How to Teach English in Japan With No Degree

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Japanese flag (Image: Japan image by Angelika Bentin from <a href=''></a>)

For Americans, working in Japan without a four-year bachelor's degree can be tricky. Those of other nationalities have other options, such as the Working Holiday Visa, but the easiest way for Americans to work without a degree is to go as a student. You can then apply for permission to work part time in Japan. Getting permission to work on a student visa can be tricky; follow all steps and do your research. See below for further information on Spousal Visas, Working Holiday Visas and working illegally in Japan.

Things You'll Need

  • Valid passport
  • Passport photo (for visa)
  • Sponsorship from an educational institution in Japan
  • Proof of sufficient funds to live in Japan (money orders)
  • Residence permission
  • Permission from the school and immigration office to work

Research the types of programs you would be interested in studying in Japan. The most popular option involves studying the Japanese language in Japan. Find an institution in your desired area, and apply. You can also study at academic institutions or learn cultural activities. Depending on the program, you may need some understanding of the Japanese language. Inquire to ensure that the institution will provide sponsorship to foreign students and arrange for the necessary documentation.

Gather sufficient funds to cover your cost of living in Japan plus your tuition. Your embassy should provide you a guideline for this information based on the cost of your tuition and the length of your program. Go to your local Japanese embassy or consulate, and apply for a student visa. Fulfill any specific requests the embassy gives you. Once approved, make any other necessary arrangements for your trip. Find out whether your school provides accommodations. If not, arrange your own (see References and Resources sections for more information).

Start your education in Japan. When you feel comfortable enough to work, get permission from your institution to hold a part-time job. Bring written proof of permission to your local immigration office, and request permission to work. Once you receive permission, start your search for a part-time teaching job (see References and Resources sections for links to job listings).

Tips & Warnings

  • If your spouse is a native Japanese resident or has permanent residency in Japan, seek a Spousal Visa from Japan. You will need your spouse's permanent residence information, proof of marriage and proof of tax payment. It may take the embassy up to several months to approve the visa, but this renewable visa is available for up to three years.
  • Residents of Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, France, Denmark, Ireland, Germany, New Zealand, Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan can apply for a Working Holiday Visa, available to youth ages 18 to 25 (sometimes 30) who wish to work while they travel around Japan. The visa is good for one year and applies to part-time work only.
  • Many visitors to Japan work in the country on a tourist or student visa without permission to do so. This is illegal and strictly forbidden. Japanese officials have begun to take offenses more seriously than they have in the past. If caught working illegally, you run the risk of arrest, fines that can exceed several thousand dollars, deportation and re-entry bans.

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