Before coming to Japan, I always pictured teaching English here as working with kids in a Japanese school as an assistant language teacher (ALT) or outside of school at an eikaiwa (English conversation school) but there are plenty of Japanese adults who are in need of English lessons, as well.
Having a good command of English in the business world can lead to promotions and opportunities abroad for Japanese workers. Many large companies offer help for employees to improve their English by hiring teachers to come to their offices and educate staff on site. The lack of screaming kids, high English levels and more lucrative pay attracts plenty of teachers (including myself). Although it’s an interesting career, there are a a few things I wish I had known before diving into the world of company classes.
1. The pay can only get you so far
Depending on the company that hires you, pay varies from around ¥3,000 to ¥20,000 for one lesson.
Some companies employ teachers directly as freelance English teachers and tend to pay higher rates — though these jobs can be rare and hard to find (much like working as a “direct hire” ALT). Others are dispatch companies — such as Aeon or CTS — that match English teachers with businesses in need of them. These agencies act as a middleman and pay teachers much smaller hourly wages, but they can offer more than enough classes to provide a decent overall monthly wage.
This is important because when you’re hired directly, while the payment for a single class will be bigger it’s not enough to live off on its own. Most direct hire English instructors have to juggle multiple company classes and always have to be networking with higher ups in local businesses. It can get very complicated just hustling for new contracts plus these teachers will need to supply their own visas.
You can regularly see these jobs advertised on the GaijinPot Jobs board with a wide range of salaries depending on the company and location. One key thing to watch out for, though, is whether travel expenses are covered or not. Often, these companies are outside of the main cities and can be a bit expensive to get to. I once taught at a company that had two offices to which I could easily walk and a third that was a frustrating ¥2,000 bus ride away. The company wanted one person to teach at all three locations.
In my case — and most others — travel expenses were reimbursed at the end of the month. If, for some reason, these costs aren’t covered, make sure to think about whether or not the unpaid commuting times and costs are worth the salary.
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