The myth of easy money made at Japanese English schools


Shinagawa Tokyo Surprisingly the myth of being able to make easy money as an English teacher in Japan is still alive. Although this seems to have been true during the bubble period in Japan, nowadays it is much more challenging to make a living – I am not even talking about a decent living – in Japan based solely on an English teacher salary. While the situation outside of the big cities might be better with lower costs of living, considering the local cost for daily life, there is not much left at the end of the month. Understand me right, living and working in Japan is a wonderful experience and I recommend it highly to anyone, but I would never recommend it for financial purpose. Many tend to forget that the living costs in Japan are similar for example to Zurich or New York, but the salary ranges are different. Comparing to the salaries that I have experienced and know for example in Switzerland or then the USA, in general the Japanese salaries are much lower here, even at the better paying foreign companies. Furthermore I see quite a gap of the salaries paid in Japan for foreign workers that work within the language teaching business or then specialists that have found their local professional niche. For those interested or potentially even considering the step into a new life as an English teacher in Japan, I highly recommend to consider your motivation for coming over to Japan. Although I am still not a big fan of the newspaper Japan Times, recently I must say the quality of the articles are wonderful. Enjoy the honest insights to the Japanese English teaching business in details here.

I hope you enjoy as much as I did the article by Craig Currie-Robson.

Brought to you by Sibylle Ito (伊藤シビル)

4 thoughts on “The myth of easy money made at Japanese English schools

  1. I think it depends on where you’re from.
    I hear a lot of my American co-workers complain about the “low” salaries.
    However, I earn more (especially after taxes!) than I would back in my home country (Germany).

    • Dear ZoomingJapan,

      thanks for your comment. Yes, you are correct; the salary situation really depends about which home country you are talking. Congratulations you are the first one I came across, who earns more in Japan than in their respective home country, especially after taxes! Personally for me the difference in salary is substantial, plus even with a lower salary I am paying now more taxes here in Japan than compared to living in Switzerland. On the other hand the situation in the US was more straightforward: Higher salary and higher taxes compared to Japan. As I had mentioned earlier, I see my experience of working and living in Japan as a truly rewarding experience, but not in a financial sense. I am not here for the money 😉

      With best regards,

      Sibylle Ito

      • See? I think that’s much more important!
        That you like what you’re doing and that you can see sense in your job.
        Money is important, but as long as it’s enough to “pay the bills”, I won’t complain.
        I’d rather get rich in experience than rich with money! 😉

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