With increasing globalization, non-native speakers are trying to learn and become fluent in the English language. As a result, the market for English teachers in non-native countries is thriving. However, more opportunities do not have to translate into higher salaries and benefits. Many countries, such as in South America, the demand for teachers is quite high but the salaries, as compared to the European countries, are not that great.
However, there are a few countries that have established themselves as a lucrative job market for English teachers. One such country is Japan, where English over the last few years has become an emerging language. The country’s strong economy and demand for English teachers have allowed Japanese educational institutions to hire qualified teachers at higher salaries.
However, when it comes to traveling abroad to become an English teacher, salary is not the only thing that you need to consider. You must weigh the salary package you get against other things and decide if the money you are being offered would be worth it or not.
Here are a few things you should consider before you decide to accept a well-paid job in Japan:
Things to consider when negotiating salary
- Does your salary cover the cost of living? Before you decide to teach English in Japan, salary negotiation should be your top priority. And when it comes to salary the most important thing to consider is whether it covers the cost of living or not. Like mentioned above, many countries that do not offer higher salaries can still be considered a good option because of their low cost of living.
- Now the question is what exactly is the cost of living? Cost of living means your daily expenses such as food, grocery, transportation, utilities, health care, socializing and entertainment and other day-to-day expenses. If these expenses her higher, then the cost of living is higher. If your salary does not cover these costs and you have to spend from your savings then clearly your salary is lower than the cost of living, which means you will not save any money at all. In most of these situations, going through the hassle of moving abroad does not seem like a reasonable choice.
However, there are many cases where the cost of living and the salary are almost the same, which means every month you break-even. Breaking even means that you are not spending anything from your savings but you are also not saving any money from your salary. Therefore, it comes down to why you want to move. If you want to save money then clearly, you need a higher salary. However, if you just want to get some valuable international experience, then accepting the salary and moving abroad seem logical.
- Does your salary include accommodation and other benefits? In many cases, a salary is just that, a salary, however, most of the institutions offer extra benefits and perks that are considered a part of your salary package. These benefits may include the following:
- Accommodation, which may either include an accommodation allowance or housing.
- Health care, which may include a health care plan or just an allowance.
- Transportation (work related).
- Airfare, which can include entry and exit flight or a fixed number of flights to and from your country.
- Extra bonuses and incentives
- Paid vacations
If your salary includes these benefits, then the package is generally considered very good. This may help you save money even when the cost of living is slightly higher than your salary.
- What are the working hours? This is a very important thing to consider. Before you accept the offered salary, you must ask your employer about the number of hours you are expected to work. Moreover, you should also ask if you would be expected to put in extra hours and whether your overtime will be paid or not.
- What is your complete job description? Before signing the contract, you should have a clear idea about what your job entails. An English teacher’s job can include a number of things, such as, curriculum designing, lesson planning, extra tuition hours, administrative work, assisting with extra-curricular activities, etc. Therefore, it is important to know that your salary package justifies the amount of work you will be expected to do.
Factors that may help you decide your pay in Japan
As an English teacher, you can work in a number of Japanese institutions. Even though each institution has a basic pay scale but whether you get the higher or lower end of the scale depends on the following factors:
- Experience – With the exception of a few institutions in Japan, Prior teaching experience is not always necessary. However, it may have an impact on the salary you get paid. The more experienced you are, the higher the salary you may get.
- A degree – Once again, a bachelor’s or master’s degree is not always required. But having once can improve your chances of getting higher salaries. Moreover, if your degree is more the relevant field such as English, linguistics, education or other similar fields, then you are likely to be considered more qualified as compared to other candidates.
- TEFL, CELTA or TESOL certification – These certifications are not mandatory but having one can get you more and better-paid jobs. Your certification must be from a reputable program that is recognized internationally.
- Native speaking teachers – This is one of the biggest advantages that can help you get a higher salary offer. Even though officially being a native speaker is not a mandatory job requirement for English teachers in Japan, but it may give you an edge and a higher salary.
- The employer – All educational institutions do not pay equal salaries. Therefore, the kind of salary you get depends on the type of institution. For example, international school and university jobs are likely to not only pay you better but also offer more benefits.
Different types of English teaching jobs in Japan and their salaries
here are the different types of English teaching jobs you can get in Japan and the salary package they offer.
- Eikaiwas salary – Eikaiwas is a private academy or an independent school. These types of academies are more commonly known as night schools, cram schools or conversation schools. Students here are both adults and children and the classes are held in the evening or at night time. You can expect to earn around $2,000 per month. The salary package also includes the following benefits:
- Health insurance
- Visa process and cost
However, these benefits can be different for different schools.
- Assistant Language Teacher (ALT) – Being an ALT is one of the most popular ways to become an English teacher in Japan. There are many teaching programs that hire and deploy you to different educational institution in larger cities, small towns, and even villages. You can also get hired directly by a school or a recruiting agency. Your job is to assist the lead teacher in lesson and activities planning, curriculum designing and other class-related tasks. You may be required to work from 8 am to 4:30 pm.
You can expect to earn anywhere between $1,600 to $2,000 per month.
Your salary package may also include the following benefits:
- Paid vacation days
- All national holidays are paid
- JET program – JET is short for The Japan Exchange and Teaching Program and the country’s most well-known teaching program. JET recruits get deployed at different public schools throughout the country. The program also offers some of the highest and best salary packages in Japan. In fact, they are possibly among the highest wages offered by a program in Asia. The program recruits about 2,000 native-English teachers from all over the world. The age limit for teachers is 40.
If you get hired by JET, your contract lasts for about a year, which can be renewed every year for the next five years. The best thing about the program is that as your experience with JET increases so does your salary.
You can expect to earn anywhere between $28,000 to $33,000 annually.
Other benefits offered by JET include:
- Housing is arranged for you.
- In addition to national holidays, you also get around four weeks of holidays
- International schools – International school jobs are among the best-paid ones in Japan as the schools are also quite expensive. These schools have a mix of both local and expat students. Their education system is based on the international model, which means an American school follows the American school system.
Since these schools offer great wages they also have slightly strict hiring policies. You will need to have at least two years (minimum) of teaching experience. The international schools’ job market is extremely competitive and your qualifications will play a major role in getting one.
You can expect to earn anywhere between $2,000 to $5,000 per month.
Other benefits may include the following:
- Some schools may offer housing. For example, most of the American school offer an additional housing allowance and a bonus for relocating to Japan.
- Universities – University English teaching jobs are perhaps the best paying jobs in Japan. University jobs are only offered to qualified teachers with a few years of teaching experience, Master’s degree and in some cases TEFL or TESOL certificate from a recognized program. Some universities may also require you to have Ph.D. Moreover, you may also have to take on a few administrative tasks along with your regular teaching hours, which are about 10 to 15 hours a week.
In most cases, you will also have the freedom to design your own teaching content, however, this will require in-depth research as the material will have to be 100% authentic.
You can expect to earn anywhere between $2,500 to $5,000 per month.
Other benefits include the following:
- About three months of paid vacation time.
- Health insurance
- Private tutoring – Private tutoring is a great way to supplement your regular income in Japan. You can offer private lessons to both adults and children. However, you have to find your own students. One major downside of private tutoring is that, in most cases, you do not have any additional benefits such as housing, health care, paid vacation leaves or airfare. Moreover, you may also not get any salary increments. That is why most of the expat teachers consider private tutoring a secondary source of income.
The best thing about private tutoring is that you can set your own schedule and decide your own working hours.
You can earn around $25 per hours as a private tutor.
A brief overview of the cost of living in Japan
To help you make an informed decision, it is important that you compare the above-mentioned salaries to the average cost of living in Japan.
Here is a breakdown of the kind of monthly budget you may have to set aside to live comfortably in Japan.
- On average, your monthly rent may cost around $1,000 to $2,151, depending on the area where you find accommodation. Of course, the rent will be higher in the more developed and expensive part of the city. In rural areas, however, you may have to pay about $518 per month.
- The internet may cost you around $36 per month.
- A monthly ticket for public transportation may cost you around $119 per month.
- Daily lunch may cost you around $7 per meal.
- A taxi ride may cost you around $8 per kilometer.
- Utilities, on average, may cost around $178 per month. It can range from $90 to $306 per month.
What is the alternate way of teaching English as a Foreign Language?
Moving abroad and becoming an English teacher may sound very exciting and adventurous but it is not the easiest thing to do as you have to leave your family, friends, and country behind. Therefore, many teachers do not want to travel and others do not have the financial means to travel.
Therefore, if you do not want to travel but still want to Teach English as a Foreign Language, then your best option is to look for online teaching jobs.
Here are a few reasons why some English teachers prefer to teach online:
- No hassle of visa and traveling – Traveling abroad means visa and other documentation, which is a tedious process. Moreover, when you go abroad you have to get your visa renewed after a certain period of time, which is also nothing but a hassle. Both the visa process and traveling also require finances and you may need a significant amount of money to make the journey. This means, that before you can start saving, you have to break even. That is why many teachers go online to look for English teaching jobs instead of abroad.
- The language barrier can make you lonely – This is a huge problem when you do not speak the native language of the country where you get hired as an English teacher. This makes it very difficult for you to socialize or even communicate with your students. This can make you quite lonely as you may have to spend most of your time alone while trying to figure out what to do with your time.
- You decide your own hours – This is perhaps one of the best reasons why many English teachers go for online teaching jobs. You do not have to leave your regular job as online teaching allows you to set your own schedule. This means, that you can come home from your day job, have a nice meal and relax before you have to start teaching English. You are practically your own boss.
- You get international experience – This is a great thing for new teachers who do not have enough experience to get English teaching jobs abroad. If you choose the right platform, then the international experience you get from teaching there does count.
What is the best online option for getting English teaching jobs?
One of the best online options for English teachers is online English teaching schools. These work like regular language schools but allow you to have a flexible schedule that suits you the best. However, while choosing an online language school you have to careful to select an authentic one that offers you valuable experience.
One of the best options on the internet is VIPKID.
What is VIPKID?
It is the largest language school you will find online. The platform’s 60,000 English teachers who teach more than 500,000 Chinese students. VIPKID offers all the benefits mentioned above. However, it is considered the best because of the wages if offers.
- VIPKID salary – You can earn anywhere between $7 to $22 by becoming a teacher on VIPKID. Moreover, you also get a few incentives that can drive your salary higher.
Another great thing about VIPKID is that you get your money at the end of every lesson, which means you do not have to wait an entire month to get your salary.
- The hiring process – The hiring process for VIPKID is quite simple. You have to fill out an online application form after which your interview gets booked. The interview is a demo lesson, which you can either deliver live or send a pre-recorded demo.
- Requirements – The requirements for becoming a VIPKID teacher are as follows:
- You need a bachelor’s degree.
- You need to have one year of teaching experience.
- If you are not a native speaker, you must be fluent in English at an expert-level.
- You must have a laptop, head speakers, mic and a good internet connection.
For those who want to teach English in Japan salary is the main factor. Since the cost of living in bigger cities is on the higher side, therefore, you must agree to a salary package that helps you save money and live a comfortable lifestyle. However, if you do not want to or cannot travel to Japan, then you can teach online on VIPKID and not only get international experience but also great wages.