The Smart Guide to Teaching English in Japan

“Can you make a decent enough wage to live comfortably and save for the future while working in Japan, even if you do not know Japanese?”

The answer is yes, let us show you how!

Finding a great job so you can live and work in Japan can seem impossible…

Figuring out the job market here in Japan is radically different from the West, and the problem for so many people wanting to live and work in this beautiful country is that the learning curve is so steep that it can seem impossible to start moving up.

  • We aren’t happy making a standard salary with no benefits
  • We want to make enough money to do what we want to do, guilt-free
  • We want to be treated with respect at our jobs so we can be proud to call ourselves a “teacher”
  • We want to have options for our careers, so we can have the confidence to quit a job that isn’t working out.

After receiving so many emails from people who feel stuck in their entry-level English teaching jobs, we wrote this guide to help foreigners in Japan to get their talents recognised.

If you don’t know how to present yourself in Japan, you will struggle to get noticed and be able to get paid what you deserve for your work. This guide will help you to build your skills and show them off so that employers will be offering you top salaries to do work that you are good at and enjoy.

Everything you need to get the best teaching jobs in Japan

Pick it up on Amazon now!


Disclaimer: Price disparities are due to printing costs and kindle download rates being widely different by country.

What you will learn in the guide?

Where should you teach English? It has always been Japan for you!

You already know, Japan is the place that is calling you. Let us help you make one of the best decisions of your life to come to Japan and build up your career here. Your why, your motivation and your mental mindset are the biggest reasons that determine if you live the life of your dreams in the Land of the Rising Sun or return home feeling 残念 zannen (regretful). This guide will show you the best strategies to pursue your ideal career.

English Teaching Pays More in Japan

You can get more for teaching English in Japan on average than other countries in Asia and the rest of the world. It isn’t as expensive to live here as you might think, and once you deal with your rent the actual daily expenses here are very low. You can eat out almost every day if you really want to!

Salary in Asia Best in Japan

But I’m not from the US, the UK or any other native speaking country…

Even if you’re not a native speaker, don’t let this be a reason to give up on your dream. We won’t lie to you, your path ahead won’t be easy, but you can make it in Japan if you follow the advice in this guide.

All you need to know about job hunting in Japan         

  • Learn which kinds of job pay the best and which ones require the least amount of your time.
  • Learn the pros and cons of the major employers in Japan, and how to use your experience in the best way on your resume and in interviews.
  • Learn the job hunting methods that are the most powerful in Japan (that let you punch above your weight class).

Understand the difference between what you will be doing when working at schools, agencies, universities, private language institutes and more of the various types of employers there are in Japan.

What about JET vs. private employers like GABA, Interac, and ECC? Which is best for me and how can I make myself more attractive to top employers like university linked high schools and private academies? We will show you how to get jobs like part-time university lecturing, where you work less than just about everyone else in the ESL world and make more.

Don’t Just Take Our Word For It

Peter - Managing director of

“The Smart Guide to Teaching English in Japan guide should be given to all foreigners with their working visa regardless of occupation. This guide will give you the confidence & strategies to make a change in the way you Live, Work and Play in Japan. Living in Japan is fantastic, but your career and happiness are in your own hands. Charlie and Martin are your “sempai” to a better career in Japan.”

James from ALTinsider

“I’ve seen plenty of attempts at “Working in Japan” guides on the internet, but none have come close to the comprehensiveness of this book. If you need to know how to work in Japan, it’s in this book. Plain and simple. “

Niko from Nihongo Shark

“This is the book I wish I’d had when I first started applying for jobs in Japan all those years ago. I would have saved a lot of money and headaches if I’d had a guide like this. Highly recommended.”

Fans of our book in Japan

“Amazing book and so much value for money! This really helped me in my search for a good teaching position. I would recommend this book to everyone looking to find a job in English education in Japan.”
Thomas P. (Belgium)

“This book really helped me get settled in Japan. The examples are relatable and I’ve definitely found myself wishing I’d read the book sooner.
The writers convey a lot of great advice on what results should be expected when, as well as how to achieve them, when starting out in Japan. As someone who did a 120 hour tefl course, I was more than surprised by how helpful this guide is. It almost felt like the missing part of the course I’d spent so long to complete.
I can recommend this book to anyone who wants to get more from their career in Japan.”
Nathan P. (UK)

“Working in Japan as an English teacher can easily slip into a monotonous drag every day. With limited Japanese ability, it can be difficult to see yourself working outside ALT or Eikaiwa work with long hours and dwindling pay. This book however gives expats an insight as to techniques and skill sets that can be utilized in order to pull themselves out of that rut. Would recommend to all who need a fresh new look on their Japanese opportunities.”
Sulaymane S. (USA)

“I came to Japan on a tourist visa and got a job on the ground here. I’m not going to lie, being a non-native speaker is a disadvantage, but if you have qualifications you can get awesome jobs where they aren’t just looking for a stereotype and will pay well for a good teacher.”
Nicholas S. (Indonesia)

How do you know this will work?

Charlie Moritz, Co-Author

I started off like many other teachers in Japan

I came to Japan in summer 2012, barely knowing how to read hiragana and with no teaching qualifications or experience. Fast forward five years and I am:

  • Freelancing as a web developer in Tokyo
  • Teaching part-time at two schools and making upwards of 5000 JPY per hour
  • Making enough money to take my girlfriend out for fancy dinners, live in an amazing apartment twenty minutes outside Shinjuku, pay off my student loans and save every month for a deposit on a house.

It wasn’t always like this.

I switched jobs four times in my first three years in Japan, looking for something that would suit my sometimes intense, sometimes goofy personality and challenge me to be better than I was. There is nothing worse than getting stuck in a job that doesn’t give you space to be exceptional at what you do. I learned more than anything at the hardest job I ever had, working as a homeroom teacher at a pre-school. Now I have the experience and capability to confidently walk into any classroom from pre-school to high school and teach an amazing class.

Having changed jobs so much and always being on the hunt for part-time work has helped me to be very confident in applying for and succeeding at interviews for English teaching jobs.

I don’t say this to brag.

Instead, I want to impress upon you how many failures and struggles I went through to gain these important lifeskills. I had teaching jobs that I hated, but being able to switch them up and get into a better job helped me stay in Japan when I might have otherwise given up and gone back home to the UK. I knew that wasn’t the answer.

I started writing this book to help people like us to achieve what we are capable of in Japan. I don’t want you to have to work somewhere that you hate, or wonder whether it is even possible to be respected as a teacher here, like I struggled with for years.

If you are anything like me and you want to find the best job with the highest pay, that gives you the most control and autonomy and lets you know that you are valued in your community, this book is the way to get there.

Martin Bragalone, Co-Author

I’m Martin, and I’ve been both a teacher in Japan and a Japanese-to-English translator.

I started off making less than JPY 200,000 in a private preschool, but used the same skills as we teach in this book not only to get higher paying English teaching jobs, but to transition into highly compensated professional translation work in Tokyo.

I moved on to work in real estate as a bilingual broker, got the Japanese Level Proficiency Test level 1 and became a full time translator and interpreter for an IT company in Tokyo. Now I freelance as a translator of Japanese, and use the strategies and tactics in this book to have my pick of the most interesting and best paying jobs of my career.

That’s right – this isn’t only valid for English teaching!

We have built a system that will show you how to get from Zero to One, then from One to Ten!

ZERO: Living somewhere outside Japan and wondering how to get here.

ONE: Living in Japan and loving the life here, but making a standard salary and not learning much at work.

TEN: Getting the best salary of your career in Japan, loving your job, your life and your free time, with money to spend, save or invest in your future!

The Tools you get with the Smart Guide

Which qualifications do you need and which can you do without – how to leverage your qualifications to achieve your goals.

  • Which qualifications you need for which jobs.
  • What is the ROI of getting a TEFL qualification? Is it worth it?
  • How much you should pay and how many hours you need to put in to get the qualifications you need.
  • Who is a TEFL/CELTA for?

Effective strategies that give you a road-map to the best jobs, and show you how to present yourself to be the #1 candidate.

  • Get people to actually read your resume by crafting a narrative.
  • Increase your interview request conversion rate; stop playing the numbers game and get the jobs you choose.
  • Learn the markers that Japanese employers are looking for in a candidate.
  • Templates to construct your resume, cover letters and emails to employers.

Unlock the secret jobs market, where the top pay and best working conditions are, but are never advertised.

  • How to use your network to get you jobs without having to compete with other teachers.
  • Find opportunities with companies that never advertise their high-paying positions publicly.

These are tools that will be useful for your entire life, including resume writing, interview skills and job search tips that will put you head and shoulders above the competition no matter what job you want to get.

Foreword by Diego

“When I first arrived to Japan, I knew next to nothing about the job market, career prospects, average salaries, or school reputations. Over the years I’ve made mistake after mistake, learning by doing and soliciting the advice of any kind veteran teacher willing to lend an ear. The internet age has opened the floodgates of information, both good and bad, and has encourage people to share their stories and advice. I have long seen a need for teaching professionals to have a source of solid, trustworthy advice given by real teachers successfully living and working in Japan.

That’s why I was so excited when Live Work Play Japan asked me to be a part of this book. Since 2016, they have been providing actionable, high quality content to their unique tribe of professionally-minded individuals who believe in the incredible opportunities for success that are available in Japan. To help those individuals, this book contains advice and information from real teachers currently working in Japan, with the goal of turning a life of subsistence in an entry-level position into a high paying, highly respectable career.

Japan can be a difficult country to get a solid footing in. Of course culture and language will slow you down at first, but more importantly what you should realize is that you are effectively starting your life over again. Nobody knows you, you might have just finished university and have unproven skills, and you have a ticking time-bomb strapped to your back, your visa. The reality is, the barriers to entry for your competition in the job market are lower than ever. This book will show you how to compete in this country, even if you don’t speak the language.

Diego Medrano (California)

Frequently Asked Questions

Can't I just find all this information online for free?
Believe me, we’ve looked. The internet has a ton of misinformation out there and a lot of people who are very bitter about teaching English. For every story of success you’ll find ten people complaining about their situation.

With free, you get what you pay for. You might be able to find some helpful information out there, maybe a youtube video that makes you feel good, but nothing of the depth and quality that we have to offer here.

We also think that it is important that you invest even a small amount of money into yourself to achieve the results you want. Both Charlie and Martin spend thousands of dollars a year on courses to continue lifelong learning. If those courses were free, do you think we would follow through with the work, show up every day and practice what needs to be done?

Of course not!

However primitive, spending money gets you invested in your own success.

Besides, what we are teaching here will pay for itself hundreds of times over once you pick up a job paying 20,000 JPY more per month.

Do I need a Kindle to get this on Amazon?

If you don’t have a Kindle, you can get the paperback too! If you want to have a digital copy, there are numerous Kindle apps for anything from phones to tablets and computers.

Go to to find apps that will let you view any kindle book!

We do highly recommend getting a Kindle though, as they are fantastic. Pick one up at our affiliate link here.

Why do I need this?
The internet, and especially social media, is a place of overwhelm when it comes to finding work you genuinely enjoy. This is why the words of speakers and leaders like Elon Musk, Simon Sinek and Tim Ferriss resonate with us so much. Many of us have a burning desire to have impact in our work, and to be fairly compensated so we can life the kind of life we want to live. This guide is just one more step towards your why, and it’ll only cost you the price of a 和風定食 Japanese Set Meal.
What if I don't see any results after reading this book?
These strategies make for great reading and may give you more than one “Aha!” moment, but by themselves they are not enough.

They need to be applied to be effective. If you read this book expecting that out of nowhere someone will hand you your perfect job, you need to re-assess. Finding a great job is hard work; if it were easy, we’d all be in our dream jobs by now. As Cal Newport says: “Difficulty scares off the daydreamers and the timid, leaving more opportunity for those like us who are willing to take the time to carefully work out the best path forward and then confidently take action.”

We will show you the best path forward, but it’s up to you to take action.

What if I'm not a native speaker of English, will these strategies still work for me?
We have included stories of successful non-native speakers who have made it as English teachers in Japan. Some of them are now going on to start their own businesses in Japan, with English teaching helping them to build a life here.

We won’t lie to you, it’s not easy and there are hurdles to jump over for non-native speakers, even if you have qualifications. We’ll talk about how to get over those hurdles in the book.

Do I need to speak Japanese to work in Japan?
You will find passionate debates about this question on Reddit, Facebook and Twitter. To be honest, there isn’t a simple answer.

You can get jobs here without speaking Japanese. If you tend to struggle with languages, there are still job options for you here at every level. But of course, it is expected that you will come across a few roadblocks if you can’t speak the language of the country you are living in. Government forms, letters, going to the ward office (where they often don’t speak English); life in Japan is just easier and more fun when you can speak Japanese. In the book, we have a lot of space set aside for strategies and resources to help you get started on your journey to learn Japanese.

We are confident that if you follow the steps we outline in the book, you can get a great job in Japan. In fact, some of the highest paid ESL teachers in Japan struggle to even order a beer in Japanese. Many of the teachers we talk with in the guide know just enough Japanese to get by, but still have incredibly rewarding and high-paying jobs.

The key is persistence. You want to work smarter, not just harder to find the best opportunities in Japan. This book will show you how to do that.

Read more about this in our article here.

How soon can I apply the strategies in this book to help me get a job?
Actual semester timing – Fall, winter, spring and summer.

The ideal timing of looking for ESL jobs in Japan is covered in detail in the book. However, we can tell you with certainty that the main hiring seasons for English teaching jobs align with the beginning and ending of each of the 4 school semesters in public and private schools. The main ones are in April (hiring begins as early as November the previous year and as late as March) and September (hiring begins as early as June or July). That being said, in the book we detail how to get involved in the evergreen job market with hiring opportunities and job markets that you can access through your network.

How soon are you willing to change your approach?

In the book we do not just outlay information such as when are the best times to look for jobs, but what are the best methods to use when applying and how to make yourself more attractive to employers, schools and private students in Japan. Some of our methods are intuitive, while others may not be. How soon you see results will depend on how willing you are to try out some of these strategies yourself. We promise you that if you work hard and put in the effort and apply the strategies, you will see an increase in interview invitations and job offers. More importantly, the quality of working environments you can work in will improve by implementing the strategies we lay out in the book.

Everything you need to get the best teaching jobs in Japan

Pick it up on Amazon now!


Disclaimer: Price disparities are due to printing costs and kindle download rates being widely different by country.

Thank You

We are excited to be able to serve this community. Whether you’re dreaming of moving to Japan or you’re a long term expat here, we have put our heart and soul into this work because we can make a difference, and this book is part of the change we seek to make.

This is the guide we wish we had when we first were looking for jobs in Japan. With our years of experience with the ups and downs, let us make the path clear for you so you can go right for what you want instead of struggling for years to figure out how to succeed in Japan.

If you want to know more or you want to connect with us, be sure to sign up using the box below to become part of our community, or join our Facebook group.

We are here to help you if you have any more questions while getting through the book. Email us at admin@liveworkplayjapan and we would love to hear about your progress.