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Big Life/Job Question
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akazoroe



Joined: 12 Jan 2014
Posts: 9

PostPosted: Mon Jan 20, 2014 8:25 pm    Post subject: Big Life/Job Question Reply with quote

Hey everyone.
I’m new here and looking for your opinions on jobs for myself in the Osaka area.

At current I am living in the USA with my Japanese wife. I have been teaching at a University here since 2009. I have been teaching in an Art department and have a Bachelors and a Masters degree in Art. As many of you know, economically, things have been rough in the USA and this problem has finally caught up with my own life. The university I teach at has made some bad (stupid) choices on top of lower and lower enrollment numbers. As a result, I have been cut to part-time (half-pay as well) and there are no other jobs in my area and all other nationwide are extremely competitive.

From this point my wife and I are considering moving back to Japan due to the details above and her aging parents. I realize that an eikaiwa job wont quite cut it for supporting a family and so I am researching other options. I am fine with teaching English and do love teaching so I am not opposed to teaching positions if they pay well enough. (10 years ago I spent 3 years teaching English in Tokyo so I actually have some of that experience.)

I am asking if you think my University teaching experience here will elevate me in any way above the typical college grad that is hoping to teach in Japan. I am asking if I have a chance of anything more than that and if so what it might be. I have no Tesol certs or anything but could get that if need be. What if I acquired a Masters in English teaching before going to Japan? Would I then be employable above the 250,000yen base pay grade? Maybe at a Japanese University? Or other?

Other details: I am 41 years old, speak basic Japanese (can bring that language level to a more decent level in a years time no problem).

There must be more to tell you but I’ll leave it at that for the time being.


Thank you for your time and input.
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rtm



Joined: 13 Apr 2007
Posts: 399
Location: US

PostPosted: Mon Jan 20, 2014 9:31 pm    Post subject: Re: Big Life/Job Question Reply with quote

akazoroe wrote:
I realize that an eikaiwa job wont quite cut it for supporting a family and so I am researching other options. I am fine with teaching English and do love teaching so I am not opposed to teaching positions if they pay well enough. (10 years ago I spent 3 years teaching English in Tokyo so I actually have some of that experience.)

I am asking if you think my University teaching experience here will elevate me in any way above the typical college grad that is hoping to teach in Japan. I am asking if I have a chance of anything more than that and if so what it might be. I have no Tesol certs or anything but could get that if need be. What if I acquired a Masters in English teaching before going to Japan? Would I then be employable above the 250,000yen base pay grade? Maybe at a Japanese University? Or other?


So, basically what you bring to the table is:

-3 years of relevant (EFL) experience 10 years ago
-4 years of unrelated teaching experience
-a masters degree unrelated to EFL
-no TESOL training

I don't think those will bring you to a job category above what "typical college grads" are looking at, but it would make you more competitive for those jobs in what is generally a crowded market.

How easily you can get a job and how much money you will need will depend on where you intend to live in Japan. In more rural areas, 250,000 would be enough to support yourself and your wife, assuming you have no children and you can live frugally. If your wife does not work, you won't save much, but it would be enough to live on while you make connections and find something better. If you live with your wife's family to start with while you figure out your employment, that would help also.

Since your wife is a Japanese citizen, you could get a spouse visa, which would be advantageous because you wouldn't need a company to sponsor you. This means that you could start working immediately (assuming you are in-country and get your spouse visa before you apply for jobs). Again, this would most likely be for entry-level positions, but it would put you at an advantage for those positions over other candidates. Not needing sponsorship would also allow you to string together multiple part-time positions if you need to. Again, not an ideal option, but it could support you while you look for something better.

Once you are in the country, you can work on making connections in order to look for something better. This is how many direct-hire ALT and private high school positions are filled. It might be good to see if anyone in your wife's family knows someone.

If you are in a less desirable part of the country, you could possibly find work as an adjunct at universities. These pay quite well as an hourly rate, but there is little job security and could leave you without an income in the summer. Also, these wouldn't turn into a full-time position unless you have a relevant masters (TESOL/AppLing/ELT/SLA/etc., but possibly Education or English in some less-competitive areas). I know someone who has an MFA (studio arts) who teaches English full-time at a university, but in a rural area and she was hired about 20 years ago. Nowadays, many universities also require (relevant) publications and/or Japanese language ability, in addition to the formal qualifications. Those would be good things to work on now (relevant masters, publications, language ability) if you plan to stay in Japan long-term.

When were you thinking of moving to Japan? As I'm sure you know, the school year starts in April, which doesn't match up well with the US school year. That would affect your options for work in schools and universities; eikaiwa hire year-round. If you could hold out in your current position until the end of the fall 2014 semester, get your spouse visa and move to Japan in December or January, that would set you up well for work starting in April.
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Pitarou



Joined: 16 Nov 2009
Posts: 896
Location: Narita, Japan

PostPosted: Mon Jan 20, 2014 11:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What rtm said, but with one proviso.

Before you can get a spouse visa, either you or your wife must be earning a reasonable income. The definition of "reasonable" is deliberately left vague, but for work visas I've seen figures as low as 180,000 yen / month mentioned by people in the know.
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timothypfox



Joined: 20 Feb 2008
Posts: 348

PostPosted: Tue Jan 21, 2014 12:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Your wife should also be looking for full-time work, and if possible live with her parents so they can help with the kids and you won't have to worry about rent.
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akazoroe



Joined: 12 Jan 2014
Posts: 9

PostPosted: Tue Jan 21, 2014 12:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks guys.
Fall 2014 would be fine.

The parents live in Tokyo and thats where I/we lived before. We were planning to live elsewhere. Maybe Osaka. Cheaper places than T-town.
Other family is all in Niigata. Probably too cold for us up there and a bit too rural.

So about the visa thing. If my wife is here with me in the US, she of course doesnt have a job in Japan and therefore I cannot get a spouse visa there till she does, correct?
That makes things tough. So she'd have to get a job right away in Japan in order for me to obtain the spouse visa. So Id come into Japan on a tourist and convert to spouse. Do you have to leave the country at all for that conversion?

So one more question...

If I waited it out a bit and obtained a tesol Masters beforehand would I be much better off or only slightly? Weak little tesol certs are likely too common to even matter eh?
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Pitarou



Joined: 16 Nov 2009
Posts: 896
Location: Narita, Japan

PostPosted: Tue Jan 21, 2014 3:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was in a similar situation. I had to get a work visa first. Once I was established in my job, I could then convert to a spouse visa. But getting that first work visa can be hard.
Quote:
If I waited it out a bit and obtained a tesol Masters beforehand would I be much better off or only slightly?

A full masters degree would open a lot more doors. It would certainly put you at the front of the queue for jobs that you can find from overseas.
Quote:
Weak little tesol certs are likely too common to even matter eh?

Less common than you seem to think. I think the better ones make a difference, especially if you're just starting out as a teacher. The job adverts seem to like the look of them, too.
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RM1983



Joined: 03 Jan 2007
Posts: 53

PostPosted: Tue Jan 21, 2014 4:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the tesol + experience can make you a stronger candidate than those who dont have em. For me they seemed useful in interviews for jobs such as business classes or at smaller schools, in the sense that at both Id be largely unsupervised and the bosses wanted to know that I knew what I was doing.

Were I in your position Id be taking any job and looking into opening my own school asap.
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hagiwaramai



Joined: 24 May 2010
Posts: 113
Location: Marines Stadium

PostPosted: Tue Jan 21, 2014 5:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pitarou wrote:
What rtm said, but with one proviso.

Before you can get a spouse visa, either you or your wife must be earning a reasonable income. The definition of "reasonable" is deliberately left vague, but for work visas I've seen figures as low as 180,000 yen / month mentioned by people in the know.

Is that true? I got a spouse visa 3 years ago and didn't need a job although I did have one, but I don't think that factored into the equation and there was nowhere to put that info on the application. I did need a sponsor/guarantee from a 3rd party though, which was my wife's father.
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Pitarou



Joined: 16 Nov 2009
Posts: 896
Location: Narita, Japan

PostPosted: Tue Jan 21, 2014 7:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

hagiwaramai wrote:
Pitarou wrote:
What rtm said, but with one proviso.

Before you can get a spouse visa, either you or your wife must be earning a reasonable income. The definition of "reasonable" is deliberately left vague, but for work visas I've seen figures as low as 180,000 yen / month mentioned by people in the know.

Is that true? I got a spouse visa 3 years ago and didn't need a job although I did have one, but I don't think that factored into the equation and there was nowhere to put that info on the application. I did need a sponsor/guarantee from a 3rd party though, which was my wife's father.

My understanding is that either you or your spouse must be able to show that you, as a couple, can support yourselves. But I'll double check that later, and get back to you.
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Didah



Joined: 25 Jul 2009
Posts: 33
Location: Planet Tralfamador.... and so it goes

PostPosted: Tue Jan 21, 2014 12:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Greetings,

I had been in Japan for about six years when I got married to a Japanese woman. I kept my work visa until it was bout to expire than I had it changed to a marriage visa. At the time, I was not asked for financial information and neither was my future ex-wife. After we divorced, I moved from Yokohama back to Tokyo. About a month after I was in my new apartment I received a letter from the ward office informing me that my marriage visa expired and I had a month to leave the country. Fortunately, I was in the process of converting my marriage visa back to a work visa. In hindsight, I probably just should have kept the work visa.

On the TESOL certification/master's degree question -- I did a distance learning TESOL certificate through Shenandoah University in Virginia before I continued with their M.S. Ed. in TESOL. All the certificate work counted towards the master's degree. For me, the master's was not that helpful in Japan but opened doors for me with other jobs. I eventually went back to the states and completed a teaching credential in English that got me out of ESL and into international schools. With a master's degree in art, that could be enough for you to get into an international school since it is not a core subject. After I received my teaching credential, I went through International School Services (www.iss.edu) for my first job. We recently hired an art teacher with just a B.A. in art and no credential. International schools offer higher pay and better benefits. There are a few international schools in both Tokyo and Osaka.

A friend of mine did a TESOL certificate through UCLA extension which was not very expensive and recognized in Japan. Neither UCLA or Shenandoah indicated distance learning on the transcripts.

Good luck.
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akazoroe



Joined: 12 Jan 2014
Posts: 9

PostPosted: Tue Jan 21, 2014 4:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks guys.
A lot of great info in here. I really appreciate it.

One thing that has piqued my interest is the possibility of teaching art at an international school in Japan.
Aside from the experience and degrees I already have, are there other qualifications required to work at one of these schools?

Smile
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Pitarou



Joined: 16 Nov 2009
Posts: 896
Location: Narita, Japan

PostPosted: Tue Jan 21, 2014 10:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pitarou wrote:
hagiwaramai wrote:
Pitarou wrote:
What rtm said, but with one proviso.

Before you can get a spouse visa, either you or your wife must be earning a reasonable income. The definition of "reasonable" is deliberately left vague, but for work visas I've seen figures as low as 180,000 yen / month mentioned by people in the know.

Is that true? I got a spouse visa 3 years ago and didn't need a job although I did have one, but I don't think that factored into the equation and there was nowhere to put that info on the application. I did need a sponsor/guarantee from a 3rd party though, which was my wife's father.

My understanding is that either you or your spouse must be able to show that you, as a couple, can support yourselves. But I'll double check that later, and get back to you.

Okay, I've double-checked this, and it looks like the situation isn't nearly as clear-cut as I thought.

My situation back in 2010 was:

* My wife wasn't working.

* We were already married.

* I had an offer of a job in Japan, and planned to come to Japan about a month before my job started.

My wife phoned the Immigration Office, and they advised her that I should:

1. Come to Japan on a tourist visa.

2. Change from tourist visa to work visa once the paperwork came through from my employer.

3. Change from work visa to marriage visa at some point after that.

They were very clear on one point: I couldn't go directly from a tourist visa to a marriage visa. And certainly, having the means to support ourselves would greatly increase the chances of me getting a spouse visa. But there are very few published rules that the Bureau must abide by.

In general, The Immigration Bureau feels perfectly entitled to infer and guess anything it wants, and assume either the best or the worst, depending on what mood they're in. So the more complete and robust a picture you can provide, the better. Clearly, a steady, respectable income will help a lot with that. But don't expect consistency / fairness.

So what was your situation, hagiwaramai, when you applied?

EDIT I wrote "couldn't go from a tourist visa to a work visa" earlier. Of course, that should have been marriage visa.
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hagiwaramai



Joined: 24 May 2010
Posts: 113
Location: Marines Stadium

PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 1:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was in a very similar situation to you Pitarou, I think the only difference was just that I got a spouse visa while still in England as it was so easy to get and took much less time. I just needed some documents sent over from Japan like the koseki tohon but otherwise it was just a matter of filling out a simple form, waiting 5 days and paying 30 quid or so. The thing you do need, as I said before, is the guarantor just like with apartments, but that shouldn't be a problem for most people on spouse visas. The form is on the Japanese embassy website.

Going from tourist status to a spouse visa is a no-no in England too, and I would guess in a lot of countries, for obvious reasons.
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Pitarou



Joined: 16 Nov 2009
Posts: 896
Location: Narita, Japan

PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 2:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

hagiwaramai wrote:
I was in a very similar situation to you Pitarou, I think the only difference was just that I got a spouse visa while still in England as it was so easy to get and took much less time.

What's a koseki tohon? Is that proof that you're married.

When you say "similar situation", do you mean that:

* you had a job offer in Japan

* your wife was in Japan

* your wife was not working

If so, that's interesting. What kind of documentary evidence of the job offer did you give them?
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hagiwaramai



Joined: 24 May 2010
Posts: 113
Location: Marines Stadium

PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 3:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pitarou wrote:
hagiwaramai wrote:
I was in a very similar situation to you Pitarou, I think the only difference was just that I got a spouse visa while still in England as it was so easy to get and took much less time.

What's a koseki tohon? Is that proof that you're married.

When you say "similar situation", do you mean that:

* you had a job offer in Japan

* your wife was in Japan

* your wife was not working

If so, that's interesting. What kind of documentary evidence of the job offer did you give them?

All the same except my wife was with me in England, but that makes no difference in getting a spouse visa.

You said you were on a spouse visa now didn't you? I think you must have got a koseki tohon when you got the spouse visa, it's the Japanese family register showing all the births, deaths, marriages, etc.
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