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Teaching in Japan: The Pros and Cons of Working as an Assistant Language Teacher (ALT)

Updated: Jan 26, 2023

As an Assistant Language Teacher (ALT) in Japan, you will have the opportunity to immerse yourself in Japanese culture while also teaching English to students. While this can be a unique and rewarding experience, it is important to consider the pros and cons before deciding to take on an ALT role in Japan.



Pros of Working as an ALT in Japan

  • Immersion in Japanese Culture: Living and working in Japan allows you to fully immerse yourself in the culture and gain a deeper understanding of the country and its people. This can be a valuable experience for anyone interested in Japanese culture or considering living in Japan long-term.

  • Teaching Experience: ALTs gain valuable teaching experience while working in Japan. The experience of teaching in a foreign country can be a great addition to your resume and can be beneficial for those looking to pursue a career in teaching or education.

  • Short-term Commitment: ALT positions are generally short-term commitments, typically lasting one year. This can be a great option for those looking to gain experience abroad without making a long-term commitment.

  • Regular Working Hours: ALTs usually work during regular weekday hours, typically from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, which can be a contrast to working in an Eikaiwa (private language school) which often requires working in unsociable hours like afternoons, evenings, and weekends.

  • The JET Programme: The Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme is considered the best ALT position as it offers stable employment and benefits, as well as opportunities for career advancement and cultural exchange.

Cons of Working as an ALT in Japan

  • Decline in Salary and Benefits: In recent years, there has been a trend of increasing use of dispatch companies to hire ALTs instead of direct hires. This has led to a decline in salary and benefits for ALTs, as dispatch companies often offer lower pay and fewer benefits than direct hires. For reference the JET Programme Pay is ¥3,360,000 per year, ( ¥280,000 per month) plus other benefits such as health insurance and airfares. Some areas also provide subsidised housing and other benefits. It is a well structured scheme with lots of support for teaching and mental health.

  • Limited Job Security: As a result of the increasing use of dispatch companies, job security for ALTs has become more limited. Dispatch companies can end contracts at any time, leaving ALTs without a job.

  • Difficulties with Dispatch Companies: Not all dispatch companies are created equal, and some have a poor reputation for treating their employees poorly. It is important to research dispatch companies before accepting a position with them and to ask for feedback from other ALTs who have worked with them.

  • Competition from Other Types of Work: With the decline in salaries for ALT work, there are now many other types of work that don't require native English or teaching skills that pay better, have more benefits, and offer more job stability, for example in warehousing and manufacturing.

Working as an ALT in Japan can be a great way to immerse yourself in Japanese culture and gain valuable teaching experience. However, it is important to weigh the pros and cons and do proper research before deciding to take on an ALT role in Japan. The JET Programme is considered the best ALT position, offering stable employment and benefits, as well as opportunities for career advancement and cultural exchange. It is also important to be aware of the decline in salary and benefits due to the increasing use of dispatch companies, and to research and ask for feedback from other ALTs before accepting a position with a dispatch company.


To research companies and ask for feedback please check the following: Glassdoor




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