Teaching English in Japan used to be a way for young Westerners just out of university to make $40,000 a year. The responsibilities were low, the people were friendly, and everything was new. The place, of course, was Japan and these times are now fondly referred to as ‘the bubble years’ after the country’s once over-inflated economy.
Japan’s tremendous economic success in the period of high economic growth saw the 1980s defined by conspicuous consumption, inflated real estate prices, and extremely high dollar-value salaries for English teachers in Japan due to the pumped-up value of the Japanese yen.
Although the bubble years are over you can still make and save decent money by teaching English Japan, contrary to popular belief. Salaries for English teachers at most private English academies start in the 250,000 yen per month range. The Japanese government sponsored Jet Programme pays 300,000 yen per month.
International schools pay between 3,000,000 and 6,000,000 yen per year but generally require a teaching license from your home country. Click here for more information about international schools in Japan.
Although some large companies may pay on your behalf, you will most likely be required to contribute about 10,000 yen per month to the National Health Insurance system. 70% of all costs for visiting the hospital, dentist, acupuncturist, etc. will be covered by your insurance and, compared to costs in the US, health care in Japan is significantly cheaper.
Many of the larger private English academies also offer teachers a bonus after signing a contract and/or upon its completion. This severance bonus starts at around 80,000 yen for completing a one year contract. If you work at a school for 2 or more years, you may get up to twice that amount.
You will also have to pay about 20,000 yen per month into the National Pension Program. When you leave Japan, you will fill out a form and this money will be returned to you.
Unlike teaching English in Korea, you will have to pay for your housing when teaching English in Japan. If you live in a big city and don’t want roommates, this could run you as much as 70,000 per month or more. Most likely it will be in range of 50,000 – 60,000 yen per month, less in the countryside.
Many Japanese companies will pay your travel expenses to and from work, which is good since taking the train to work in Japan can get expensive. However, some schools require that you must live a certain distance from the school to qualify so make sure to clarify the issue before signing a contract.
Click on the currency converter to find out the current exchange rates for your salary.
Want to teach English in Japan? Check out our Japan TEFL Jobs