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Why Is Interac So Keen To Hire New Teachers?
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JRJohn



Joined: 21 Jun 2006
Posts: 94

PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2012 2:09 pm    Post subject: Why Is Interac So Keen To Hire New Teachers? Reply with quote

I am working in Beijing. I have had some great teaching experiences in China, but I have decided not to sign on again in September due to stress.
A guy I knew in Japan from Interac told me Interac is dead keen to hire new teachers, and I wondered why? This may be the hiring season. I got a lot out of my time in Japan, and I could go back. But I remember paying key money and so on. I have been told that most ALT's are now in Leopalaces. Is this true? After the first few months, is it possible to save money? I have been saving money in China over the past 2 years. What are the pleasures and pitfalls. Has Interac changed at all over the past few years?
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Glenski



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

PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2012 9:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As far as being able to save money, yes, unless you are a terrible spendthrift. Figure that on a salary of 250,000 yen/month, half will go to basic necessities of rent, utilities, phone, insurance, and food. That leaves half for everything else in your life. Plenty to go around unless you eat and drink out a lot, sightsee often, and otherwise blow your money. Shouldn't be a problem to save at least 50,000-70,000 per month.
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rxk22



Joined: 19 May 2010
Posts: 896

PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2012 11:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Glenski wrote:
As far as being able to save money, yes, unless you are a terrible spendthrift. Figure that on a salary of 250,000 yen/month, half will go to basic necessities of rent, utilities, phone, insurance, and food. That leaves half for everything else in your life. Plenty to go around unless you eat and drink out a lot, sightsee often, and otherwise blow your money. Shouldn't be a problem to save at least 50,000-70,000 per month.


But that is running under the assumption that you actually make 250k a month, and you make that much every month.
The first one depends on where you live.
The second, I under Interac averaged about 180k per month in real pay. As there 4 months where you don't get full pay.

Most people I know realistically saved 30,000 a month. But that was their fun money too. So if they partied, or went out, they saved little to nothing.
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Kionon



Joined: 12 Apr 2008
Posts: 226
Location: Kyoto, Japan and Dallas, Texas

PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2012 11:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In 2008, it took me two months to get hired, but I assumed that was because I didn't have a visa or support structure in Japan.

I have both now, and it took a week to get five different interviews and position negotiations. Already have a visa, already have a bank account, drivers license, credit history, etc, etc in Japan.

Interac is in the mix with other positions. Offered salary is probably about the same when you consider the offers vs. deductions compared to my earlier salary. One of these positions has offered to seriously consider matching my previous salary, and considering that the position has fewer deductions, my real pay woud actually be higher.

If the current trend holds and Japan does have problems attracting new blood, eventually, that will create wage increases. It has to. The vast majority of people I have worked with in Japan have not lasted more than two years, and a few only one. Two that I know of that had total freakouts and left after only a few months, finding themselves unable to adjust to Japan. It'll be interesting to see if the effects of the previous few years of wage depression, the declining of Cool Japan (as is proposed, although I am not sure I actually agree), and the earthquake/tsunami/nuclear meltdown lead to more positions than there are new gaikokujin to fill them.

For my own part, with my extra education, and further education I plan to pursue in Japan, I do not expect to spend more than two or three years more as an ALT, and I suspect even then, I will be applying to direct hire positions next year.
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OneJoelFifty



Joined: 06 Oct 2009
Posts: 463

PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2012 1:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

To answer your questions, Interac have always seemed to me to be eager to employ new teachers. They are still the biggest dispatch company around.

And yes, these days it's very common to be set up with a LeoPalace place on arrival. Interac may have some kind of deal with them, I'm not sure. The benefits are obvious (less start-up money, usually furnished and internet-ready), but it could be inconvenient in relation to your work location, and is likely to work out more expensive in the long run. You can find your own apartment easily without having to pay key money these days. It's not hard to save money at all, depending on your lifestyle and city/area (rent being the main thing that varies hugely from place to place).
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Glenski



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

PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2012 3:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

rxk22,
I realize everything you wrote about Interac. I was merely trying to point out that when one does get about 250,000 as salary (I think Interac pays 270K? Too busy to check), half of it should be considered disposable.

Yes, as you wrote, location makes a difference, and whether it does in salaries or not, I do not know with respect to Interac. Housing can be vastly different depending on location, I know that much. My figures are averages (50,000-80,000 yen/month) around the country, so people have to take that into consideration. Want to live in downtown Osaka or Tokyo? Expect to pay a lot more in most cases!

I really feel for people who get a reduced salary like many ALTs do in holiday periods, but on the other hand, if they already know that coming in, I don't really see how they can complain too much. I mean, nobody forced them to sign the contract.
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timothypfox



Joined: 20 Feb 2008
Posts: 345

PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2012 4:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

To address the original question.

I speculate that Interac wants to hire so many new teachers because it is better for them to have an excess labor force than too many employees. If the turn over is high (every 2 years), they need to make sure their staffing is covered even if it means fewer overall working hours for existing staff members.

If you make all staff part-time, it also means staff can't pressure for certain benefits like participation in the national pension scheme.

But, to be honest I am speculating here from what I know about the industry. I don't have the facts on Interac.

As for Leopalace, when I worked for GEOS about 15 years ago, they owned the Leopalace building I lived in in Kyoto. This was quite a nice deal for them provided they could keep the building fully rented.
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Kionon



Joined: 12 Apr 2008
Posts: 226
Location: Kyoto, Japan and Dallas, Texas

PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2012 4:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Glenski wrote:
rxk22,
I realize everything you wrote about Interac. I was merely trying to point out that when one does get about 250,000 as salary (I think Interac pays 270K? Too busy to check), half of it should be considered disposable.


They're offering 230,000-255,000. In Tokyo they are offering only 230,000 because people want to live in Tokyo. In other places they're willing to go up for people with experience. They will still insist on 230,000 for fresh off-the-boat individuals. If I were to get 270K, it woud only be A) outside of Tokyo B) because I was at 270K in my previous position.

Quote:
Yes, as you wrote, location makes a difference, and whether it does in salaries or not, I do not know with respect to Interac.


It does.

Quote:
Housing can be vastly different depending on location, I know that much. My figures are averages (50,000-80,000 yen/month) around the country, so people have to take that into consideration. Want to live in downtown Osaka or Tokyo? Expect to pay a lot more in most cases!


This is accurate in my experience.

Quote:
I really feel for people who get a reduced salary like many ALTs do in holiday periods, but on the other hand, if they already know that coming in, I don't really see how they can complain too much. I mean, nobody forced them to sign the contract.


That's Lochner v. New York kind of reasoning there. When the only contract choices you have offer reduced wages, you have to take the reduced wages, this does not mean the wages are fair or that you suddenly give up your right to complain or demand better wages. If so, organised labor would still be a pipe dream in Western nations. Having many bad choices and choosing one does not suddenly make the choices "good."
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Glenski



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

PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2012 12:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kionon wrote:
Quote:
I really feel for people who get a reduced salary like many ALTs do in holiday periods, but on the other hand, if they already know that coming in, I don't really see how they can complain too much. I mean, nobody forced them to sign the contract.


That's Lochner v. New York kind of reasoning there. When the only contract choices you have offer reduced wages, you have to take the reduced wages, this does not mean the wages are fair or that you suddenly give up your right to complain or demand better wages. If so, organised labor would still be a pipe dream in Western nations. Having many bad choices and choosing one does not suddenly make the choices "good."
I don't know Lochner v. NY and am not willing to look it up. Suffice it to say that ALT work is not the only game in town, so there is no justification in saying they offer the only contract choices.
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Kionon



Joined: 12 Apr 2008
Posts: 226
Location: Kyoto, Japan and Dallas, Texas

PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2012 2:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Glenski wrote:
I don't know Lochner v. NY and am not willing to look it up. Suffice it to say that ALT work is not the only game in town, so there is no justification in saying they offer the only contract choices.


It was a court case where a maximum hour New York state law was overturned by the Supreme Court of the United States because of it was considered to be violation of the implied right of contract in the Constitution. The logic was basically, "The workers knew coming in that they would have to work twelve hour days, six days a week, and they have the right to make stupid contracts. They could have gone elsewhere." Not really, since at the turn of the century, all unskilled and much skilled labor contracts were offered under the exact same conditions. Worthy to note, it has been overturned by other case law recognising the need for worker protection as a compelling government interest.

You say ALT isn't the only game in town, but that largely depends on what kind of game you're playing. I'm comparing ALT contracts to other ALT contracts. If you want to include the gamut of English teaching, sure, there are better paid positions, but not for entry level. 250,000 is pretty standard across all of the listings on all of the websites I usually use. Now, specific, individual positions may go up to 300,000 for experience, with certifications or licenses, and perhaps even a rural setting, but getting beyond 300,000 is NOT entry level or requires a considerable amount of education.

And if you're including non-English teaching positions, I have never seen a non-English teaching position I have qualified for. Most seem to be telecommunications, IT, engineering, or culinary positions. None of which could be further from my educational background.
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Glenski



Joined: 15 Jan 2003
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Location: Hokkaido, JAPAN

PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2012 10:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For ALT jobs, there is JET and there is the dispatch agency route (like Interac). Someone with experience and contacts might also consider a direct hire route in public schools, although they are fairly rare.

Other options for entry level include eikaiwa, of course, and business English (whether directly hired by the company that wants its employees to learn more English, or hired by a teaching agency like Simul that holds its own classes in-house for companies or farms out its teachers).

250,000 (as you know) used to be a given standard for most eikaiwa and ALT jobs for decades. In recent years this has changed (dropped) because there is no regulation on minimum monthly salary, and employers have found neat loopholes to allow them to pay less. I would estimate that the average entry level wage now is closer to 220,000. Of course, that automatically assumes there will be lower salaries than that and even some which pay more than 250,000.

I have not seen any direct comparison between/among any ALT dispatch company posted anywhere. Interac seems to have the largest market share, so they are mentioned a lot. Some of the more disreputable ones are also on discussion boards a lot for their own reasons. As far as I know, most offer reduced or no salary during periods when school is not in session, and that should be pretty clear to people interested in taking the job. If one plans to pursue only ALT work, we can debate whether they have any right to complain about the pay situation, I suppose. The teaching market in Japan needs to undergo a change to allow better payment, but the way the economy is, plus the lack of any regulatory agency will not see that happen for a long time IMO. Japan is still stuck in a mode where the government says one thing (we need better English) and does another (fails to act appropriately to ensure that). It's a huge kettle of fish to handle, with entrance exams, perceptions of what an English teacher really needs to be, immigration changes related to visa requirements, the decline of JET and its working conditions, etc. From what I see on discussion forums, there are still plenty of the same old people interested in coming to Japan for the same old reasons, so demographics about teachers isn't helping to change matters. One might say that a way to improve salaries is to refuse to take anything below a certain offered amount, but that's not going to happen unless the vast majority of teachers & wannabes take part in such a protest. I seriously doubt that will happen.

Best of luck to you in your ALT search.
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Kionon



Joined: 12 Apr 2008
Posts: 226
Location: Kyoto, Japan and Dallas, Texas

PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2012 11:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Glenski wrote:
For ALT jobs, there is JET and there is the dispatch agency route (like Interac).


JET is highly competitive, and they seem to reject people for the strangest reasons. It's also exactly what it says it is--an exchange program. For someone interested moving to Japan and staying, JET is not only an inappropriate option, if they find out they will never hire you in the first place.

Quote:
Someone with experience and contacts might also consider a direct hire route in public schools, although they are fairly rare.


Yes, however, as you say, fairly rare. And by fairly rare, you really mean, at least my experience, exceptionally rare. I've applied to a few. Direct hire positions often offer a significant salary increase, however, getting one is nearly impossible, so it doesn't really change "the game."

Quote:
Other options for entry level include eikaiwa, of course, and business English (whether directly hired by the company that wants its employees to learn more English, or hired by a teaching agency like Simul that holds its own classes in-house for companies or farms out its teachers).


Again, few of which offer salaries above 250,000, and if they do, they are not aimed at fresh-off-the-boat individuals. That being said, I consider myself a secondary education teacher and have zero interest in teaching small children, old people, or salarymen. That isn't what I went to school for.

Quote:
250,000 (as you know) used to be a given standard for most eikaiwa and ALT jobs for decades. In recent years this has changed (dropped) because there is no regulation on minimum monthly salary, and employers have found neat loopholes to allow them to pay less. I would estimate that the average entry level wage now is closer to 220,000. Of course, that automatically assumes there will be lower salaries than that and even some which pay more than 250,000.


Yes, and I would never take any of the 220k or worse yet, the 180k positions. The positions which offer more have already been covered in my previous comments. They are not entry level or they require further education, certifications, several years experience, etc.

Quote:
I have not seen any direct comparison between/among any ALT dispatch company posted anywhere. Interac seems to have the largest market share, so they are mentioned a lot.


All you have to do is spend a few weeks or months reading through all the various posts on here, on gaijinpot, on ohayo sensei, etc, etc, etc. It's quite easy to tell that they're all generally in the same range.

Quote:
Some of the more disreputable ones are also on discussion boards a lot for their own reasons. As far as I know, most offer reduced or no salary during periods when school is not in session, and that should be pretty clear to people interested in taking the job. If one plans to pursue only ALT work, we can debate whether they have any right to complain about the pay situation, I suppose.


Not all, but yes, most. And while clear when taking the job, that doesn't mean one feels free to reject the job, especially when all other job offers are very similar. I also think you truly believe that there are other options, that one can simply waltz into a direct hire position, or position at private JHS or HS. That does not happen. You and I (and you more than I) have the experience and education to compete for those jobs and reasonably expect we might actually be hired. A fresh-off-the-boat Westerner with a BA in [insert degree unrelated to English, education, or communication here] (which is the majority of people, in my experience, who I have worked with as an ALT) is not going to be able to compete for those jobs. They will have to compete for the positions to which I refer. That doesn't mean they wouldn't like better and don't have a right to feel they should have gotten it, given the way Japanese society views the ALT position.


Quote:
The teaching market in Japan needs to undergo a change to allow better payment, but the way the economy is, plus the lack of any regulatory agency will not see that happen for a long time IMO. Japan is still stuck in a mode where the government says one thing (we need better English) and does another (fails to act appropriately to ensure that). It's a huge kettle of fish to handle, with entrance exams, perceptions of what an English teacher really needs to be, immigration changes related to visa requirements, the decline of JET and its working conditions, etc.


You'll see no argument from me on this. As far as I am concerned you should be required to have an English degree or related degree (education, communications, journalism, creative writing, etc) which proves you have a high command of the language. I also firmly believe that Japan should be creating an ALT -> JTE program to train and retain native English speakers who can truly contribute to a classroom setting. I don't see either of those happening in the foreseeable future, if ever.

Quote:
From what I see on discussion forums, there are still plenty of the same old people interested in coming to Japan for the same old reasons, so demographics about teachers isn't helping to change matters. One might say that a way to improve salaries is to refuse to take anything below a certain offered amount, but that's not going to happen unless the vast majority of teachers & wannabes take part in such a protest. I seriously doubt that will happen.


Unlikely, as long as you have people who move to Japan because JAPAN and not because they have the necessary background and Japan just happens to be the place where they can find employment. It is true, that I have a similar background to many when it comes to what I love about Japan, the difference is I didn't move to Japan until I already had experience as an English teacher, had an English degree, and Texas offers were pitiful. I wish I could say I moved to Japan because of the food, or the pop culture, but I didn't. I moved to Japan because of cold hard cash.

Quote:
Best of luck to you in your ALT search.


Directed to me, or directed to the OP? I'm actually good. I'm waiting on which position I've been placed at, although I have a couple of other negotiations going. With my valid residency and experience, I am not having any trouble. It's the newbie wannabes who need the luck.


Last edited by Kionon on Tue May 15, 2012 11:45 pm; edited 1 time in total
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rxk22



Joined: 19 May 2010
Posts: 896

PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2012 11:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Glenski wrote:
rxk22,
I realize everything you wrote about Interac. I was merely trying to point out that when one does get about 250,000 as salary (I think Interac pays 270K? Too busy to check), half of it should be considered disposable.

Yes, as you wrote, location makes a difference, and whether it does in salaries or not, I do not know with respect to Interac. Housing can be vastly different depending on location, I know that much. My figures are averages (50,000-80,000 yen/month) around the country, so people have to take that into consideration. Want to live in downtown Osaka or Tokyo? Expect to pay a lot more in most cases!

I really feel for people who get a reduced salary like many ALTs do in holiday periods, but on the other hand, if they already know that coming in, I don't really see how they can complain too much. I mean, nobody forced them to sign the contract.


270k? No way Jose! Maybe 10-12 years ago.

They only tell you about August/December being reduced in salary. Had to find out the hard way that March and April are as well. Which is why I leave early, as they don't pay me FT, so don't expect FT work from me. I teach on the side to make ends meet.
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Kionon



Joined: 12 Apr 2008
Posts: 226
Location: Kyoto, Japan and Dallas, Texas

PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2012 11:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

rxk22 wrote:
270k? No way Jose! Maybe 10-12 years ago.


Yep. If they give it to me, it will ONLY be because my previous employer had me at that salary and they asked me what it would take to commit. I said 270K or as close to it as they could get.

Quote:
They only tell you about August/December being reduced in salary. Had to find out the hard way that March and April are as well. Which is why I leave early, as they don't pay me FT, so don't expect FT work from me. I teach on the side to make ends meet.


They told me up front. Contract is haken, pay stops in March. That's fine by me, I'll be shopping for better gigs (direct hires or private schools) as soon as December or January hits...
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Glenski



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

PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2012 12:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kionon wrote:
Glenski wrote:
For ALT jobs, there is JET and there is the dispatch agency route (like Interac).


JET is highly competitive, and they seem to reject people for the strangest reasons. It's also exactly what it says it is--an exchange program. For someone interested moving to Japan and staying, JET is not only an inappropriate option, if they find out they will never hire you in the first place.
I don't know what you mean by "the strangest reasons". In my experience, you never actually know the reason. Besides, as for being "competitive", what job opening isn't? I'm sorry, but these are just not valid excuses.

As for JET being a short-term option, sure, I agree, but if you play it right you can stay 5 years, and that is more than enough time (even the 3-year option is) to make contacts and sniff around for places to move on to. Dispatch agencies can't keep you at one school more than 3 years without you becoming FT direct hire there anyway, as far as I know. Yeah, they often try to get around that by saying you were on contract there for 364 days, not a full year, or some other BS.

Do you really want to be a dispatch ALT all your life?
Quote:

Quote:
Other options for entry level include eikaiwa, of course, and business English (whether directly hired by the company that wants its employees to learn more English, or hired by a teaching agency like Simul that holds its own classes in-house for companies or farms out its teachers).


Again, few of which offer salaries above 250,000, and if they do, they are not aimed at fresh-off-the-boat individuals. That being said, I consider myself a secondary education teacher and have zero interest in teaching small children, old people, or salarymen. That isn't what I went to school for.
Fair enough. Have you thought of international schools, then? I neglected to mention them earlier.

As for no interest in teaching small children, you may not have any say in it when you become an ALT. I am not sure of this, so I say "may". You might actually just get sent to any public school, elementary or junior high or senior high, that the employer has a contract with.

If you studied to become a teacher, will you actually be satisfied in an ALT slot? You probably know the horror stories. What will you do if you have a JTE presiding over you and one that doesn't want to communicate with you about lesson planning, or one that tells you to be just a human tape recorder? You're not the boss in an ALT situation, and if you studied to be a teacher (the boss), you might find ALT work to be pretty demeaning and/or frustrating. Depends on the situation, of course.

Quote:
Quote:
I have not seen any direct comparison between/among any ALT dispatch company posted anywhere. Interac seems to have the largest market share, so they are mentioned a lot.


All you have to do is spend a few weeks or months reading through all the various posts on here, on gaijinpot, on ohayo sensei, etc, etc, etc. It's quite easy to tell that they're all generally in the same range.
As I figured from just being here and sometimes keeping my eyes open. Thanks for the confirmation. So, since you are comparing ALT slots, what information are you looking for, exactly, that will help you to make a decision?

Quote:
I also think you truly believe that there are other options, that one can simply waltz into a direct hire position, or position at private JHS or HS.
I've stated the options. If you want to focus only on ALT positions, so be it. The others are there for anyone else who wants to take them.

As for waltzing into a private HS job, no, I don't have that feeling. I got my private HS job after 3 years of eikaiwa (and not having a degree related to education at all). Does that mean the measly eikaiwa experience was enough for me to get the job? Probably in part, yes. But I have to feel there was more behind it. I don't know how the other people got their PT positions there (that's how I started), but I know the only FT people there were experienced in eikaiwa or JET.

As for waltzing into a direct hire, nope. Very unlikely for a newbie, as I think I indicated above. If I didn't, you know now how I feel.

Quote:
You'll see no argument from me on this. As far as I am concerned you should be required to have an English degree or related degree (education, communications, journalism, creative writing, etc) which proves you have a high command of the language.
Tongue in cheek here -- the way some people write on forums and in their cover letters, I often wonder that even with such education what sort of command of the language they have. (ok, tongue back in place now.)

rxk22 wrote:
270k? No way Jose! Maybe 10-12 years ago.
Maybe I was confusing them with Westgate. Thanks.
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