So you are thinking about heading abroad to teach English in Japan. Maybe you have been fascinated with Japanese culture for a long time, or maybe an interest was just recently sparked. However the idea came up, my friend, you may just be on the brinks of starting one of the most unforgettable chapters of your life. For me, it was a longtime dream for me to experience living in Japan. Coming here has lived up to my expectations and so much more. There is a lot to know about living and working in this unique country. Today, I present a post centered around programs that offer English teaching jobs in Japan. If you want to know more about life in the land of the rising sun, check out Living in Japan as a foreigner– Your Questions Answered.
There are a hand full of organizations that send native English speakers to become English teachers in Japan (Most of these programs refer to the foreigner English teacher as “ALT” or Assistant Language Teacher). I have done extensive research on them through reading online, talking with alumni, and of course participating myself. In this post, I provide a summary of the big programs and a side by side comparison of their pros and cons.
Four programs will be introduced: The JET Programme, Interac, AEON and ECC.
The Japanese Exchange and Teaching Programme (The JET Programme)
The JET Programme is perhaps the most well known teaching program for Japan. It is the only program that is backed by the governments of Japan and participating countries. It has been around for over 30 years. Its goals are to enhance the internationalization of Japan through foreign language education and facilitating cultural exchanges.
- A prestigious program that is well structured and organized.
- Highest base salary out of all the programs.
- It fully covers the participants’ travel expenses to and from Japan.
- Great formal and informal support system for participants.
- Application timeline is rigid. Application only open once a year in the fall. The waiting time between each step of the process is quite long. Ie. Interview in February, notice of acceptance in April. Send off to Japan in August.
- The application process is quite demanding in terms of paperwork you have to provide. The program is very selective.
Founded in 1972, Interac is Japan’s largest private provider of professional foreign teachers to the Japanese public schools through its ALT program. Interac also provides professional teachers for commercial and government organizations.
- Accept applications all year round. However, the main recruiting seasons are spring and fall.
- Lowest salary out of the programs.
- Does not cover your travel expense to and from Japan.
- Very short vacation days.
Founded in 1973, AEON is a private education institute. They have 250 branch schools located within every prefecture of Japan with current student enrollment exceeding 80,000. The majority of teachers at AEON instruct all ages of students from children to adults.
- Housing subsidies provided.
- Apartments are furnished.
- Travel to Japan is partially covered.
- Recruits year round (applicants should apply three to six months before their desired start date in Japan.)
- Bonuses available.
- Lower salary than the JET Programme.
- Travel to Japan is not fully covered
- Less freedom to choose when to take time off as it is mostly predetermined.
Started as a small English conversation club in Osaka in 1962, ECC now has over 400 native English speakers teaching at more than 180 schools throughout the country.
- Most vacation days
- Bonuses available
- May live in shared housing (Which may or may not be a bad thing)
Teach English in Japan – Programs Comparison
For your convenience, here is a chart that compares the programs’ benefits side by side.
Starting at 290,000/month
Starting at 230,000/ month.
Starting at 270,000 /month.
Starting at 270,000/month
|Bonuses||No||No||Yes. Contract completion cash bonuses.|
12- 17 months: 80,000 yen
18-23 months: 120,000 yen
24 months or more:
|Yes. Performance based annual bonus available.|
(Up to 100 000 yen to start, payable over the first three years of employment)
|Paid flight to Japan?|| |
Yes. Fully covered.
70,000 yen subsidy provided.
70,000 yen subsidy provided.
|Work hours|| |
Up to 40 hours/ week
Up to 40 hours/week
Up to 40 hours/week
Up to 40 hours/week
|Vacation days||National holidays and at least 10 paid days depending on your placement.|
|National holidays and 5 paid personal days. (The program recommend these days to be used to cover days when you are sick.) 3 weeks of summer holiday break in and 2 weeks new years break that are not paid.|
|National Holidays and 5 paid personal days.|
3 one-week paid vacation time off in spring, summer and winter.
|National Holidays and 22 paid days.|
|Training||Abundant training prior to and after arrival in Japan. Ongoing travel during contract. Hours vary.|
|Online training prior to arrival. Initial and ongoing training after arrival in Japan.|
|A week or more initial training in Japan. Ongoing training provided.|
|Two weeks initially training provided.|
|Housing Information||Housing is usually arranged for. Participants pay their own rent. In some cases, it’s subsidized partially. Conditions vary depending on the contracting organization.||Housing is arranged. Participants pay their own rent.|
|Private furnished apartment is arranged.|
Key money is paid for.
AEON will subsidize rent if it is over 55,000 yen.
|Private or shared housing provided.|
Key money paid for.
Participant responsible for full rent.
|Health Insurance||Provided.||Not provided.|
Participants responsible for enrolling and paying.
Participants pay approximately 38,000 yen/month
|Application Process||Application accepted once a year in November.||Application accepted all year round. Main recruiting season in spring and fall.||Application accepted all year round.||Application accepted different times of the year. Check company website for information.|
|Other||Large and supportive JET community.|
|N/A||O.T. available. 3,000 yen/hour|
Additional business work opportunities available.
Additional work and advancement opportunities available.
Teach English in Japan – Summing up
So is your head spinning from all the information? Gah which program should I choose?! You ask. Personally, I highly recommend the JET Programme. It is the program that sent me to Japan and I absolutely loved it. Although JET has a slightly more demanding application process than the other programs, it offers the best benefits in my opinions. Just the fact that the flight expenses to Japan is fully covered sets the JET program apart from the other organizations. Having said that, the other programs have their own advantages, like flexible application time, guaranteed housing subsidies, longer vacation days and so on. It all depends on what is more important to you.
Did you manage to read the whole article? Wow I commend you! To teach English in Japan, you should be someone who is enthusiastic, open minded, and willing to learn. I think you fit all of these qualities. 😉 Now go apply and make your new adventure happen!
If you want more ideas of what living and working in Japan is like, go on and read Living in Japan as a foreigner- Things You Want to Know.
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