How to Become an English Teacher in Japan: Requirements, Qualifications, and Tips

If you’ve ever dreamed of living and working abroad in Japan, teaching English in Japan as a foreign language instructor may just be the adventure of a lifetime. Not only can it offer immense opportunities for self-discovery and growth, but if executed correctly, can prove highly rewarding both monetarily and culturally. No matter your past education or experience, if you have the right attitude and ambition, you can become an English teacher in Japan! 

This article will give a comprehensive overview of how exactly to become an English teacher in Japan – from where to begin your journey all the way through job hunting strategies and options available. If you’re focused and have all the basic qualifications, it shouldn’t be long before you find the right job. English teaching, after all, is one of the most foreign-friendly jobs in the country for foreigners. So if you’re ready for adventure and up for exploration, continue reading for some tips about how you can make teaching English in Japan happen!

Welcome to our job series, where we provide valuable information and guidance on pursuing careers and job hunting in Japan. Whether you are a foreigner seeking to work in Japan or a local looking to explore new opportunities, we are here to help! If you want to take the first step into a new life in Japan, learn Japanese full-time or part-time!

Jump to:

Step 1: Obtain the Necessary Qualifications for English Teaching in Japan

The first step towards becoming an English teacher in Japan is obtaining the necessary qualifications. Most schools will require that prospective teachers have at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university. A degree related to education is of course preferable, but not at all necessary. You can have a bachelor’s degree in any field and that will fulfill the requirements to apply for a lot of English teaching jobs. 

In addition, having obtained TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language), TESOL (Teaching English as a Second Language) certification, or a master’s degree in education would give you a leg up as an applicant. 

I’d like to expand on getting a TEFL or TESOL certificate because although it’s not necessary to teach English in Japan, it gives those without teaching experience both the confidence and some foundational skills to make English teaching more effective and enjoyable overall. There are many different ways that you can get a TEFL certificate. One option is to take an online course. There are many reputable online courses that offer certification. Another option is to take a face-to-face course at a language school or university. Just be sure that your certificate is accredited by a widely accepted institution. 

In regards to having teaching experience, having some would make you a more competitive applicant and it might even be a requirement for some job openings. You could also potentially negotiate a higher salary if you have teaching experience. However, many English teaching jobs don’t require any experience at all. So if you don’t have any, no need to worry.

Having said that, there also are some jobs available for non-native speakers without TEFL certification or even college degrees if employers believe that the individual has sufficient language abilities and teaching skills. However, these job openings are hard to come by. One of the best ways to learn about them would be through word of mouth, so networking is important. We’ll talk more about that later.

Do you need Japanese skills to teach English in Japan?

Finally, there may be a lingering question: Do you have to know Japanese to be an English teacher here? The answer is no, you don’t need to know any Japanese at all to teach English here.

Most companies don’t require high level of Japanese skills, but some of them might want you to certain grasp of the Japanese language for tasks outside the classroom

However, having knowledge of Japanese can help you better understand your students’ language and cultural backgrounds, communicate more effectively with coworkers and administrators and navigate daily life in Japan with greater ease. Plus, it’s also good if you want to progress your career here!

If you are interested in learning Japanese, I would highly recommend checking out Coto Academy. They offer a variety of courses for all levels of learners, from beginner to advanced, and their experienced teachers use practical teaching methods to help you achieve your language goals.

Check out: 11 Jobs Besides English Teaching in Japan with Low Japanese

Do you need to be a native English speaker?

English teaching is often associated with people who come from English-speaking countries like US, UK, Australia — and Nordic countries. You might be wondering if people can become English teachers in Japan if they’re non-native English speakers.

Yes, it is certainly possible — but it depends, too! We’ve seen a lot of great non-native English teachers in Japan. Being a native English speaker makes you much more sought after in Japan, but we’ve noticed schools and businesses are getting more open to non-native English teachers in Japan. The keyword to look for is native fluency or native level in the job description.

the basic standard for being hired, but we’ve seen a hiring trend for non-native English teachers in Japan in recent years.

How much money do English teachers make in Japan?

I would say the average is 250,000-260,000 yen (about $1860-1950 USD per month at the current conversion rate). But it really ranges from about 200,000 yen to 300,000+ yen per month depending on experience, qualifications and the budget of that potential employer.

Step 2: Research English Teaching Jobs in Japan

The next step is to research different job types and places or programs in which you can teach English in Japan. You can either work full-time or part-time positions. In most cases, the type of visa you have will dictate the number of hours you have to work. So that will be a deciding factor in your job search.  

On the topic of visas, whether you’re applying from inside or outside of Japan will also determine what jobs you apply to. Job postings clearly state whether they can provide visa support to those living abroad or if you have to already be residing in Japan with a valid work visa. Of course, already residing in Japan makes it a bit easier to find jobs in the country, but a plethora of programs and institutions provide visa support for those to come into the country, too.

You can apply to teach with a renowned program like the JET Program. They only accept applications each November, so plan your timing accordingly. While the application for the JET Program is a bit tedious and does take quite a few months from start to placement, it has one of the best reputations among English teaching programs. This is most likely due to the fact that JET works in conjunction with the Japanese government and is government-funded. A program like this is a great option because you don’t need any English teaching experience, and the program handles the entire visa process and your in-country placement. If you’re accepted, you just have to submit certain paperwork by the stated deadline.

Another option is to work at Japanese companies, universities, international schools, or conversation (eikaiwa) schools. Some examples of eikaiwa companies include:

You can start your search for job postings on the sites above and on a site like Gaijinpot or LinkedIn. There are also trusted job-hunting websites for foreigners. A lot of these open positions tend to be English teachers, but you can also find other jobs across different industries, too. 

Another aspect to consider is location—do you want to be in a big city like Tokyo or Osaka, or are you looking for something more rural? Note that one benefit of living in the countryside is that the cost of living is much more affordable. However, job opportunities are much harder to come by than in the cities.

Considering all the above-mentioned things will narrow down your search and make applying much easier for you.

When you find a job posting, read the description carefully as it will tell you the work schedule, approximate salary, and job responsibilities. It’s important to research different job types so that you can find one that fits your needs and interests! I would also recommend doing some research on sites like Reddit and Glassdoor to find reviews or “inside information” from people who have worked for these programs or companies in the past. 

english teaching in japan

Step 3: Network Where Possible!

That brings me to my next point: It’s always helpful to talk to another English teacher in Japan who has been through the process before. They can offer advice on where and how to apply, as well as provide useful insight into what it’s really like living and working in Japan. People might be willing to look over your resume and give you constructive feedback. Someone might even have a job lead.

Look for people on LinkedIn, Facebook groups, Reddit threads, or meetups dedicated specifically to teachers who live abroad—these can be excellent places to network and ask questions. And don’t forget about family and friends—they may know someone who works or has worked as an English teacher in Japan! I myself have talked to a number of people who wanted advice on living in working in Japan. We met through Instagram or were introduced to each other by mutual contacts. 

Step 4: Prepare Your Resume and Cover Letter    

Step 4 is preparing your resume and cover letter.  Make sure your resume is professional and error-free, as well as tailored specifically toward the job application. This will help set you apart from other applicants! If you don’t have teaching experience, try to draw parallels between the job responsibilities of a teacher and the experience you do have. Highlight and market the skills that are transferable to teaching.  Then, if you feel your resume is lacking in experience, you could also try to compensate for it with a well-written cover letter.

In your cover letter, emphasize your transferable skills, soft skills that could help you add value to the position, and your motivations for wanting to teach in Japan. 

One website that I love to use is It will help you build your resume and when you’re finished, you can download it to keep. A subscription costs around $2.99 every two weeks, or about $6 a month. If you use it wisely, you can make a number of resumes in two weeks and download them for $2.99, which I think is a great deal. 

Also, if you’ll be using LinkedIn as a job-hunting resource or to apply for jobs, be sure that your LinkedIn is up to date. It doesn’t hurt to include a description stating that your goal is to find an English teaching job in Japan and to list one or two reasons why this is your goal or what you could bring to the table. I wholeheartedly recommend LinkedIn as a great resource for job-hunting and networking.

Step 5: Prep for the Interviews

Generally, the interview process for an English teaching job in Japan will be one to two interviews and a mock lesson. If you’re applying from abroad, all of this will happen virtually. One piece of advice I could give is to keep your energy up when interviewing virtually to compensate for what’s lost when you can’t communicate face-to-face. If you’re applying for a job from within Japan, you may be expected to have an online interview, and then an in-person interview and/or mock lesson. 

You can prepare for the interview and mock lesson by getting the general advice from YouTube and other platforms. Make sure you can articulate why you applied for the job with that particular institution (use words and ideas from their website or from their job description, for example), why you’d be a good fit, and what value you feel you can add. Also, make sure you have a success story and a story of “failure” and how you dealt with that or what you learned from it. 

Furthermore, if you’re asked something along the lines of how long you plan to stay in Japan or work for the company, it’d be in your best interest to make it seem like you’ll stay for a while. One aspect of the Japanese mindset towards work is that an employee should show their dedication to their job by staying for a long time. “Job hopping” is generally frowned upon, and a company might be hesitant to sponsor your visa, for example, if they think you won’t work with them for long. 


Becoming an English teacher in Japan isn’t for the faint of heart, but if you have enough courage to get started and have the determination to see it through, there’s no doubt that it can be a life-changing opportunity.

Don’t forget that having this experience will require a lot of patience and flexibility on your part, so make sure it’s something you truly want to do. At any rate, with the job market being what it is right now and jobs in English teaching becoming more and more in demand, it can be a great way to earn money while also having an unforgettable experience. For anyone who has dreamed of living in Japan—now may be the perfect time to take that plunge into international travel and teaching! And who knows? Maybe it’ll even lead you down a whole new career path.

Hopefully, this article was helpful, and good luck! If you would like to learn Japanese while teaching English, Coto Academy offers flexible part-time Japanese courses held in the evenings — perfect for hardworking people like you!

Our new Shibuya school opens in August!

Learn Japanese in Shibuya or Online.

Get Started