Your JET Programme stint coming to an end? Want to stay in Japan? Or maybe just got your backside fired? It does happen.
Jobs after the JET Program
Here we discuss possible careers or jobs after the JET Programme. Please note the following links and/or comment can in no way be construed as recommendations for any particular website or business. You will need to do your research throughly. You can maybe start by downloading the Jobs after JET guide (or this other After JET guide)
Some advice for career seekers after JET
Start your search on a positive note – if you’re concerned about finding a job after the JET Program, ask yourself this: would a company you want to work with be interested in hiring someone who shows the adaptability, flexibility, tolerance and resourcefulness needed to move to the other side of the planet and teach in schools to students of varying ages while contending with strong language and cultural barriers? Selling your time on JET as more than “taught English in Japan” is easy when you consider the broader goals of the program.
Now, to some rules:
Jobs after JET Rule 1 – don’t exaggerate your Japanese skills: Unless you have 1-kyu at the very least (if not a JETRO qualification or translation experience too) there’s not a lot of chance of you actually using Japanese in work. Sorry, but that’s the reality. Don’t pretend you can speak Japanese (or any other language or skill in fact) if you can’t do it. Also, the vast majority of bilingual posts go to local Japanese. The fact is that there are lots and lots of Japanese people who are very good at English out there.
Jobs after JET Rule 2 – be realistic: On top of the preceding, many Japanese employers seem to take a dim view of JET, not really counting it as work it all. It’s the fresh graduate jobs one needs to compete for, not the ones that ask for three years experience. The top tip for just finished-JETs is that you simply aren’t going to walk into anything other than an entry-level job unless you had previous experience before JET. And yes, this may mean a significantly lower salary too. If you had no previous experience before JET, now would be the time to sort out that internship whilst you (hopefully) still have some money left from living tax and rent free in Japan.
Jobs after JET Rule 3 – all is not lost: Where JETs really score highly is (hopefully) possessing good knowledge of the Japanese culture and work environment. Many Japanese employers do value Japanese experience (not just JET but Nova/Geos or anything) as ex-JETs fit in well to the Japanese corporate workplace, whether it be as a graduate trainee or a sales assistant. So, yes, even Japanese fashion shops may rather take ex-JETs than any non-Japanese-experienced candidate with years of retail experience. I know that to some extent this contradicts previous points, but the key is the junior level of the jobs.
Jobs after JET Rule 4 – Investigate Japanese employers in your home country: Although it may be something you are already aware of, you may still be surprised at the size of Japanese investment abroad. There are probably thousands of Japanese owned companies in big cities in countries where most JETs come from (not including small businesses like restaurants). If you’re an ex-JET who will be living near a Japanese company in a rural area, you’ve got it sorted. Go and introduce yourself and talk to the HR people, see if you can do some work experience or just chat.
Jobs after JET Rule 5 – Japanese companies are not nirvana: A crappy job is a crappy job, no matter what nationality of company you work for. Even though you may get to work for a Japanese company and get to use (some) Japanese at work and have lots of fun Japanese colleagues who say “kawaii” a lot and like enkai and karaoke at the end of the day – if it’s not something you love, the novelty wears off.
Jobs after JET Rule 6 – Watch the hiring schedule: One should be aware that (for 90% of the time) the hiring schedules of Japanese companies do not line up with the JET contracting schedule. Japanese businesses hire for starts in April – the beginning of the financial year. Unless you’re lucky enough to be an April hire, JET contracts end in July. This is one of the the biggest barriers for one to find employment in Japan outside of the usual gig of English teaching. So unless you are prepared to walk off the job at least three months early (which would not go down well) potential employees should take up a different job with a different contracting schedule that is a better fit with the common hiring practices of Japanese businesses.
Jobs after JET Rule 7 – Think about what you want: This gets drummed in at everyone finishing JET but it’s really important. A little prior planning will help you to hit the ground running when you finish JET. Don’t fall in to the trap of lazing around for too long and getting so broke you have to take the first job offered. And really, there is nothing worse in an interview than the candidate who says ‘I’d like to work at anything’. You NEED to have some idea of what you would and wouldn’t like to do. You need to choose a career, then AFTER that look at how you can apply your Japan-related skills. If you keep up Japanese and get some more experience then, and only then, will you maybe walk into a job with Sumitomo, Mizuho, Mitsubishi or Mitsui.
Information about English Schools in Japan
Some notes to remember. January until March is the prime recruitment time if you are seeking employment as a teacher at one of the small and/or independent English schools (eikaiwa) in Japan, so you need to make an early decision about your exit from the JET Programme. The big English schools like ECC recruit all year round due to their large number of schools and the fact the average teacher at their schools only stay 1 or 2 years or less (i.e. found better jobs or returned home). Also some small English schools also recruit year round. Some recruit for private ALT postions or for conversation classes on sites. Conditions and locations can widely vary so make sure to do your homework. Listed below are links to some of the larger English Schools in Japan. You can find vacancies for some of the smaller school via the job links provided
English Schools in Japan – Links
We have recently removed links here as it was felt it was giving unfair advantage to large English schools who have plenty of money to do their own advertising. If you are in this category and would like to have a paid or sponsored link please contact us.
If you are non-profit organisation, a small local eikaiwa or are offering prefecture-sponsored positions please contact us with the details.
A to Z – recruiting mostly in Nagano
More to come…
Japan Job Links
* This is a very handy comparison table put together by a poster on the now defunct JET Programme official forums for English schools hiring in Japan.
O-Hayo Sensei – A very good source for finding English teaching opportunities in Japan. You can download the current issue online, or for a fee of $12 annually, the latest issue will be sent automatically to your e-mail address twice a month.
Genki English – The Genki English team are former JETs and well known throughout Japan for their English programs. They list some jobs here as well as some useful videos.
Teaching-English-in-Japan.net – A site created by a community of English teachers and provides some excellent resources as well as inside articles which only those experienced in teaching English in Japan would know about.
TEFL.com – The web site features an extensive list of opportunities for teaching English worldwide, and regularly posts lists of jobs in Japan.
ESL Cafe – Check out the Japan Forum
JobsinJapan.com – Offers regularly updated, on-line jobs boards for f/t and p/t ESL positions with smaller English and private schools
Gaijin Pot – A popular web site that lists full- and part-time ESL positions as well as non-ESL opportunities.
Career Cross Japan – This site features a searchable database with which you can specify your preferred location, your field of expertise, your level of experience, and other criteria to find a perfect match. Career Cross also includes many listings for jobs other than teaching.
JALT – University teaching positions are listed here
Jobs at International schools and kindergartens in Japan
If you have a formal teaching qualification (such as a B.Ed) or graduate diploma (such as a G.Dip.Ed) a very good alternative are the many international schools and kindergartens in Japan. International schools generally like to recruit teachers with at least two years prior experience in the position you are applying for. You can try approaching the schools directly (as below) or look for jobs on sites such as TES and TIE Online.
International schools and kindergartens in Japan- contacts
This list is subdivided into the following sub-headings (first, Tokyo followed by other regions of Japan)
Tokyo: Preschool & Kindergarten Only – English
Tokyo: Schools with Preschool, Kindergarten, Elementary &, in some cases, High School Programs – English
Tokyo: Tutoring and Special Education for Children with Learning Differences
Yokohama, Kawasaki and Kanagawa – English
Tokyo: Non-English International Schools
Yokohama: Non-English International Schools
Tsukuba: University town northeast of Tokyo – English
Tokyo: College and University – English
Private or Alternative ALT positions in Japan
These positions are mostly staffed through the big English schools such as Heart, Interac and Altia. You may however still be lucky enough to find one advertised directly through a school. Many times these positions are filled through word of mouth. If you have friends already teaching in Japan try to get them to ask around for you. Be careful of the conditions you are offered – here is one example (in Fukuoka) of the poor conditions of ‘sub-contracted’ ALT’s
Kurashiki City in Okayama runs and recruits ALT’s directly for their NET (Native English Teacher) Program
Nagano Prefecture recruits private ALT’s to work in various areas, mostly in senior high schools.
If you are from Wisconsin you can apply for Chiba Prefecture’s special sister-state ALT exchange. A number of the ALTs in Chiba are not JETs but actually special Wisconsin ALT’s. For the most part they are identical to JETs – the only thing they don’t get is a Tokyo Orientation. Placement on this program guarantees placement in Chiba Prefecture at a senior high school.
‘Gap’ Programs and Working Holiday Visas in Japan
If you don’t have a degree the next option is to see if you are eligible for a Working Holiday Visa.There are positions that allow young people to work in short-term positions like golf caddying, ski lift attendants, etc. For information go to www.mofa.go.jp/j_info/visit/w_holiday/index.html.
Internships and Summer Programs
Princeton-in-Asia – Fellowships and Summer Internships Teaching English in Japan. Posts available for college seniors or graduates to teach English.
Student Internship Program at Ibaraki Christian University
Ibaraki Christian University offers opportunities for students from all American and Canadian universities.
Japanese University Scholarships – MEXT, Monbusho, etc.
You can apply for a research or teaching studies scholarship. For these you must be under 35 years of age and a college graduate (includes prospective graduates). Those who wish to undertake Japanese Studies must be under 30 years old.
Teaching English and Study Options – China
One can obtain a China Scholar Council Scholarship. You are paid to live in a Chinese university and study Mandarin. Apparently it’s not difficult to obtain if you are prepared to work through their torturous bureaucracy. Here is useful site that lists Chinese universities that the scholarship could send you to. If you’re looking for decent places to work, this might be a good place to start too…
CIEE’s Teach Abroad in China program is a sort of “poorer cousin” of the JET Programme.
China can be far more interesting than Japan, but also far less paid – not to mention (from personal experience) far more irritating too. Some interesting discussions can be found at the popular Chinese-Forums site
Note: English school work is also widely available, but be careful! There are a lot of really awful companies out there. Do your homework VERY carefully!
Top 8 In-Demand Jobs for Foreigners in Japan
Teaching English – Korea
For these jobs there might be less competition, lower start-up costs, and a salary that will likely improve the longer you stay there.
Korea has a three similar programs to JET. They’ve had mixed reviews, but you get rent and utilities included in your salary and living costs are very low. Even at the current exchange rate, it’s a great place to save money, plus your return airfare is covered.
Unlike JET, you can get a guaranteed placement in a big city with SMOE, where you can be assured of getting placed in Seoul!
The nationwide equivalent is called EPIK
There also is provincial version in the area that surrounds Seoul called GEPIK. Some reports claim it is a bit better than EPIK
Note: English school work is also widely available, but be careful! There are a lot of really awful companies out there. Do your homework VERY carefully!
Teaching English – Hong Kong
HK recruits foreign teachers, called NETS, for placement in both the locally run primary and secondary schools. Contracts are for two years; most contractual details can be gleaned from this page. The salary for these job posts are among the highest in the world, although of course HK is not cheap to live in. Details can be read on various sites, including entry through the government’s Education and Manpower Bureau site, and following the link to the NET scheme.
Teaching English – Taiwan
A great country and good place to save money. Just like Korea, there’s plenty of Japanese influence here. Here’s a forum you could check out
Some Thoughts on Teaching English in Japan
|Teaching English and Living in Japan by Lindy Sinka
|Live, Learn and Teach English in Japan by Christopher P. Cotter
|Teaching English in Japan: How to Get Started and What to Expect by Jo Ebisujima
|Teaching English in Japan: The Internet Job Search by A.J. Hoge
|Point Your Cursor to a Job in Japan by Celeste Heiter
|An English Teaching Assistant’s Introduction to Japan by Gabrielle Wallace
|Short-Term Contracts Teaching English in Japan by Matthew Hernon
|Japan’s JET Program: Join Japan’s Leading ESL Training and Job Placement Program by Laura Mann
|The JET Program: Teaching English in Japan While Getting to Know it as an Insider by Aaron Paulson
|Tutoring English in Japan by Adrienne McPhail
|Pros and Cons of the JET program (ESL Teaching in Japan)
|The ALT Scam by the Fukuoka General Union
Alternative Lifestyles – Life in Japan without teaching English
How about becoming a rice farmer in rural Japan?
Here’s a short documentary from PBS Frontline about an Australian who became a rice farmer in rural Japan on Shikoku.
Another Japan alternative is the volunteer WWOOF program which provides participants accommodation and all meals in return for assisting the host. Apart from working on organic farms in Japan, other possibilities include working at health and healing centers, pottery and arts, building and restoring traditional homesteads, timber working places, organic restaurants, martial arts, dealing with animals, Japanese tea house, pension in ski fields area, eco village, brewing and production of foods, fishing, bee keeping, nature guide centre, centers for the environment, sea kayaking and more.
You could run a ski/travel business like this ex-JET is doing. Or start your own English school.
You could always stay in Japan, get residency and get yourself elected. Check out the website of Anthony Bianchi (Aichi JET, 1989-91) – the first North American to hold elected office in Japan.
Another job could be to drive a taxi. In Hiroshima, Stephen Outlaw- Spruell at one stage was possibly Japan’s only gaijin taxi driver and somewhat of a local celebrity. Sorry no link available. Phone Tsubame Kotsu Taxi Company – 082-221-1955
Be an Au Pair and look after children.
Or you could just give up altogether and become homeless like the poor Vincent Dodson.
Good luck on your hunt for jobs after JET!