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Seeking university position jobs with an MA

 
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seyz



Joined: 17 Feb 2013
Posts: 10

PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 10:03 pm    Post subject: Seeking university position jobs with an MA Reply with quote

Hi everyone,

I am currently finishing up my MA and if I am not accepted into a PhD program with funding I am considering going to Japan to teach English at a university, build my credentials and the reapply next year. I was hoping to potentially get a university job teaching English or something related to my field. I was wondering when would be the best time to apply to such jobs and what is the feasibility of getting one? I am unable to start until after May when I finish my MA program. Also, I know some people I know have saved upwards of $10,000 - $15,000 in South Korea. What am I looking at saving if I did this in Japan?

Thanks everyone!
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timothypfox



Joined: 20 Feb 2008
Posts: 371

PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As the academic year starts in April, likely earlier would have been better, but you may yet find a few jobs listed.

You would likely be able to find much more work in your home country as Japan has also very much gone in the direction of adjuncting many of its university positions, and getting a job from abroad with being able to meet face to face is more difficult.

Universities would also be looking for someone with publications and prior teaching experience at a university. Some may even look for Japanese language ability.

Bear in mind also, most universities hire full time foreign professional under 3-4 year terminal contracts. Then you have to uproot and move to a new job if you can find work.

One way into a university (but with a much lower language school level salary) is through a dispatch agency. You would essentially teach college students in an eikaiwa on a university campus, but technically be an employee of the dispatch agency. At a stretch, you could then put university teaching experience on your resume.

With your qualifications, you would easily find work as an ALT though most likely through a dispatch agency. Their contracts do have a lot of fine print so be careful. You are a little late in the game for the time of year, but there are some private schools that might hire you and of course if you have a teaching license - international schools. But, again for these, you should have been applying in November or late December.
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seyz



Joined: 17 Feb 2013
Posts: 10

PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 1:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the reply. Regarding the university jobs, I wouldn't mind teaching English. What exactly would I be looking at in terms of salary?
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Glenski



Joined: 15 Jan 2003
Posts: 12844
Location: Hokkaido, JAPAN

PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 5:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I strongly suggest that you look at the information links in the FAQ stickies. There is a lot of stuff there, and even though it may seem dated, it is still as current as when it was written.

For salaries, it will vary quite a bit whether you have a job at a private, national, or public university, not to mention a plethora of other factors.

Quote:
In Japan, on average it's about 676,000 yen per month for a full professor, and 535,000 yen per month for an assistant professor. (These amounts factor in summer and winter bonuses, etc.) Link:

http://www.stat.go.jp/English/data/nenkan/1431-16.htm

Note that salaries in Japan are calculated according to employee age and number of dependents. Furthermore, one's salary is typically higher if employed at universities in the more expensive areas of Japan--e.g., around Tokyo, not to mention the Kansai area. Below, here's a salary scale a friend created after surveying 21 private universities in the Kansai area:

2007 Kansai Private University Salary Scales

30 year old Assistant Professor (senin), with 1 child. 6,964,737 ($69,000 US)
35 year old Associate Professor (jyunkyoju), 1 child. 8,444,799 ($84,000 US)
40 year old Associate Professor (jyunkyoju), 2 children. 9,508,109 ($95,000 US)
45 year old Professor (kyoju), 2 children. 10,764,173 ($107,000 US)
50 year old Professor (kyoju), 2 children 11,797,973 ($117,000 US)
55 year old Professor (kyoju), 1 child. 12,422,839 ($124,000 US)
60 year old Professor (kyoju), no dependent children. 12,686,678 ($126,000 US)

University salaries from regions outside this area will be lower--sometimes much lower. Note as well that these figures reflect the salaries for full-time, permanent (tenured) positions only. Indeed, about half of the 21 universities included in the survey will not normally hire foreign applicants to permanent positions--regardless of applicant degrees, publication history and Japanese language ability. More on this, though, in a separate post.
These are from 2007, but the JALT PALE SIG website is having problems right now, so I can't show anything more recent. You could try contacting them if you like.

As mentioned, April is the starting date for the academic school year. That's less than 2 months away, and 98% of places will have advertised and interviewed people by now. The next opening is for October start dates (start of second semester). Far fewer ads will be seen.

You can go to the JRECIN website for all the ads you need, plus qualifications they require. http://jrecin.jst.go.jp/seek/SeekTop?ln=1
If you can read Japanese, look at that group of ads, too, because they are often/usually different than the English ones.

Heads up, though. A fresh MA degree is not usually enough to warrant hiring someone, especially from overseas. The FAQ sticky links will explain why. You didn't say what your MA was in, either. That can often be critical.

Feasibility of landing a job at a J uni? Expect 20-100 or more applicants per position. Most jobs nowadays are part-time, so that eliminates you because you cannot get a work visa for such work. Of the remaining full-time jobs, most are 1-3 year contract positions. Very few are tenure slots (but that may not bother you considering you said you were leaving in a year). Frankly, I don't rate your odds very high since you don't plan to stick around more than a year, you probably don't have publications or teaching experience, and I am guessing your Japanese language ability is low.

You wrote that in addition to uni jobs, you were interested in "something related to my field". Uh, ok. What exactly is that? If you don't qualify for uni jobs but are still interested in teaching, you still face the April deadline, and you're probably only going to get eikaiwa or ALT jobs.

Quote:
Regarding the university jobs, I wouldn't mind teaching English.
"Wouldn't mind" makes it sound unappealing and even demeaning. Look around you. This is an English teachers' forum!

What else are you capable of teaching (in English, mind you)? Content courses like math, science, music, etc. are not taught in English here unless you find one of the 2-3 rare unis that offer such courses.

Saving in Japan.
For ALT or eikaiwa work, you MIGHT make 220,000-250,000 yen/month, and spend half of that on basic necessities. Depending on your lifestyle, you might save 50,000-70,000 per month (more if you are very frugal). At 50,000 yen/month x 12 months per year, you'll have 600,000 yen on your hands. The current exchange rate is about 90 yen/dollar, so that amounts to $6,667 per year. The main difference between Japan and that other country (which is not supposed to be discussed outside of its designated forum) is that your rent is paid there, not here.
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seyz



Joined: 17 Feb 2013
Posts: 10

PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 2:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for the reply. My MA in Asian Studies with a focus on Japanese society. My BA was in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in English.

I would not be looking for a tenure track job. My plan A is to get accepted to a PhD program of my choice and pursue a career in academia. However, if I am not accepted to a school of choice or with adequate funding, I need to do something for a year until I reapply next year. I find no better idea than to actually be in Japan, building my credentials and language skills, and hopefully working with some professors I know on some research projects to really build up my background.

Quote:
Frankly, I don't rate your odds very high since you don't plan to stick around more than a year, you probably don't have publications or teaching experience, and I am guessing your Japanese language ability is low.


This is quite the assumption and quite frankly you couldn't be more wrong. I have three years of teaching and TA experience in English, ESL, and Japanese language, I have two academic publications and one non-academic, and my Japanese language ability, while not entirely fluent like a native speaker, is quite advanced and I have little problem watching TV or working through academic writing in Japanese.

Thank you for your reply despite its utter rudeness and incredible presumptuousness.
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Glenski



Joined: 15 Jan 2003
Posts: 12844
Location: Hokkaido, JAPAN

PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 3:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Presumptuousness comes from experience over the last 15 years, during which time the vast majority of overseas applicants who were interested in uni work had precisely the weak qualifications I described. I think I deserved a little better reply than what you offered.

You obviously stand a better chance than the typical inquiring person that we get here, but you still have two major weaknesses. Don't take these as rude, just fact. (If taikibansei is still on this site, I hope he chimes in, and you should really listen to him and his vast amount of experience.)

1. As I described earlier, your timing is not the best.

2. A degree in Asian Studies may not be looked upon as equivalent to what most uni jobs ask for: something akin to linguistics or even just English. This might not sound fair, but it is reality here. Read the links in the FAQ stickies to confirm.

Two academic publications and one non-academic. Ok, were the two in a peer-reviewed journal? Were they authored solely by you? Was the journal an international one? Yes answers to these will put the publications (journal articles, I hope) on a higher footing. If they were book chapters rather than journal articles, they will be worth less (not worthless). A non-academic publication will be way down the list on ranking.

Before you react, be aware that over here even these factors are taken into account in first-round perusals of applications. They and other factors are assigned numbers in many cases, and if the total doesn't hit a certain value, it's very possible the application will not even be considered further. This is not to say you are bound to fail; I'm just describing potential problems. I'm sure you also realize that people with more publications will sit higher on the ranking, and I mention that only because of the great number of applicants for most openings.

Three years of teaching are good, but you described them as being divided among TA work and solo (?) teaching, not to mention that not all of them were in ESL. Again, I'm just trying to assess your odds here. Look at the JRECIN website to see how well you might fare in competing.

If you can read and write as well as you say and have something like a JLPT2 level of spoken Japanese, then this will probably be your strongest point. Could you teach a non-language course in Japanese? Not many foreigners here have the opportunity to teach more than just English language courses, and just because you are (probably) a native English speaker, that may be what the uni expects of you.

You want to build your credentials. May I ask how? I'm curious simply because a year isn't long enough to accomplish all that much here, and you could end up teaching mostly oral communication classes. I get the impression that that may not really be something which would help, but I don't know your career aspirations. You also wrote about working with some professors that you know; would they be here or there?

After rereading my old post, I really don't see that it smacked of being "utterly rude"; most of it answered your questions at length, compared to the curt gratitude you seemed to express. Hard to know whether you were sincere or snippy.
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seyz



Joined: 17 Feb 2013
Posts: 10

PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 6:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks again for the reply. I was being sincere to your reply. I do appreciate your feedback even if the initial response did come off as presumptuous and rude. I understand where someone like yourself who has taken teaching in Japan very seriously can get frustrated with someone who just hopes to just get off the plane and have a great job thrown their way.

My reason for going to Japan is because 1)it would enhance my language ability 2)put me "in the field" with the potential doctoral project I want to study 3)work with the professors who I have been collaborating with IN JAPAN. Most of all it would be something productive and somewhat lucrative in my transitioning phase from an MA to PhD. I see no other way to strengthen my application for next year than to spend a year in the country I wish to study.

Publications have been both peer-reviewed in US based journals. TA and teaching experience has been a bit of both. In the last three years I have taught about five classes solo, and TA'ed for about eight (which included many solo lectures in the class).

I could probably pass N2 if I studied well, I could probably walk into N3 and pass it where I am at now. I would honestly not feel comfortable teaching a class in full Japanese to Japanese students at this point.

Again thanks for your help regardless of the tone we've been using! The reason I am on here and seeking out options is because I need to have a backup plan in case my PhD goals don't fall through this time around and as I said I see no better way than to improve my chances of admissions than spending time in Japan and getting better acquainted with the country I hope to study.
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rtm



Joined: 13 Apr 2007
Posts: 563
Location: US

PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 7:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the biggest problem for you is going to be your timing. You said you'll be available after May -- that's about a month after the new school year has started. There might be a few places (but not many) looking for someone to start in 2nd semester (October), as Glenski said. But, with an unrelated MA (for English teaching work) and the small number of jobs available, I think it would be extremely optimistic to plan to land one of those jobs.

If you can spare a bit more time, you'd be more likely to find something if you apply in October-December for April jobs. For English teaching jobs, you'd still be facing the problem of an unrelated MA. That would also put your return to your home country in the spring of 2015.

Your other qualifications (publications, language ability) are good, but I think the timing and unrelated MA are going to be bigger problems.
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seyz



Joined: 17 Feb 2013
Posts: 10

PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 10:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So basically a uni job is not at all promising and shouldn't hope for much should I pursue this path? It is really unfortunate timing that the semesters run at drastically different times but it's something I need to deal with and adapt to one way or the other!

I guess transitioning into a second question would be would I be more likely to find ALT jobs or eikaiwa jobs that would be a better fit for those time frames? I am not starting to worry that my qualifications may be too little for something all together.
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Glenski



Joined: 15 Jan 2003
Posts: 12844
Location: Hokkaido, JAPAN

PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 11:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

seyz wrote:
Thanks again for the reply. I was being sincere to your reply. I do appreciate your feedback
Thank you for that.

Quote:
My reason for going to Japan is because 1)it would enhance my language ability 2)put me "in the field" with the potential doctoral project I want to study 3)work with the professors who I have been collaborating with IN JAPAN. Most of all it would be something productive and somewhat lucrative in my transitioning phase from an MA to PhD. I see no other way to strengthen my application for next year than to spend a year in the country I wish to study.
Much clearer to me now. Thanks.

Quote:
TA and teaching experience has been a bit of both.
Both what? I'm still not clear what you have taught and who your students were.

Quote:
So basically a uni job is not at all promising and shouldn't hope for much should I pursue this path? It is really unfortunate timing that the semesters run at drastically different times but it's something I need to deal with and adapt to one way or the other!
I think it's going to be very unlikely that you have any chance for a uni job until at least October. A very small number of unis here have contemplated switching to a calendar which begins in the fall, but that doesn't help you, either, if you wanted to hit the ground running in May/June, that is.

Quote:
I guess transitioning into a second question would be would I be more likely to find ALT jobs or eikaiwa jobs that would be a better fit for those time frames? I am not starting to worry that my qualifications may be too little for something all together.
First of all, I'm going to guess that you made a typo there ("not" = "now").

Second, realize that teaching jobs in Japan (except for those at unis) require little more than a bachelor's degree in any subject, from archaeology to zoology. That satisfies the immigration requirement for a work visa, too. What employers of eikaiwa instructors and ALTs look for is that first, followed by nationality (usually the typical native English speaking "anglophone" countries), and then a mixed bag of personality/chemistry, ability to pass a grammar test, and capacity to show a good demo lesson. So, already you qualify for those two types of jobs. It's just up to you to decide which to shoot for.

Unfortunately, it's all schools (except international schools) that begin their academic years in April, so IMO you have as little chance of getting an ALT position after May begins as you do in a uni. There might be an infinitesimally larger chance, but you would need to beware of the fact that some ALTs could realize a poor situation they got in and bailed out of within a few months of starting their jobs. You wouldn't want to pick up where they left off.

That leaves eikaiwa, and even many of them have an April start date (although there is a larger percentage that continue to hire throughout the year, compared to the other employers). Not a decent career-building choice for you, IMO, but that's your decision, not mine.
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