When it comes to the subject of teaching overseas and making decent money in Japan, there is a pile of "dis-information" out there. Although this site has gone to great lengths to dispel the rumor that you'll strike it rich working for big eikaiwa. We haven't gone into the area of telling those interested in making decent money in Japan if and how it can be done. In short, can decent money be made working in Japan? Yes it can. But making good money entails paying yourself for your efforts and not being paid by someone else.
In other words starting your own business and or school is one of the few ways those who dive into teaching overseas make twice or three times what those who work for large eikaiwa branches and or hold ALT teaching positions.
Is It Legally Possible to Open Your Own School?
It certainly is. Teaching conversational English is unregulated which means that practically anyone with a visa, a solid work ethic and some space to teach can do it and more importantly succeed at it. Hundreds do it every year although some are more successful than others. Because it is so common there are even franchised systems where you can buy turn-key operations all set up. A well known name in this area is Smiths School of English.
Teaching Overseas - How Much Can You Really Make?
Like building any business, it depends on how hard you work, how much time you spend marketing your school, your location and ultimately how persistent you are when you hit road blocks. Some small school owners don't make much more than what an average ALT makes. But then again some make twice and even three times more. And those who are serious players with multiple locations can get into that $100,000 a year range fairly easily.
Teaching Overseas - The Upside
The upside to owning your own school is that once you build up your student base you have a pretty steady cash machine. And that bear repeating. Every month students pay their tuition and when students join your school they will often stay for several years. As you continue running your school and building up your numbers it doesn't take that long before you have a solid home business that generates several thousand dollars per month. Those who market their schools aggressively make more in a much shorter period of time. And the good news is that usually this doesn't entail a lot of teaching hours.
The reason for this is simple. When you work for someone else, you will typically receive between 20% to 40% of the total income you generate. Schools are all different but if you are teaching a class of 6 adults at a typical English school, that class will generate around 10,500 yen per hour if each adult pays roughly 2,500 yen per hour which is typical. However you only receive about 2,500 yen for teaching that class. The other 8,000 yen magically disappears into someone's pocket.
Teaching Overseas - Profit by Owning The Market
If those students were your students that single class or single teaching hour would be the equivalent of what many teachers get paid for a full 8 hour day. Ultimately it comes down to this: the lion's share of the profit goes to the person who owns or creates the market i.e. the school owner. They took the risk of building the market so they are entitled and thus take the bulk of the profits. If you're that person then you can work 1/8th the time of a typical teacher and make as much as he or she.
And this is why owning a school is quite lucrative and popular. This is also why it is one of the safest ways of earning a living imaginable. In future articles we will touch on different ways of getting started and different business models to consider.