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Japan
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JerkyBoy



Joined: 12 Jan 2012
Posts: 446

PostPosted: Wed Aug 08, 2012 4:45 pm    Post subject: Japan Reply with quote

Hello one and all.

I want to ask you some simple and straightforward questions which will likely determine whether or not I come to Japan:

I am approaching middle-age.
I have a BA and a CELTA only.
I have over 10 years of teaching experience and have worked for several highly reputable employers.
I am teaching in a university in the UK at the moment.

I would like to work in a major city such as Tokyo, Osaka, Yokohama, or Sendai.

What sort of teaching work is open to me?
What is the process concerning medical examination with regard to obtaining a visa? I am bipolar.
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Mr_Monkey



Joined: 11 Mar 2009
Posts: 661
Location: Kyuuuuuushuuuuuuu

PostPosted: Wed Aug 08, 2012 5:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Honestly, conversation school (eikaiwa) and ALT (assistant language teacher in a school).

Without an MA in TESOL or somesuch, very few universities will even consider your application, despite your work background.

I'm not saying these are necessarily bad jobs, but you're not much more qualified - if at all - than the average 20-something that doesn't really have a clue about working conditions.

As for the medical exam, I didn't have one before I came to Japan - my employer never asked (that I can remember) - and you should be able to obtain the medication you need here, or perhaps bring a sufficient supply.
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Glenski



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

PostPosted: Wed Aug 08, 2012 10:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Conversation school instructor.
Public school ALT (usually through a dispatch agency, but you might also get a rare direct hire through a board of education).
Business English agency (depending).
Start your own business. (Not as easy as it may sound)

If you want university/college work, you will usually need a master's degree and publications as a minimum. Look at the FAQ stickies and the JRECIN site.

There is no medical exam for the visa. Employers, on the other hand, might request one.
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Pitarou



Joined: 16 Nov 2009
Posts: 998
Location: Narita, Japan

PostPosted: Thu Aug 09, 2012 6:06 am    Post subject: Re: Japan Reply with quote

JerkyBoy wrote:
What is the process concerning medical examination with regard to obtaining a visa?
None.

You need to have a chest X-ray to work in a state school, but that's not a visa matter.
JerkyBoy wrote:
I am bipolar.
If you were young and callow I'd advise you against considering this move. But, I'll assume you're old enough to know what you're doing.
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JerkyBoy



Joined: 12 Jan 2012
Posts: 446

PostPosted: Thu Aug 09, 2012 7:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mr_Monkey wrote:
Honestly, conversation school (eikaiwa) and ALT (assistant language teacher in a school).

Without an MA in TESOL or somesuch, very few universities will even consider your application, despite your work background.

I'm not saying these are necessarily bad jobs, but you're not much more qualified - if at all - than the average 20-something that doesn't really have a clue about working


Is it worth it then?

Is the Japan experience worth going backwards in my profession? I really want to see Japan for the first time and live there but I am not sure I can justify taking two steps back in exchange for it.

Can you even make any money?

Your thoughts and reflections are most welcome.
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Pitarou



Joined: 16 Nov 2009
Posts: 998
Location: Narita, Japan

PostPosted: Thu Aug 09, 2012 11:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

JerkyBoy wrote:
Is the Japan experience worth going backwards in my profession? I really want to see Japan for the first time and live there but I am not sure I can justify taking two steps back in exchange for it.
I dunno'. You'll also be taking a 100 steps back in life skills. YMMV, but most people struggle with the language for years. Life will be harder in a thousand little ways. Is it worth it just for the novelty value?

On the upside, the food's great and, if you happen to fit the mould, I hear the women love white men.
JerkyBoy wrote:
Can you even make any money?
For an unqualified-but-enthusiastic teacher, Japan is a relative goldmine. At the other end of the scale, if you have an MA or a PHd you should go to Dubai.

Right now the Yen is strong and the pound is weak, which flatters the prospects. For someone in your position, the monthly salary ranges from a howdoyoumakeendsmeet JPY 180,000 (GBP 1,465) to an omigodwhosebuttdidyouhavetokisstogetthat JPY 300,000 (GBP 2,440), with JPY 250,000 (GBP 2,035) considered about the going rate.

To sum up: Japan is ideal for an extended busman's holiday, but treat it as a career break rather than a career move.
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JerkyBoy



Joined: 12 Jan 2012
Posts: 446

PostPosted: Thu Aug 09, 2012 6:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pitarou wrote:


Right now the Yen is strong and the pound is weak, which flatters the prospects. For someone in your position, the monthly salary ranges from a howdoyoumakeendsmeet JPY 180,000 (GBP 1,465) to an omigodwhosebuttdidyouhavetokisstogetthat JPY 300,000 (GBP 2,440), with JPY 250,000 (GBP 2,035) considered about the going rate.

To sum up: Japan is ideal for an extended busman's holiday, but treat it as a career break rather than a career move.


That's not a lot of money.

Interac will only offer me rural location.

Said I would have more chance elsewhere if I was already in the country.

Which schools would you recommend in Tokyo? I would like to arrive there some time between October and January.
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Mr_Monkey



Joined: 11 Mar 2009
Posts: 661
Location: Kyuuuuuushuuuuuuu

PostPosted: Thu Aug 09, 2012 6:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

JerkyBoy wrote:
I would like to arrive there some time between October and January.
Bad timing. Main hiring is in Feb-March for an April start.
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steki47



Joined: 20 Apr 2008
Posts: 679
Location: BFE Inaka

PostPosted: Thu Aug 09, 2012 9:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

JerkyBoy wrote:


That's not a lot of money.

Interac will only offer me rural location.


You won't live like a king, but the usual salary is not that bad. I find the cost of living in Japan to be overall cheaper than NYC, London or Sydney. Rural areas are a bit cheaper and so your salary will stretch farther.
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DragonJade



Joined: 20 Mar 2011
Posts: 33

PostPosted: Thu Aug 09, 2012 11:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

JerkyBoy wrote:
Pitarou wrote:


Right now the Yen is strong and the pound is weak, which flatters the prospects. For someone in your position, the monthly salary ranges from a howdoyoumakeendsmeet JPY 180,000 (GBP 1,465) to an omigodwhosebuttdidyouhavetokisstogetthat JPY 300,000 (GBP 2,440), with JPY 250,000 (GBP 2,035) considered about the going rate.

To sum up: Japan is ideal for an extended busman's holiday, but treat it as a career break rather than a career move.


That's not a lot of money.

Interac will only offer me rural location.

Said I would have more chance elsewhere if I was already in the country.

Which schools would you recommend in Tokyo? I would like to arrive there some time between October and January.


250,000 is the bog standard rate. If you're in the countryside, rent will be really low, say 40-60,000 a month for a 40m^2 flat - that's practically family size in some parts of Japan! Rent might be different if you have to take on a place Interact give you.

I think you have to worry less about how much money you'll get and more of who will actually stick their neck out and go though the hassle of getting you a work permit. If your aim is to get to Japan and do anything to get your foot in the country, go with Interac. Your only alternative that I can think of is Gaba, and I would avoid them like the plague. I'm not a big fan of Interac, but they're the lesser of the two evils. Do your year with Interac, get a good feel of the country and the job market, build up some kind of experience (do evening business classes so you can branch out later to get a better job), and look for something else.

Oh, I just though of Westgate. You could try them as well. I've met one of their hirers/trainers once. Wasn't keen on the guy at all, but a job's a job if you need it.
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DragonJade



Joined: 20 Mar 2011
Posts: 33

PostPosted: Thu Aug 09, 2012 11:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

steki47 wrote:
JerkyBoy wrote:


That's not a lot of money.

Interac will only offer me rural location.


You won't live like a king, but the usual salary is not that bad. I find the cost of living in Japan to be overall cheaper than NYC, London or Sydney. Rural areas are a bit cheaper and so your salary will stretch farther.


Definitely. And the closer you live to a big city, the more rent will cleave at your wages. In return you'll get a smaller place. My ex lived near a posh part of Tokyo and had a one room flat. The room was about 4x3m, the toilet/shower was 1.2x1.2m, the hallway (1.5x0.6m) doubled as a kitchen with a hob, a sink and a mini-bar fridge. She was paying about 80,000 for it, company subsidised. It would cost about 130,000 if it weren't.

Oh, income tax is only 10%!
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steki47



Joined: 20 Apr 2008
Posts: 679
Location: BFE Inaka

PostPosted: Fri Aug 10, 2012 4:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

DragonJade wrote:
steki47 wrote:
JerkyBoy wrote:


That's not a lot of money.


You won't live like a king, but the usual salary is not that bad. I find the cost of living in Japan to be overall cheaper than NYC, London or Sydney. Rural areas are a bit cheaper and so your salary will stretch farther.


Definitely. And the closer you live to a big city, the more rent will cleave at your wages.

{snip}

Oh, income tax is only 10%!


I don't know what the OP considers good money, but I have always managed to have a comfortable, if modest, lifestyle. I pay rent, eat, etc. Always have some cash for a beer or a book, I save a bit every money and go overseas 1-2 times a year.

The standard salary of 3M yen is about $36K USD, which is at the low end of average for someone with a four-year degree. When you factor in the lower taxes and the (overall) lower cost of living (rural/suburban Japan is way cheaper than NYC or London), your buying power goes up quite a bit.

Also, when you factor in the fact that most teaching jobs are fairly easy, private lessons and PT jobs are easy to find and ALTs only work 6 months a year, the whole package lifestyle really ain't so bad.
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JerkyBoy



Joined: 12 Jan 2012
Posts: 446

PostPosted: Fri Aug 10, 2012 3:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"I think you have to worry less about how much money you'll get and more of who will actually stick their neck out and go though the hassle of getting you a work permit. If your aim is to get to Japan and do anything to get your foot in the country, go with Interac. Your only alternative that I can think of is Gaba, and I would avoid them like the plague. I'm not a big fan of Interac, but they're the lesser of the two evils. Do your year with Interac, get a good feel of the country and the job market, build up some kind of experience (do evening business classes so you can branch out later to get a better job), and look for something else."

Interac won't hire me for rural areas as I don't have a driving licence.

I would just like a job in Tokyo, I think.

Who else is there other than Gaba?
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DragonJade



Joined: 20 Mar 2011
Posts: 33

PostPosted: Fri Aug 10, 2012 6:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

JerkyBoy wrote:


Interac won't hire me for rural areas as I don't have a driving licence.

I would just like a job in Tokyo, I think.

Who else is there other than Gaba?


As I said, avoid Gaba unless you've got bags of cash in the bank account. You can find out what it's like if you do have a look at a posting on a website called letsjapan.

Of what I can think of at the moment, Westgate is probably your best bet - teaching English to students at unis. I don't know if you've got any experience teaching post CELTA, so that will either count for or against you, but the uni experience will definitely count for you. Westgate will give you a/several unis, and you'll have to move between them in your work week/day.

Be warned that greater Tokyo is no small place! If someone talks about the greater Tokyo area, it can take you a couple of hours from one end to the other. You said Tokyo or Yokohama - these two cities merge into each other (unlike the UK where you usually get countryside separating most cities, and more like areas in a city conurbation), so if you could actually end up teaching in Yokohama if they say Tokyo and surrounding areas. Take a good look at a map of the area.

Everyone else I can think of will either stick you wherever they need a teacher in Japan, or won't do sponsorship/work visas, no matter how qualified you are.
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Glenski



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

PostPosted: Fri Aug 10, 2012 10:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For a little more balanced point of view:

steki47 wrote:
You won't live like a king, but the usual salary is not that bad. I find the cost of living in Japan to be overall cheaper than NYC, London or Sydney. Rural areas are a bit cheaper and so your salary will stretch farther.
If you are able to get a salary close to what it used to be in the last 2 decades (250,000 yen/month pre-deductions), then yes, you can easily live off it. Half goes to basic necessities, and what you to to blow/save the rest is up to you.

However, salaries are on the decline, and it is not unusual for employers to pay 180,000 to 200,000 yen/month, and that DOES make it harder to live on. Keep this in mind.


Quote:
The standard salary of 3M yen is about $36K USD,
Remember that this is for today's exchange rate. It does fluctuate daily. Plus, this is pre-tax money.


Quote:
Also, when you factor in the fact that most teaching jobs are fairly easy, private lessons and PT jobs are easy to find and ALTs only work 6 months a year, the whole package lifestyle really ain't so bad.
But ALTs don't get a full salary during breaks. Some get only 60% of their monthly salary and others may even get next to nothing. As for "the whole package", remember, too that many employers avoid their responsibility to pay into your unemployment plan/pension/health insurance plan, so it's up to the teacher to sign up. Forget or neglect to do that, and you could face up to 2 years in backpayments if you choose to join later. There are also a lot of complaints from the dispatch company ALTs, so I'd advise caution in painting such a rosy picture. Moreover, although teaching English is not that difficult, it DOES take some measure of ability, not just standing around smiling and dancing and chatting up students. ALTs also have to face JTEs who may not even want the ALT there, so that animosity breeds contempt at times.

Private lessons are finicky, too. Many will stop coming at the drop of a hat, and a lot of teachers are asking for far less money nowadays than we used to, so that undercuts a market for those of us who have already established ourselves here.
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