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Finding a career in Japan

jamesgre

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While I was an undergrad I met my fiancée, but after she graduated she did not receive a work visa. I was still in grad school in a different city, because of this marriage for a visa was not an option. I am about to finish my masters in TESOL, but I am unsure the best way to find a teaching job in Japan that I can turn into a serious career. In the mean time my fiancee has found an amazing job in Tokyo with really great working conditions. I know the easiest way to come to Japan in the short term is through dispatch companies or eikaiwas, but I do not see those as the best long term options. We have been apart for a little while, but I have traveled to visit her when I can. My Japanese language skills are beginner and improving. I know masters in teaching English as a second language is not a huge deal in Japan, but I do hope it can open doors for me career.

I guess my question is in anyones experience is there any way to get started with a career in Japan without first working there? Also, would starting as a ALT not be considered teaching experience for later in my career?
Any advice I can get will be greatly appreciated.
 

sendaiben

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Phew, lots to go on here :)
If you can live with your fiancee that would give you lots of options. If you get married you won't have to worry about work visas.
If you want to work up to a decent job teaching English in Japan, you need to do two things:
1. get lots of teaching experience in Japan, preferably in formal contexts like public schools and eventually colleges/universities (for a university job) or teaching lots of different types of students (if you want to open your own school)
2. get your Japanese up to a professional standard
You should be able to do both in about three years, then you can start trying to get a university teaching job or set up teaching for yourself (the two best teaching situations in my opinion).
 

jamesgre

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Thank you for your response. I was wondering also what is the best way to find a job in Japan, that will make sure I receive a job in Tokyo. I know the JET program is a popular way for people to find jobs in Japan, but it does not guarantee I will find a job near her.
 

Glenski

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Very few JET ALTs get jobs in Tokyo, so don't even put your hopes on that. JET ALTs get a chance to list 2-3 preferences where they want to work, but there is no guarantee they will get them, and you're stuck for 3 years wherever they send you.
Dispatch companies might be a little more flexible, but with the glut of English teachers here, you go where the company has openings, not where you desire.
Keep in mind that only about a dozen or so places actually advertise to interview people outside of Japan, whether in a face to face interview or via Skype. All the others will require that you are in Japan to get your foot in the door. You can change your tourist status to work visa here, so don't worry about that.

Teaching as an ALT is teaching. You just have to explain honestly that you aren't the sole teacher when you list the job in any future applications. I mean, seriously, that's what the A means (assistant).

A long-term teaching career here means essentially 3 types of jobs:
college or university (and most of them nowadays are only part-time)
your own school (an undertaking not to be taken lightly)
business English (whether you work for the company that needs the teacher for its employees, or you work for a BE company that farms you out to such places)

A master's is a minimum education requirement for uni teaching, but as sendaiben wrote, you'll need more. Language skills to any level are a given, and the more you have the better your chances. Even part-time teachers need to show they have published nowadays, so get cracking. Japan has organizations to join which will give you connections on jobs and teaching, but which also provide journals to write for (and there are scores more journals in Japan and around the world). JALT and its many SIGs are the main organization that foreigners join here, but there is also JACET. You may also want to consider getting a TEFL or TESOL certificate to add to your degree. While they are largely unknown to Japanese employers, things like CELTA provide a good foundation in the theory of TEFL and some give a practicum.

You won't need a work visa if you marry a Japanese and get a spousal visa. There is always the danger of divorce or being widowed, of course, and the spousal visa still needs to be renewed every year or 3 years (immigration's whim), so after you get it, strongly consider applying for permanent residence, because that is...uh...permanent. You only have to renew the card every 7 years, and it's a far easier process than reapplying for a visa every year.
 

sendaiben

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Can I just add a third career path to Glenski's excellent summary above?

Private junior and senior high school, or international school. There is a lot of interest in the IB at the moment, and quite a few schools are starting programs.
 

jamesgre

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Thank you for your responses. what does IB mean?
 

Glenski

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Yes, private schools are possible (I worked at one for four years), but they still require what you need for any teaching job. International schools are even stricter.
 
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