A couple of years ago, I interviewed for various teaching jobs in Japan. Some of them were in public schools, while others were with language schools looking to hire new teachers. The only common denominator with all of them, other than that they were English teaching jobs, was that I found all the available positions without using an agent, and set up interviews with several of them the same way.
While using the services of an agent to get a teaching job is the most common way to do it, it’s absolutely possible to find a teaching job in Japan in a month or less without using an agent at all — saving you time and often resulting in a higher salary offer.
Here’s how I did it, while still living in Thailand, with the result I was offered several jobs in less than a month without ever setting foot in Japan. If you’re already in Japan, you can expect the process to be even faster particularly if you still have a work visa from your last job.
Public and private schools – While many beginning teachers in Japan go through The JET Programme, I already had seven years experience teaching EFL (English as a Foreign Language) in Thailand, so didn’t need a program that’s primarily set up for first-year teachers. Fiends already teaching in Japan also told me to avoid JET, simply because I could get a job offer myself a lot faster, as JET only hires once a year, and would likely be offered a higher salary as well.
I found the job vacancies for the public and private schools I applied for on Japan English Teacher and at Dave’s ESL Cafe, which has a huge job board for teaching vacancies all over the world.
Representatives from each school I applied to contacted me quickly and I was interviewed for the position over Skype or the telephone. From this round of resumes, I had three concrete job offers in less than a month, all offering me more money than The JET Programme and all without the services of an agent.
Language schools – In my experience, the fastest way to get a job in Japan without an agent is with a language school. Hundreds of language schools are set up all over the country and millions of Japanese pay to send their children to classes there, or take English language classes themselves. The schools also tend to be constantly hiring, as a current teacher leaves, another one doesn’t work out and is let go, or more students sign up for classes than first anticipated.
I sent my resume to AEON and Berlitz, and was contacted quickly by both of them for interviews. If I had accepted a job at any language school in Japan, however, I would have gone with AEON as the hours you teach are less, the benefits offered are excellent, the contract is excellent and the salary is good. They even offer a decent hourly rate for any overtime you work. AEON is also known as one of the best language school chains in Japan.
For other language schools in Japan, there is an excellent list of schools broken down by city at Japanese Language School Guide.
Newspaper advertisements in Japan – Friends teaching in Japan recommended that I look through various Japanese newspapers as they always have advertisements for English teachers. I didn’t need to go this route, as I already had job offers from several public schools or language schools but, if I had, there were plenty of job vacancies to apply for, and many of the schools were hiring quickly.
Check out The Japan Times online for a good place to start your job search.