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Working in international schools in Japan 2023/3/23 22:42
I am a Chemistry teacher with 6+ combined years of experience teaching in Australia (IB, SACE, Australian curriculum) and the UK (iGCSE and IB). I am interested in teaching in Japan in the future and have a couple of questions about international schools there.

1. What is the average salary for a senior subject teacher? (Mainly, what should I consider to be a reasonable offer?)

2. Are there standard benefits for teachers hired from outside of Japan (e.g. annual flight home, housing, etc.), and if so what are they?

3. Which schools would be considered "the best" to work at? Currently on my list I have YIS, ASIJ, St Mary's, St Maur, Seisen, BST (note that I would consider working outside of Tokyo!).

4. I have seen that several UK schools have opened or are opening international schools in Japan recently - Harrow, Rugby and Malvern - are these run like the parent schools in the UK? (E.g. possibility of six day working weeks, housing provided for staff, expectation of evening duties in boarding houses, etc.)
by chemistryteacher (guest)  

Re: Working in international schools in Japan 2023/3/24 10:32
It honestly depends on the company, more or less. You may have all of these qualifications, but as far as a Japanese company is concerned, it really depends on what they are looking for and what kind of company you want to be hired by.

Generally speaking, if you were going to be a language teacher, the general starting salary is around 250,000 per month but if you were doing some kind of professor teaching or working in a college etc. I've seen salaries starting around almost double that, but it really depends. Keep in mind, you would probably get paid more in your own country compared to Japan.

I'd just look online at the kinds of jobs you want to apply for. They generally give an idea as to how much they offer for that position.
by Tom (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Working in international schools in Japan 2023/3/24 20:43
Hi Tom,

I don't think you read the information I provided properly, or perhaps I did not make myself clear enough. I would not be looking to work as a language teacher; I would want to continue my career as a senior school Chemistry teacher (as outlined by my teaching experience in the first paragraph).

Most job adverts I have come across do not advertise a salary, only that is "based on experience".
by chemistryteacher (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Working in international schools in Japan 2023/3/24 23:04
Since I used to live in Japan as an international teacher, I'm probably the closest you'll get to an expert on this forum.

Some things to note: Japan is known as a premier destination, which means there are way more people applying for positions than positions available. Also - it becomes more challenging to get rid of an employee in the Japanese international school system once they have been in Japan for longer than 5 years, which means that people NEVER leave.

As such, there is probably 6 - 10 positions in the whole of Japan that would be at a school you might want to work at. That's not jobs each year - thats in total! With most of those teachers being in the country 10+ years. How do I know? I know them!!!

Now I'll try and answer your questions below

(1) Wages. Consider 400 K a month after tax as a good wage for an international teacher. Note that wages have been stagnant and benefits depleting over the past 20 years.

(2) Benefits often include original flight to the country (out of country only), some type of transport allowance and the big one is a housing allowance. This changes depending on the city and school. Local hires don't get a housing allowance but do normally get a transport allowance to work. To put it simply, benefits at almost all international schools in Japan have been reduced due to more teachers applying for positions than they have positions. Most schools grandfather current staff.

A good example is that old staff used to get an amount of volume for moving allowance (say something like 2 cubic meters in the first 2 years, increasing by 0.5 cubic meters a year until you reach 3,5 cubic meters. Now - they give you a flat cash amount.

(3) You've mentioned the main schools in Tokyo, apart from TIS which I believe does not have a high school. Outside of Tokyo, there is really only Canadian Academy in Kobe along with Osaka Senri. There are a couple of other schools such as Fukuoka (low pay) and UWC Karuizawa (yay - boarding school in the middle of no-where) which might float your boat. There are also a few good christian schools you have not mentioned, but the pay is rather poor.

(4) In general - stay far away from these chain schools. Most of them are for profit with education playing a far second level of importance compared to profit. There are a couple of good ones (Chadwick, Dulwich) but I don't know if they are in Japan yet.

On getting a job in Japan - it's more really about who you know than what you know. There are a couple of agencies which people tend to use. I use Search Associates, which costs money but allows you to contact schools directly. They also have confidential references which play an important role in getting teachers jobs. Some other options also include Schrole and TIE Online. You can also join free agencies such as Teacher Horizons and the like, but expect people to be contacting you about jobs in China or the Middle East continually. These agencies get paid to find you a job - any job!

On your employability: this is a hard one to say, but your current experience will not put you at the front of the list (even with Chem - I've taught SL/HL DP myself along with ESS). It really is this competitive at the top tier schools

There is also lower tier schools which range from 'ok' to 'get me out of here'. It's common for teachers who have proven themselves at the lower tiers to make their way to the higher tiers. Also note that when it comes to jobs, schools will often post on Search Associates before their website. For lower tier schools, it's the other way around as they don't want to pay the employment fee of a few thousand dollars.

A community which is probably better suited for these questions is here: https://www.internationalschoolsreview.com/

Do note that they can be quite opinionated on the public forum but some of the people know nothing but act as though they do.
by mfedley rate this post as useful

Re: Working in international schools in Japan 2023/3/24 23:19
Thanks for your detailed answer mfedley! Not necessarily what I wanted to hear in terms of opportunities (though not surprising!), the information about schools and pay is greatly appreciated.

I have used Search Associates in the past (got a lot of emails from schools in China and the Middle East then, despite not including those as places I wanted to work on my profile!), so might deactivate my profile there before the next recruitment season.
by chemistryteacher (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Working in international schools in Japan 2023/3/25 01:33
I would not deactivate SA if I were you. Just do what I did - log in once a month a keep an eye of jobs that interests you. You might have your eyes on Japan, but I can also recommend Taiwan, South Korea and Singapore as nice places in Asia.

As you are probably aware, the school year start in August in Japan which is the opposite of the Australian teaching year. However, it does allow you to resign before semester 2 though.

For Japan, the main recruiting seasons for the better schools are around October-January. Keeping your options open is always a good thing.

An example can be seen with me at the moment. I was working at a good private IB school in Melbourne in May and I had an annoying class. Then I received an email from a school in Singapore on Search. I thought stuff it - resigned and then got a job in Europe in a week. I'm currently sitting at an airport lounge on my way to visit Warsaw for the weekend.

If you do move to Japan, note that it's really expensive to set up your apartment. But once you have, things are much more affordable than Europe or specifically Australia. Note that the Yen has recently tanked which makes wages look terrible. To the best of my knowledge, taxes are also slowly increasing in Japan.

I've been contacted multiple times from schools in Japan, but I also have a bit more experience than you do. It's really a small community so it only takes a few years to get to know people which helps set up jobs and specifically finding "where not to work".
by mfedley rate this post as useful

Re: Working in international schools in Japan 2023/3/26 22:05
Thanks again. I did make a mistake in my last post - I meant greactivateh!

I am currently teaching in the UK so the Japanese school year lines up with my current position. Ifll reactivate and update my profile over the northern hemisphere summer in preparation for the new hiring season. Not fussed if I donft get a job in the upcoming round as Ifm happy where I am in the UK and getting lots of great experience; but Japan is somewhere I want to try while Ifm still young as Ifve been learning the language on and off for years now and have enjoyed my holidays there.
by chemistryteacher (guest) rate this post as useful

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