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What are the requirements for teaching English in Japan?

Japan is without a doubt one of the most sought-after TEFL destinations in the world. Not only are there thousands of teaching positions in the TEFL market, it’s one of the most fascinating places in the world with centuries of history at its disposal and a high standard of living.

Do I need to be fluent in English to teach English in Japan?

Absolutely! To teach English anywhere in the world, you’ll need to have an impeccable level of English. Occasionally, you will need to provide employers with an English-fluency certificate, such as TOEIC or IELTS certificate. This is the case in Japan too and employers will not only expect you to have a fluent level of written and spoken English, they may also request an English-fluency certificate.

Do I need to be a ‘Native English Speaker’ to teach English in Japan?

No. Although candidates from a ‘Native English Speaking’ country will usually be given preference for jobs in Japan, it is possible to find work as a ‘Non-Native Speaker’. (In the TEFL world, being a ‘Native English Speaker’ means you have a passport from Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, the UK or the US.)

One point to note is that Non-Native Speakers are not eligible for the JET programme – a popular government programme that places foreign teachers in public schools. If you are not a ‘Native English Speaker’, you’ll need to find work at a private conversation school or language centre in Japan – these are locally known as eikaiwa.

Do I need a Bachelor’s degree to teach English in Japan?

Yes. It is a requirement set by the Japanese government that you must have a Bachelor’s degree in order to be able to teach English there. It usually doesn’t matter what subject the degree is in, but it might help your chances of finding a job to have a degree in linguistics or English.

Do I need teaching experience to teach English in Japan?

No. It’s not necessary to have any teaching experience to secure a job in Japan. However, as Japan is such a competitive place to find TEFL work, it definitely helps to have some experience!

Sometimes you’ll find teaching jobs in Japan that require previous experience, but these are usually for higher-level positions.

Are there any exceptions to the requirements for teaching English in Japan?

No. When it comes to teaching English in Japan, the rules are pretty strict. You must have a Bachelor’s degree and a TEFL certificate to get the legal working visa to be a TEFL teacher in Japan. This is a requirement set by the government, not necessarily employers or recruiters.

Some countries allow you to teach without a degree on a teaching internship – unfortunately, Japan is not one of these countries.

What if I’m offered a job in Japan but no working visa?

If you are offered a position in Japan without a working visa, the employer is probably asking you to work illegally. (That is unless you have the right to live and work in Japan already.) We absolutely don’t suggest accepting any job without a working visa as you will risk being fined and deported for working illegally.

What do I do if I meet the requirements for teaching English in Japan?

If you are a fluent English speaker with a Bachelor’s degree and a TEFL certificate, you can apply to teaching jobs in Japan now! You’ll need to start by creating a top-notch job application, including a high-quality CV and cover letter. A great place to begin is on the Learning Hub where you can find online courses to help you create a fantastic job application. Once you are ready, you can apply to jobs on online TEFL jobs boards, such as the LoveTEFL jobs board.

What do I do if I don’t meet the requirements for teaching English in Japan?

If you don’t have a Bachelor’s degree, we don’t recommend looking at teaching jobs in Japan. There are lots of places where a Bachelor’s degree is not a requirement and you will likely find it much easier to find work in these countries.

To find out more about teaching English in Japan, check out our guide: Everything you need to know about teaching English in Japan.

Disclaimer: This information has been provided to as a guide on the requirements for teaching English in Japan. You should not use this information as your sole means of research. Always contact employers and embassies for the latest facts on working abroad and working visas. 

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