How to Find English Teaching Jobs in Japan
Step 1: Do I Want to Apply to a Big Company?
The answer to this first question, is a very important step is the process. If the answer is yes, then you’ll actually be getting your job from outside Japan.
There are two main kinds of teaching positions in Japan:
- ALT positions (this includes JET)
- Eikaiwa positions
There’s an excellent article on TransitionsAbroad.com that explains the differences in detail.
Both large and small companies offer these positions. The decision you need to make first is if you want to apply with a large company or not?
Here are two sample large employers:
If you choose a large employer, you’ll usually be able to apply from abroad. The large companies have the resources to be able to do the interview process from outside of Japan. They’ll sponsor you for a work visa, and you’ll be able to fly over and start working and living in Japan straight away.
But you might want to go with a smaller company for any number of reasons.
You might want something that’s less corporate and more personal.
- You might want to see the full range of different positions and contracts available. Smaller companies might have positions that are more specialized or require less hours.
- You might be forced into this option because the large companies don’t recruit in your country.
Most of the smaller- and medium-sized businesses will want you to be in Japan to apply because they don’t have the resources to interview people overseas.
(Word of warning: Some companies are advertising for someone in Japan who’s ready to work. If you go over to Japan on a tourist visa looking for work, you still won’t be ready for work until you’ve converted to a work visa and that can take one to two months.)
Step 2: Arriving in Japan on a Tourist Visa or a Working Holiday Visa
The next step in getting your job is to apply for either a working holiday visa (1 year) or a tourist visa (90 days).
A working holiday visa is only available to certain countries and you can only do obtain once. However, it’s still a better option than the tourist visa because it gets you into the country ready to work. You can always convert to a work visa later.
If the working visa is an option, apply for that. If it’s not an option, then apply for a tourist visa.
Either way, when you have a visa, find a cheap flight, and head to Japan.
Step 3: Temporary Accommodations
Living in hostels and hotels can burn through your money. If you’re searching for work in Japan, then getting a temporary accommodation is a great way to keep to a budget. Japan has accommodations specifically for this purpose, houses called guesthouses or gaijin houses. Gaijin houses allow you to rent out shared or private apartments, usually a month at a time. Sakura House is a good place to start looking.
Step 4: Finding the job
These days looking online is usually your best bet for finding jobs.
- GaijinPot — GaijinPot is well on its way to becoming the largest portal for jobs, housing, and traveling in Japan. The website doesn’t have a specific focus on teaching English but it still offers plenty of jobs.
- teflSearch — The job search is powerful and it’s full of useful information on teaching in Japan. Disclaimer: teflSearch is my site, so obviously I think it’s great.
- O-Hayo Sensei — Not much in the way of a search, but without a doubt the most up-to-date source of jobs in Japan.
- JobsInJapan — The “mother lode of Japan job info,” with many English teaching and other types of job listings and articles.
- ELT News — Another collection of teaching jobs in Japan that you might not have come across elsewhere.
And although online search wins in quantity, remember that nothing will beat a recommendation from someone you know. If you have any friends who are already teaching, their recommendations about a school are the most useful reviews you’ll get, and they’re a great way to get a job. Just as with most industries, who you know is often the most important factor in making a decision and getting a job.
Step 5: Converting a Tourist/Working Holiday Visa to a Work Visa
Now you’ve got a job you can’t start it until you’re able to work legally in Japan.
That means converting your tourist visa to a work visa.
(If you’ve got a working holiday visa then you’re good for a year, but it’s still worth converting.
Contracts tend to be for a year or slightly less, and assuming it took you a month or so to find a job, your working holiday visa might run out right near the end.)
Your employer will have to sponsor you. Then you’ll need to go through a process the Ministry of Education in Japan calls an “Application for Change of Status of Residence.”
Because you’re changing from a tourist visa or working holiday visa, you’ll also need to hand in a Certificate of Eligibility, which your employer should provide for you.
The only small hitch you may run into is that the process can take a month and a half or longer. If your 90-day tourist visa expires during this period, you’ll have to leave Japan and return on another tourist visa while it’s processed. (South Korea is a popular choice for visa runs.)
Once you’ve converted your visa you’ll need to go register at your government office as a resident.
Congratulations, you’re now legally working in Japan!
Dominic Woodman runs teflSearch by day, which is a job site designed for teachers of English. There are, of course, plenty of English teaching job sites already, but he was frustrated with the lack of search, cumbersome interface design, and poor information he found in most of them. teflSearch is his attempt to fix all the problems he discovered in the search engines.
In Dominic's spare time he enjoys travel writing, live music, playing music, and reading.