But the JET Program also pays 50,000 yen more than your typical English conversation school.
They also pay for your flight over and you're hard-wired straight into their teacher network right off the bat. Clearly, being one of the most sought after teaching jobs in Japan for entry level teachers...
It's also one of the toughest nuts to crack in terms of getting in but read on...
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Public Management and Education jointly run this program. The idea behind the program is basically allowing junior high school and senior high school Japanese to learn English and get a higher degree of cultural interface with foreigners. This is what separates the JET Program from other language teaching experiences that focus just on learning languages.
It also creates a tight hiring window. Which brings us to the next topic. Getting hired...
NOTE: THE 2018 program for new applicants is now closed. In fall of 2018, applications will be accepted for the 2019 recruitment year.
What They’re Looking for at The JET Program
If you want to teach with Jet, you need a university degree before applying to the program or get these qualifications by July 15th the departure time.
Junior college or associate degrees won’t cut it without meeting the experience qualification. Neither will a stand alone TEFL certification.
It is noteworthy however that the JET program has no age limit for hiring but as mentioned immediately below it is a youth exchange concept so for those who can't identify with Japanese pop culture, music, manga etc. it may not be the right choice.
Recent university graduates are also heavily favored in the hiring process, so if you’re not a recent grad, there are greener pastures elsewhere.
Just like most teaching jobs overseas run by the major chain schools, youth, energy and a desire to experience Japan, heavily outweigh teaching or educational credentials. The whole thing about JET is the program being a youth to youth cultural and language exchange.
Participants are stationed throughout Japan’s 47 prefectures. Like most large chain schools , Assistant Language Teachers positions (or ALTs, as they are called,) can’t choose where you will work, so it’s hard to say where you could wind up. Being stationed in a very rural location is a very real possibility - keep this in mind. Click here for a list of participating countries, how many make the cut, application interview do's and don'ts and a whole lot more!
You also might want to take a look at our pros and cons of big city living in Japan vs. small city living before you apply for a JET position to try to get a cleaner take on what might befall you should you apply.
Salary and Benefits
As far as teaching jobs overseas goes, this Program pays a little better than your average language school like ECC. Your monthly salary is 300,000 yen on a one-year contract. Annually 3,600,000 – if you don’t pay Japanese tax. If you do, then your annual salary will be 3,760,000 (You can however re-contract for 4 additional times for a maximum of 5 years (if your employer wishes to keep you on that long) but no more than that.)
Expect to get national holidays off (there are 10 to 12 of them) plus another 12 personal days. Keep in mind that the local government that hires you is your boss so there are differences between benefits etc. that JET participants receive.
Health insurance is not paid by the JET Program so you have to cough up 40,000 yen per month about $332 U.S. By the way, this is mandatory and is deducted from your pay automatically.
Your flight into Narita and back home will be paid by the JET Program for successfully completing your contract. However if you break your contract, it’s possible they’ll bill you the cost of your flight over so keep this in mind.
JET will find and arrange your housing but won’t necessarily pay your key money. Each prefecture or contracting organization is different. Key money could be up to 6 months rent, so make sure you find out about this. If they won't pay your key money, look some place else as this can amount to thousands of dollars.
Working Conditions and Training
JET is in line with many teaching jobs overseas. Expect to work 35 total hours a week with Saturday and Sunday off. Typically you’ll be expected to work along with the Japanese school staff from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Again all working conditions vary to some degree depending on the contracting organization that hires you.
JET Program participants receive training at your local consulate before departure – they’ll send you a free Japanese language text and tapes to get you started on Japanese. What a deal! They also have mid-year training seminars in certain prefectures as part of their ongoing training efforts.
There are 3 positions available through JET. You can apply for either Coordinator for International Relations (CIR) or Assistant Language Teacher (ALT) The Sports Exchange Adviser or (SEA)cannot be applied for as it is a scouted position. It's noteworthy that there are a total of 10 positions nation wide. Lastly, you can’t apply for more than position.
Duties for CIR's and ALT's are similar in that they both require teaching. But, the ALT position has a heavier focus on teaching and curriculum than the CIR position.
CIR’s will have more involvement in assisting with planning, designing and implementing international exchange programs; assisting with official guests from abroad and interpreting at events for overseas visitors etc. Again, duties vary for each contracting organization.
SEA’s as you might have guesses are sports related. Currently there are only 10 positions available. The eligibility requirements are also tough. Sports Exchange Adviser (SEAs) promote international exchange through assistance in sports training and the planning of sports related projects.
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