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What is the average English teacher salary in Japan?



Teaching English in Japan offers an appealing blend of cultural immersion and professional opportunities, attracting educators from all over the globe. Japan's distinct blend of ancient tradition and cutting-edge modernity creates an environment that is as enriching as it is challenging. While the cost of living in Japan, particularly in urban areas, can be high, English teachers find that their compensation not only covers their daily expenses but also allows for savings, making it an attractive destination for teaching abroad.

English teachers in Japan can find employment in a variety of settings, each offering different salary scales and benefits. Depending on the institution - be it public schools, private language academies (eikaiwas), international schools, universities, or private tutoring - the remuneration and work conditions vary significantly. This ensures that there is likely a suitable option for every type of educator, whether they seek the vibrancy of city life in Tokyo or the tranquility of the Japanese countryside.

Overview of Salary Ranges and Benefits

In Japan, the salary for teaching English varies significantly based on the type of educational institution, location, and the teacher’s qualifications and experience. Generally, salaries range from about 230,000 to 600,000 JPY per month. This broad range reflects the diversity of teaching roles available, from assistant language teachers in public schools to specialized positions in international schools or universities.

Common Benefits

Besides the basic salary, many teaching positions in Japan come with additional benefits, which can significantly enhance the attractiveness of a job offer:

  • Accommodation: Many schools offer free or subsidized housing. This is particularly common in programs like the JET Programme, which aims to simplify the transition for foreign teachers coming to Japan.
  • Flight Reimbursement: Some institutions cover the cost of a round-trip flight to Japan, or reimburse these expenses after the teacher has arrived and started working.
  • Health Insurance: Teachers are typically enrolled in Japan's national health insurance system, which covers a substantial portion of medical expenses. This benefit is a statutory requirement for both full-time and part-time employees, ensuring a high standard of health care.
  • Contract Completion Bonus: Some schools offer a bonus upon the successful completion of the contract, which can be a significant lump sum.
  • Paid Vacation: Teachers often receive paid vacation days, in addition to national holidays. This varies by school but is a standard part of full-time contracts.

Salary by Institution Type

  • Public Schools: Assistant Language Teachers (ALTs) can expect salaries ranging from 230,000 to 300,000 JPY per month. The stability and government support make these positions highly sought after.
  • Private Language Schools (Eikaiwas): Salaries here vary from 250,000 to 280,000 JPY per month, with potential for additional earnings through overtime or specialized classes.
  • International Schools: Offering the highest salary range, from 250,000 to 600,000 JPY per month, these positions require more stringent qualifications but come with the benefit of teaching a diverse student body and often, more familiar curricular standards.
  • Universities: University positions are well-compensated, ranging from 300,000 to 600,000 JPY per month, but they require higher qualifications, typically a Master’s or Doctoral degree.

Overall, teaching English in Japan not only offers a competitive salary but also a range of benefits that can make the overall compensation package very attractive. Whether in the bustling cities or the serene countryside, teachers can find a position that suits their lifestyle and financial needs.

Teaching in Public Schools: Roles and Rewards

Public schools in Japan offer a unique opportunity for English teachers to immerse themselves in the Japanese educational system. The role of Assistant Language Teachers (ALTs) is integral to the English education of Japanese students, promoting linguistic and cultural exchange.

Role of ALTs

ALTs work alongside Japanese teachers of English to provide language instruction in public schools, ranging from elementary to high school. The primary responsibility of an ALT is to facilitate communicative language teaching, helping students develop practical English skills. This often involves planning and conducting engaging language activities, participating in school events, and sometimes assisting in other subjects or extracurricular activities where English is used.

Recruitment Process

The recruitment for ALT positions in public schools can vary:

  • JET Programme: The Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme is the most prestigious and widely recognized route for becoming an ALT. It involves a rigorous selection process including an application, references, and an interview conducted in the applicant's home country. The JET Programme is renowned for its support and comprehensive orientation for new teachers.
  • Private Recruitment Companies: Companies like Interac and Gaba also recruit ALTs for public schools. These companies handle the recruitment outside of the JET Programme and typically have a more streamlined application process.
  • Direct Hire: Some local boards of education hire ALTs directly. This method is less common but allows teachers to potentially negotiate better terms by dealing directly with their future employers.

Typical Salaries

ALTs can expect to earn salaries ranging from 230,000 to 300,000 JPY per month. While these salaries are modest compared to some other teaching positions in Japan, they are generally sufficient to live comfortably, given the cost of living in most regions outside of major cities like Tokyo.


The benefits of working as an ALT in public schools include:

  • Stability: Contracts are typically annual and renewable, providing a stable income and employment.
  • Cultural Integration: ALTs get a deep dive into Japanese culture, working closely with Japanese staff and students, and often participating in local festivals and school events.
  • Training and Support: Programs like the JET Programme provide extensive pre-departure and on-arrival training, which helps new teachers acclimate to the educational and cultural environment in Japan.
  • Paid Vacations and Holidays: ALTs enjoy national holidays, school breaks, and a number of paid vacation days, allowing for travel and exploration within Japan.

Teaching as an ALT in Japanese public schools is not just a job—it's an opportunity for cultural exchange and professional development. It offers a rewarding experience for those looking to make a significant impact on students' lives while enjoying the rich cultural heritage of Japan.

Private Language Academies (Eikaiwas): Flexible Teaching Opportunities

Private language academies, commonly known as eikaiwas in Japan, offer a distinct teaching environment compared to public schools. These academies are dedicated to teaching English to students of all ages, from young children to adults, focusing primarily on conversation skills and practical usage of the language.

Structure of Eikaiwas

Eikaiwas operate independently of the public school system, allowing them a degree of flexibility in curriculum design and teaching methodology. Classes are typically smaller, with a focus on interactive and personalized learning experiences. This setup aims to provide a more intensive language learning environment. Teachers in eikaiwas often have the autonomy to develop their own lesson plans and teaching materials, although some schools may provide guidelines and resources.

Differences in Teaching Environments

Unlike public schools where the role of the teacher is to assist and work alongside a Japanese teacher, eikaiwa instructors usually lead classes independently. This gives teachers more direct control over classroom management and instructional strategies. The student demographic in eikaiwas is also more varied, encompassing a wide age range and different proficiency levels, which can provide a dynamic and challenging teaching experience.

Salary Expectations

Salaries in eikaiwas can vary depending on the school’s location, size, and the teacher's experience and qualifications. Generally, the monthly salary ranges from 250,000 to 280,000 JPY. Some eikaiwas also offer performance-related bonuses and incentives, which can further augment earnings.

Advantages of Working in Private Language Schools

Working in an eikaiwa comes with several benefits:

  • Flexible Scheduling: Unlike the more rigid schedules of public schools, eikaiwas often offer flexible working hours, including evening and weekend classes, which can be ideal for teachers who prefer a non-traditional work schedule.
  • Diverse Teaching Experience: Teachers can encounter a wide range of students in terms of both age and ability, providing a richer and more varied teaching experience.
  • Professional Development: Many eikaiwas encourage and sometimes fund professional development and training. This can include workshops, TESOL certification courses, and other training programs to enhance teaching skills.
  • Opportunity for Advancement: There is often more scope for career advancement in private language schools. Teachers can move into managerial roles, such as head teacher or school manager, which are less commonly available in public school settings.

Overall, eikaiwas offer a unique and flexible option for teaching English in Japan. They cater to teachers looking for a more autonomous teaching role and those who enjoy creating impactful, personalized English learning experiences for their students.

International Schools: Elite Teaching Positions

International schools in Japan represent some of the most prestigious teaching opportunities available. These schools attract a diverse student body, including children of expatriates, diplomats, and affluent Japanese families. Teaching at an international school involves a high level of professional standards and offers significant rewards.

Qualifications Required

The qualifications for teaching at an international school in Japan are more stringent than those required for public schools or eikaiwas. Typically, candidates must have:

  • A bachelor’s degree in Education or a relevant subject area.
  • A teaching certification or license from their home country.
  • Several years of teaching experience, often in an international or multicultural environment.
  • Advanced degrees in education or subject-specific areas can further enhance a candidate's prospects.


International schools in Japan usually follow an international curriculum, such as the International Baccalaureate (IB), the British GCSE and A-Levels, or the American Common Core standards. This allows for a seamless transition for students who may move between countries. The curriculum is designed to be globally recognized and prepares students for university education worldwide.

Salary and Benefits Package

Salaries at international schools are among the highest for teaching jobs in Japan, ranging from 250,000 to 600,000 JPY per month. In addition to competitive salaries, these schools often offer comprehensive benefits packages, which include:

  • Housing allowance or provided accommodation.
  • Annual flights to the teacher’s home country.
  • Health insurance and pension plans.
  • Tuition fee waivers for teachers' children, which is a significant perk for educators with families.

General Atmosphere

International schools pride themselves on their diverse and inclusive community. They foster a global mindset among students and staff, creating a culturally rich atmosphere. The educational approach is holistic, focusing not only on academic excellence but also on developing social and emotional skills.

Teachers are expected to be highly professional and adaptable, often contributing to extracurricular activities and school development projects. The atmosphere in these schools is dynamic and demanding, with high expectations for both students and teachers. However, the professional satisfaction and the sense of community in these environments are highly rewarding.

Teaching in an international school in Japan offers not just a job but a career in an elite educational environment, where teachers can make a significant impact on their students' futures while enjoying a high standard of living and professional development opportunities.

University Teaching Positions: A Prestigious Path

Teaching at the university level in Japan is considered a highly prestigious and intellectually rewarding career path. University positions attract skilled academics and experienced educators who are dedicated to their fields of expertise and to the advancement of learning and research.

Requirements for Teaching at the University Level

The requirements for securing a university teaching position in Japan are rigorous:

  • Advanced Degrees: Candidates typically must hold a Master's degree as a minimum requirement, with many positions, especially tenured roles, requiring a Doctoral degree.
  • Teaching Experience: Prior teaching experience at the collegiate level is highly valued, often necessary, to demonstrate teaching effectiveness and curriculum development skills.
  • Research Background: A strong publication record and ongoing research activities are crucial for most university teaching positions, especially in tenure-track roles.
  • Language Skills: While not always mandatory, proficiency in Japanese can be beneficial, especially for administrative duties and collaboration with Japanese staff and students.

Typical Workload

University teaching positions often involve a lighter teaching load compared to primary and secondary education roles, with faculty typically teaching around 10 to 15 hours per week. However, these positions also require significant time commitment towards research, academic advising, administrative responsibilities, and preparation:

  • Class Preparation and Grading: Substantial time outside of teaching hours is spent on preparing lectures, grading assignments, and managing course materials.
  • Research and Publication: Faculty members are expected to contribute to their academic field through research and publication, which is a significant part of their professional activity.
  • Committee Work and Administration: Participation in departmental committees and university governance is often required.

Salary Ranges

Salaries for university positions vary depending on the institution, the individual’s qualifications, and the specific role. Generally, the range is between 300,000 to 600,000 JPY per month. Senior positions and those with extensive research backgrounds may command higher salaries.

Unique Benefits

Working in higher education in Japan offers several unique benefits:

  • Long Vacations: University teachers often enjoy substantial vacation periods, sometimes up to three months per year, allowing time for personal travel, research activities, or relaxation.
  • Sabbatical Leave: Many universities offer sabbatical leave to their faculty, providing opportunities for extended research projects, further study, or collaboration with other institutions.
  • Professional Development: Universities frequently sponsor conferences, workshops, and seminars that facilitate professional growth and networking.
  • Cultural Engagement: Being part of a university allows for deep engagement with the academic and cultural life of Japan, including access to lectures, cultural events, and collaborations with Japanese and international scholars.

Teaching at a university in Japan is not just a job—it's a career dedicated to education, research, and the dissemination of knowledge. It offers a unique blend of professional fulfillment, cultural immersion, and the opportunity to influence future generations of leaders and thinkers.

Private Tutoring: Maximizing Earnings Through Flexibility

Private tutoring in Japan presents a lucrative and flexible option for English teachers seeking to supplement their income or even make it their primary employment. This mode of teaching allows educators to tailor their approach to individual student needs and preferences, offering a personalized learning experience that is highly valued in the Japanese education market.

How Private Tutoring Works

Private tutoring in Japan can vary widely in its structure and setting. Tutors may offer lessons in students' homes, in public spaces like cafes or libraries, or even online, which has grown in popularity. The subject matter and style of tutoring are usually customized to the goals of the student, whether they are preparing for English proficiency exams, seeking to improve conversational skills, or needing assistance with academic English for school courses.

Potential Earnings

The earnings from private tutoring can be significantly higher per hour than typical teaching jobs. Rates for private English tutors range from about 3,000 JPY to over 5,000 JPY per hour, depending on the tutor’s qualifications, experience, and the lesson's location. Highly experienced tutors who specialize in test preparation or business English can charge even more.

Flexibility Offered

One of the major advantages of private tutoring is the flexibility it offers:

  • Schedule Control: Tutors have the freedom to set their schedules, choosing the days and times that work best for them and their clients. This flexibility is ideal for those who prefer not to work a standard nine-to-five job or who have other commitments.
  • Client Selection: Tutors can choose with whom they work, allowing them to build a clientele that fits well with their teaching style and preferred subject matter. This can lead to more rewarding teaching experiences and better student-teacher relationships.
  • Location Independence: Especially with the rise of online tutoring platforms, teachers can reach students across Japan or even internationally, without the need for physical relocation or long commutes.

Other Considerations

While private tutoring offers many benefits, it also requires self-marketing and the ability to manage one's own business, including handling scheduling, payments, and sometimes disputes. Tutors need to be proactive in finding clients, maintaining high teaching standards, and ensuring consistent lesson quality to build a strong reputation.

For those who excel in self-management and enjoy one-on-one teaching, private tutoring can be an excellent way to capitalize on the demand for English education in Japan. It combines professional autonomy with the potential for high earnings and personal satisfaction in helping students achieve their individual learning goals.


Teaching English in Japan offers a diverse array of opportunities, each with its own unique advantages and challenges. From the structured environment of public schools to the high standards of international schools, the flexibility of private language academies, the prestigious atmosphere of university positions, and the personalized approach of private tutoring - there is a teaching role suited to almost every preference and career aspiration.

Each option presents a pathway to not only engage deeply with the Japanese culture but also to make a significant impact on the lives of students. Whether it's helping young learners gain their first words in English or guiding adults to master the language for professional use, teachers can find great fulfillment and professional growth in Japan.

Moreover, the financial and personal rewards are compelling. The competitive salaries, comprehensive benefits, and flexible work schedules available in various teaching positions enable educators to live comfortably and explore the rich cultural tapestry of Japan.

For aspiring teachers or those seeking to continue their teaching journey in a new and culturally rich environment, Japan offers a professional landscape filled with potential. By understanding the different roles and what they entail, educators can make informed decisions that align with their professional goals and personal lifestyles, ensuring a rewarding experience both inside and outside the classroom.

Thus, teaching English in Japan is not just a job - it's an adventure in education, culture, and personal growth that promises to be as enriching as it is educational. Whether in the bustling cities or the serene countryside, the journey of teaching in Japan is sure to be an unforgettable chapter in any educator’s career.

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