Photo by jrkester. Feature photo by kalandrakas.

English teaching in Japan is still a lucrative gig, but the days of easy money and great benefits might be coming to an end.

After teaching English in Japan with the JET Program for two years, I saved enough money to travel in Southeast Asia for over a year and launch my career in travel writing.

I lived rent free, didn’t work very hard and sent home about $1,500 per month. Since I got paid in yen, the dollar to yen exchange rate was important: most of the time it was around 110 yen to the dollar.

This morning, for old times sake, I checked the dollar to yen exchange rate and nearly jumped out of my chair. 90 yen to the dollar!? Damn!

Seems like English teachers in Japan must really be making bank these days….

Or not.

In a discussion forum on the popular Japan ex-pat website Big Daikon, a career English teacher recently posed the question:

Is the EFL Gravy Train Running Out of Steam?

Like most discussion on Big Daikon, the conversation is frank, crude and informative. For example, one poster writes:

It used to be that the unqualified teachers could make a living on a Nova salary, but it’s becoming increasingly harder to do that. Even if the salary isn’t so bad, I don’t think they keep teachers around as long anymore. The genki dipshit teaching circuit is not a stable industry anymore.

>The Big Daikon consensus – 127 posts and 1 colossal tangent later – seems to be that Japanese schools are a lot more particular these days about hiring qualified applicants for English teaching positions.

This is probably good news for Japanese students and for good English teachers – but bad news for ‘punks on a lark’ who spend their days in the teacher’s lounge posting on websites like Big Daikon.

Community Connection

The challenging job environment in Japan makes it important to do lots of research before applying for a teaching position. How to Get a Job Teaching in Japan lays out the basics and is chock full of quality links.

For general information, Matador’s focus page on Japan has a wealth of entertaining and informative articles about life in the Land of the Rising Sun.