Teach English in Japan: JET Program and More


Updated for 2024


Wondering how to teach English in Japan? You’re in luck, because there are many programs that can offer you incredible experiences in Japan or Asia, such as International Teaching Academy, Intern Abroad HQ, GoEco, and more. We’ll certainly touch on those, but in this article, we’ll mainly focus on an amazing program that is presided over by Japanese government organizations. It’s called the JET program, and it offers opportunities to teach English and much more.

What Is the JET Program?

The JET Program (or the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program) has been in operation since 1987 and has placed over 66,000 people globally and 34,000 Americans in Japanese government offices, schools, and even boards of education.

It is headed by Japan’s government and offers program participants not only an incredible experience abroad, but also a fantastic network of other like-minded people. JET participants get together for professional development and other activities before and after their time in Japan. JET alumni and participants are frequently referred to as “JETs.”

What More Should You Know About the JET Program?

The first thing to understand about the JET Program is that it is incredibly competitive. Of 4,000 to 5,000 applicants, only 1,000 to 1,100 are selected. Additionally, there are a number of strict requirements you must meet to even consider applying. The main thing is that you must have a Bachelor’s degree (or the international equivalent if you did not attend college in the United States).

What Should You Do Before Applying to the JET Program?

Before you apply for the JET Program, you’ll first need to ensure you meet the basic eligibility requirements, which include being mentally and physically healthy, and having the ability to adapt to living in conditions that are potentially different from the United States.

There are also some more substantial requirements you’ll need to be aware of. You must be a citizen of the United States, have a Bachelor’s degree, and not have any outstanding fines or legal probation obligations. They also factor in previous interactions with the JET Program. For example, you cannot have participated in the JET Program within three years of the date of the new departure if you’re applying for another stint, or for more than five years in total. Also, you cannot reapply if you have been accepted and declined a position with the Program in the last Program year.

There are also several other eligibility requirements, so be sure to check the JET Program eligibility page before you even apply.

What Documents Are Required to Apply to the JET Program?

To apply to the JET Program, you’ll need quite the stack of documents. In addition to the main application form and a two-page essay, you’ll also have to send in two letters of reference, a self-report of medical conditions, proof of American citizenship, proof of Bachelor’s degree or a letter from your university stating the date of expected graduation, and official university transcripts. A TEFL certificate is not required, but if you are certified to teach English as a foreign language, it will almost certainly improve your application. All of your application materials will need to be uploaded exclusively through the online application portal.

What is the JET Program application process like?

The JET Program application process is a long one. You need to first ensure you meet the basic (yet strict) eligibility requirements that we’ve referenced. If you determine that you are a good candidate, you will need to send in your application, which includes a number of documents.

First, you’ll want to start gathering your college or university transcripts. As you’re doing that, it’s best to take time to think back on any volunteer experiences, extra-curricular activities, awards, or scholarships that make you stand out. This will help you on your application and also as you begin writing your two-page essay. Be prepared to describe why you are a good candidate for the JET Program and also why and how it will help you in your professional goals.

Be sure to get a jump on letters of reference. You’ll need to provide the contact information for your references and they’ll then give their recommendation via the online application portal. Notify your references well in advance so they are prepared to respond once they are notified through the portal.

Upload all the necessary documents via the online portal and send in your application before the deadline. After that, you’ll wait to receive word about interviews. After in-person interviews, the field will be narrowed even further and you’ll be notified if you’ve been accepted and placed in late March or early April. Visit the JET Program Application Process page for more information. And be sure to read their requirements

Above all, be sure to reach out to them directly via email or phone if you have any specific questions throughout the long application process.

What Is the Application Timeline?

Individual dates may vary from year to year. As such, be sure to follow the Twitter and Facebook accounts. Typically, applications become available in October and the application deadline is in November. Interviews are usually held in January and February, results are given in late March or early April, and departure is in July or August.

teach English in Japan

How Long Is the JET Program?

The JET Program is one year long. That said, it is possible for JET participants to be reappointed twice more, and occasionally for two additional years. The maximum time someone can participate in the JET Program is five years, given that they have done exceptional work and been given the necessary reappointments.

What Is the Approximate JET Program Salary?

The JET Program salary changes depending on how many years you have been in the program. First year JET participants make ¥3,360,000 each year, second years make ¥3,600,000 annually, third years get ¥3,900,000, and fourth and fifth year participants make ¥3,960,000 a year. For reference, the rough conversions put these pay ranges from the high $29,000s to around $35,000 US dollars in annual salary. Working hours are approximately 35 hours per week.

What Are the Benefits of the JET Program?

The JET Program springs many college graduates into fulfilling teaching careers. Some even find the JET Program to be a great stepping stone to grad school. Other alums have even stayed and found jobs in other sectors in Japan. Another great benefit of the JET Program is the JET Alumni Association (JETAA). This association facilitates incredible networking opportunities and offers support from other like-minded people who have also experienced the JET Program.

Who Runs the JET Program?

The JET Program is carried out in cooperation with a number of different governmental entities in Japan, most notably the Council of Local Authorities for International Relations (CLAIR). Also involved are the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), and a number of other organizations. See the JET Program About page for more information.

Teaching English in Japan or Asia

There are so many opportunities to teach English in Japan or in another Asian country. If the JET Program doesn’t look like the right fit for you, check out some of these other amazing English teaching programs in Asia.

Which Other Programs Facilitate Teaching English in Japan?

International TEFL Academy

Founded in 2010, the International TEFL Academy (ITA) is renowned for offering globally recognized TEFL (Teach English as Foreign Language) certification courses in over 20 locations around the world. You can join ITA in Japan to get TEFL certification to start a teaching career in Japan. 

Another notable offer is their guaranteed job placement program for teaching English in Asia, where participants are matched to positions in approved schools that best meets their preferences with top salaries. These programs are available for teaching English in South Korea, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar. ITA’s globally recognized certification, bolstered by lifetime job placement support, extensive cultural training, and access to a supportive Alumni Network, will equip you for a successful international career.

Intern Abroad HQ

Intern Abroad HQ is the sister program of International Volunteer HQ, which has been around since 2007, and placed more than 100,000 participants in locations around the world. Intern Abroad HQ’s Education and Youth Development internship in Japan offers English teaching and mentoring opportunities. It’s open to university students with at least one year of study in a relevant field like education or social work. The internship can be as short as four weeks and as long as 24 weeks, and fees vary depending on length. Interns will generally focus on providing after-school care and mentoring programs to children up to 14 years old.


Since 2006, GoEco has placed thousands of volunteers all over the globe. GoEco’s English exchange program in Japan is a great option for younger students. The minimum age requirement for participants is 18, and even 16- and 17-year-olds can apply, provided they have parental consent. The program can be as short as one week and as long as eight weeks. Centered in a small hillside village, the program’s focus is on helping those in the local community learn to converse in English. Weekly cultural activities and available travel add-ons are a big draw. For more information, click here!

Which Programs Facilitate Teaching English in Asia?

Projects Abroad

If you’re looking for experience, Projects Abroad has it—over two decades, in fact. With more than 25 years of successfully facilitating experiences for volunteers and interns, Projects Abroad helps people realize their potential and build meaningful connections. If you want to teach English in Asia, they have opportunities in Mongolia, Nepal, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, the Philippines, China, and more. For full details and to register for an English teaching program, click here.


GVI focuses on programs that truly make a difference in their local communities. They’ve placed over 35,000 participants and run 21 programs in 13 countries around the world. With programs in Africa, Latin America, Asia, and even Fiji, the organization has plenty of opportunities for every type of volunteer or intern. GVI enables you to teach English in Asia in countries including Cambodia, Nepal, and Thailand.

A Broader View

A Broader View Volunteers is a nonprofit organization that facilitates affordable and safe volunteer experiences in South and Central America, Asia, and Africa. Volunteers looking to teach English in Asia can volunteer in places like China, Nepal, Vietnam, Thailand, or Cambodia.

Cross-Cultural Solutions

Cross-Cultural Solutions envisions a world where cultural barriers are broken down and relationships between communities are strong. They offer programs in seven different countries across different continents, including English learning programs in Asia. Those wishing to teach English in Asia can help young children in Thailand learn to speak English.


Globalteer is a charitable organization that focuses on conservation and animal care, but also on teaching children and strengthening communities. They’ve been in operation since 2006. Teaching English to young children in Cambodia is an enriching experience that many participants have thoroughly enjoyed because of Globalteer.


Frontier has placed more than 103,000 volunteers since 1989. They facilitate both volunteer and internship opportunities all over the world. They offer English teaching programs in many Asian countries, including Nepal, China, and more. From gap years to internships, marine conservation to teaching, Frontier has an experience waiting for almost every type of participant.

Global Leadership Adventures

Global Leadership Adventures offers programs for teens, youth groups, and even families. Whether you’d like to teach English in Bali, China, or India, Global Leadership Adventures offers a number of opportunities to teach English in Asia. They have a strong emphasis on safety and they love helping young people have new experiences abroad.

Frequently Asked Questions About Teaching English in Japan

What Qualifications Do You Need to Teach English in Japan?

Because of Japan’s laws, you’ll likely need a Bachelor’s degree to teach English there, particularly if you are getting paid. Other Asian countries may not be quite as strict, so if you’re looking to have an English teaching experience in Asia, you can still probably do so without a Bachelor’s degree. Always be sure to check with the program you select to ensure you meet the requirements to teach English in that country. Overall, it’s smart to at least have a TEFL certificate regardless of where you plan to teach.

How Can You Get a Job Teaching English in Japan?

As you’ve seen, there are a number of organizations to get you started to gain teaching experiences that can lead to a job in Japan. JET Programs is one of the more selective and prestigious when it comes to a job that pays, but there are others including ITA’s guaranteed job placement program, or GoEco and Intern Abroad HQ that can offer volunteer teaching opportunities.

Planning Your English Teaching Trip to Japan or Asia

Teaching English in Japan or Asia can be very rewarding. Not to mention, the people and sights are amazing. Start preparing to teach abroad today and you’ll be on your way to a fulfilling and life-changing experience in Asia!

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