Foreign teachers have been living and working in large numbers across Japan for decades. However, a significantly increased cost of living in recent years has led to a reduction in the amount that teachers are typically able to save from their salary every month. Having said that, there are still plenty of great opportunities across the country that offer attractive salaries and other benefits, particularly in cities such as Tokyo, Osaka, and Yokohama. Although it is no longer the top destination for saving large amounts of money, Japan still has plenty to offer both new and experienced teachers.
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As with any destination, the salaries on offer vary considerably depending on experience, qualifications, location, and type of employment. As a guide you should expect to earn somewhere between 200,000 and 600,000 yen (currently $2,000 to $6,000 US) per month. If the job pays by the hour then a figure of around 2,500 yen ($25 US) per hour would be typical. In addition to a basic salary, most positions will also include added benefits, such as paid airfares, housing, health insurance, and a contract completion bonus.
Private language academies known as Eikaiwas employ a large number of foreign teachers throughout Japan. Classes cater to children looking for extra study after school, as well as adults who want to learn English in their free time. Working hours are generally in the afternoon and evenings, while weekend work may also be expected. Class sizes tend to be small, averaging around ten to fifteen students. A typical salary is around 250,000 yen ($2,500) per month, with benefits including flights and accommodation possible but not certain. Public schools also hire a considerable number of foreign teachers, either directly or through government sponsored programs. Although there are other smaller programs, the JET Program is the largest in the country, hiring around 2000 teachers per year. Salaries start at 280,000 yen ($2,750) per month, with a yearly increase if you decide to stay on after the initial contract is completed. Contracts also include paid flights, accommodation, health insurance, and around four weeks paid holiday. You can expect similar benefits when employed directly by a school, although the salary is likely to be a little lower at between 200,000 and 250,000 yen ($2,000 to $2,500) per month.
The best salaries for English teachers in Japan can be found at universities and international schools. Either option should pay in the region of 300,000 to 600,000 yen ($3,000 to $6,000) per month depending on experience. To be eligible for these positions you would generally be expected to hold a high level teaching qualification and have several years of classroom experience. Competition for university jobs is particularly strong as they also offer relatively low working hours and up to three months vacation per year.
As mentioned, the cost of living in Japan has increased considerably in recent years leading to reduced monthly savings for many English language teachers. One popular option for teachers looking to top up their earnings is to take on private students in their spare time. A typical charge of around 3,000 yen ($30) per hour can go a long way to making your stay in Japan even more comfortable.