I’ll be straight up with you, the way I found my job in Japan was through Craigslist. When I first browsed that site for jobs in Japan little did I know that one link I clicked would be my ticket out of the country.
But in order to use any forum like Gaijinpot, or Craiglist you will need a very important thing:
1 – Get a piece of paper that says you graduated from somewhere
In order to teach, you need a degree. You can get a degree in anything, all they care about is that piece of paper that says you graduated and did something.
I know that says a lot about the education system in Japan, but this is the no B.S. guide to leaving the country.
That “something” could be biochemical engineering for all they care. It’s just the piece of paper that matters.
If you’re already in college
I’ll admit something else. I went to college for 3 years and still didn’t know what the hell I was supposed to do. If you’re in that situation this advice will apply to you.
Get a general studies degree. This degree ties up all the lose ends you’ve tried. Maybe you tried–chemistry. Failed. Maybe you tried business–nah. Maybe you were a music major–not for me.
With a general studies or liberal arts degree you get that magic piece of paper that allows you to teach English overseas in Japan.
2 – Craiglist
Craiglist is still a place to look for Jobs in Japan. I was sketched out at first because its Craiglist. In the end, I got put in a nice town which I liked.
When you look at Craigslist you will need to keep you eyes open during any month besides February, March, and April.
You won’t get screwed over on the visa. That’s why.
Say a teacher quits his job in October and they are looking for a replacement. You fill in and get there in November 1st.
Your visa will end November 1st of next year, but your contract with the school will expire sometime in March or April.
In other words, the company will have no choice but to renew your work visa because you have to finish working with the school. And the school year in Japan ends in March and April.
3 – Take the first job offer, then pivot
When you sign up with a company they will stick you in some far off town away from a big city (usually).
A lot of people get picky and turn down jobs like this but…
Almost everyone that gets to Japan will pivot to a better job in a bigger city. Once you get there companies are often looking for people that already live there and have a visa. You will be first draft.
Embrace the suck
You won’t get in the best city at first. That’s why most people immediately start looking for job postings on Craiglist and forums as soon as you get there.
You will be doing Skype interviews and giving an English demo.
4 – Get the ALT job and travel
An ALT (Assitant Language Teacher) is a glorified reading machine. You will read from the text and do somethings, but for the most part you will have around 2-4 classes to teach a day.
I spent my free time learning Japanese. I translated a documentary into English with those skills I learned in that free time.
In addition, you get fed real Japanese food. Often times the school lunch is sourced from local farms. You will be eating healthy. Way healthier than private teachers.
ALT vs private language teacher
Private language teachers are run like dogs. You will always be making lesson plans and dealing with office politics. If the lesson plans don’t kill you then dealing with Japanese office B.S. will.
Your hours will be all over the place and you won’t get the 1 month vacation which is important for reasons below.
Why this is a good idea
Living in a foreign country and traveling is the #1 way I connect with people. That’s it.
You can use your experience to pivot into anything. It could be a book, a blog, or a YouTube channel. Maybe you need another job to hold you over for while, well, when you put that lived in a foreign country you stand out like a sore thumb. That’s happened to me.
I also got good enough to translate a Japanese documentary into English. I also did over 200,000 views on YouTube and I haven’t even covered all the stuff I know.
This was just a quick guide to getting you to Japan if you’re unsure about what to do in College. From Japan, you can pivot into anything. It can be a blog, a YouTube channel, another country, etc. I’ve known several people who started out as English teachers but are now running their own business and doing completely different things than when they started out.
If you only remember one phrase from this post its, “Get there and pivot.”
- Get a piece of paper that says you graduated from somewhere
- Take the ALT job at first
- Take the first company and pivot to another one
- Travel during your 1 month off