of teaching materials that focus on specific topics like life skills, travel, and business.

Eikaiwas either focus on adult students and offer some business English lessons, or they open up to a blend of private students of all ages. If you are not looking to teach children, an adult-specific eikaiwa is a great place to start.

Variety is the spice of life, and an eikaiwa is the perfect place to find it! During the day, you’ll teach office workers or ESL hobbyists like stay-at-home parents and retirees. In the afternoon, toddlers finish school and start taking lessons around 2 PM, and after that, older children and teens will trickle in. Most eikaiwas are open on weekends when you can meet all kinds of exciting and diverse students.

Shane is one of the oldest eikaiwa brands in Japan and hires many new teachers each year. As a partner of the OTC, Shane recognizes the CertTESOL course as an excellent starting point for their new staff.

Like ALT jobs, you pretty much need to qualify for a work visa in Japan to apply. A certificate in TESOL can help you secure the location, work hours, or eikaiwa chain that you want the most.

Summary of Eikaiwa Jobs:

Students: All kinds of students, all levels, ages, and motivations
Schedule: Nights and weekends usually required, expect 38+ hours per week
Salary: Starting salary ¥180,000 to ¥250,000 per month
Requirements: Speak English. A CertTESOL can get you into the higher quality/salary eikaiwas. Bachelor’s degree for a work visa

3. Corporate Business English Training Jobs in Japan

Besides teaching business English at some specialized eikaiwas, there are also other opportunities for English teachers with a background in business. It may be more challenging to find an in-house English training job in Japan, but they can pay better and offer you a career at a large corporation.

Companies that hire their own English teacher often have stricter requirements than the general school jobs. A background in business, an advanced degree or diploma in TESOL such as the Trinity DipTESOL that we offer, or years of experience teaching English in Japan will help. Usually, these jobs are found through a connection or business networking in Japan, so do not expect to start in this niche.

Summary of Business English Jobs:

Students: Office workers for international businesses
Schedule: Typically during regular work hours, Monday through Friday
Salary: ¥3,000 to ¥10,000 per hour
Requirements: Bachelor’s Degree, ESL qualification like CertTESOL/CELTA, background in business a plus

4. Private School Teaching Jobs in Japan

Besides working for the BoE and teaching at a public school, many private schools in Japan hire ESL teachers. These positions are usually at an international school, where they seek teachers for all subjects that can use English for their lessons. The age of the students is usually junior high school or high school. Moreover, you will potentially meet students from all over the world.

Because these are not ALT positions, you will usually need a teaching license from your home country. In some cases, an advanced certification like the CertTESOL or DipTESOL might be enough to get your foot in the door.

Summary of Private School Jobs:

Students: Junior high school, senior high school, sometimes children
Schedule: Standard school hours, Monday through Friday
Salary: Often Hourly Rated – ¥2,500 – ¥7,000 per hour
Requirements: Teaching license from your home country, or sometimes a CertTESOL/CELTA/DipTESOL/DELTA, and a Bachelor’s Degree

5. University English Teaching Positions in Japan

Similarly to teaching at a private or international school, you will need a teaching license to work at a university in Japan. Add in that a master’s degree is the general standard, and you might be looking at a few more years of study before applying for these. A professor position can be one of the highest-paid teaching jobs, but it is not without its drawbacks.

Not only will you need a different type of work visa to be a professor, but the Japanese university system favours short-term hires. Expect to be seeking a new job every couple of years. Professors are also expected to “publish or perish,” regularly adding to their publications or research or academic writings.

Summary of University Jobs:

Students: Motivated university students
Schedule: 90-minute lecture per class each week, office hours for helping students
Salary: Based on classes per week. ¥15,000 – ¥30,000 per class each month.
Requirements: Master’s Degree in the subject you teach, history of publication, teaching experience

What to look at while choosing an English teaching job in Japan

Here are some of the most important factors to consider when seeking and accepting your first English teaching job in Japan. It can help to set your intentions before beginning the process.


Always dreamed of living on the mountainous northern island of Hokkaido? Want to experience a truly Japanese experience while teaching English in the inaka (countryside)? Well, your options may be more limited than the crowds of foreigners flocking to major cities like Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya. Some large ESL chains will have opportunities in far-flung locations, but if you have your heart set on a specific location, look for the most popular thing there.


Living costs in Japan are outlined in our [Career Guide for English Teachers in Japan], and actual salary ranges are discussed in [What Salary to Expect Teaching English in Japan… And How to Increase Your Pay]. However, for now, understanding the broad differences in pay can help you determine what type of English teaching job you would like.

Workload and Working Hours

Some English teaching jobs in Japan will be on a standard Monday through Friday work schedule. Nevertheless, many more flexible options for students mean that ESL teachers are expected to work nights and weekends. The labour laws in Japan protect everyone from too many consecutive days or extended hours, but you may have a personal preference.


If you are starting your English teaching career in Japan, you may not be qualified for many types of ESL jobs. For a work visa, you generally need a 4-year degree, such as a Bachelor’s degree. To look at all the different visas for the types of jobs, or the requirements for a work visa, check out our Relocation Guide: Moving to Japan to Teach English.

Many companies or higher positions will also require a minimum level of Japanese, so you can effectively work alongside your Japanese coworkers. However, teaching ESL using Japanese is counterproductive, so you will not be expected to give lectures or instructions using anything but English.

What Now?

If you have found a type of English teaching job in Japan that jumps out at you, now is the time to start earning it! For any position, a teaching certificate like the TESOL is an excellent boost to your resume. STC has new courses starting throughout the year, so get enrolled now to begin your ESL journey.

Maybe you have little experience, or you have already gotten your first certificate in the ESL field. Check out our guide on [how to increase your salary] for more tips on increasing your earnings… or read more about [designing the perfect application] so you can land your dream job.

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