Ok, let’s suppose you want to teach English in Japan. Realistically, what are your options? There are 7 major types of employer in the TEFL industry in Japan. What you will do and what you can get varies massively between the different employers.
Eikaiwa (i.e. ECC, Berlitz, NOVA)
Or private English schools. If you teach at an Eikaiwa, you can expect pretty unsociable hours (evenings and weekends are common). Pay is decent at 250,000yen month on average. TESOL/CELTA qualified applicants are preferred but you might be able to land a job without any training.
Dispatch Companies (i.e. Westgate)
Dispatch (or haken) companies hire teachers usually to work as Assistant Language Teachers in Primary schools or Junior and Senior High Schools. The JET programme works on a similar basis but it is somewhat more demanding in terms of the application process. ALTs normally work the regular 9-5, Mon to Fri, although weekend work is occasionally required. Remuneration varies between 230,000 and 300,000 yen per month.
Board of Education
Working for the BoE means you cut out the middleman (i.e. the Dispatch Company) and are employed directly by a local school or prefectural Board of Education. The advantage of doing this is that you can earn more money without the stress of middle management. The disadvantage is that you have to go through the application process in Japanese and you have to find the job in the first place.
Teaching at university means putting your all into academic life. The pay is high, the hours are technically few, but working at a university carries with it the responsibility to be well known for publications in the TEFL world and to keep pace with developments in ELT.
Setting up your own company is another option. You will, of course, be responsible for taxes, finding students, developing materials and more. But the rewards are all yours and you can be your own boss. As Ken Hartmann recently said in an interview with My TEFL Journey, “why more ex-pats do not try to develop their own neighborhood schools” is something of a mystery.
Kids English Schools
Sitting on the fence between Eikaiwa and nursery are English schools for children. The pay can be pretty high, but you really need a lot of energy and to be able to build a rapport with children easily. Japanese ability is a plus.
Business English is incredibly popular in Japan, as is the laughably bad TOEIC test. To meet that demand, there are outsourcing companies who operate in a similar vein to dispatch companies. They get a contract with a certain company who requires its employees to learn business English. The job is then assigned to one of their teachers (often on a short-term or part-time basis). This type of teaching is particularly common in big business cities such as Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya.