Teach English in Japan

Salaries

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Kirsten Colquhoun
March 1, 2024

Table of Content

Other benefits available
Where teachers earn the most
Japan cost of living
Saving as a TEFL teacher
How to start teaching

Teaching in Japan you can expect to earn from Y250,000 – Y300,000 ($1,800 – $2,200) as an average monthly salary. 

Teachers at an international school or university earn up to Y600,000 ($4,500).

In addition to salary, what other benefits can be available?

Some jobs may offer a higher salary or a better package for more experienced and qualified English teachers, but teaching experience is not a deal-breaker. 

Generally speaking, full-time contracts in Japan include:

  • Flights or partial reimbursement
  • Accommodation or housing allowance
  • Contribution towards health insurance
  • Contract completion bonus
  • Travel costs for substantial commuting

Where in Japan do teachers earn the most?

Popular cities in Japan for TEFL teachers are Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and Nagoya.

These bigger cities offer higher salaries but they come with higher costs of living too. Bigger cities in Japan offer the more modern Japanese experience, while the smaller towns are a more rural option. They also have more jobs available, as well as a wider range of opportunities. 

In terms of different positions, universities offer the highest salaries, with teachers with a Master’s degree or higher and teaching experience (and a TEFL certificate, of course) can expect the best-paid positions.

How much is the cost of living in Japan?

Popular belief is that Japan is incredibly expensive, but it’s more affordable than you think – besides Tokyo! As per usual, bigger cities mean higher living costs – but also higher salaries. 

Living in Tokyo can easily cost you ¥300,000 ($2,200) a month if you choose to live it up. In smaller towns or rural areas, the cost of living can be as low as ¥150,000 ($1,100) a month.

Is it possible to save in Japan as a teacher?

In Japan, how much you save is entirely dependent on the lifestyle and standard of living you choose

Bear in mind that if your package includes accommodation this will be a huge saver. 

Our top tips to save money in Japan:

  • Confirm your salary amount before and after deductions as amounts may be taken off for accommodation, tax and insurance.
  • If you are covering the cost of your accommodation, find a spot outside the city centre. And don’t expect spacious accommodation, no matter how big your budget!
  • If you enjoy eating out, check out lunch deals at Japanese restaurants which usually offer greater savings than for dinner.
  • Take the local train or tram when you can.
  • Shop at local 100-yen stores.
  • Make use of Japan’s extensive free wifi networks.
  • Save water by enjoying a weekly bath in the communal bathhouse (sento) or hot spring (onsen)!

How to start teaching English in Japan

To teach in Japan you need a Bachelor’s degree and an Instructor visa or Humanities Specialist/ International Services visa. To get this visa, you need a Certificate of Eligibility issued by the Ministry of Justice in Japan. Only employers can act as sponsors for the CoE. 

Because of the competitive nature of TEFL jobs in Japan, TEFL employers prefer teachers with a TEFL certificate. It is almost impossible to get a teaching job in Japan without a TEFL certificate.

In other words, no TEFL, no job!

The next step is to look online for teaching jobs in Japan which tickle your fancy and start applying! 

Bear in mind: the application process is thorough and can take a few months. Don’t apply for a job expecting to jump on a plane next week!

Table of Content

Teaching in Japan you can expect to earn from Y250,000 – Y300,000 ($1,800 – $2,200) as an average monthly salary. 

Teachers at an international school or university earn up to Y600,000 ($4,500).

In addition to salary, what other benefits can be available?

Some jobs may offer a higher salary or a better package for more experienced and qualified English teachers, but teaching experience is not a deal-breaker. 

Generally speaking, full-time contracts in Japan include:

  • Flights or partial reimbursement
  • Accommodation or housing allowance
  • Contribution towards health insurance
  • Contract completion bonus
  • Travel costs for substantial commuting

Where in Japan do teachers earn the most?

Popular cities in Japan for TEFL teachers are Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and Nagoya.

These bigger cities offer higher salaries but they come with higher costs of living too. Bigger cities in Japan offer the more modern Japanese experience, while the smaller towns are a more rural option. They also have more jobs available, as well as a wider range of opportunities. 

In terms of different positions, universities offer the highest salaries, with teachers with a Master’s degree or higher and teaching experience (and a TEFL certificate, of course) can expect the best-paid positions.

How much is the cost of living in Japan?

Popular belief is that Japan is incredibly expensive, but it’s more affordable than you think – besides Tokyo! As per usual, bigger cities mean higher living costs – but also higher salaries. 

Living in Tokyo can easily cost you ¥300,000 ($2,200) a month if you choose to live it up. In smaller towns or rural areas, the cost of living can be as low as ¥150,000 ($1,100) a month.

Is it possible to save in Japan as a teacher?

In Japan, how much you save is entirely dependent on the lifestyle and standard of living you choose

Bear in mind that if your package includes accommodation this will be a huge saver. 

Our top tips to save money in Japan:

  • Confirm your salary amount before and after deductions as amounts may be taken off for accommodation, tax and insurance.
  • If you are covering the cost of your accommodation, find a spot outside the city centre. And don’t expect spacious accommodation, no matter how big your budget!
  • If you enjoy eating out, check out lunch deals at Japanese restaurants which usually offer greater savings than for dinner.
  • Take the local train or tram when you can.
  • Shop at local 100-yen stores.
  • Make use of Japan’s extensive free wifi networks.
  • Save water by enjoying a weekly bath in the communal bathhouse (sento) or hot spring (onsen)!

How to start teaching English in Japan

To teach in Japan you need a Bachelor’s degree and an Instructor visa or Humanities Specialist/ International Services visa. To get this visa, you need a Certificate of Eligibility issued by the Ministry of Justice in Japan. Only employers can act as sponsors for the CoE. 

Because of the competitive nature of TEFL jobs in Japan, TEFL employers prefer teachers with a TEFL certificate. It is almost impossible to get a teaching job in Japan without a TEFL certificate.

In other words, no TEFL, no job!

The next step is to look online for teaching jobs in Japan which tickle your fancy and start applying! 

Bear in mind: the application process is thorough and can take a few months. Don’t apply for a job expecting to jump on a plane next week!

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