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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Konnichiwa everyone! As you can tell by the title, I am new to the board and looking for insight, advice, whatever you want to call it. I'm going through a phase right now where I am fed up with my life and I want to do the things I wanted to do before getting married and having kids. I've been looking a lot at moving to Japan and it seems like becoming an ALT is the most popular thing to do to get work in Japan.

Just a little background on myself. I'm 33 years old, currently married, with 3 kids. I am tired of my career and have been in an unloving relationship for the better part of 5 years.

I've got a background in insurance and have 11 years under my belt. I am looking to get away from all of this and start fresh and begin a new chapter of my life.

Mainly I'm just looking for advice and to see if I can finally be the person I've always been inside my own head.

I know I'm qualified for an ALT position and was looking to see if there is a higher tier to start in, so I can separate myself from the 22 year olds flooding the market.

I'd be open to making this my permanent home, but need to prepare for everything before I make the leap.

Any advice is appreciated.

P.S. I'm not planning on taking my wife or children with me.

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Hi Fancy and welcome to the forum..

Hopefully you'll get some information from those living in Japan--I am not. I live in the Philippines, Southwest of Japan. Asia, at least the Philippines, is a great area to live although the culture is far different than at home.

Since you are already in the States, you might look at The Mexico Page as an alternative to Asia. It's a lot closer to home and the cost of living is extremely low when compared to Japan.
If still interested in Asia, there are pages here for Singapore, Thailand, and Australia etc.

The main thing is that unless this is an emergency escape move, it really pays to visit the countrie(s) you are interested in a time or two to really be sure you can tolerate the change in culture and weather etc.

The Philippines where we are is good but mostly for retirement and long vacations as it is difficult to get work permit visas here. This is also a 3rd world country where a lot of life's normal living standards are missing.
Best of luck and hope you find a place you can enjoy.



Regards
Jet Lag
 

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Konnichiwa everyone! As you can tell by the title, I am new to the board and looking for insight, advice, whatever you want to call it. I'm going through a phase right now where I am fed up with my life and I want to do the things I wanted to do before getting married and having kids. I've been looking a lot at moving to Japan and it seems like becoming an ALT is the most popular thing to do to get work in Japan.

Just a little background on myself. I'm 33 years old, currently married, with 3 kids. I am tired of my career and have been in an unloving relationship for the better part of 5 years.

I've got a background in insurance and have 11 years under my belt. I am looking to get away from all of this and start fresh and begin a new chapter of my life.

Mainly I'm just looking for advice and to see if I can finally be the person I've always been inside my own head.

I know I'm qualified for an ALT position and was looking to see if there is a higher tier to start in, so I can separate myself from the 22 year olds flooding the market.

I'd be open to making this my permanent home, but need to prepare for everything before I make the leap.

Any advice is appreciated.

P.S. I'm not planning on taking my wife or children with me.
First, know that I'm really sorry to hear about the family issues. That must be extremely tough.

To give you any advice, I'd need to know more: Do you have teaching experience? (If so, how many years and with what age groups?) Do you have Japanese language ability? An MA (or a PhD) in something? Teaching certification? Very advanced computer programming skills? Etc., etc.

Unfortunately, without these things, you are most likely not going to be competitive for good jobs in Japan. The one exception might be the JET Program:

https://jetprogramusa.org/
https://jetprogramusa.org/eligibility/

Among other perks, they pay airfare to and from Japan, subsidize your insurance, and assist with housing. If you are serious about coming to Japan, I would try applying there and keeping your fingers crossed. (They take only about 50% of applicants.)

If you are rejecting by JET...I would strongly consider listening to Jet Lag and trying Mexico instead. Whatever you do, do NOT come to Japan at your age with those qualifications just to be a "dispatch" ALT. I'm talking about the bottom-feeder ALT positions you see advertised by employers like Interac and Heart--places that have been sued repeatedly (and successfully) for their exploitative, often illegal working conditions. Here's a video describing what happens at that salary they offer:


Anyway, good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thank you very much for the advice. I am prepared to have my expenses cut along with my salary, but I didn't realize it could be THAT bad as an ALT.

To answer your other questions, I do have a BA in Media Arts along with a list of insurance designations. I don't have any previous teaching experience, but was planning on getting my TEFL certification before leaving (if that would that help).

I'm really more interested in the Japanese culture than our neighbors to the south. I took 6 years of Spanish and never quite connected the same way I have with my japanese self-study regimine. I would say I can read the hiragana okay, but forming sentences is still rough along with translating it into words that I can recognize.

I will have between $11250 and $14000 to bring with me depending on what I payoff before leaving, so I should be able to float my way at least money wise for the first 9 months or so based on my calculations.

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Well, you certainly won't starve with those savings. The problem is that your qualifications right now--even assuming you added TEFL certification (unless an MA TESOL)--don't qualify you for anything better than dispatch ALT or eikaiwa (English conversation) positions. These are dead-end positions for someone your age--neither industry likes to hire people over forty.

I stand by what I said earlier: Try to get into the JET Program. Doing so will give you a 3-year cushion to see if you really are cut out for teaching, as well as allow you to make local connections and learn Japanese. You should be able to save some money as well. And then, if you decide you truly like it here, and given you have some savings already...maybe starting your own Eikaiwa School? (You won't get rich, but assuming you have local connections and can teach, you could do far worse in life.)

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks again myrrh. I'm searching all kinds of job sites right now while waiting on the next round of JET applications to be open. Waiting until October might not be a bad thing either since I'll have more time to pay off my debts before heading out.

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Leaving with no debt is always a good thing!

Feel free to check in here again if you want the skinny on a prospective non-JET Program employer. While I'm neither a dispatch ALT nor an eikaiwa instructor, I do know the reputations of many (most?) of these employers (and have people to ask regarding any I don't know). Basically, avoid Interac, Heart and Gaba, as it's one of these three that usually proves to be the cause of any of the horror stories you occasionally hear.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
What are the chances of getting a direct hire with a BOE? I've heard some folks say that this cuts out the middle man, which to me sounds like better benefits and potentially more opportunity for advancement.

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Direct hire with a BOE is of course a great option. However, you will typically need at least intermediate Japanese language ability, 3+ years of ALT experience and connections to get such a position.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I found an online TEFL course that I am taking that is 160 hours, so hopefully putting something like that on my resume will give me a leg up.

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I found an online TEFL course that I am taking that is 160 hours, so hopefully putting something like that on my resume will give me a leg up.
While the course may help you become more comfortable in the classroom, having it on your resume will not give you a leg up in Japan.

Basically, for dispatch ALT/English Conversation positions, employers are looking for the following (ranked in order of desirability):

1) Native speaker of English
2) BA/BS degree from an accredited, 4-year university
3) Under 30 (though they'll hire under 40 in a pinch)

For the JET Program:

1) Native speaker of English (or equivalent)
2) BA/BS degree from an accredited, 4-year university
3) Somebody who interviews well, showing energy and enthusiasm
4) Somebody interested in Japan

For direct-hire ALT positions:

1) Native speaker of English (or equivalent)
2) BA/BS degree from an accredited, 4-year university
3) Intermediate Japanese ability (should be conversational and able to read hiragana, katakana and basic characters)
4) Somebody with 3+ years of ALT experience in Japan and local references

For part-time university positions (and yes, it is easier to get hired part-time at a university than to get a direct-hire ALT position):

1) MA/MS degree from an accredited university
2) 1+ year of teaching experience
2) basic Japanese ability (should be able to understand basic instructions)
4) local references

For full-time (particularly tenured) university positions (the hardest to get, and the most lucrative, teaching positions):

1) Advanced Japanese language ability (especially reading and writing)
2) Possession of pertinent MA/MS minimum (PhD preferred)
3) Over three publications--with refereed publications preferred
4) Experience living in Japan

5) University-level teaching experience in the requested subject(s)
6) The quality of one's teaching

The gaps in the above are intentional, with #s 5-6 being of less importance than the first four. For the better full-time university positions, having Japanese language ability (and/or having lived in Japan) means that you won't need babysitting, and that you can do your share of committee and other service work--the latter often burdensome responsibilities that nobody wants to do. #2 is needed for full-time hires to check off the required boxes for the Ministry of Education--the Ministry will try to check (often a cursory search but still) to make sure degrees are real, and universities usually will too. #3 looks good on the university website and helps with accreditation assessment.

Finally, and especially for positions in the big cities, this is key: There will usually be multiple applicants who satisfy all of the criteria for the position type. In other words, it's a very competitive market here right now--much more than, say, even just ten years ago.

Hope this helps. Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks again for the detailed help. I'm going to wrap up my TEFL training and will be putting in applications at that time. Probably 3 weeks from now.

Any recommendations on locations that would be less competitive. I'd prefer not to be in Tokyo, since I'm sure that is flooded.

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I would not request a region. As you're applying from overseas, you should be going with a nationwide organization like JET. However...I would put down on applications (and emphasize in interviews) that you are very open to postings outside the big cities/in the countryside. (You'd be surprised at the number of people who absolutely refuse to consider such postings....)

Just doing this one simple thing will improve your chances quite a bit. (And keep in mind that, with Japan's modern rail service, you are almost always under an hour away from a big city, regardless of where you live.)

Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I would not request a region. As you're applying from overseas, you should be going with a nationwide organization like JET. However...I would put down on applications (and emphasize in interviews) that you are very open to postings outside the big cities/in the countryside. (You'd be surprised at the number of people who absolutely refuse to consider such postings....)

Just doing this one simple thing will improve your chances quite a bit. (And keep in mind that, with Japan's modern rail service, you are almost always under an hour away from a big city, regardless of where you live.)

Good luck.
Thanks again! I wasn't going to request a specific region, but was hoping that you could provide insight into areas and how they are for cost of living, weather, areas that have things to do, etc.

I'm totally for working in the suburban or more rural areas, but wanted some perspective so that I can weigh my options (if I get any ).

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