Can you be an English teacher in Japan without a degree? Here are the things you need to know to jump start your career!
Try surfing the web and looking for the best country to earn money as an English Language teacher. Overwhelmingly, all the results would be the same: Japan. Hourly rates usually start around 3,000 JPY — that’s approximately $ 29 per hour! Aside from that, Japan provides allowances for training, traveling, and accommodation to ensure English instructors’ utmost comfort!
Amazing! Here lies an important question: can you be an English teacher in Japan without a degree? Read on to find out!
Why a College Degree in Japan Matters
If you’re a big fan of anime and incredibly fond of cherry blossoms, then chances are, you’re already familiar with the Land of the Rising Sun; commonly known as Japan. There are a million reasons why this country could be your go-to place in Asia.
Japan is bustling with a unique history and culture — from its exquisite dining experience to its golden temples and ancient traditions. Whether you plan to go on vacation or job-hunting, undoubtedly, Japan is the place to be.
Although there are a few ESL companies in Japan that only require a TESL certificate; usually, employers require a university degree since they need quality English teachers. Companies go for applicants who give them the feeling that they are worth the investment. They look for people who have proficiency when it comes to the English language. The same goes for private and public schools in Japan that probably have a higher standard, including a license in teaching and hands-on experiences in the classroom.
This is also because one of the minimum requirements for acquiring a Japanese visa is a college degree. And undoubtedly, you cannot enter the country if you do not own a visa. Simply speaking, no degree means no visa, and no visa means no work.
Can you be an English teacher in Japan without a degree? Take note of what needs to be done!
Getting a college degree can be costly. It takes time, effort, and of course, money. Let’s face it. Not all people have the luxury of these things. But do not worry. It doesn’t mean that you can’t be an English teacher if you don’t have a degree. Some countries do not require a college degree when teaching the English language. Although — here comes the sad part — Japan isn’t one of the countries on that list.
Sadly, the country’s policies require a college degree when it comes to being an ESL teacher. It doesn’t have to be related to English or teaching; any undergraduate degree will do. If you are determined to teach English in Japan, then grab your books and start studying!
But I really want to work in Japan as an English teacher! Are there no ways around this policy?
Well, there is, but only if you’re 18 to 30 years old and from one of these countries: New Zealand, South Korea, France, Germany, Ireland, Denmark, Taiwan, Norway, Portugal, Poland, Slovakia, Austria, Hungary, Spain, Argentina, Chile, Iceland, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Australia, Canada, United Kingdom, and Hong Kong. Luckily, these are the partner countries that have reciprocal visa relationship with Japan. If you’re from an eligible country, then acquiring a working holiday visa would be your best bet.
This kind of visa allows holders to work either part or full time to finance their living and traveling funds. It will enable you to stay in Japan for up to a year. During this time, you can travel and look for work without the need for a degree. It is easy to find a job even if you are not fluent in Japanese. But, companies would be more eager to hire you if you are proficient.
The process for applying for a working holiday visa requires writing out your proposed itinerary for the first six months or the entire duration of your stay, depending on the country of origin. This process would include flight and accommodation and employment plans. However, if you’re not yet sure about where you are going to stay, then listing the websites you will use to look for such will do just fine.
The primary goal is to prove that you’re going to work to earn ample funds for your stay in Japan. A great itinerary falls between vague and definite — vague enough to cater flexibility, but substantial enough to show them that you have a plan and you’ve prepared properly for your stay in Japan.
Other requirements of the visa include:
- Valid passport
- CV printed on A4 size paper
- No criminal record and in good health
- Sufficient funds to finance your stay in Japan
- Return plane ticket
- Accomplished application form, which can be found on the website of your embassy
- Never been issued a working holiday visa in Japan
- Not accompanied by dependents
After securing a working holiday visa, you can now go job hunting in Japan! Look for jobs that are allowed — those that will not affect the public morals. It can either be working as a chef in a restaurant or working in the countryside. Of course, you can always fulfill your dream and look for work that involves teaching English to Japanese students. Though they may be challenging to find, some companies accept applicants who do not have a college degree.
Indeed, acquiring a Japanese working holiday visa will open up brand new opportunities. Traveling all over Japan will surely be enjoyable for those who have a strong spirit for adventure while ensuring that their funds remain sufficient by working.
Okay, so I am not a citizen in any of the countries mentioned. What now?
Don’t freak out if you are not from the eligible countries; your dream of being an English teacher in Japan isn’t crushed yet. You could try teaching English to Japanese students online. Some online ESL companies don’t require a bachelor’s degree when looking for teachers.
You may ask, “Why online teaching? I dream of teaching IN Japan, not teaching virtually to students in Japan.” Well, for starters, since you have no university degree and you’re not from one of the eligible countries, you can’t acquire a visa to enter Japan. So while you’re working on getting that degree, teaching online may bring you a step closer to being a full-time ESL teacher in Japan.
Other than that, here are a few benefits:
As the demand for learning the English language is increasing, so is the need for teaching it. This type of work is one of the highest paying jobs online. You can start earning around $10 to $25 per hour, depending on the company. Since there are only a few overhead costs when teaching online, the profit would definitely be motivating. You could save up for your fees in getting a college degree and expenses for a trip to Japan!
Flexible schedule and location
You won’t be restricted to the usual 8 am to 5 pm shift. Teaching and learning can happen at times and in comfortable and productive places for both the teacher and students. It cuts traveling costs, thus saves both time and money. The students can study at their own pace to facilitate the most effective learning schedule for themselves. Indeed, one of the most significant benefits that this job can offer is freedom and flexibility.
Easier access to resources and information
Teachers can access digital libraries and educational websites that offer limitless resources and information. Sharing and looking for research tools are just a click away! There’s no need to spend money on acquiring teaching materials since almost all are available on the web.
Easy to get started
When it comes to entering the world of teaching English online, it’s not that difficult. If you are already English proficient and own a TEFL certificate (if it’s a requirement), then all you need are a strong internet connection, PC or laptop, webcam, headphones — all of which are probably already at your disposal.
By engaging in online teaching, teachers may reach students from all over the globe. Online platforms present an opportunity for instructors to facilitate the students’ growth both during and after discussions. It’s a win-win situation. You get to hone your skills as an English teacher, and at the same time, earn money while doing it.
This will be your stepping stone in becoming a full-time ESL teacher in Japan. Once you’ve acquired that college degree, putting this work experience on your CV will definitely have its “plus points” for your employer.
So, you see, even if the initial answer to the continuously repeated question, “can you be an English teacher in Japan without a degree?” is no, teaching ESL to Japanese students online can be ultimately rewarding, too. Yes, you won’t actually be in “the land of the rising sun” during this time, but this will give you the boost you need to make that dream of being an English language instructor in Japan happen.
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