From West to East: Your Guide to Becoming a Teacher in Japan

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Teaching in Japan offers an incredible opportunity to immerse oneself in a rich, ancient culture while also making a difference in the lives of students. Whether you’re interested in language instruction or international school teaching, the journey to becoming a teacher in Japan can be both exciting and rewarding. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you navigate this path.

Understanding the Opportunities

There are three main teaching opportunities in Japan for Western teachers:

  1. Language Schools (Eikaiwa): These schools provide English language instruction to both children and adults. Teachers are typically required to have a bachelor’s degree in any field and be native English speakers.
  2. The JET (Japan Exchange and Teaching) Programme: This is a competitive program sponsored by the Japanese government that places foreign teachers in Japanese schools to teach English. Applicants need a bachelor’s degree but don’t necessarily have to have teaching qualifications or experience.
  3. International Schools: These schools follow an international curriculum (like the International Baccalaureate) and often seek experienced teachers with a teaching degree or certification from their home country.

Fulfilling the Requirements

While the specific requirements vary depending on the type of teaching job, here are the general criteria:

  1. Education: A bachelor’s degree is a minimum requirement for almost all teaching jobs in Japan.
  2. TEFL Certification: Though not always required, a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certification can significantly boost your chances of landing a teaching job, especially for language schools.
  3. Experience: For international schools, several years of teaching experience and a teaching certification from your home country are usually required.
  4. Visa: You’ll need a sponsored visa to work in Japan. Most schools will help successful applicants with the visa process.

Navigating the Application Process

Most teaching positions are advertised online on job platforms and school websites. Once you’ve found a job you’re interested in:

  1. Prepare Your Application: This typically includes a CV, cover letter, and sometimes a teaching philosophy statement. Make sure to highlight any relevant teaching experience, certification, and skills.
  2. Attend the Interview: Interviews may be held in-person or remotely. Be prepared to answer questions about your teaching style, classroom management, and motivation to teach in Japan.
  3. Wait for the Decision: If successful, you’ll receive a job offer and the school will usually assist with the visa application process.


Becoming a teacher in Japan is an exciting journey that offers the chance to experience a new culture, develop professionally, and inspire students. With the right qualifications, preparation, and mindset, you can make this dream a reality.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are the requirements to become a teacher in Japan?

A: The requirements vary by job but generally include a bachelor’s degree, TEFL certification for language schools, teaching certification and experience for international schools, and a sponsored visa.

Q: What are the different teaching opportunities in Japan?

A: The main opportunities include language schools, the JET Programme, and international schools.

Q: How can I apply to teach in Japan?

A: You can find job advertisements online, prepare your application materials, attend an interview, and if successful, proceed with the visa application process.

Q: Do I need to speak Japanese to teach in Japan?

A: While it’s not typically required, especially for English teaching jobs, having some knowledge of Japanese can be beneficial for daily life and for building relationships with colleagues and the local community.

Elise is an enthusiastic and passionate Australian teacher who is on a mission to inspire and support fellow educators. With over a decade of experience in the classroom, Elise leverages her expertise and creativity to provide valuable insights and resources through her blog. Whether you're looking for innovative lesson ideas, effective teaching strategies, or just a dose of inspiration, Elise has got you covered.

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