What Degree is Best For Getting a Job in Japan?

by Ara

I'm currently a US high school student and want to teach (junior) high school in Japan (conversation or grammar) like many of my teachers did. Before going to a university, what major and minor should I focus on to best secure a teaching job in Japan?

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Dec 15, 2019
What Degree is Best For Getting a Job in Japan
by: John

Hello Ara,

Because you are still in high school you have much time to decide. Your question is not exactly simple and thus the answer is also not so simple. However we will say this. Don't mess up the first step in the decision making process or the whole thing falls. Kind of like building a structure when the frame is not square. Not meaning to be cryptic, I will say this. If you feel that you really want to teach, you feel it in your heart then you should go in the area of education or TEFL or a degree in teaching, possibly early childhood development (if you like kids.)

Why? If it turns out that after you get a BA in education and go to Japan and after a year of teaching you think to yourself "What the heck did I do?" You will have squandered a chance in a different area of study, 4 years of your time and a bunch of money. That money could have gone to an accounting degree, business finance etc. Something that could give you decent opportunities in the U.S.

Here's the thing. There is a glass ceiling in teaching in Japan where the instructor can't get a bigger salary unless he/she works on the side. So If I were you, I would go with something you have a real interest in and get that degree regardless of the Japan thing.

Then jump on a level 5 certificate to give you the certification advantage. Mytefl's 120 Hour Online Course Discount My TEFL's Level 5 Course gives you better job opportunities. Also The JET Programme gives preference to those who have teaching certificates so if you get in, you could get a better salary than those who have to settle for regular ALT work. And you don't have to pay so much money to get a level 5 certificate. This is the equivalent of a high-end CELTA teaching certificate.

In fact I'll do you one better, if you buy this course through us you can get an additional 5% off so that is 35% off the usual price. (We have a partner arrangement with them.) Just use our pass code alljapan35 they throw us a few bucks for selling one. It keeps the site up and running.

Approaching it this way will give you room to move should you decide teaching is not for you. So if you really like business administration for example, you can always return to the U.S. and find work there with your undergrad qualification, you didn't waste a ton of money and hopefully you saved a bunch. Remember that even with a major in music, art, history you can still get hired to teach ESL in Japan. The major doesn't matter so much.

Additionally if you like Japan a lot, don't make the mistake of taking up German or some other language when you are at the university. Study Japanese as your minor. Companies literally gobble up native speakers with good Japanese N1 translation abilities and at decent salary levels. Make no mistake, N1 is no picnic to pass. This level means smoking good Japanese.

N2 (a lower level) involves the ability to conduct upper business level communication. The ability to read kanji of course is also a requirement. Not some kanji - a lot of kanji.

N3 is basic communication yet still hiragana and katakana and some kanji are required. Even at this lower level kanji is required.

If you get these qualifications then there is no glass ceiling for you and you can get the creamy high-end university jobs that everyone is killing to get. Your Japanese ability affords you that chance.

So if you approach it this way no matter what pitch is thrown, a curve ball or a straight ball you can hit it.

Good luck!

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