Everything you need to know to get started teaching English in Japan

This is quite possibly everything you need to know about teaching English in Japan in 2023 and 2024. Whether you want to teach English in Tokyo, Hokkaido, Sapporo, Kyoto, Okinawa or Osaka you will find what you need to know here.

Contents about teaching English in Japan

What are the requirements to teach in Japan?

"Can I teach English in Japan?" 

  1. You often (but not always) need to be a native English speaker: Australia, New Zealand, Canada, UK, USA, South Africa.
  2. You usually need to have a bachelor's degree (in anything).

Those are the basic qualifications to get a working visa to teach English. This visa is normally called a humanities visa. In addition you made need further qualifications.

In addition:

  • Schools may prefer teachers with related qualifications or degrees or a related certification like TEFL/CELTA/TESOL/TEKA.
  • To teach in a university in Japan you will normally need a master's degree.
  • Experience is often preferred but not necessarily required.

Related questions:

Can you teach English in Japan without a degree?

It may be possible however it could be illegal depending on the situation. Typically you need a degree to get a legal work visa.

What is the age limit to teach in Japan?

Typically that can range from 60-70 years old depending on the school.

Is it possible to teach English in Japan with just an associate's degree? 

As mentioned above typically a bachelor's degree is required, however there have been reports of only needing an associate's in some schools.

Can I teach English in Japan with a TEFL?

Yes, you may be able to but you normally need a degree.

Is a CELTA required or better than a TEFL?

It usually has a better reputation than TEFL and is often a higher quality course especially if you teach mostly adults, however it's rarely required and a course targeted at teaching children may be better as they are more difficult to teach and more jobs are for teaching children.

Can I teach in Japan if I am not a native speaker?

Yes, non-native speakers have done that legally. Not every school will be open to that though. Immigration will decide based on your application.

Do I need a background check?

To teach English in Japan you do not usually need a background check. It could be required by a certain school though.

Do I need a bachelor's?

As mentioned before you normally do. If you can find another type of visa then you may stay there, but that doesn't legally allow you to teach English.

Learn more about the requirements to teach English in Japan.

What is the salary for teaching English in Japan?

If you are wondering 'how much do you get paid to teach English in Japan' then it depends on the school and possibly your qualifications. But most teachers make between 220,000 Yen and 280,000 Yen. ALT teachers tend to make on the lower end unless they are working for the JET program. 

Where can I find a job teaching English in Japan?

You can look on various sites with job boards and listings such as: 

You can search those sites for vacancies and keep in mind local sites will usually prefer teachers in Japan.

Can I teach English in Japan online?

Yes, but teachers to Japanese students online make less money than teachers who teach Chinese students. Some companies in Japan are:

  • cena
  • cafetalk
  • english everywhere
  • rarejob
  • eto
  • alis
  • eigox
  • eigoru

These positions would allow you to teach English from your home or remotely. Learn more about the different companies in Japan to teach "online".

How do I apply to teach English in Japan?

First check that you have all the necessary requirements and then look for a job and apply. Most new teachers find jobs teaching in Japan in advance from outside, but there are benefits to going there and looking.

What are some companies and programs to teach English in Japan?

You likely have two options and that is to either work as an ALT (assistant language teacher) in a public school or in an eikaiwa as a teacher. An eikaiwa is a private for profit business and this would also include kindergartens. Students usually attend these after their regular public school classes.

There are large companies with hundreds of branches and small mom and pop eikaiwas. For best results you should research the specific school or branch. Here is a list of some of the more popular ones.

Eikaiwa's (private academies)

  • AEON is a large corporation in Japan. It is an eikaiwa. It has many branches throughout the country. When you get to Japan you will also find out that it is a supermarket and mall chain.

  • ECC is an eikaiwa chain.
  • GABA (often adults)
  • NOVA
  • JIEC (kindergarten)
  • Berlitz (often adults)
  • COCO Juku
  • GEOS
  • Disney Japan
  • + various small eikaiwa

These positions may involve teaching children of various ages or adults.

ALT dispatch companies and positions

ALT positions can sometimes be in cities, suburbs, or in rural locations in Japan.

  • JET is not a company it is a government run program
  • Interac is one of the biggest ALT dispatch companies
  • ALTIA central
  • OWLS
  • Borderlink
  • Heart

The board of education may quite possibly be the best way to find an ALT position, however that is not easy to do. If you are new to teaching in Japan and becoming an ALT teacher you might want to read the ALT scam.

These ALT positions are often in elementary schools (primary schools), but they can also be in middle or high schools.


  • Westgate is a company for university teaching jobs and sometimes shorter term contracts for 3-5 months and close to 6 months.

Which one should I teach in? Eikaiwa vs. ALT?

So you just saw above a list of companies and programs that you could work for with some being eikaiwa and others ALT positions, but which one should you choose?

Here you will find a list of pros and cons. Sometimes one person's con is another's pro for example "work hours". If you like working evenings then you might prefer eikaiwa which often are in the evening, but if you prefer the "9-5" then ALT is better.

Pros of ALT teaching:

  • Usually more stable with the same hours and same salary
  • Less variance (jobs are more similar)
  • Work with co-teacher which can be good or bad
  • M-F 8-4 or so

Cons of ALT teaching:

  • Less independence (work with co-teacher)
  • Larger classes
  • More students who don't want to learn English and who have a lower level

Pros of eikaiwa teaching:

  • Smaller classes
  • Potentially higher salary
  • More students tend to want to learn English and their level is higher
  • Often evening classes

Cons of eikaiwa teaching:

  • Sometimes less stable with hours and salary
  • More variance between eikaiwa (they all aren't the same)
  • Sometimes weekend teaching

Japan shrine 

Don't teach English in Japan if...

You might be wondering, "is there any reason why I shouldn't teach English in Japan?"

Don't teach English in Japan if you have absurd expectations about it. Don't expect it to be everything like you imagine. Expect it to be different. In addition expect it to be work and prepare yourself to teach English. Teaching is not easy for many people so learning how to teach will make your experience better.

In addition the experience of living in a foreign country with people speaking a foreign language can be difficult.


How do I teach English in Japan with my married partner or boyfriend/girlfriend?

Some schools actually prefer couple teachers. You can not in your application that you would prefer to live together with your spouse, girlfriend, boyfriend or be in the same city if possible. Typically ALT teacher positions only have one foreign teacher in the school, however it may be more likely to find work in an eikaiwa as a couple.

If your spouse will not be teaching English then they may qualify for a dependent visa.


couple positions in japan (insert city in Japan) 

Can I teach English in Japan for 1 or 2 months (short term)?

You could look on sites like Workaway if you would like to do a homestay as these positions are often less than 3 months. Other than that most employers won't provide you with a short term visa to legally work in Japan. Westgate mentioned here sometimes offers 3-5 month contracts.

How long can you teach English in Japan?

Most contracts in Japan are for a year. Some schools will prefer teachers who will stay longer, but a year contract is the normal way if you want to take a gap year. How long can you teach English in Japan? Contracts are for a year, but they can be renewed.

What are the best programs for teaching in Japan?

That depends on you and the program. See the list above for programs. And remember popular isn't always best.

People have different experiences with different schools and companies. The JET program typically has a better reputation than some such as other ALT programs as it's a government sponsored program.

Can I teach English in a Japan with tattoos and a beard?

Tattoos are okay if they are not visible. If you have tattoos then you may be associated with the yakuza and refused entry into public baths, etc. If you cannot cover your tattoos then you may have a problem finding and keeping a job.

A beard is a little different. Most schools prefer clean shaven and clean cut folks (like the pic above), however some schools may not mind. 

How to go teach English in Japan?

You can either arrange a job before hand or go there on a tourist visa and look for a job. Most people arrange jobs beforehand, but if you do some research and planning you may find better results by going there and looking.

Is there any free housing to teach English in Japan?

There are not many positions in Japan that offer free housing. I have read a few reports of the JET program offering free housing, but this is not common. As they say 'every position is different'.

What is the housing like to teach English in Japan?

It depends, but you are usually left to your own devices. If you go through one of the larger companies they may offer assistance in finding housing. Here are a couple of examples...

Other examples:

Should i teach english in Japan or Korea or China?

They are different, yet similar. Learn more about Korea vs. Japan vs. China vs. Taiwan.

Can I teach English in Japan without knowing Japanese?

You don't need to speak Japanese in Japan to get a job and visa teaching English in Japan. However, unlike other nearby Asian countries some positions may prefer it and learning Japanese will be very helpful outside of the classroom.

Can I teach English in Japan part time?

Yes, but most positions that will hire you from abroad will be full-time. Part-time jobs offer fewer benefits and may not offer you a visa.

Can I tutor or do private lessons while teaching in Japan?

Yes, it's possible to find students to tutor or teach private lessons too. But you will have to search for students online (or there in person) such as on a site like Hello Sensei.

What does Reddit think about teaching English in Japan?

Where can I learn more about teaching English in Japan on Reddit? You can search this subreddit.

What's it like to teach English in Japan?

Here's a funny take on it...

is it easy to get an English teaching job in Japan?

It depends what job you want and you. If you are not that picky and you have the basic requirements or more then a larger company is often easier.

Teach English in Japan visa sponsorship?

To legally teach English in Japan you will need a school to assist and provide you with a visa. First you find a job and then they will help you get the visa. part time jobs may not provide a visa.

how do you teach english in japan?