A couple of years ago as an experienced former EFL teacher, I interviewed for various jobs teaching English in Japan. Like most people who want to teach in Japan, I applied through various teaching-in-Japan programs as well as for individual jobs through specific schools. One thing I discovered over several months research was that there are three top teach-in-Japan programs based in Japan that just about everyone would like to get into. These three Japanese teaching programs offer good salaries, lots of perks and treat their teachers well.
If you are interested in teaching English in Japan, and think you have the qualifications and characteristics organizations are looking for, you may want to start off by applying for these three teach-in-Japan programs as they really are some of the best.
The Jet Programme – The most popular teaching program in Japan, The Jet Programme places more than 4,300 English teachers across Japan every year, offers good perks and at salaries that are quite high.
If you are hired to teach English in Japan through The Jet Programme, you will receive a salary of 3.35 million yen for your first year’s contract (approximately $2,970 USD at current exchange rates). As this is higher than most English teachers make if they apply through other agencies dealing with the Japanese public school system, it’s no wonder it’s such a popular program.
The only downside to it is, if you want to teach in Tokyo or another large Japanese city, it’s almost impossible to do through The Jet Programme as most of their English teachers are placed in rural areas or small towns.
AEON – AEON is also a popular teach-in-Japan program as salaries are higher than the norm and they have a good reputation. Friends of mine who first began teaching in Japan through AEON and then later on moved to another program, said AEON was one of the best ways to get started in the country and they were very pleased they’d done so.
AEON has been recruiting teachers for more than 40 years, and places several thousand teachers around Japan every year. They currently offer a 270,000 yen salary per month (approximately $2,765 USD), as well as 3,000 yen per hour extra if you teach more than 25 hours per week.
While this might already seem enticing, AEON also pays for your apartment every month, apartment deposit, commuting expenses and ‘key money’ (the money paid to a Japanese landlord to be able to rent an apartment — it can be around $1,000 to $1,500 and it’s non-refundable).
All in all AEON offers some of the best perks and benefits of any teach-in-Japan program, which puts it easily into the top 3 programs to teach for. Overall, I’d have to say it’s the top program — hands down.
Westgate – If you want to teach in a Japanese university, Westgate is an excellent teach-in-Japan program to apply through. They hire English teachers on a term-by-term basis and have them teaching both accredited courses and intensive extra-curricular courses at universities all over Japan. They also have places for teachers who prefer to teach young learners.
Salaries through Westgate are competitive and they do pay your round-trip airfare from your hometown to Japan.
The huge drawback with Westgate, however, is they only offer short-term contract — three months, four months, five months and seven months, and these contracts are looked at for renewal at the end of every term.
What that means is you are not guaranteed a job for a year and, when your contract expires, you have several months between terms where you don’t have any salary coming in at all, which can quickly eat into any savings you have.
For me, that was a deal-breaker and the main reason I didn’t apply through Westgate. If you want something short-term, however, it may work out well for you.