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Career Prospects/Paths for a Long Term Immigrant and Related Questions

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13 Jan 2021
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Thanks for reading my post. I hope its not too redundant as I know this gets asked semi frequently on this forum. I have taken a read at older posts and wanted to tweak the question to my situation for some more relevant information. I apologize for the very long post and in advance I'd like to thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts if you choose to do so. It's very helpful for me.

Some info about me; I am married to a Japanese national (born and raised) from Yamanashi, with one toddler. My spouse currently has permanent residency in the U.S. Due to the recent political climate among other factors we are becoming more interested in raising our child in Japan and are making plans to move in the next couple of years. I am active duty in the U.S. military working in the field of pollution response, port-state control and facilities inspections in the maritime environment/maritime transportation system; and the federal (international for port state control such as SOLAS, MARPOL etc) regulations regarding these fields. I have a BS in Biology from a state university with a ~2.7 GPA. I was born in a Latin American country and am fluent in Spanish (first language) but have been in the U.S. education system, fully fluent in English since second grade. My wife has a Bachelor's from a Japanese university as well and as her father owns a company in her hometown he has some contacts for networking etc (apparently is friends with a Mercari exec). In terms of assets we'd be moving around $60k USD to Japan with us and would hope to be able to purchase a home ASAP although I don't know if we'd qualify for a loan too quickly.

Though I aspired to continue this career to retirement as we are looking to move I am trying to branch out into other fields/skills that would make me more marketable to work in Japan. Let me preface with the understanding that the more fluently I can speak, read and write Japanese, the more opportunities and the better my prospects will be in Japan. I saw how much my parents were hindered by their lack of English after moving to the U.S. and I do not want to be in their shoes. I speak good enough Japanese speaking with my wife at home and have studied on and off for a couple years but I intend to study seriously and achieve at least N3 around the time of moving, and continue working to N2 or N1 while in Japan. I have the opportunity to pursue a master's degree while on active duty to complete prior to moving as well as using my GI bill to attend a physical university in Japan after moving.

I imagine the most accessible field is that of English teaching, be it as an ALT, at an Eikaiwa, etc. I am of course open to these positions especially fresh off the boat although I'd like to move up to a better position with time and experience hopefully being employed full time as a teacher in a public or private school, or full time at a prestigious eikaiwa. I admit I don't have much knowledge with this world. My understanding is for someone to be marketable for these kinds of positions, they need to possess a degree in either education or teaching (or maybe only teaching/teaching license) to be considered. I have thought about teaching high school science in the states post-military before and therefore have looked into getting a MAT or M.ed in the past. I don't know if that, especially without teaching experience, would actually be helpful to me in Japan.

Aside from teaching, I've been looking at other fields to branch out into, especially if they would be marketable overseas. My wife (probably just guessing) has mentioned accounting (wouldn't be able to get the CPA license before moving due to no experience) or CompSci/IT/Cybersecurity/Sysadmin . I can possibly complete a master's degree program prior to moving in Accounting or in IT/ Related fields using my Tuition Assistance.

With all of the above being said, my main questions are as follow:

  1. What certifications/degrees or skills can I acquire now to make me more marketable for English teaching positions in Japan? Is vertical growth in this field still viable long-term with work and experience or is it a "dying industry" as many have written online? Would getting a Master of Arts in Teaching (With or without a teaching licensure in my state) or a Masters of Education in curriculum/TESOL (Without a teaching license) be beneficial to get, or would simply getting a TESOL/TESL/TOEFL/CELTA certification be enough to start with? Is a MAT or M.ed even desirable without teaching experience? If I am able to enroll and pay for (with GI Bill) a teaching program at a Japanese university after I have experience teaching in Japan, would that help me to be offered a position at a school?
  2. What fields/skills are marketable in Japan for an immigrant? Is accounting (with our without a CPA) or computer/IT related skills in demand? Would I be marketable only with having completed a master's degree in the field without relevant work experience (as we are planning to move right after my service contract is up, I wouldn't have civilian work experience in other fields)?
  3. Any other advice on what I can do right now to help establish myself long term as a resident in Japan with a job that can put food on the table and become a career?
I realize that this is quite a lot to digest and there are a LOT of questions in my post. Again, I appreciate the time and effort someone takes to read the post and answer any questions they can. My wife and I are talking to relatives in Japan and to friends we know that have made the move themselves to get info, but asking online is also a valuable resource.

Thanks again!
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