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Teaching in Japan > Not a Good Deal For The Over 40's
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Black_Beer_Man



Joined: 26 Mar 2013
Posts: 453
Location: Yokohama

PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2016 1:13 pm    Post subject: Teaching in Japan > Not a Good Deal For The Over 40's Reply with quote

The problem is that if you're over 40, the Japanese govt. forces you (by law) to enroll in the national health insurance scheme and you have to take both regular health insurance and "nursing home insurance".

So, basically, you pay double the rate of younger teachers.

I'm over 40 and the govt. is dinging me for 33,200 yen a month or ($328 USD)

The reason why it's a bad deal for most foreign teachers is because the vast majority of us, if we get so sick that we need to live in a nursing home, we would much rather return to our home countries and live our last days there. Where you have a better chance of seeing family and friends. Where you can get services in your own language and not have to eat Japanese food everyday 'til you die.

Unless you're set on Japan, I'd suggest that you consider teaching in other countries where either the health insurance is paid by your employer or where you don't have to buy nursing home insurance.
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taikibansei



Joined: 14 Sep 2004
Posts: 811
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2016 12:31 am    Post subject: Re: Teaching in Japan > Not a Good Deal For The Over 40's Reply with quote

Black_Beer_Man wrote:
The problem is that if you're over 40, the Japanese govt. forces you (by law) to enroll in the national health insurance scheme and you have to take both regular health insurance and "nursing home insurance".

So, basically, you pay double the rate of younger teachers.

I'm over 40 and the govt. is dinging me for 33,200 yen a month or ($328 USD)

The reason why it's a bad deal for most foreign teachers is because the vast majority of us, if we get so sick that we need to live in a nursing home, we would much rather return to our home countries and live our last days there. Where you have a better chance of seeing family and friends. Where you can get services in your own language and not have to eat Japanese food everyday 'til you die.

Unless you're set on Japan, I'd suggest that you consider teaching in other countries where either the health insurance is paid by your employer or where you don't have to buy nursing home insurance.


As you have been told many times by multiple posters, many (most?) foreigners over the age of 40 in Japan are not trying to survive by working entry-level eikaiwa or entry-level dispatch ALT positions. Frankly, I don't know a single foreigner over 40 in your specific situation. Everybody I know is getting a decent (often excellent) salary, including insurance premiums partially paid by the employer.

I agree with you that I would not recommend starting a teaching career in Japan after the age of 40--unless one is either independently wealthy or has the qualifications to be competitive for international schools/full-time university positions. The conditions at entry-level positions in Japan are horrible and getting worse. Moreover, age discrimination in this country is real, and the only way around it is to become (over)qualified and relatively fluent (including reading and writing) in Japanese. The days when unqualified native English speakers could just waltz in to lucrative, full-time teaching positions are long gone.
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Black_Beer_Man



Joined: 26 Mar 2013
Posts: 453
Location: Yokohama

PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2016 1:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

taikibansei, everyone you know has jobs with very good salaries. Well, that's your circle of friends.

The long term foreigners I know piece together several decent-paying short-term contracts (company classes and public school), don't get help with health insurance from their employers and have to alway be on the look out for new contracts.

They have families here. One is fluent in Japanese.

I do agree with you about getting fluent in Japanese to have a decent job based on the fact that the people who I know that are not, don't get the nicer jobs.


The Japanese gov. should give an option to "opt out" of the nursing home insurance to foreigners because most of us will never use it. It's really an unfair cash grab.
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Harp



Joined: 09 Jan 2014
Posts: 46
Location: As far north as you can get, before you hit Saitama

PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2016 1:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The nursing care insurance (not nursing home) is less than 5% of the total social insurance premium. Surely if you're going to pick a windmill to tilt at there are better ones that this...?

I agree with Taikibansei, long-termers I know in Japan who are over 40 mostly came out as eikaiwa teachers, as I did, and have now moved on to better things, as I have. And yes, that's my circle of friends and acquaintances as I can't claim to know every foreigner in Japan.
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taikibansei



Joined: 14 Sep 2004
Posts: 811
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2016 2:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Harp wrote:

I agree with Taikibansei, long-termers I know in Japan who are over 40 mostly came out as eikaiwa teachers, as I did, and have now moved on to better things, as I have. And yes, that's my circle of friends and acquaintances as I can't claim to know every foreigner in Japan.


In my experience too, the vast majority of the over 40 teachers here came out in their 20s or 30s as eikaiwa teachers, as JETS, as dispatch ALTs, or as full-time university hires (the last exceedingly rare). Of these four groups, those in the first three tend to do what Harp did (and what I did)...which is work one's way out of this entry-level position into something better.

Doing so takes a combination of improved qualifications, Japanese language ability, and making connections (particularly for direct-hire ALT positions), not to mention a certain flexibility over where one lives. (E.g., I've heard that it's often harder to find stable work with good conditions in Tokyo.) And yes, even then, there are no guarantees. Personally, I know good people in their mid- to late-30s who couldn't get a break and chose instead to return to their home countries. Thankfully, most are doing fine now.

Being over 40 with a family here yet without stable employment seems absolutely crazy to me, particularly given how age discrimination and declining student numbers will increasingly make things harder for such people going forward. Black_Beer_Man, I hope the many friends you know in this unfortunate situation are either working to improve their situations or thinking seriously about exit strategies back to their home countries.
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TokyoLiz



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 1548
Location: Tokyo, Japan

PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2016 6:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Like others here, all my non-Japanese colleagues over 40 are working in universities, private high schools, school boards, international schools or own schools, and have salaries well over the entry-level.

If you're qualified (TESOL post-graduate diploma, MA in TESOL or a related field, or k-12) and conversant and literate in Japanese, you can work in institutions that pay the going rate for someone in your age range.
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Black_Beer_Man



Joined: 26 Mar 2013
Posts: 453
Location: Yokohama

PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2016 4:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am not talking about the over 40's that are already here. I am speaking to the over 40's that are thinking about teaching in Japan.

It doesn't matter how much teaching experience you have. Japan is a bad deal for you.

What others in this thread have more or less said is that the decent paying jobs require Japanese literacy. Not only speaking, but reading too.

If you do come here, you'll probably get the lowest salary they can get away with paying you and then the govt. will bleed your net savings by charging you high residence tax and high national health insurance (complete with nursing service insurance that you're almost certain not to use unless you're married with kids here and have adopted Japan as your country).

You're better off teaching in almost any other country paying $2K or more - Korea, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan and even China.
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rtm



Joined: 13 Apr 2007
Posts: 1003
Location: US

PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2016 4:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Black_Beer_Man wrote:
I am not talking about the over 40's that are already here. I am speaking to the over 40's that are thinking about teaching in Japan.

[...]

If you do come here, you'll probably get the lowest salary they can get away with paying you and then the govt. will bleed your net savings by charging you high residence tax and high national health insurance (complete with nursing service insurance that you're almost certain not to use unless you're married with kids here and have adopted Japan as your country).


So, basically, you are saying that people over 40 years old should not travel to Japan for an entry-level job. I think many of us would agree with that. While there are ways for foreign people to make decent money in Japan, it's not at entry level.

Quote:
You're better off teaching in almost any other country paying $2K or more - Korea, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan and even China.

At entry level, yes, you are probably right that those places would yield greater savings. However, positions that require higher-level qualifications and more experience pay more in Japan than most of those countries.
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taikibansei



Joined: 14 Sep 2004
Posts: 811
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2016 10:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Black_Beer_Man wrote:

You're better off teaching in almost any other country paying $2K or more - Korea, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan and even China.


You really need to start visiting these other boards and seeing the current situation. We can't talk about Korea here. In Saudi Arabia, the rest of the Middle East, and in Taiwan, jobs and salaries have been cut drastically over the last 3-5 years. Over 40 with just a vanilla BA and little to no special qualifications or experience, you are not getting a better job in Saudi Arabia, the rest of the Middle East, or in Taiwan. Sorry.

In China, a good salary would seem to be 10,000 CNY per month. That's $1,500 USD. And yes, the cost of living is cheaper in China, and there are other perks too--in combination, you could do quite well there on that amount, apparently. Still, you are most likely not getting a $2K USD/month gig in China, particularly with those qualifications.

Frankly, it's a tough market everywhere.
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rxk22



Joined: 19 May 2010
Posts: 1628

PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2016 11:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In defense of BBM, I am in my mid 30s. I do not have a graduate degree, and most people I know don't have one either. I feel like that is the minority of people here. Anyhow, most people I know are doing OK to great. From making in the upper 200K a month, to some decently high income for others who do translation work.

I don't really associate with that many current Eikaiwa workers, but there are a great many who are 40+.
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Shakey



Joined: 29 Aug 2014
Posts: 199

PostPosted: Wed Sep 28, 2016 1:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There must be hundreds of Canadians, Americans, British and Australians running around Tokyo, Chiba and Saitama teaching part-time at universities and high schools. Many of them are in their 40s, 50s and even mid 60s. A lot of these people are teaching 20 classes a week, some even teach more, and will likely have to teach until they drop. They have no pension or other benefits, so they truly will have to look after themselves. And from those I've spoken to, some are saving and investing while others are living month-to-month which is scary.

As mentioned above, Japan is a terrible TEFL destination for the entry-level ALT, eikaiwa, and dispatch English teacher. Everything about these jobs is absolutely terrible - from the way the companies treat their staff, teachers and students to the salaries.

However, for those who are qualified, Japan is among one of the most lucrative TEFL destinations in the world. I would even say that it's even the best. Besides Japan, in which countries do university TEFL teachers, for example, receive $4,000 - $10,000 a year in annual research budgets? In what other countries can TEFL teachers receive up to $20,000 - $25,000 a year in summer and winter bonuses? The answer is none that I am aware of. Not Korea. Not Taiwan. Not China. Not even in the UAE or Saudi Arabia. The good TEFL jobs in Japan pay a western-like salary and include all of the usual benefits regarding healthcare, pension, cost-of-living allowances, etc.

In my view, if someone is going to make TEFL a career but they do not have a B.Ed, M.A. or Doctorate in TESOL or Applied Linguistics - run to those qualifications, don't walk! Because holding such credentials will improve your life dramatically - e.g., from a 40-hour work week to a 12-hour work week (or less); from 10 days vacation to up to 5 months paid annual vacation, and of course a huge bump in salary. Without such qualifications people will be stuck in bottom of the barrel jobs that pay subsistence wages with few to no benefits and working for companies that treat people like shit.

In short, Japan is a miserable place for entry-level TEFL jobs, but can be one of the most lucrative TEFL destinations for people who bring the right qualifications, experience, etc. But one also needs to get lucky. The pie is shrinking and has been for some time now. There are fewer good jobs to go around, but they are still there.
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Black_Beer_Man



Joined: 26 Mar 2013
Posts: 453
Location: Yokohama

PostPosted: Wed Sep 28, 2016 2:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Shakey. These big money positions that you're talking about sound like elite positions in universities. Much more money than Japanese teachers get in high schools.

If you're willing to work very long hours and not have a life, you can get a position like that I guess.
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timothypfox



Joined: 20 Feb 2008
Posts: 492

PostPosted: Wed Sep 28, 2016 3:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry things are so bleak. I'm 45 now and have a family here and my employee (private high school) does contribute to my health care.

I think Japan is fine in your 40s if you are not coming in on entry level work. If you have previous experience here, or some exceptional Japanese related experience or skill in the Japanese language, you can still get decent work.

But there is no shame in trying out Japan for a year or two, and if things don't start to look up - there are plenty of countries you can work in including your own.

Many people after a stint in Japan return to their home countries and work in public school. I worked in Japan a couple of years, and then became a public school teacher in NYC for 5 years, but got the itch and researched carefully for 4 years to find my position in Japan.
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mitsui



Joined: 10 Jun 2007
Posts: 1562
Location: Kawasaki

PostPosted: Wed Sep 28, 2016 3:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't recommend coming here if you are older and single, unless money means little to you.

Kanto is saturated with teachers. Since 2009 the Americans have been coming, and there is just too much competition.
Teachers with even a doctorate cannot get a full-time job, and instead teach part-time at different universities.

There are teachers who live in Saitama and work in Kanagawa. Their commutes are brutal, and I guess they stand it since they get vacations.

But don't lie - there is a demographic crisis coming. Jobs will vanish.
Schools are looking to save money.

Not all of us are going to get N1 and have piles of publications.
Not everyone wants to teach at a university, which is fine.
People who teach kids may do better than most, but just at elementary schools.

Where I work now there might be one foreigner with tenure, then the teachers on the limited contracts and the army of part-time teachers. That is it. More publications and better Japanese doesn't means better conditions.

And say you teach at a university and know Japanese well, but at meetings your opinion is not valued. All that is required is that you can read the handouts, nod your head and say wakarimashita. Why bother?


Last edited by mitsui on Wed Sep 28, 2016 8:00 am; edited 2 times in total
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mitsui



Joined: 10 Jun 2007
Posts: 1562
Location: Kawasaki

PostPosted: Wed Sep 28, 2016 7:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As for health insurance, if you are healthy, good.
I had eye surgery last year.
With no insurance it would have cost a lot more.

People in Japan live longer and all of us are paying.
If costs could be reduced without sacrificing quality, fine.
For example, unneeded ambulance trips.
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